Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Most Recent FO Features

HundleyBre15.jpg

» Futures: UCLA QB Brett Hundley

Beyond the immediate considerations of Hundley's potential, the quarterback's tape raises larger questions about the position.

14 Jul 2011

Walkthrough: Peloton

by Mike Tanier

If football never returns, we can at least watch another violent contact sport in which the participants wear helmets: bicycle racing.

The Versus channel aired what appeared to be a documentary on World War I battle atrocities on Sunday night. There were endless shots of wounded young men writhing in agony by roadsides in the shadows of Gothic cathedrals in France. Upon further viewing, it turned out to be Stage Nine of the Tour De France, a kind of picturesque, Gallic Death Race 2000.

At one point, a French television car swerved to avoid a tree and instead hit Spain's Juan-Antonio Flecha, who then crashed into Dutch racer Johnny Hoogerland in the greatest conflict between those two nations since 1561. Hoogerland tumbled off the road into a barbed wire fence. There's something you never see in an NFL Sunday. Clay Matthews hits hard, but he isn't a car, and even old Veterans Stadium didn't have barbed wire along the sidelines. I couldn't find any footage from the camera car of the crash; it was probably very jumpy and immediate in the fine tradition of the New Wave. L'arbre escaped harm.

Flecha and Hoogerland stayed in the race. Camera crews (responsible ones) caught Flecha receiving medical attention by a doctor on the back of a motorcycle. A mobile physician, they called him. What medical school offers that degree: John Harley Hopkins Davidson? What HMO covers mobile surgery? And what other services can be offered from the back of a motorcycle? "It appears that Mark Cavendish is having trouble with his wisdom teeth with eight kilometers to go before the sprint, but a mobile dentist has arrived on the scene with his hygienist in a side car. Meanwhile, Alberto Contador is being audited about the expenses he claimed as he approaches Luz-Ardiden, but his mobile accountant has arrived on a Vespa and ... oh no, there are receipts flying all over the countryside! Poorly played by Contador and his financial staff!" Hoogerland was still racing on Wednesday with 24 stitches in his leg; his name not being Dutch for "Cutler."

There were other major crashes on Sunday. Kazakhstan's Alexandre Vinokourov took a curve badly, struck some other cyclists, and fell down a wooded hillside. He was taken by helicopter to a hospital. Another cyclist, Contador I think, crashed head-on into a barrier while entering a town. A close-up of the Peloton (a word I am dropping into casual conversation whenever I can) revealed that another racer made a swift, aggressive move just before the crash. It may have been just a quick swivel of the head to see where other cyclists were, but on the replay it looked a little more sinister. Race officials responded by flagging Ndamukong Suh for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Sudden moves in a crowd of cyclists are both dangerous and highly frowned upon. Versus channel airs occasional spots about bicycle safety, law, and etiquette by a guy who calls himself a "bicycle lawyer." That's right, a mobile lawyer! So if you suffer malpractice at the hands of your mobile physician, you can sue without breaking stride! The guy's spots contain good-natured common-sense advice about sharing the road, but I started to resent them, because the last thing anyone wants to hear right now is another lawyer talking about sports.

The Tour de France took Monday off, and it sounded like everyone needed a rest. Still, the timing was bad: Two major American sports are locked out, one is in the All-Star break, and the fourth is hockey. We need something to watch, even if it is a sport few Americans really understand. The cycling world can make it up to us by helping to hasten the NFL labor negotiations. Send a French television crew to drive around the negotiating table in a tight, tight circle. That should heighten the sense of urgency.

Transition

With the NFL lockout slowly drawing to a conclusion (knock on desktop), the league released "Transition Rules" on Monday, a truncated schedule of offseason business activities that would allow training camps to open more-or-less on time. The schedule is tight -- a three-day window for teams to re-sign their own players, a four-day window to match free-agent offer sheets, some two-hour windows for sleep.

Still, the transition schedule could have been even tighter. An unnamed, unverified, probably nonexistent source leaked a proposed schedule that allows teams to conduct all of their offseason activities in just 18 hours! In the event that talks stall yet again, general managers may have to get six months of work done in one whirlwind day:

