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Troy Aikman: Not as good as Advertised
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Cicero


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:26 pm    Post subject: Troy Aikman: Not as good as Advertised Reply with quote

by: Chris Vanak

First and foremost, let me say that my undying loyalty to the Dallas Cowboys is unwavering. Iíve been an avid fan for nearly 20 years. I realize I might take some flack for this, but so be it. Iím still a fan of the game, so Iím generally unbiased.

Now, as 1st and 2nd generation Cowboys fans, I recently sat down with my dad and we discussed the current status of the Dallas Cowboys. He brought up to me that the last time the Cowboys had gone 0-2, they had won the Superbowl. Of course I knew this, but I argued that this team is drastically different from that dynasty. Subsequently, that made me think of player comparisons and then onto the accolades of Tony Romo thus far. As a result, I decided to do my research on our famed 90ís dynasty and break it down, and to my surprise, I was rather shocked at how unimpressive Troy Aikman really was under center. After showing this to my dad, he noted that Aikmanís glory was in his post season form, and ability to bring the team back when behind in the 4th quarter. I decided to dig further to try and validate this shocking development. Yet, again, to my surprise -- Aikman was still not that impressive. I argued that Aikman, in all his 3-time Superbowl Winning glory, was nothing more than a solid QB option at best, and was carried by Emmitt Smith. This incited some aggressive attitude from my dad, and we ended the discussion, but I wanted to bring my findings here and see what the rest of you had to say about this.

Furthermore, we all know that era was in fact, carried by our running game. The Cowboys were a run-first, pass-second style of offense. That much we all agree on. This isnít an article to point out the obvious, but rather shed light on perhaps why. It could create some flak from Cowboys nation, and Iíd surely not be surprised if it did, but bear with me.

Troy Aikman Career Totals:

Cmp%: 61.5
Yards: 32,942
TDs: 165
INTs: 141

Clearly from the above totals, his numbers arenít that impressive for a 12 year career. Perhaps for a solid starting QB, but not for a Hall of Fame QB; 3 SuperBowl rings withstanding. I would point out that, his post-season career record is 11-4, and while wins and losses are what matters, we should all agree that QBs are often not the sole reason for a teams success, or failures. Case in point for the topic, he threw for 3,000+ yds only five times in his career, with 3,445 being his high. Troy Aikman posted a QB rating over 90 for the season only twice in his career, while finishing within the 70ís 5 times -- averaging a lethargic 81.6.

An argument could be made for his clutch dependability, defined by his 22 career comeback victories, but 16 of those are importantly noted by Emmitt Smithís 19 regular season TDs coming within the final 2 minutes f the 4th Qtr. He has a 0.7 TD:INT ratio in those comeback as well, with a lowly QB rating of 78.3. Aikman also threw for more then 20 TDs in a season only once, threw more INTs than TDs in a season 5 times, and had double digit INTs nine times. All of this coming in a 12 year career.

Now, we must remember that the league was different then than it was now, and we held our QB to a lower standard then. Right? Perhaps, but in the era of Marino and Elway, Aikmanís numbers are lackluster. In fact, as difficult as it might be to say, I believe without Emmitt Smith -- Aikmanís name doesn't reach Canton.
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Dirk Gently


Joined: 04 Jun 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's hilarious that Aikman is being remembered as a clutch comeback player. "In the day" he was constantly criticized for being unable to bring the cowboys back.

As for the QB rating, scoring TDs figures greatly in the rating totals and the Cowboys offensive style did not put a lot of TDs on the board for Aikman and Irvin. This is one of those situations where the stats don't tell the story. Aikman was deadly accurate-- not by completion percentage but by actually putting the ball where he intended. He was the perfect match for Irvin's physical, blocking out, power forward style of receiving and the two of them were a near unstoppable combination.

While there is little doubt that having a runner of Emmitt's caliber helped Aikman considerably, there *is* a reason he not only got in the hall, but got there very quickly indeed, post retirement.
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gofrogs


Joined: 16 Apr 2010
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think most people that watched the games back then kinda knew that Aikman didn't have eye popping numbers.
But just because he didnt doesnt mean he couldn't have. The entire NFL was diffrent then, offensive lineman were nowhere near as athletic, because of that you had to give them a break from pass blocking and let them lean on someone on running plays.
Because of that Jimmy put together one of the (if not the) best run blocking O-lines.
Another postion that has dramatically changed is WR; One of the more complained about things with Aikman was he over thru the ball to Harper on fly patterns all the time; If he had a guy like Miles Austin, his stats would have been much better.
The biggest reason his stats are underwhelming by today standards is all the rules put in to protect the QB. I don't know if you remember, but he had three brutal hits to the chin early in his career. It was not uncommon for him to get drilled in the ribs (before everyone wore rib protecters). After hits like those Turner would run the ball 4 or 5 times in a row so Troy could regain his composure.

