First things first. Hats off to my ScoreBoardTX partner Rob Scichili for his almost spot-on upset prediction Monday morning of Clemson by 3 over Alabama (final score Tigers 35-31). Now it’s my turn to be the prognosticator, but unfortunately what my crystal ball is showing me will ruffle a few feathers here in the Metroplex. The Cowboys will be one-and-done this weekend.
Before the tar and feathers come out, let me explain the reasoning behind my seemingly traitorous statement. In fact, I’ll tie it into the results of Monday’s championship game where Crimson Tide true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts fell short to a superior, more experienced player on the opposing sideline, Deshaun Watson. While Hurts was good, Watson was better. And on Sunday I expect the Cowboys’ rookie sensation QB Dak Prescott to be the second best play-caller on the field as well – and “the hotter than Hades” Aaron Rodgers to be the deciding factor in the game.
Just like true freshmen don’t win National Championships in college football (only Jamelle Holieway pulled off the feat for the 1985 Sooners squad), rookie QBs don’t win Super Bowls (it’s never happened). And in fact, they rarely win playoff games.
Let’s face it, the stage gets bigger and experience comes into play when the playoffs roll around, and the list gets short when discussing rookie QB playoff success in the NFL.
To exemplify my point, let’s look at the playoff results of some of the (very few) recent memory QBs that actually made it to the post-season in their initial campaign:
The great John Elway lost a first round Wild Card game to the Seattle Seahawks in 1983 in his rookie season.
Rookie Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons bowed out in the first round with a loss to the Arizona Cardinals in 2008.
First year QB Andy Dalton and his Cincinnati Bengals lost a first round Wild Card game to the Houston Texans in 2011.
All-time great Dan Marino led the Dolphins to a first round bye (just like Dak has done) and then a second round loss to the Seattle Seahawks in 1983 in his rookie campaign.
Bernie Kosar led the Cleveland Browns to a first round bye as well and then a similar second round loss to the Dolphins in his first season in 1985.
Ben Roethlisberger led the Pittsburgh Steelers to a first round bye in 2004, and then actually won his second round game (albeit over the New York Jets). But even Big Ben came back to earth in the next round with an AFC Championship loss to the New England Patriots.
Rookies just very rarely win post season games – no matter how good they may be. Does any of this mean Prescott won’t be the Cowboys savior in the future to end this now 20-plus year string of no Lombardi Trophies? Nope, but for this playoff run I’ll put my money on the signal callers with experience like Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers. History is on their side. And I expect history to repeat itself this weekend in the NFL.