  • 6 a.m. Rookie signing period begins. Hungry seventh-round picks accept bagel sandwiches as signing bonuses.
  • 6:05-7 a.m. Grandstanding. Agents for each first-round pick have 55 minutes to declare talks "miles apart," report "no significant progress," rant about their "clients' best interests," and threaten to "hold out as long as it takes." All agent firings must take place before 6:20 a.m. or Chris Mortensen finishes his grapefruit, whichever comes first.
  • 7-8 a.m. "So You Think You're a Rookie Free Agent." Undrafted rookies compete in a reality television-style format for roster spots. Each has 30 seconds to wow coaches and celebrity judges Steve Tasker, Soliel Moon-Frye, and a yet-to-be-cast saucy Brit. Fans at home can vote for their favorites; Eric Mangini is ineligible from voting.
  • 9 a.m. Rookie signing period ends. Holdout period begins.
  • 9:10 a.m. Half-hearted holdout period ends. Serious holdout period begins.
  • 9:30 a.m. Serious holdout period ends. Drew Rosenhaus client holdout period begins.
  • 9:55 a.m. Just sign the contract and get to camp already, kid.
  • 10-11:55 a.m. Veteran Re-Signing Period. Colts team president Bill Polian posts on Facebook: "Hi everybody, I got a new smart phone and the numbers didn't transfer correctly. So if you can please post your phone numbers so I can send you contract offers, that would be swell. Luv ya! LOL." There are no comments.
  • 12-12:55 p.m. Veteran Disrespect Period. Teams have now waited long enough to make cursory lowball offers to the veterans they didn't want to keep anyway.
  • 1 p.m. Preseason rosters set at 200 players, including some guys who just sneaked into team headquarters to use the whirlpool.
  • 2 p.m. Team meetings. Six months off have taken their toll. Baffled rookies are seen whacking a football with a croquet mallet. Coaches have forgotten how to work overhead projectors. Seahawks coach Peter Carroll acts highly distracted and confused, so not everything is amiss.
  • 2:02 p.m. The first wide receiver falls asleep in a team meeting.
  • 3 p.m. Roster Cut Down Musical Chairs. Coaches put 90 chairs at the 50-yard line and make players walk in a circle to Katy Perry's "Dynamite." Smaller players crushed when larger ones sit on them receive injury settlements.
  • 4-6 p.m. Jerseys assigned to rookies. To save sewing/spelling time, some names are shortened. New 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is renamed "Joe Brown." Giants rookie Prince Amukamara is just handed a T-shirt.
  • 6-6:15 p.m. Meal Break. Executives, coaches, scouts, and front office assistants keep their strength up by eating a nutrient-rich gel from flexible packets. Time is of the essence, so team employees must learn to do everything like astronauts.
  • 6:15-6:16 p.m. "Restroom" Break: Everything like astronauts.
  • 6:20-6:40 p.m. Press Conferences: Coaches and newly signed rookies brief reporters on the day's events and provide the quotes and observations that allow thoughtful journalists to write well-thought out, entertaining stories for the morning newspaper.
  • 6:45 p.m. Morning newspaper deadline.
  • 6:58 p.m. Dan Snyder sits by the telephone, tapping his fingers and grinding his teeth.
  • 7 p.m. Unrestricted free agency begins!
  • 7-8 p.m. Free-agent speed dating. Each player gets five minutes at a table with each team. A horn sounds, and everyone switches tables. At the end of the hour, players and owners fill out preference cards, and organizers do their best to find matches. This method won a narrow vote by players and owners over a rival proposal: the free-agent key party.
  • 8:30 p.m. Reflection. A period to take a deep breath, refocus, and engage in the important long-range planning that helps businesses avoid the kind of fiscal emergencies that ultimately lead to work stoppages and the vilification of their own emp...
  • 8:31 p.m. Nnamdi Asomugha Bidding War!
  • 9 p.m. Official end of unrestricted free agency.
  • 9:01-9:30 p.m. Crippling buyer's remorse.
  • 9:30-10 p.m. Matrix Minicamp. Players are jacked into a supercomputer that feeds playbooks directly into their brain. The NFL and NFLPA agreed to only have one of these minicamps, realizing the second and third ones would be muddled and confusing.
  • 10:05 p.m. Rookie Hazing. Usually, the newcomers are forced to sing in the team cafeteria or tied to goalposts with trainer's tape. To save time, they are lined up, berated by R. Lee Ermey for five minutes, and blasted with a fire hose.
  • 10:30 p.m. Players begin fitness and conditioning run.
  • 10:40 p.m. Players complete fitness and conditioning run.
  • 11:22 p.m. Albert Haynesworth completes his fitness and conditioning run.
  • 11:50 p.m. Last call. You don't have to go home with Mike Holmgren, but you can't stay here.
  • Midnight. Football is back, like it never left at all.

Quarterback Top Fives

It's off to the AFC West and four historic AFL franchises! We will break them up two-by-two.

