Instant gratification. It's the world we live in. We want what we want right away. And for Atlanta Falcons fans a Super Bowl title is at the top of their wish list.
And why not? The team not only overcame the consecutive winning seasons hurdle that plagued them for 43 years, they made sure the curse was broken with three winning years in a row. They have the regular season figured out too, winning more games than any other team in the NFC since 2008 (Only the Colts and Patriots have won more league-wide). NFC South crown? Check, they are the defending champions coming off a 13-3 record. So what's the hold up? True, they haven't won a playoff game in six years but what's stopping them from reaching the pinnacle?
My incredibly scientific, no-way-it-can-be-wrong answer is Matt Ryan isn't old enough yet. Let me explain. I wrote about this last year but it bears repeating. In the 45-year history of the Super Bowl, the average age of the winning quarterback is 29.7 years old.* Matt Ryan was 25 in 2010, almost five years younger than than the four-and-a-half decade average.
Obviously with any average there's exceptions at both ends of the spectrum. Ben Roethlisberger (23), Tom Brady (24), Joe Montana (25) and Joe Namath (25) are case studies on the youthful side while Roger Staubach (35), Jim Plunkett (36), Earl Morrall (36) and John Elway (37 & 38) provide examples on the geriatric side. Despite those outliers, the fact remains the average age is 29.7 for a reason.
Quarterback is the most difficult position to play in sports. The amount of information that must be processed both quickly and accurately is enormous. On a side note, plugging "enormous" into the online thesaurus gives a synonym of "barn door". I like that. I'm going to start using that in everyday conversation. The Grand Canyon is barn door. There's a barn door amount of snow outside. Try it out. Let me know the results.
Where was I? Oh right. Quarterback is difficult. Even if a player is blessed with the physical attributes to play the position, some guys never figure out the mental aspect (see Jeff George). For this reason, it makes perfect sense most quarterbacks don't reach the promised land until they've been in the league 8-10 years.
Using this information, we are given a target date for Ryan to be fitted for his championship ring after the 2015 season (Super Bowl 49). Five more seasons before the Falcons are planning a parade. Can you wait that long? Some have waited 45 years for a title, certainly we can wait five more seasons if that's what history has shown.
Since we now know when the Falcons will be champs, let's look ahead to next year. Which quarterbacks are in line to win a Super Bowl based on my never-fail thesis? Let's check out the list of quarterbacks turning the magic age of 30 in 2011:
- Philip Rivers - The Chargers are always preseason favorites to reach the Super Bowl. Could 2011 finally be the year Rivers carries his team to a title?
- Matt Schaub - This would actually be a little painful. The Texans have been up-and-down the past four seasons but Schaub is the right age if the former Falcon gets some defensive help.
- Eli Manning - One of the youngster with a ring at age 26 but could be heading for another one at the brink of 30.
- Jason Campbell - The Raiders won eight games thanks in part to an improved Campbell and Trent Dilfer, Mark Rypien and Jeff Hostetler all won Super Bowls so why not?
For the impatient fans, I have some good news. The age of the Super Bowl winning quarterbacks is skewing younger. In the 1960s the average age was 31.0. In the 1970s it dipped to 30.0 before rising back up to 31.0 in the 1980s. In the 1990s it was 30.3 but it dropped all the way to 27.4 in the 2000s. The 2010 Super Bowl starts a new decade with the 27-year old Aaron Rodgers setting a new average.
This means if we use the most recent decade's average (27.4 in the 2000s), Ryan's date with the Lombardi Trophy would occur after the 2012 season. Only a two-year wait. Much more reasonable.
I say this not necessarily because I believe it (though there's merit to it) but rather so we fans can set reasonable expectations. This Falcons team is being built the right way and positive steps are being taken everyday. I am confident this team will win a Super Bowl. Just give it time.
* QB age as of December 31 of SB winning year