Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Super Bowl XLI: Don't Be Surprised, if Rex Grossman Surprises You [J. Mark English]

Its pretty much assumed that Peyton Manning will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Rex Grossman's future is yet to be determined. Going into this week though, one gets the feeling that Manning is like a god, and Grossman is a doormat.

Lets throw caution to the winds of conventional wisdom. Grossman has only started 23 games in his career. This season he had a quarterback rating of of 73.9, to go along with 23 touchdowns, and 20 picks. He threw for over 3,000 yards.

Troy Aikman, who won three Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys, going into his first Super Bowl, had similar numbers. At the time, no one thought he was a Hall of Fame quarterback yet. In fact just two years before he had been benched during the season by head coach Jimmy Johnson. Aikman in 1992, like Grossman, had 23 touchdowns, and also had over 3,000 yards.

Then again, he only had 14 interceptions. Grossman had 20. Having that many interceptions is not a sign of a bad performance to follow in the Super Bowl. Terry Bradshaw, who won four Super Bowls, had 25 interceptions going into Super Bowl against the Cowboys in 1980, and he was named MVP.

If you accept the premise that Grossman may not be all that bad, then you could argue that there is no way Grossman could out perform Peyton Manning. Fine, you could make that argument. But the Hall of Fame quarterback does not always win.

A perfect example would be Super Bowl XXI between the Broncos and the Giants. It was Phil Simms versus John Elway. John Elway would surely have been considered a player on his way to a special career in 1986. And he would live up to the prophecy, winning two Super Bowls, and starting in five. We know now that he is in the Hall of Fame.

Based on the credentials, Phil Simms, who is not in the Hall of Fame, would have been the "Grossman" of the Super Bowl. Phil Simms, like Grossman, had a less then stellar season in 1986. His quarterback rating was similar, if not worse, then Grossman. He only threw 21 touchdowns, and had 22 interceptions.

Phil Simms defied the numbers, and had the game of a lifetime. He completed 22 of 25 passes, and to this day has the best quarterback rating during a Super Bowl. Simms was named the MVP.

The key for Grossman to having a good game, is that the entire team plays well. The defense of the Bears must not let the Colts runaway with a lead. If the Bears defense can keep the team in the game, Grossman can have a MVP type performance.

Do not let his performance surprise you, if he's better then you've been led to believe.

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