Broncos

1. John Elway. Elway is the Hank Aaron of quarterbacks. Like Aaron, he had a long career in which he was among the best players in his sport, but was usually a notch below a few other greats. Then, both Elway and Aaron had late-career spikes that gave thrust them into a higher echelon of all-timers. Aaron's Braves moved from a cavernous stadium in Milwaukee to a smaller one in Atlanta in 1966, and Aaron won two straight home run titles. Mike Shanahan took over as Broncos head coach in 1995, bringing rookie Terrell Davis and others to the lineup, and Elway posted a career-high 26 touchdowns, then matched that total in 1996 and threw 27 en route to his first Super Bowl win in 1997. The closest quarterback comparison to Elway, when you factor in career shape, is probably Y.A. Tittle, but Elway was more Aaron-like than Tittle-like.

Like Aaron, Elway is a hard guy to place on All-Time Great lists. He doesn't have a natural peak. The Super Bowl success and best statistical years don't line up with the comeback heroics and period when he was one of the best all-around athletes in sports, so appraising him is like appraising two different people. I have seen experts list Elway as one of the three or four best ever, but that gives too much credit for postseason performances and overstates the case that Elway's statistics and record were hurt by his skill-position talent. At the same time, Elway's postseason performances were pretty impressive, and his skill-position talent really was weak, so it's not entirely fair to throw his low completion percentages around as a reason to heavily downgrade him. I usually cram him wherever he fits in the Top 10, somewhere near Roger Staubach, who also did some of his finest work when he was a little older.

2. Craig Morton. Not many teams have this big a drop off between quarterback No. 1 and No. 2. The Bears did, I think, though this drop is greater. Morton would be most people's choice for No. 2, but there is not much separation between him and the guys ranked below him when you judge strictly on Broncos accomplishments. Morton led the Broncos to a Super Bowl in which the Cowboys pulverized them. The Broncos threw 313 passes and rushed 523 times that year, so they were not an aerial juggernaut even by 1977 standards, but Morton was very good until the Super Bowl. He then battled injuries for a few years, came back and had a solid 1981 season, and bowed out.

3. Jake Plummer. Plummer, Morton, and Brian Griese all finished within a few hundred passing yards of one another on the Broncos' all-time list. They finished as Broncos with values of 46, 45, and 42 in Pro Football Reference's Approximate Value statistic. Morton and Plummer each have something to recommend him as the Second Best Broncos Quarterback Ever: Morton has the Super Bowl appearance, Plummer a 4,000-yard season and a 13-3 season. Griese is a notch below them, but he had his moments (a Pro Bowl appearance and an efficiency rating crown in 2000) and hung around a lot longer than you might remember. None of them blows you away as a candidate, and I think most of us will agree that this is the right order.

4. Brian Griese. Mr. Bumbles. When I first started writing about football, Griese was my go-to joke, a guy who could be counted on to get injured (probably punched) at a barbecue or crash his car into a funeral possession. His career stat line in Denver doesn't reflect how unreliable he was.

5. Frank Tripucka. Tripucka was drafted in the first round by the Eagles in 1949 then waived. He bounced around benches for a few years before heading to the CFL. Tripucka reappeared in the AFL in 1960, leading the league in yards (3,038) and interceptions (34!) in its first year. He made the AFL All-Star Game in 1962 as a 35-year-old in brown, vertically striped socks. It is perfectly reasonable to rank Jay Cutler or Charley Johnson above Tripucka, and some people would rank Tripucka above Griese and-or Plummer. He, Plummer, and Morton (and Johnson) are similar in that they were second-chance guys who gave the Broncos a few decent years.

Assuming Tim Tebow becomes the Broncos' quarterback of record in the near future, he does not have to do much to overtake Tripucka -- two or three successful seasons should do it. After that, it's not long before he reaches the Griese-Plummer-Morton Peloton. Any quarterback who can put together a sustained peak of a few seasons can lay a reasonable claim to be second on the Broncos list. Claiming first place requires a bit more work.

Chiefs

1. Len Dawson. Dawson was the best quarterback in AFL history by a wide margin. He led the AFL in touchdowns four times and quarterback rating (retroactively) six times. His stat lines are the only AFL figures that look like modern quarterback's numbers on a consistent, year-to-year basis. If you look at numbers of a guy like Babe Parilli in 1964 -- 3,465 yards, 31 touchdowns, 27 interceptions, a completion rate of 48.2 percent -- you can tell that you are in some wacky statistical hinterland. Dawson's completion rates hung around 57 percent for most of his career, and he usually recorded 20-30 touchdowns and 10-20 interceptions. He also played at a high level until the early 1970s, unlike many of the early AFL stars, who started to slip when the leagues began to achieve equal footing.

The Steelers selected Dawson fifth overall in the 1957 draft but buried him on the bench behind Bobby Layne and Earl Morrall. The Steelers, of course, drafted Johnny Unitas in the ninth round in 1955 but lost him in the training camp shuffle. In 1956, they selected Gary Gaylen Glick, a star quarterback at Colorado State who moved to safety and kicker in the NFL. So the Steelers drafted two of the three best quarterbacks of the 1960s and spent two-straight first-round picks on quarterbacks, yet by the mid-1960s were stuck trying to move the ball behind Ed Brown and Dick Shiner.

