Dye-Gest: Playoffs Show Value of QB Play

College Football Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye writes about the NFL playoffs and quarterback play at the pro and SEC levels.

I am kind of a lukewarm National Football League fan, but that is where the best football in the world is played so I enjoy watching it at times. It is always interesting to me when watching the playoffs that every year it seems to boil down to quarterback play.

Almost without exception the quarterbacks who lead their team this far into the playoffs are very good and the teams that win and advance are the ones with the best signal callers. The last four standing this year are all playing at a very high level.

That group includes Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay, Tom Brady of New England, Ben Roethlisberger of Pittsburgh and Matt Ryan of Atlanta. Ryan can be hot and cold, but when he is hot he is really hot. With those quarterbacks leading their teams when the Packers play the Falcons and the Patriots take on the Steelers the potential is there for good games.

Another thing that stands out to me when watching the NFL playoffs is that the Patriots have had so much success with Bill Belicheck as head coach. They have got the magic touch. I think I am like a lot of people in that I?had never heard of many of the guys on their roster as college players, but they have been able to bring in a lot of lower profile type guys and find ways to win year after year. It is amazing the level of performance Belicheck and his assistants get out of those players.

That old guy playing quarterback, Tom Brady, probably has a lot to do with New England’s success. To win a championship in that league you better have a really good quarterback and age doesn’t seem to be a factor.

One of the reasons I believe the Southeastern Conference was down this past season was the lack of performance at the quarterback position. Every team but one lost four or more games and I think a big factor in that was the quarterbacks. Probably the only exception to that was Arkansas. The quarterback play was fine for the Razorbacks, but they couldn’t overcome a defense that gave up too many yards and points.

A really good example of the impact of quarterback play in the SEC was on display at Vanderbilt. When Kyle Shurmur got hot late in the season the Commodores really improved. They gave Auburn a good game and defeated Ole Miss and Tennessee. Then in the bowl game he was awful and his team suffered a big loss.

There were plenty of other examples around the SEC, including one close to home when you look at the 2016 Auburn season.

If the 2017 Auburn team can get a signal caller to stay healthy and be productive from the start to finish of the season, I believe all of the pieces are in place for the Tigers to be an improved team this year. If that happens I think they will be off and running.

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