So much for the reinvention of the position

Steve Sailer observes that despite the NFL’s being openly desirous of the success of black quarterbacks, they’re simply not very successful in the league anymore despite the growing number of them coming out of the NCAA:

Back in 2003 Rush Limbaugh got fired from being a color commentator on Monday Night Football for pointing out that the media had been pushing hard for more black quarterbacks for decades. So Rush got fired because everybody knows that the only reasons don’t make up 75% of NFL starting quarterbacks is discrimination and the burdens of history.

So I like to check in on how black quarterbacks are doing. This QBR rating counts their running contributions, so it’s the best measure yet.

Here are black QBs (treating Colin Kaepernick as black) who ranked in the top 20 for each year as far back as QBR has been calculated. I counted the top 20 in a 32 team league since it’s pretty safe to assume that if you rank in the top 20 you deserve to start, whereas if you are, say, 29th, then there’s probably a benchwarmer another team that deserves your job.

2014: 2 (Russell Wilson 14, Colin Kaepernick 16)

2013: 3 (Colin Kaepernick 6, Russell Wilson 12, Cam Newton 13)

2012: 4 (Robert Griffin 5, Russell Wilson 6, Cam Newton 14, Josh Freeman 15)

2011: 2 (Michael Vick 7, Cam Newton 15)

2010: 3 (Michael Vick 5, Josh Freeman 6, David Garrard 13)

2009: 3 (Vince Young 7, Donovan McNabb 13, David Garrard 19)

2008: 3 (David Garrard 16, Jason Campbell 17, Donovan McNabb 18)

2007: 4 (David Garrard 3, Jason Campbell 15, Donovan McNabb 16, Tarvaris Jackson 19)

2006: 4 (Steve McNair 6, Donovan McNabb 7, Vince Young 11, Michael Vick 15)

It’s fairly obvious to me why blacks are increasingly unable to successfully play quarterback in the NFL. The new passing rules tend to benefit the mentally faster quarterbacks, nearly all of whom are white. Michael Vick’s much-ballyhooed “reinvention of the quarterback position” has failed for the very reason that detractors of running quarterbacks predicted: sooner or later a running quarterback is going to take a hit that slows him down.

Look at the difference between Robert Griffin and Andrew Luck. In 2012, you could seriously argue that Griffin was the better quarterback. One injury later, Griffin has lost his superhuman quickness, and having proved himself to be almost embarrassingly incompetent as a pocket passer, has just been benched for the second and possibly final time as a Redskin. He simply can’t see the field and process it quickly enough; the image shows a play in which he had no less than FIVE receivers open and somehow ended up throwing it away while also managing to take a shot from a defensive lineman.

It’s almost always the same. A running quarterback simply isn’t going to a) start many games in a row, or b) maintain his peak level of play very long. As a long-suffering Vikings fan, I very well know the difference between a scrambler who moves around to buy time – Tarkenton, Cunningham – and a runner who takes off in a panic as soon as his scripted first option fails to come open: Gannon, Culpepper, Ponder, although hopefully NOT Bridgewater.

NFL quarterback is arguably the single most difficult thing for a human being to do. It requires a bizarre blend of physical ability and mental agility that is incredibly rare, and today’s physically gifted runners are the modern version of yesterday’s rocket-armed blockheads. I find it very puzzling that NFL teams still haven’t learned that you simply can’t teach seeing the field and reacting to it. It’s interesting to see that Tarvaris Jackson cracked the top 20 in QBR at one point. He may have been the most perfectly coached quarterback I’ve ever seen play. He was a team player, he worked very hard, he always did his absolute best, he listened to his coaches as if their words were coming from on high, and his movements were so perfectly rehearsed that he looked like a well-oiled robot. I wasn’t at all surprised to see him go on to have a very successful career as a backup quarterback. But he just processed everything too slowly. Drop back, check one, check two… sack!

Anyhow, I won’t be surprised if in another year or two, we start seeing the football media start to complain that the new passing rules are racist. Because they observably place a premium on a particular skill that no current black quarterbacks – yes, zero, which you’ll know if you’ve seen Wilson or Kaepernick play this year – appear to possess.