2. Trent Green. The most amazing thing about Green's numbers from 2002-2005 is that his wide receivers were Eddie Kennison and Johnnie Morton. Tony Gonzalez is amazing, of course, but you don't throw for 4,500 by locking on to the tight end. Green distributed passes to Gonzalez and his backs, found Dante Hall in the slot, threw deep to the wideouts now and then, and played quarterback as if he were a point guard dishing the ball to anyone with a little space. It was fun to watch and very effective for several years.

3. Bill Kenney. Chiefs coach John Mackovic decided suddenly to open up the Chiefs offense in 1983 after the tragic loss of star running back Joe Delaney, who drowned that offseason. Mackovic did his best Don Coryell impersonation, introducing a lot of two-tight end and three-wideout looks and calling 603 passes. Kenney, a spot starter in his first three seasons, suddenly threw for 4,348 yards and 24 touchdowns. Back then, a 4,000-yard season was a big deal, and for years Kenney was on a short list of Namath-Fouts types who had ever thrown for so many yards in one season. Kenney would never throw for more than 3,000 yards or start more than 10 games in a season for the Chiefs again, but he hung around the way veteran quarterbacks tended to do in that era, stepping on the toes of an unprepared replacement (Todd Blackledge) and proving without a doubt that his great season was a fluke.

4. Joe Montana. In two seasons, Montana led the Chiefs to a 17-8 record, took them to the playoffs twice, and made Willie Davis and J.J. Birden (with Keith Cash at tight end) look like a viable receiving corps.

5. Steve DeBerg. DeBerg was 36 when he had a ridiculous 3,444-yard, 23-touchdown, four-interception season in 1990, throwing to receivers almost as bad as the ones Montana targeted a few years later. (At least DeBerg had the aging Stephone Paige, a viable deep threat.) DeBerg was also very good in 1989 and again in 1991 and can make a strong case for being a better Chiefs quarterback than Montana. This just seems like the order they belong in.

Marty Schottenheimer had a fetish for former 49ers quarterbacks. He started with DeBerg, then landed Montana himself, then started to act like an addict when he brought in Steve Bono and Elvis Grbac. Bono and Grbac each helped the Chiefs to a 13-3 season, but that was pure Marty Ball, with tight defense, good special teams, an archconservative passing game, and a playoff loss. Mike Livingston was Dawson's backup for seven years before finally becoming the Chiefs' starter in the mid-1970s. He was terrible, but the organization was a mess, so Livingston hung around for years.

Matt Cassel started on the road to cracking this list in 2010, and judging DeBerg and Montana strictly as Chiefs, he doesn't need to do too much to make a case. One or two more productive seasons, plus a little playoff success, can get him onto the Top Five.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 14 Jul 2011

60 comments, Last at 22 Jul 2011, 10:29pm by BigCheese

Comments

1
by PerlStalker :: Thu, 07/14/2011 - 4:13pm

"Claiming first plays requires a bit more work."

"Plays"? Really?

3
by Tom Gower :: Thu, 07/14/2011 - 4:29pm

Aye no aye neve air maid eh myth steak inn mai lief lack hist.

36
by BucNasty :: Sat, 07/16/2011 - 11:14am

Can't decide whether I should be reading this with a pirate voice in my head or not.

43
by jebmak :: Sun, 07/17/2011 - 8:50am

THANK you! I gave up reading it after two tries. But now, rereading it in the pirate voice, I understood it!

2
by Dean :: Thu, 07/14/2011 - 4:26pm

Say what you want about the Tour de France, but it's 100 times more interesting than soccer. Not only that, Phil Liggett just might be the single best broadcaster in all of sports.

16
by clnr :: Thu, 07/14/2011 - 8:11pm

Sorry, but if you now anything about cycling, Phil Ligget is the cycling counterpart of Joe Buck. Just talks nice about the cyclists that are famous, but can't tell you anything worthwhile about the action on the road.

17
by Agamemnon :: Thu, 07/14/2011 - 9:20pm

And he's gotten worse over the last five years. It's a good day if he doesn't give the wrong names of the finishers. At least Paul Sherwin is there to casually correct him.

26
by Yesimadolphinsfan (not verified) :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 2:10pm

You're watching the wrong soccer leagues.

28
by Dean :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 3:46pm

Which is better? The one where the paint drys? Or the one where the grass grows? I think I caught the one where the sock drawer got rearranged.

30
by Noah of Arkadia :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 4:24pm

Soccer is more of an art form. When the players get it right, it's something to be remembered.

