BLUM: Let’s make a QB deal

Can I interest you in a game of let’s make a deal? Fantastic!  Thanks for playing. We have three great possibilities for your quarterbacking desires today at CycloneFanatic. Without further ado, these are your options:

Behind Door No. 1: Our first candidate has a career completion percentage at Iowa State of 57 percent. Candidate No. 1 has thrown for 211 yards per game in games he has started. He has a career mark of 26 touchdowns and 27 interceptions at Iowa State. Candidate No. 1 has also run for 912 yards and 15 touchdowns at 3.8 yards per carry clip in the Cardinal and Gold. His QB rating is 124.6.

Behind Door No. 2: Candidate No. 2 is also a fine option for your browsing pleasure on this fine day. Candidate No. 2 has a career completion percentage of 52 percent. He has averaged 185 yards passing per game in his games started. Candidate No. 2 has thrown for 18 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. Also a running threat, candidate No. 2 has run for 660 yards and 14 touchdowns at 4.0 yards per carry mark. His QB rating is 113.0.

Behind Door No. 3: Candidate No. 3 has thrown for a career completion percentage of 57 percent. He has averaged 206 yards per game through the air in his career starts. Candidate No. 3 has a career mark of 45 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. He features some nifty footwork with 1,039 yards and seven touchdowns rushing at 3.5 yards per carry clip. Candidate No. 3 has a career QB rating of 121.4.

So I ask you loyal and faithful reader, which door would you like to choose?

Candidate No. 1’s passing numbers appear to be the most dynamic, where candidate No. 2’s numbers look very pedestrian all around. And the TD/INT ratio for the top two, woof, not pretty.

Candidate No. 3’s numbers aren’t going to win the Heisman, but they seem the most balanced.

You make the call.

I will give you a hint. Two of the three quarterbacks have spent a combined 22 years in the NFL.

Behind door No. 1: Seneca Wallace

Behind door No. 2: Sage Rosenfels

Behind door No. 3: Sam Richardson

In scenarios like this it is always difficult to compare eras. The game has changed immensely with the implement of the spread and the higher volume of short passes and screens. And in general, passing totals have increased across the board in college football. But it’s staggering how similar Richardson’s numbers are to the two best quarterbacks of Iowa State’s Generation X.

And even in comparison to his current college football peers, Richardson is smack dab in the middle this season. He is ranked 44th of all college football quarterbacks in passing yards per game, 52nd in total offense, 73rd in quarterback rating. These are definitely not numbers that are threatening to set the college football world on fire, but they aren’t the worst thing humanity has ever seen.

It’s a growing-in-volume-consensus in the Cyclone fan-base that Richardson is terrible, Iowa State’s biggest problem and needs to be removed immediately. This, I believe, is unfair to Richardson, but also a modern day sports reality. Richardson is caught in the trap of two fan-driven sports paradoxes.

For one, he is a quarterback in a conference that is known for insanely good quarterbacks that put up alien numbers. Richardson is 44th among all college football quarterbacks in yardage per game, but is 7th in the Big 12 and almost 150 yards behind Pat Mahomes at Texas Tech. Richardson is essentially a Ford Focus in a conference full of Maserati’s. In a college football vacuum, he is a pretty standard and serviceable quarterback, but when the guy on the other side of the field is Mahomes, Boykine, Russell and Mayfield, it distorts the reality of what an average quarterback is.  

And secondly, he is on the unfortunate end of the, “Throw the quarterback out with the bathwater” part of football. During Richardson’s tenure at Iowa State, the Cyclones have not won many games. This is an indisputable fact. The two easiest targets for blame are the head coach and the quarterback. It is very difficult for a fan to concentrate on a left guard and say, “Gee, that guy is really missing his blitz pick-ups form stunts in the interior today.” But even the most naive football fan can figure out if the quarterback is throwing the ball accurately to the correct team.

Everybody watches the quarterback on every single play. It is why that position is the most prestigious and also the most difficult to please.

A quarterback is like a manager at your place of work. When you first meet, it is exciting and new. “Whoa, my boss is taking to me to lunch on my first day! My boss is the coolest. This is going to be great.”

Slowly the perceived flaws start to get exposed and your expectation for perfection isn’t met. “Oh, so I guess I won’t get that holiday bonus this year, but Janet’s manager Seth Russell gave her a trip to Orlando, that doesn’t seem right.”

The negatives always get the attention, add up over time and eventually you can’t get past them. “This is awful. I literally get ill when I see this person each day. Find me a new boss, I can’t take this anymore.  I need something different.”

The amount of people in this world who think they have a great boss is probably similar to those that think their team has a great quarterback. Just think of all the quarterback problems in the NFL. For every Aaron Rodgers, there are a dozen Alex Smith’s. It is an illogical position to make people happy, especially when a squad is losing. The quarterback is the one position every fan sees every single mistake.

It’s like the Batman quote, “Live long enough and you will see yourself become the villain.”

Sam Richardson struggled against Texas Tech and has not won many games at Iowa State. He isn’t immune from criticism. But the amount of vitriol towards the young man is a bit much. He is a middle of the pack, serviceable quarterback on an Iowa State team where near perfection is needed to compete. Near perfection is a difficult bar to clear. 

Joel Lanning is the new, exciting mystery behind door number four. Perhaps he is the answer? Let’s make a deal is not as easy as it seems.