All-in-All I agree to a certain extent, numbers don't lie. But as you and everyone on this site knows, numbers are only part of the story.
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Da Boyz


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dirk Gently wrote:
I think it's hilarious that Aikman is being remembered as a clutch comeback player. "In the day" he was constantly criticized for being unable to bring the cowboys back.

As for the QB rating, scoring TDs figures greatly in the rating totals and the Cowboys offensive style did not put a lot of TDs on the board for Aikman and Irvin. This is one of those situations where the stats don't tell the story. Aikman was deadly accurate-- not by completion percentage but by actually putting the ball where he intended. He was the perfect match for Irvin's physical, blocking out, power forward style of receiving and the two of them were a near unstoppable combination.

While there is little doubt that having a runner of Emmitt's caliber helped Aikman considerably, there *is* a reason he not only got in the hall, but got there very quickly indeed, post retirement.


Exactly. When the boys got inside the 10 it was Emmitt time. In today's game you see a lot more play action and quick hitters in the redzone. Brady gets a lot of cheap TDs like this. The 90s Cowboys did not. Aikman was extremely accurate and it couldn't be measured by stats. You have to remember that for the most part the Cowboys ran 2 WR sets with a TE and a blocking FB. In today's game, we see a lot of singleback sets with 3 wrs and TEs that run like wideouts.

Not only is it a much different era, but the Cowboys didn't throw the ball a lot even in their time. Aikman was great in the middle of his career. It started off slow, then dipped at the end when the Cowboys weren't as talented and he was suffering from concussions. In between however he was one of the best QBs in the league, he just simply didn't have to throw the ball 30 times for the Cowboys to win.
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Rtnldave


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, I just had this conversation with a friend of mine yesterday. Of course the name Favre entered the conversation. But we'll address that in a minute. Out of all the supposed "great" QB's of that era: Young, Favre, Elway, Marino, Kelly and of course Aikman, Troy seems to get the LEAST amount of respect. The oddity is that he faced all of them, many of them more than once, and won the majority of the time! As for the stats, let's look at them closely. Favre and Young played a West Coast style of offense. That means they had the advantage of a really bogus stat in their favor: Passing yards. Let's look at this for what it actually is. Passing yards in a W.C. offense are so inflated because many of the passes only travled about 8 or 10 yards. The reciever would then RUN for 30 or 40 yards an the QB gets credit for a 48 0r 50 yard pass! HUH!? He threw the ball 10 yards! It is thee most misleading stat in sports. Another stat that weighs heavy in their favor is the red zone effeciency. When the Boys got into the red zone everyon knew it was Emmitt time. When Young or Favre got there, it was tight end time. Yeah they threw the TD, but Aikman played in a different system. What about clutch time? 3rd down in the NFC championship game at SF. Late in the fourth quarter, SF just scored and has all the momentum. I suppose it was Emmitt's 70 yard run that set up the TD to put the game out of reach? Oh that's right...... AIKMAN to ........ Oh yeah, Harper! It wasn't even supposed to go that way, but he trusted the guy and put the ball where it needed to be. He did that ALL THE TIME in big games! Favre, he only cost his teams 3 championship games by throwing INT's on the go ahead, sudden death or game winng drives in all those games. G.B vs Dallas 95/ G.B. vs N.Y.G. 07/ Minn vs N.O. 09. Young, he had 4 cracks at bringing his team to the Super bowl, he did it once. Aikman did it 3 out of 4. Seems to me Troy is the best of his era. If you don't see that, you are simply a stat monkey caught up in pupet show. Dance monkey, dance!
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TD-ES-JJ


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm a pretty old dude and I watched a lot of those Aikman games "back in the day". I can confidently say that especially in Aikman's case, stats really don't tell the story.

He was what they needed him to be. We were a running team that needed only a few big plays here and there to win ball games. Look at the team scoring and points allowed. We were a team that scored a little over 20 pts a game consistently. Basically, if the other team didn't break 20 they lost.

Looking back at stats doesn't do justice to the type players that played the game back then. When you could hit the QB and touch WRs. It was a completely different game.
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Dirk Gently


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve Young is a terrific QB and more than earned his jacket.