37
by Lance :: Sat, 07/16/2011 - 8:42pm

An insult that can be said about ANY competitive event for which one has no care. If you don't care about soccer, that's fine. But to assert that it's objectively worse when whatever sport you like is, well, as lame (and old) as your paint-dries joke.

44
by chemical burn :: Sun, 07/17/2011 - 12:33pm

Aw, but the sock drawer part was legitimately funny! Anyway, any sport where flopping gains a significant tactical advantage over PLAYING THE DAMN GAME is next to worthless. I personally can only enjoy sports like hockey and football where flopping is next to impossible - and highly unwise because serious physical retribution is a real possibility. At very least, completing the play is almost always the better decision in terms of strategy than collapsing and squealing for the ref to intervene...

As for soccer being an "artform" and a "thing of beauty," sure - but what the hell can't be? Just ask Duchamp and Warhol...

45
by RichC (not verified) :: Sun, 07/17/2011 - 12:54pm

"Aw, but the sock drawer part was legitimately funny! Anyway, any sport where flopping gains a significant tactical advantage over PLAYING THE DAMN GAME is next to worthless"

So baseball is pretty much the only sport that is worthwile.... oh wait, A-Rod is a slappy flopper...

Golf?

49
by dbostedo :: Sun, 07/17/2011 - 7:39pm

"I personally can only enjoy sports like hockey and football where flopping is next to impossible..."

It's completely possible in hockey, and happens pretty regularly. It's just that it's the flop itself that occurs, without the "writhing around in pain" histrionics. I agree with hating that part of soccer, but it happens quite a bit in hockey too.

It does drive me nuts that you see players who go to the ground in soccer - whether it's a flop or not - take their time getting back up hoping to get a call, when they could possibly be making an actual play.

There are also some folks afraid that more and more WRs in the NFL are learning to flop to draw pass interference calls. And I've seen a couple of players pretend to be hit by pitches (including Derek Jeter in one notable case) when it actually hit the bat handle in order to get on base. Those aren't nearly as bad as what goes on in soccer, or even in hockey, but they're there.

52
by dryheat :: Mon, 07/18/2011 - 8:31am

Hey, I love hockey every bit as much as I love football, but to say that flopping is next to impossible is ridiculous. Even a casual fan just watching this year's playoffs often saw players go to the ice with no contact. Hamrlik, I believe, cost the Canadiens a critical goal when he went down to draw a penalty and the winning goal was scored right a few seconds later right through the area he was supposed to be defending. A big deal was made of Carcillo last playoffs when he bent over screaming and clutching his eyes after a stick made contact with his side and "earned" his team a power play. Of course the downside to the player is once the officials see the replays and how they were embarrassed, the offending player won't get another call. The Bruins positively mugged the Sedins and Burrows all during the finals with impunity because the referees were tired of their diving and embellishing.

I'd hate to blame the diving culture in hockey on the growing European influence, but since a lot of the European guys come from a soccer background, it makes a little bit of sense. But there's also lesser-talented Canadian pests who realize that annoying and drawing penalties is how they stay on a roster.

And football? Everytime a WR gets incidental contact with a DB and knows he can't catch the ball he falls down and looks at the back judge making the throw-the-flag motion. Many, if not all, QBs and Ps fall down on incidental contact trying to "earn" roughing penalties.

I agree soccer is the worst though. I find it at a comical sequence to see a guy crumble down like Willem Dafoe in Platoon, look to see if there's a flag thrown, then shrug, pop up and start sprinting after the play. And if you miss it, you only have to watch for another 83 seconds before it happens again.

53
by DGL :: Mon, 07/18/2011 - 11:44am

Any soccer player falling to the ground and looking around for a flag to be thrown is going to be waiting a looooong time.

54
by dryheat :: Mon, 07/18/2011 - 12:02pm

I'm talking about the proverbial flag, man....the royal "flag".

55
by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Mon, 07/18/2011 - 1:57pm

You're arguing the wrong effect. In hockey, the refs punish divers by giving the opposing team free reign for the rest of the game. Stuff like cross-checking their premier scorer in the face. Your example of diving defenseman didn't get the call, and gave up a goal as a result. That shows hockey doesn't have a diving problem, because the refs punish players who dive and players who do it anyway are idiots.

In soccer, that dive results in a goal for the team that dove.

56
by Intropy :: Mon, 07/18/2011 - 2:59pm

And this is pretty much why I prefer to watch women's soccer to watching men's soccer. Tee women dive far less frequently. In soccer, the men outdive the women. The Europeans and South Americans dive the most, the North Americans, and Asians dive the least, and the Africans are somewhere in between.

