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Feb 22

Super Bowl Super Study, Part 6: The Starting Quarterback’s Experience

Over two weeks, we’re conducting a super study to assess Super Bowl teams. With this painstakingly-detailed look at playoff team precedence, a few key outliers can illustrate which future playoff teams are likely to win the Super Bowl and which future playoff teams are likely to come up short. This study includes 13 statistical factors that impact a playoff team’s championship viability.

Today, the study focuses on the starting experience for each Super Bowl starting quarterback as it relates to both the regular season and postseason. The table below examines each Super Bowl quarterback and his playoff record entering that postseason. The quarterback’s regular season starts entering that postseason are in parentheses.

Table 6: Starting Quarterback Experience

SB Winner Quarterback W-L (GS) SB Loser Quarterback W-L (GS)
I 66 Packers Bart Starr 4-1 (112) I 66 Chiefs Len Dawson 1-0 (69)
II 67 Packers Bart Starr 6-1 (124) II 67 Raiders Daryle Lamonica 0-0 (18)
III 68 Jets Joe Namath 0-0 (51) III 68 Colts Earl Morrall 0-0 (78)
IV 69 Chiefs Len Dawson 2-2 (103) IV 69 Vikings Joe Kapp 0-1 (38)
V 70 Colts Johnny Unitas 2-1 (172) V 70 Cowboys Craig Morton 0-1 (29)
VI 71 Cowboys Roger Staubach 0-0 (14) VI 71 Dolphins Bob Griese 0-1 (59)
VII 72 Dolphins Bob Griese 2-2 (64) VII 72 Redskins Billy Kilmer 0-1 (63)
VIII 73 Dolphins Bob Griese 3-2 (77) VIII 73 Vikings Fran Tarkenton 0-0 (174)
IX 74 Steelers Terry Bradshaw 1-2 (51) IX 74 Vikings Fran Tarkenton 2-1 (187)
X 75 Steelers Terry Bradshaw 4-2 (65) X 75 Cowboys Roger Staubach 4-2 (55)
XI 76 Raiders Ken Stabler 3-3 (51) XI 76 Vikings Fran Tarkenton 4-3 (214)
XII 77 Cowboys Roger Staubach 6-4 (73) XII 77 Broncos Craig Morton 3-2 (95)
XIII 78 Steelers Terry Bradshaw 8-4 (103) XIII 78 Cowboys Roger Staubach 9-4 (88)
XIV 79 Steelers Terry Bradshaw 11-4 (119) XIV 79 Rams Vince Ferragamo 0-0 (5)
XV 80 Raiders Jim Plunkett 0-0 (98) XV 80 Eagles Ron Jaworski 2-2 (65)
XVI 81 49ers Joe Montana 0-0 (24) XVI 81 Bengals Ken Anderson 0-2 (129)
XVII 82 Redskins Joe Theismann 0-0 (81) XVII 82 Dolphins David Woodley 0-1 (35)
XVIII 83 Raiders Jim Plunkett 5-1 (127) XVIII 83 Redskins Joe Theismann 4-0 (97)
XIX 84 49ers Joe Montana 4-1 (64) XIX 84 Dolphins Dan Marino 0-1 (25)
XX 85 Bears Jim McMahon 0-0 (40) XX 85 Patriots Tony Eason 0-1 (27)
XXI 86 Giants Phil Simms 2-2 (82) XXI 86 Broncos John Elway 0-1 (56)
XXII 87 Redskins Doug Williams 1-3 (69) XXII 87 Broncos John Elway 2-2 (68)
XXIII 88 49ers Joe Montana 7-4 (111) XXIII 88 Bengals Boomer Esiason 0-0 (62)
XXIV 89 49ers Joe Montana 10-4 (124) XXIV 89 Broncos John Elway 4-3 (98)
XXV 90 Giants Jeff Hostetler 0-0 (4) XXV 90 Bills Jim Kelly 1-2 (71)
XXVI 91 Redskins Mark Rypien 0-0 (46) XXVI 91 Bills Jim Kelly 3-3 (86)
XXVII 92 Cowboys Troy Aikman 0-0 (54) XXVII 92 Bills Jim Kelly 5-4 (102)
XXVIII 93 Cowboys Troy Aikman 3-0 (68) XXVIII 93 Bills Jim Kelly 6-5 (118)
XXIX 94 49ers Steve Young 2-2 (87) XXIX 94 Chargers Stan Humphries 1-1 (45)
XXX 95 Cowboys Troy Aikman 7-1 (98) XXX 95 Steelers Neil O’Donnell 1-3 (61)
XXXI 96 Packers Brett Favre 4-3 (77) XXXI 96 Patriots Drew Bledsoe 0-1 (59)
XXXII 97 Broncos John Elway 7-7 (219) XXXII 97 Packers Brett Favre 7-3 (93)
XXXIII 98 Broncos John Elway 11-7 (231) XXXIII 98 Falcons Chris Chandler 0-0 (98)
XXXIV 99 Rams Kurt Warner 0-0 (16) XXXIV 99 Titans Steve McNair 0-0 (49)
XXXV 00 Ravens Trent Dilfer 1-1 (84) XXXV 00 Giants Kerry Collins 1-1 (72)
XXXVI 01 Patriots Tom Brady 0-0 (14) XXXVI 01 Rams Kurt Warner 3-1 (43)
XXXVII 02 Buccaneers Brad Johnson 1-3 (79) XXXVII 02 Raiders Rich Gannon 2-2 (122)
XXXVIII 03 Patriots Tom Brady 3-0 (46) XXXVIII 03 Panthers Jake Delhomme 0-0 (17)
XXXIX 04 Patriots Tom Brady 6-0 (62) XXXIX 04 Eagles Donovan McNabb 5-4 (79)
XL 05 Steelers Ben Roethlisberger 1-1 (25) XL 05 Seahawks Matt Hasselbeck 0-2 (68)
XLI 06 Colts Peyton Manning 3-6 (144) XLI 06 Bears Rex Grossman 0-1 (23)
XLII 07 Giants Eli Manning 0-2 (55) XLII 07 Patriots Tom Brady 12-2 (110)
XLIII 08 Steelers Ben Roethlisberger 5-2 (71) XLIII 08 Cardinals Kurt Warner 5-2 (101)
XLIV 09 Saints Drew Brees 1-2 (121) XLIV 09 Colts Peyton Manning 7-8 (192)
XLV 10 Packers Aaron Rogders 0-1 (47) XLV 10 Steelers Ben Roethlisberger 8-2 (98)
XLVI 11 Giants Eli Manning 4-3 (119) XLVI 11 Patriots Tom Brady 14-5 (159)
XLVII 12 Ravens Joe Flacco 5-4 (80) XLVII 12 49ers Colin Kaepernick 0-0 (7)
XLVIII 13 Seahawks Russell Wilson 1-1 (32) XLVIII 13 Broncos Peyton Manning 9-11 (240)
XLIX 14 Patriots Tom Brady 18-8 (207) XLIX 14 Seahawks Russell Wilson 4-1 (48)

