Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Wonder-Children

NFL quarterbacks are a unique breed. All it takes is one Sunday slate of NFL games for someone to be reminded of the significance of the vertical passing game. Even when quarterbacks do not serve as the franchise player or the offensive spark, signal callers such as Mark Sanchez, Joe Flacco, and Alex Smith have had success as game managers. While all sorts of offensive metrics can come up short at times, the one that has impressed the most is the Wonderlic Test. As a general aptitude test, many critics still doubt its relevance to the NFL, but the results have been startling. Many teams refuse to draft a quarterback with a score below a 21, and the historical average for NFL quarterbacks is around 24 (out of 50).

In the past decade, no quarterback with a score under 25 (Roethlisberger) has won a Super Bowl. Furthermore, 88% of teams with winning records in the past two years in the NFL were led by quarterbacks who had scores of 25 and above. Players like Vince Young (who reportedly scored a 7 before retaking it) have not faired so well, and have often lost their starting jobs. In fact, the only quarterback who scored below a 24 and whom could definitively be called upper tier is none other than Michael Vick. Furthermore, the average appears to be rising. As players like Ryan Fitzmagic (48), Alex Smith (40), and Matt Stafford (38) have enjoyed a great deal of success in the first half of this season, the trend-line seems to bend ever-upward.

However, the near infallibility of this metric may have finally met its match. The rise of rookie phenom Cam Newton has put the Wonderlic test on shaky ground. Cam scored a 21 on the test, and has been racking up yardage and an unprecedented level for a rookie. Thankfully, he has led his team to an abysmal 2-6 record, as the Panthers have managed to overcome the absence of terrible quarterback play from the likes of Jake Delhomme, Jimmy Clausen, and Matt Moore, and have found new ways to be terrible. The certain emergence of world-beater and self-proclaimed "motherfucking G" Andrew Luck will hopefully set things straight again, assuming this Stanford product can do to his Wonderlic what he did to his SATs.

All of this talk about Wonderlics first came to my attention when I found out that Mark Brunell had managed to dig himself into $25 million of debt. Despite earning over $50 million over the course of his career, Brunell managed to fuck up 9 different business ventures over the past several years. As Brunell was reported to have scored a 22 on his Wonderlic, this is another instance verifying the accuracy of the test. However, expecting the worst, Rex Ryan has already assured Mark that he will be able to sell his imaginary Super Bowl rings (and his real one) on e-bay.

So I'm left with one question: if Brunell could dig a hole this big after scoring a 22, then how much debt will Vince Young be able to accrue by the time he's 40?


  1. I wonder what Antoine Walker would score on the wonderlic test...

  2. you know it's a credible article when the author projected that cam newton would fall out of the first round based on his wonderlic score. anyways, i think the natural conclusion is that the bills will win the super bowl.

  3. I disagree with this pointing towards a Bill 's Super Bowl.

    I think you want a QB that's smart, but not too smart.

    Sort of like how you pick a girl. Smart enough to hold a conversation. Dumb enough to never question any of your decisions.

  4. Extending this metaphor: a dumb QB is good for a quick fling, but doesn't have any staying power. If you want to have a long-term relationship with Super Bowl championships, he has to be smart enough to challenge you and keep you on your toes for the next 10 to 15 years, at which point he will start to put on a ton of weight and turn menopausal.

  5. could not have said it better myself