Running QBs in the NFL: Are They Legitimate Pieces to a Championship Puzzle?

J. Allen StatonCorrespondent IJanuary 15, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 09:  Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles runs the ball against the Green Bay Packers during the 2011 NFC wild card playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 9, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Ask most NFL fans what they look for in a Super Bowl-winning quarterback and you'll get things like: leadership, good decision maker, ability to read defenses, intelligence, arm strength, pocket presence, vision...

I don't know how far down the list you'd have to go to get to mobility, but it's definitely not one of the first things that come to mind.

Now tell those same fans that their team has to choose between Matt Ryan and Michael Vick to lead their team. How many choose Ryan?

Replace Ryan with two-time Super Bowl winner Ben Roethlisberger. Is it 50/50? I think the majority would still choose Vick, don't you?

Regardless, I think the point has been made. We as fans, and NFL front office personnel alike, are infatuated for some reason with the running QB.

Most people were pretty sure Vince Young wasn't going to make it to Canton, yet there he was on draft day being projected as a top pick because of his athletic ability.

He was chosen third overall four years ago, and will be a backup next year.

Tarvaris Jackson is the latest failure at the position. Before we just throw a blanket over all running QBs though, let's take a step back and see if having a mobile QB has historically been a bad choice.

Philadelphia has a history of having fleet-footed signal callers: Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb and yes, Michael Vick.

Lots of success there, but how many rings do they have? A combined zero.

Roger Staubach and Steve Young, two of the most mobile QBs in NFL history have rings, and are often in the conversation of best in league history. 

Fran Tarkenton, Bobby Douglas and Doug Flutie don't, but Brett Favre and John Elway do.

Michael Vick showed this season how valuable a runner at the position can be when coupled with the ability to hurt opposing defenses equally badly in the passing game.

What's that you say? He's watching the playoffs from his couch today? Oh yeah. And he had McCoy, Jackson and Celek. It's not like he was without talent around him, was it?

So with an old and somewhat immobile Elway being the last running QB to win a Super Bowl 11 years ago, why do we still look at someone like Cam Newton (whose passing skills do not warrant first-round consideration) as a top selection in the 2011 NFL Draft?

Since Elway and Favre won back-to-back Super Bowls, we've had Brady, Manning, Dilfer, Brad Johnson, Eli Manning and Kurt Warner hoisting Lombardi Trophies at season's end.

So while Michael Vick puts a ton of butts in seats, wins countless fantasy league championships and makes SportsCenter relevant again, history suggests he can invite Vince Young, Tarvaris Jackson, Tim Tebow and Cam Newton to an annual Super Bowl watching party.

It would appear that, with very few exceptions, teams are best served when their rushing totals are split between RBs, and their QB is reserved for things like passing yardage.

Go figure.