Red flag: Quarterback lost multiple previous playoff starts without a win
Amber flag: Quarterback lost sole previous playoff start AND made fewer than 40 regular season starts

This factor seems to truly show how important the quarterback’s role is in a playoff run. The reason why we used a 40-start cutoff for an amber flag is because a quarterback generally needs about 40 starts before it’s fair to assess his capabilities as an effective starter. We think a sufficiently experienced quarterback can overcome one previous playoff setback to make a playoff run. Meanwhile, note that Eli Manning is the only Super Bowl-winning quarterback to earn his team a flag.

Now let’s compile a list of Super Bowl teams that earned red or amber flags in the 13 factors for playoff team precedence. This will allows us to see how many Super Bowl teams compiled flags and determine how many flags a normal Super Bowl team should own. We’ll then determine the most unlikely Super Bowl combatants. First, here’s the overall Super Bowl champions flag count:

  • Four red flags: 2007 Giants, 2011 Giants
  • One red flag, two amber flags: 2012 Ravens
  • One red flag, one amber flag: 2001 Patriots, 2006 Colts
  • One red flag: 1981 49ers, 1988 49ers, 1993 Cowboys, 1999 Rams, 2010 Packers
  • Two amber flags: 2009 Saints
  • One amber flag: 1967 Packers, 1969 Chiefs, 1979 Steelers, 1995 Cowboys, 1997 Broncos, 2000 Ravens, 2005 Steelers

Next, here’s the overall Super Bowl losers flag count:

  • Two red flags: 2008 Cardinals
  • One red flag, one amber flag: 1979 Rams, 1981 Bengals, 1988 Bengals, 1996 Patriots
  • One red flag: 1980 Eagles, 1998 Falcons, 2002 Raiders, 2005 Seahawks
  • Two amber flags: 1970 Cowboys, 1985 Patriots, 1986 Broncos
  • One amber flag: 1969 Vikings, 1971 Dolphins, 1972 Redskins, 1982 Dolphins, 1984 Dolphins, 1987 Broncos, 1989 Broncos, 1992 Bills, 2000 Giants, 2003 Panthers, 2004 Eagles, 2006 Bears, 2009 Colts, 2012 49ers

Through six factors, only 26 red flags (4.33 per factor) were given to these Super Bowl teams. In total, 19 Super Bowl teams (including 10 winners and nine losers) own at least one red flag nearly half way through this study.

Up next: Success Against Non-Quality Opponents

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