The women's World Cup final yesterday between USA and Japan was played very cleanly. There were a couple of accentuations where a foul was really committed and the fouled player intentionally went down instead of trying to stay up. And of course non-fouled players sometimes fell from a clean tackle or by tripping or something and draw an incorrect call. But those are a far cry watching a men's match between Brazil and Italy where at any given time you should expect three players to be writhing around in mock agony.

58
by tuluse :: Mon, 07/18/2011 - 4:53pm

In soccer, that dive results in a goal for the team that dove.

If that was true soccer games would have scores of around 15-20 points per team. In soccer a dive leads about half the time to a free kick that ends up doing nothing and half the time leads to play just continuing and the player standing up when he thinks no one is looking. It's still unfortunate and annoying that so much diving happens, but it actually lowers the scores if anything because if players just tried to play through the minor contact they receive they would most likely have better scoring opportunities.

4
by John (not verified) :: Thu, 07/14/2011 - 4:34pm

Loved the transition timeline. "Everything like astronauts" was particularly ... is there a word for "pithy+funny"?

25
by robbbbbb (not verified) :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 1:09pm

Witty.

5
by nuclearbdgr :: Thu, 07/14/2011 - 5:14pm

I realize it was a throwaway line, but the Peace of Munster in 1648 would be a much better date than 1561 in terms of Spain v. Netherlands...

59
by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 07/21/2011 - 4:07pm

I had a peace of Munster once. It tasted OK, but I'd rather have had cheddar.

6
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 07/14/2011 - 5:17pm

For anyone who enjoys such things ... footage of the TdF stage 9 crash ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYPDAry-A-s

7
by Dallas Texans (not verified) :: Thu, 07/14/2011 - 5:44pm

This may not be the best franchise rankings list to post this in response to (and maybe i missed a discussion on this earlier) - but wouldn't it make more sense (or at least be an interesting followup) to rank players by location rather than 'franchise'?

For instance, maybe I'm wrong, but i suspect fans in Baltimore followed the Colts while in town, then followed the Ravens later. How many die-hard 'Colts fans' were rooting their teams on during both the Unitas and the Manning years? On the other hand, plenty of people who lived in Baltimore cheered for both franchises in turn.

So maybe we could finish series with bests to have played in:
1. Houston (Oilers and Texans)
2. Baltimore (Colts and Ravens)
3. St. Louis (Rams and Cardinals)
4. Los Angeles (Rams and Raiders, maybe Chargers season 1)
5. New York!
(and maybe Dallas, maybe not.)

And perhaps a quick look at how one would fill out bests list for Indy, Tennessee, Oakland, Arizona.

Houston's gonna look better after this list (Oilers QBs not filed under Tennessee), while we'll see who fits in the #5 spot for an Indy franchise that doen't get to take credit for Unitas.

(And if this is followed up by a list of best RBs, then Chicago, Boston and Cleveland, among other cities, might have interesting pre-1960 contests. Which would make sense, since fans in those cities probably were aware of, say, the Cards-Bears rivalry, in a way that fans in St Louis or Arizona werent aware of the Cardinals at that time.)

12
by John (not verified) :: Thu, 07/14/2011 - 6:52pm

I fear that the Manning v. Harbaugh v. George thread would be far less interesting than Manning v. Unitas.

21
by JimZipCode :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 10:37am

Hear hear!

Unitas, Bert Jones, Earl Morrall, Flacco, Vinny. Joe Cool vaults up to #3 with a good year or two.

Also, Indianapolis should give back the Colts name & colors to the city of Baltimore. And records. Indy can call their team the Hoosiers, with new yellow & blue uniforms.

"Fight on, you Baltimore Colts..."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NG9UFUzciBY

46
by RichC (not verified) :: Sun, 07/17/2011 - 12:56pm

I live in Baltimore. Baltimore doesn't want the colts back.

38
by Lance :: Sat, 07/16/2011 - 8:46pm

It would be an interesting list, but I don't know if it makes any more sense to do it one way over any other way.

8
by Shattenjager :: Thu, 07/14/2011 - 5:48pm

Craig Morton also has to get some consideration as best quarterback never to make a Pro Bowl. I think my vote would be for Chad Pennington, but Morton's in the conversation.

9
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Thu, 07/14/2011 - 6:00pm

Chad Pennington never made a pro bowl?! His 2008 season was phenomenal!

/Checks p-f-r
/looks at 2008 AFC pro bowl roster
/"Kerry Collins"

I do not want to live on this planet anymore.

10
by Shattenjager :: Thu, 07/14/2011 - 6:16pm

Chase Stuart had the exact same reaction on a p-f-r podcast at one point, which is why I can remember it (and which may be the single best way to prove that Pro Bowls are a terrible measure of performance).