That having been said, the main reason he is the NFL's #1 all-time passer is that the West Coast Offense is basically designed to increase a QB's rating. High TD/INT ratio, good YPA, and very high completion percentage-- the three things the passer rating largely hinges on-- are the highlights of a well-run West Coast Offense.
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Rtnldave


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dirk Gently wrote:
Steve Young is a terrific QB and more than earned his jacket.

That having been said, the main reason he is the NFL's #1 all-time passer is that the West Coast Offense is basically designed to increase a QB's rating. High TD/INT ratio, good YPA, and very high completion percentage-- the three things the passer rating largely hinges on-- are the highlights of a well-run West Coast Offense.


Exactly. Young and Favre played in an offensive style that featured the QB. Everything went thru the QB in any situation. The run was virtually non-existant. My only point is that Aikman faced these two QB's, arguably the best to execute the W.C. offense in their time, and he won 5 out of 6 times in big games! To the devil with stats, this guy beat em all but once. So how is it that he is considered subpar and they are considered great? Even Irvin said Troy was their General and that they could not have had the success they enjoyed without him.
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The_Slamman


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's no doubt that Aikman sacrificed stats playing in the system he was in. And, the era was simply different. Marino put up great stats but didn't win much in the post season. Elway put up great stats but didn't win it all until TD became the man in Denver. Young and Montana played in the west coast system where it was simply a different style of play that focused on short receptions as the running attack. More importantly, the 49ers didn't have to grind it out in the NFC East during the NFCE glory years. Back then, playing the NFC East was all about not making mistakes, ball control and keeping the defense off the field. Those Philly, NYG and Wash teams truly had great defenses. The games were wars of attrition. Keep in mind that from 1986-1995, the NFCE won the SB 7 times in 10 years. All of those teams were predicated on defense.

Let me put it this way, if Aikman was asked to play in Mike Martz offense, he most certainly would have thrown for 4,000 yards a year. But, that style of play wouldn't have gotten the Boys very far in the NFCE during that era.
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GrassyKnoll


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As Slam points out Aikman didn't have to play in an offense that required 40 passes a game. It wasn't because he couldn't do it. It was because we didn't need him to. Also, the 49ers played in a division with the Saints, Falcons, & Rams. How good were those teams when Montana & Young were in their prime? Ask yourself the same question about the Eagles, Redskins, & Giants during Aikman's career. Nuff said!
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Rtnldave


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

GrassyKnoll wrote:
As Slam points out Aikman didn't have to play in an offense that required 40 passes a game. It wasn't because he couldn't do it. It was because we didn't need him to. Also, the 49ers played in a division with the Saints, Falcons, & Rams. How good were those teams when Montana & Young were in their prime? Ask yourself the same question about the Eagles, Redskins, & Giants during Aikman's career. Nuff said!


Amen!
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TheStarStillShines


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 11:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember Aikman once saying (not a direct quote), "I think I hold the NFL record for most passes completed at the 1-yard line."

If you go through every Cowboys game of his career, sure enough, a lot of his completions in the redzone ended at the one yard line.

Aikman was a great QB, and, as mentioned, one could only truly appreciate his skills by watching him. Stats definitely don't tell the whole story since they do not provide any context. Aikman was the perfect QB for the Boys' system, and his leadership and skillset were undeniable.

The one criticism that I have of Aikman was that he had difficulties creating chemistry with certain receivers. He had such a great relationship with Irvin and Novacek, but he was unable to duplicate that with other players.
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playa-hater


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Troy Aikman was 10 and 1 in his 1st 11 playoff and Superbowl starts. At that time was the number 1 postseason QB of all-time based on QB rating. In other words his stats were best when it counted the most. What good are regular season stats if you cant duplicate them in the playoffs.

As other posters have pointed out, Aikman didn't play in a pass happy system. But was a pin point QB and did what he needed to when when he had to.

Aikman unfortunately got knocked around plenty and eventually retired due to his many concussions. Bill Walsh once said Aikman was "one of the purest passers of all-time"
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playa-hater


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TheStarStillShines wrote:
The one criticism that I have of Aikman was that he had difficulties creating chemistry with certain receivers. He had such a great relationship with Irvin and Novacek, but he was unable to duplicate that with other players.


On that note, I am still screaming that Dallas/ Jerry Jones let Jimmy Smith go. I think he and Aikman would have been great together.
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Spends


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 12:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will say I was young (born in 8Cool at the peak of the Aikman era, but all I remember hearing from announcers and my dad was that he was the most accurate passer. Just from a perspective of a 22 year old.

But I appreciate the post being made and the discussion it has received.
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