You either have one or you don't.
It's really that simple when it comes to the quarterback position in the NFL.
More specifically, you either have a guy who has shown he is capable of being a "winning" starter in the NFL or you don't, and the difference between the haves and have-nots in that regard is immeasurable.
There's not a better example of that than what is going on right now in San Francisco with Jimmy Garoppolo.
The 49ers had won one game total in the season before handing the reins to Garoppolo three weeks ago. Now they've won three in a row with victories in each of the games in which Garoppolo has started. And as amazing as that is, consider this: Not only were they 1-10 before Garoppolo became the starter, but they had lost by double digits in each of their four losses before giving the keys to the franchise to the former second-round pick of the Patriots who had been acquired via trade at the deadline in late October.
Upon starting Garoppolo, the Niners went from being non-competitive to having one of the longest current winning streaks in the NFL.
There are great quarterbacks, good quarterbacks and then pretty much everyone else when it comes to by far the most important position in the sport. Whether you say it publicly or not, as a player, you know what you have on your team, and I'm convinced that knowledge, good or bad, permeates throughout an entire organization. I've been there and I've felt it.
Obviously, the fans and the media only see what happens inside the white lines during a game, and that is clearly the most important part of it. But I think there's so much more than that. Whether it's a conscious thing or more subconscious, there is no doubt that the belief, or lack thereof, in a QB has an impact on all the other players in the entire locker room.
I wasn't there very long, but during my time in New England, the entire team knew we were going to win every game we played in because we had Tom Brady and the other team didn't. When I was in Buffalo, we believed that we were going to win because we had a good quarterback in Drew Bledsoe.
Other places? It often felt more like we hoped we would be able to win with the guy we had under center. Nowhere is that more evident than at the end of the game when your team needs a score and the outcome is still in doubt.
Think about it this way: What did you think was going to happen in the Steelers-Patriots game on Sunday when Brady got the ball with less than three minutes left, down 24-19? Exactly. You thought Brady would march his team down the field for a go-ahead touchdown just like he did. The players can't help but believe that and feel the same way, probably even more so because they are around him every day.
Now think about the 49ers. What do you think those players, fans, etc., thought earlier in the season when they were in those situations with Brian Hoyer or C.J. Beathard? And what do you think is going through their heads now that they have Garoppolo leading them in crunch time?
That, more than anything else, is the difference between teams in the NFL, especially with comparable talent, and the reason why guys like Garoppolo and Kirk Cousins could command $30 million per year if either one of them hit the open market this March. They're worth it.
It's not really about the stats, although certainly their overall production is very important. It's about the belief, the feeling and the knowledge that you have one of the better quarterbacks in the league and that they give you a great chance to get rewarded for your hard work by getting the job done late in games.
Garoppolo is now two-for-two in those situations in San Francisco, and it's the reason why things are looking brighter in the Bay Area than they have in a long time. And it's also why No. 10 49ers jerseys figure to be the hottest Christmas gift in the city come Monday morning.