Here's the list of players with 0 Pro Bowls with 1000 pass attempts since 1969, sorted by ANY/A+: http://pfref.com/tiny/uD40C

22
by JimZipCode :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 10:40am

That list has Johnny Unitas as the 29th-best QB never to make a Pro Bowl.

24
by Shattenjager :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 11:38am

I have some vague memory of him having played some before 1969 . . .

13
by Fielding Melish (not verified) :: Thu, 07/14/2011 - 7:05pm

Yes, from my fading childhood memories, I seem to remember he had a couple of pretty good years at the end, when he took over for the useless Norris Weese and discovered that Steve Watson was a pretty good receiver who nobody seemed to know that they had.
Honestly, it is a fool's errand to place anybody after those two, as I can only recall the failures of Weese, Matt Robinson, Tommy Maddox, and the like. Actually, I would take Griese out and put in Charley Johnson, who was probably the first decent quarterback they had until they brought in Morton. Amazingly, I'm not sure that you couldn't argue either Cutler or Orton for the fifth spot, as well ( while elevating Tripucka ). Elway has cast a long, impenetrable shadow, and I can't see any way in which Tebow escapes it, despite the hopes and prayers of the Colorado Springs contingent, and the teen girls who love him.

14
by Shattenjager :: Thu, 07/14/2011 - 8:03pm

Norris Weese was not useless. He soundly outplayed Morton in 1979 until he suffered a career-ending knee injury.
Raiderjoe has previously backed me up on this one, so I feel safe saying it.

18
by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 07/14/2011 - 9:50pm

yeys, WEese had some ablity and soem good moments, Woudl have had good carrer if play for Raiders.

here are comments made on him other time at FO- looked it up and copeid

30Re: The Worst 100 Players In NFL History
by Shattenjager :: Tue, 11/16/2010 - 6:21pm
Norris Weese's career numbers: 7 starts, 143/251 (116 Cmp%+), 1887 yards (125 Y/A+), 7 TD (83 TD%+), 14 INT (108 INT%+), 36 sacks (73 Sack%+), 240 sack yards. That adds up to a 107 ANY/A+. He also ran 69 times for 362 yards. He replaced Craig Morton in 1979 but blew out his knee and never played again. He's not one of the worst players of all time--he's a promising player who had a career-ending injury before he got much of a chance.

He's also my mother's favorite player ever (seriously).

reply
31Re: The Worst 100 Players In NFL History
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 11/16/2010 - 6:37pm
Weese run for 120 yards final gamem 1976 seaosn vs Beras.

averagegd 7.52 yards per pass. THat not bad number.

Did some putting too. Not too godod at that.

reply
32Re: The Worst 100 Players In NFL History
by DGL :: Tue, 11/16/2010 - 6:43pm
Well, you know what they say, you drive for show, but you putt for dough.

reply
34Re: The Worst 100 Players In NFL History
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 11/16/2010 - 7:17pm
whoops
hit t twice and didnt hit n good enoguh
happens sometimes when typign fast

reply
33Re: The Worst 100 Players In NFL History
by Shattenjager :: Tue, 11/16/2010 - 7:12pm
Without trying to delve too far into the frightening world of punting stats, it seems his punting did leave something to be desired. Just looked this up out of curiosity: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/tiny/fU05T

Zenon Andrusyshyn is my new favorite football name of all time.

reply
35Re: The Worst 100 Players In NFL History
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 11/16/2010 - 7:20pm
eddie hare at bpttpms of list, crap putner.

have card of him. guy had big flop of hair on head. Not interesting. Interestung would have been if he had hares on his head. LIke maybe keep a couple little bunnies in helmet during games

reply
55Re: The Worst 100 Players In NFL History
by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Wed, 11/17/2010 - 3:19pm
Raiderjoe wins the thread with that comment.

reply
56Re: The Worst 100 Players In NFL History
by Dean :: Wed, 11/17/2010 - 3:37pm
I'm beginning to wonder if RJ is putting some drank in his Sierra Nevadas.

In todays episode of "Deconstructing Raiderjoe," I'm noticing a distinct trend towards halucenogens lately. Which is an observation, not a judgement.

reply
39Re: The Worst 100 Players In NFL History
by AlanSP :: Tue, 11/16/2010 - 10:29pm
Mildly amusing. It's kind of fun to go back and look at how lousy some players have been.

Mike McMahon should

19
by Jerry :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 2:47am

Nice handle, and I look forward to your next interview with Howard Cosell.

31
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 4:39pm

I think the following [edited for clarity] maybe one of my favourite RJ mistypes ever ...

31
by Raiderjoe
Weese run for 120 yards final gamem 1976 seaosn vs Beras.
averagegd 7.52 yards per pass. THat not bad number.

Did some putting too. Not too godod at that.

