The (somewhat) magnificent seven- How rushing QBs faired their rookie season

Steve Young, one of the most critical analysts of rushing QBs in the 2011 draft also got off to the rockiest start to his career among these examples.

Have no fear CSR readers, we're really not trying to turn this place into 'Cam Scratch Reader', but when you draft a QB #1 overall for the first time in franchise history then it does without saying you're going to see a lot of time and energy being spent on analyzing them. Today I decided to go back to the rookie seasons of seven of the leagues most potent rushing QBs in their eras to see just how well their respective teams did with them at the helm. 

The reason for this analysis is twofold: Firstly, it aims to determine whether this idea that Newton can step in and immediately win games for Carolina is a myth and secondly it will try and see if being a rushing QB actually makes it easier transitioning into the NFL. After all, running backs are seen to be one of the most easily translatable positions from college to the NFL, because the basic tenets of their game remain the same.

The metric I used (as simple as it is) was to determine a 'rushing quarterback' as one who averaged approximately 50 yards per game on the ground per NFL start. The exceptions to this rule are Fran Tarkenton, Steve McNair and Steve Young- all of whom would be considered some of the top rushing QBs to ever play the game, but they fell short of this 50 yard mark. I chalk this up to being a product of the NFL when they played the bulk of their games.

More after the jump

I call this list the 'somewhat' magnificent seven because honestly, I'm not comfortable calling Tim Tebow or Vince Young "magnificent", but regardless they need to be a part of this list.  I'm looking solely at these player's rookie season starts, and comparing it to their team's prior season record. So, without further ado lets look at our rushing QBs: 

 

Michael Vick

Vick only started two games in 2001, so he makes it harder to truly evaluate him than any other QB on this list. That being said, the Falcons went 4-12 in 2000 (0.250) and under Vick they went 1-1 (0.500). It's important to not he stepped in and played significant time in two more losses, but ultimately that's not the purpose of this study so Vick's record as a starter is 1-1.

 

Vince Young

The 2005 Tennessee Titans went 4-12 (0.250) which allowed them to draft Vince Young in the 2006 draft. Young started 13 games for the Titans, and they went 8-5 (0.615) with Young starting at QB.

 

Fran Tarkenton

This one needs to fall outside of the rubric I set for this study solely because I can't find game logs that predate 1970, so I can't tell what games Tarkenton started his rookie year. I will, however, look at his 1970 season with the New York Giants (his first with the organization). The 1969 Giants finished the season 6-8 (0.428) and when Tarkenton took over as QB in 1970 they went 9-5 (0.642).

 

Randall Cunningham

The 1984 Eagles finished the season 6-9-1 (0.375) before drafting Randall Cunningham. In 1985 he started 6 games and finished with a record of 2-4 (0.333) as a starter.

 

Steve Young

Young was selected by the Tamp Bay Buccaneers in the 1985 draft, and most know his brief time there was tumultuous. Regardless, the Bucs went 6-10 (0.375) in 1984, and 1-4 (0.200) with Young as a starter in 1985.

 

Steve McNair

The Houston Oilers had the #1 pick in the 1995 NFL draft after finishing the 1994 season at 2-14 (0.125). McNair started 6 games for Houston in 1995 and they finished 2-4 (0.333) with him as a starter.

 

Tim Tebow

The most recent edition to our list was also the most unsure QB selected in the draft. Analysts thought the Denver Broncos reached for the Heisman trophy winner. The 2009 Denver Broncos went 8-8 (0.500) under Josh McDaniels and with Tebow as a 3 game starter in 2010 they went 1-2 (0.333).

 

Overall analysis

While this is a very small sample size, and I see the flaw in trying to use this to predict future success it's undeniable that as a whole teams were better with their running QBs starting:

- Without their rushing QBs these teams combined for a record of 36-73-1 (0.327)

- With their rushing QBs in their first season these teams combined for 24-25 (0.489)

The point of this exercise wasn't to rally people around the idea that the Panthers will be drastically improved in 2011, but show that this idea that teams can't win without a prototypical QB under center their first season is a fallacy. The past has shown us that there is no good reason we can't see significant gains from 2010-2011 with Newton under center, but ultimately it will be up to his work ethic and the organization to manage the team from the ground up.

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