October 12, 2011
The Greatest Show on Burgh. 
Through 5 weeks, 5 Quarterbacks are on pace to break Marino's single-season passing yards record of 5084:

Tom Brady 6000
Drew Brees 5664
Aaron Rodgers 5504
Cam Newton 5152
Tony Romo 5088 (through 4 games and a punctured lung)

Of course a pace through 5 games won't hold up, but the fact that we have 5 QBs on this pace tells me that it's pretty likely that one of them will be able to break 5100 yards.

HOWEVER, passing yards isn't a great indicator of success. Yeah it's good to have a hell of a passing game, but consider this stat:

The league leader in passing yards has NEVER led his team to a super bowl victory. You would think that in 40+ years, the QB with the most yards would have accomplished this feat. You would be wrong.

That's a sexy yellow. 
If you look at the list of QB seasons sorted by passing yards, with Marino's  5084 in '84 at number one, and Drew Brees 5069 in 2008 as number two, you have to go all the way to the 34th best year to find Peyton Manning's 2006 season to find a super bowl winner. Drew Brees '09 season is 35th, and Kurt Warner's '99 season is 39th. But after that, you won't find another super bowl winner until Brady in '05 at 67th. After that you won't find another SB winner in the top 100.

Those are definitely real. 

Going back to Marino's record, here is how the team with the QB that led the league in yards fared:

2010 Colts - Lost wild card weekend.
2009 Texans - Missed the playoffs.
2008 Saints - Missed the playoffs.
2007 Patriots - Lost SB.
2006 Saints - They make it to the Conference Championship and get blown out by the Bears.
2005 Cardinals - Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald...5-11
2004 Colts - Pats had their number (20-3)
2003 Colts - Pats got them in AFC title game.
2002 Raiders - Lost in SB.
2001 Rams - Lost in SB.

2000 Rams - Lost wild card weekend.
1999 Panthers - Missed Playoffs (Yeah Steve Beuerlein led the league in passing, not Warner)
1998 Vikings - Lost in Conference Championship (huge upset)
1997 Seahawks (w/ Warren Moon) - Missed Playoffs
1996 Jaguars - Lost AFC title game.
1995 49ers - Lost first playoff game to Packers.
1994 Patriots - Lost wildcard weekend.
1993 Dolphins - Started 9-2, lost 5 straight to miss playoffs.
1992 Oilers - Lost first playoff game to Buffalo after blowing a 35-3 lead.
1991 Oilers - Lost divisional round game at Denver.
1990 Oilers - Lost 41-14 Wild Card game to the Bengals.
1989 Redskins - Missed Playoffs.
1988 Dolphins - Missed Playoffs.
1987 49ers - lost after first round bye.
1986 Dolphins - Missed Playoffs.
1985 Chargers - Missed Playoffs.
Mort! Wait...Gary!...no wait. Hold on. 
1984 Dolphins - Lost to 49ers in SB, 38-16.

So in 27 seasons, the QB with the most yards missed the playoffs 10 times, lost right away 7 times, had one of the biggest end of year collapses (9-2 start to miss playoffs), one of the biggest upsets in conference title history (98 Vikings lose to the Falcons), gave up the biggest comeback ever (led 35-3 in the second half against a backup QB and lost), and lost 4 Super Bowls, including the infamous 18-1.

Seems to be a curse not a blessing.

So while we might be ready to admit that Defense wins championships, it does seem that racking in gaudy passing stats doesn't.
There are a few reasons for this.

1. Teams that win big don't need to pass a lot, they'll rack up more rushing yards in garbage time, while teams playing lots of close games or playing from behind will keep throwing late into the game.
The Reich Stuff

2. A solid run game that controls the clock might not be as sexy, but it wins championships.

3. You can throw all over the field in the regular season, but come playoff time, somebody will figure out how to stop you. It's just the nature of the playoffs. Ask Peyton or Dan.

The only QB that really came close to confounding these factors was Kurt Warner, who I think is the best playoff QB ever... More to come.

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