32
by DGL :: Tue, 11/16/2010 - 6:43pm
Well, you know what they say, you drive for show, but you putt for dough.

Rory MacIlroy - roboputter?

11
by dryheat :: Thu, 07/14/2011 - 6:48pm

I would think Gary Kubiak would have to make the list, just for his contributions to Football Outsiders.

15
by Theo :: Thu, 07/14/2011 - 8:07pm

Johnny Hoogerland instantly became a folk hero here. He continued his race and went straight to the hospital afterwards.
33 (not24) stitches (11 in his butt, 11 in his leg, 11 in his knee) and 1 night later, he was on his bike again for 158km (~100 miles).
.
However: this...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6wFS0wl_ZQ
... was the biggest act of war since the Netherlands - Spain war.

27
by joon :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 3:19pm

my thoughts exactly.

50
by bengt (not verified) :: Mon, 07/18/2011 - 7:45am

He continued his race and went straight to the hospital afterwards.
Not quite, first he collected his polka dot jersey.

57
by Kevin from Philly :: Mon, 07/18/2011 - 3:43pm

If he fell on a barbed wire fence, didn't he already have a (red) polka dot jersey?

20
by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 9:06am

He he he, Dick Shiner, hee hee.

23
by Cro-Mags (not verified) :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 10:45am

Mentioning DeBerg in a Chiefs makes me cringe instantly thinking of how he played with that surgical pin though his finger. Tough old bird!

29
by Noah of Arkadia :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 4:23pm

That guy could really sell a play-action fake. Terrific!

32
by Scott Kacsmar :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 5:46pm

"The Super Bowl success and best statistical years don't line up with the comeback heroics and period when he was one of the best all-around athletes in sports, so appraising him is like appraising two different people."

Great point. I see the same thing happening with Tom Brady now. People want to combine the "clutch championship" days with the "statistical dominance" days into one singular player, but the reality is those two Brady's have rarely ever converged.

33
by Jerry :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 6:30pm

I've never seen any indication that the Steelers drafted Glick as a quarterback, including the part of Dan Rooney's autobiography where he blames the wasted bonus pick on the same stubbornness of Coach Walt Kiesling's that resulted in Unitas being cut.

34
by jebmak :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 10:24pm

After that, it's not long before he reaches the Griese-Plummer-Morton Peloton.

I lol'd.

35
by dan hefner (not verified) :: Sat, 07/16/2011 - 9:44am

Great to see the name of Mike Livingston after all these years! Yes he was awful! And for a long time!

39
by Jon from NH (not verified) :: Sun, 07/17/2011 - 5:22am

The USA beat last night Canada 50-7. We are now the World Champions of American Football. Unbelievable that the women's soccer team gets more coverage than this.

http://thechronicleherald.ca/Sports/1253765.html

40
by Theo :: Sun, 07/17/2011 - 6:49am

If you look at the rosters of the teams, you'll know why. Mostly (sub par) college backup players. Shotgun galore.
It still drew a crowd of about 10.000 people per game if I had to believe the EuroSport commentator.

41
by Jon from NH (not verified) :: Sun, 07/17/2011 - 7:47am

20,000 for the final. I was at the game. The crowd was very enthusiastic, it was more fun than most NFL games, except the product on the field. You are also being a little unfair - Japan, Austria and Germany brought their best players, it is just that their best players are not as good as our college back ups. The level of play was probably Div II College, certainly better than even a top high school game.

42
by Jon from NH (not verified) :: Sun, 07/17/2011 - 7:53am

I meant Div III, but we did have Cody Hawkins at QB, who U of Colorado fans may remember.

47
by Aaron Brook's Good Twin (not verified) :: Sun, 07/17/2011 - 2:58pm

Better than Div III. Kmic is one of the best Div III players ever, and was maybe the 10th most talented player on the roster. There are a bunch of D-I starters on that team.

48
by Thok :: Sun, 07/17/2011 - 3:52pm

Except the product on the field

That's a fairly big except.

Granting that the US had a Division II level squad, I'd argue that Canada/Japan/Mexico/Germany were Division III, and everybody else was high school level. The Women's World Cup is light years ahead in terms of competitiveness and quality of play.

60
by BigCheese :: Fri, 07/22/2011 - 10:29pm

I think it's completely unfair to lump Mexico in with the "Div III" teams, since they were a lot closer to the US than to the other teams.

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

51
by bengt (not verified) :: Mon, 07/18/2011 - 7:53am

According to the newspapers, the best couple players from Germany were missing because of academic unavailability (i.e. end-of-term exams). Also, the German 'training camp' was cut to two days due to a lack of funding when the players refused to pay a 'contribution towards expenses'.

I know, I know, stop making excuses...