Monday Morning Quarterback – A Remarkable Display of Guesswork

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

A Monday morning quarterback is the name given to a person who criticizes and second-guesses decisions made by somebody after the fact. The term is considered an idiom—a phrase or expression with a meaning that differs from its literal definition. In this case, the term is used to call somebody’s untimely judgment out. 

Understanding idioms is crucial for mastering the English language as they add depth and nuance to communication. They are often used in casual speech and writing and can help you grow practical communication skills. 

This guide delves into the definition, origin, contextual usage, and examples of the idiom Monday morning quarterback. Continue reading to learn how this idiom can be used and explore its related terms and phrases.

Monday Morning Quarterback – A Remarkable Display of Guesswork

What Does the Idiom Monday Morning Quarterback?

The idiom Monday morning quarterback refers to someone who criticizes or offers hindsight commentary on an event, situation, or decision, particularly with the benefit of hindsight.

According to, a Monday morning quarterback means “a person who criticizes the actions or decisions of others after the fact, using hindsight to assess situations and specify alternative solutions.”

As an educator, I frequently encounter individuals who express opinions about education without having actual experience in the field. These individuals are Monday morning quarterbacks, offering judgments on a subject they have limited firsthand understanding of. Their comments often stem from emotional reactions and a lack of comprehensive information.

Variations of the Idiom

One common variation is Monday morning quarterbacking, transforming the familiar noun into a verb. Another equivalent term is armchair quarterback. Both Monday morning quarterback and armchair quarterback are interchangeable idioms used to describe someone who critiques or offers hindsight commentary on events with the benefit of hindsight.

How Is Monday Morning Quarterback Commonly Used in Context?

The idiom Monday morning quarterback is a versatile expression with widespread usage. In the following sections, we’ll explore the different contexts in which individuals might use this idiom, real-life examples that illustrate its usage, and practical tips for effective application.

What Are the Different Ways to Use Monday Morning Quarterback?

The following examples illustrate versatile ways to apply the idiom Monday morning quarterback in describing the act of critiquing or offering opinions on events after they have occurred.

  • Post-event critique: “The company’s strategy might look flawed now, but it’s the Monday morning quarterbacks who are always the most critical.”
  • Hindsight analysis: “People tend to Monday morning quarterback the stock market, offering expert opinions after the market has closed.”
  • Evaluation of past decisions: “In the political arena, a Monday morning quarterback constantly scrutinizes decisions made by politicians, often with the benefit of hindsight.”
  • Reflecting on personal choices: “It’s natural to Monday morning quarterback our own decisions, wondering if we could have chosen differently.”
  • Sports commentary: “Sports analysts often engage in Monday morning quarterbacking, discussing what a team should have done differently in a game.”

Where Can You Find Examples of Monday Morning Quarterback?

You can find examples of the phrase Monday morning quarterback in various sources, including:

  • Sports commentaries
  • News articles
  • Online forums and social media 
  • Opinion pieces and columns
  • Television and radio shows
  • Songs: It’s the title of a song by Frank Sinatra, adding a musical dimension to the idiom’s usage.

The following examples are from online news and journalistic sources:

“I do not agree with playing Monday morning quarterback on what the legislature did in the last session.” (The Stillwater News-Press)

“It’s easy to look back with the 20/20 vision of hindsight and play Monday morning quarterback.” (The Huffington Post)

What Are Some Tips for Using Monday Morning Quarterback Effectively?

Take into account the following tips when using this idiom: 

  • Understand the meaning: Familiarize yourself with the idiom’s definition and context. Know that it refers to critiquing or analyzing an event or decision after it has happened, often with the benefit of hindsight.
  • Use it appropriately: Deploy the idiom when discussing past events or decisions.
  • Be mindful of tone: Recognize that using the idiom can imply criticism or second-guessing. 
  • Provide context: When using the idiom, provide enough background information to ensure others understand the specific event or decision you are referring to.

What Is the Origin of the Idiom Monday Morning Quarterback?

Monday Morning Quarterback Ngram
Monday morning quarterback usage trend.

The term Monday morning quarterback originates from the fact that many American football games are played on Sunday. And it is easy to criticize a quarterback’s decisions in the heat of the moment from the vantage point twelve or more hours after the football game has ended. 

Monday morning quarterback is a pejorative term first documented by Barry Wood, the quarterback of the Harvard football team, in a speech at a meeting of the New England Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools in 1931:

The answer to overemphasis was to be found not on the field, but in the stands, where sit what Wood called “the Monday morning quarterbacks.” [New York Times, Dec. 5, 1931]

How Did the Idiom Evolve Over Time?

By the mid-20th century, the idiom’s usage had expanded beyond sports, entering the realms of politics, business, and other areas where decision-making is key. This expansion mirrored societal changes, as more people began to scrutinize decisions made by public figures and express their opinions publicly.

Today, a Monday morning quarterback is anyone who critiques events, decisions, or situations retrospectively, often with a tone implying they could have done better, despite not being in the same circumstances or possessing the same information at the time of the decision. This broad usage reflects the continued evolution of this enduring idiom.

What Are Some Related Terms to Monday Morning Quarterback?

It is best to consider alternative terms to understand how to use Monday morning quarterback in a sentence. This practice allows you to fully grasp the meaning and placement of the idiom for mastery in your own material.

Monday Morning Quarterback – A Remarkable Display of Guesswork 1


  • Backseat critic
  • Hindsight critic
  • Retroactive analyst
  • After-the-fact commentator
  • Second-guesser
  • Post-event evaluator
  • Hindsight pundit


  • Active participant
  • Real-time decision-maker
  • Hands-on contributor
  • Forward-thinking strategist
  • Proactive problem solver
  • Involved stakeholder

Monday Morning Quarterback: Test Your Knowledge!

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Let’s Review

The idiom Monday morning quarterback captures the concept of offering criticism or analysis of past events or decisions with the benefit of hindsight. It reflects the tendency for individuals to scrutinize and evaluate actions after the fact, often from a position of limited involvement or understanding.

Whether in sports commentary, personal reflection, or broader discussions, understanding and using Monday morning quarterback adds depth to expressing hindsight perspectives. Expand your repertoire and discover the art of expression with idioms. Explore more idioms on our site to broaden your linguistic horizons.