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» Broncos at Patriots: Week 9 Preview

Brady-Manning XVI: the biggest game in the AFC this year. Denver has juggernaut potential as a complete team, but the Patriots have the crucial home-field advantage in Week 9.

24 Mar 2011

Walkthrough: Riddle Me This

by Mike Tanier

The Arizona Cardinals held a private workout for former Elon University quarterback Scott Riddle last week.

Geez, and I thought I was the one starving for some football-related work.

Riddle threw for 13,264 yards and 105 touchdowns during his four-year tenure as the starter. He lists at 6-foot and 210 pounds. He did not attend the Combine, but participated in the Pro Day at North Carolina State on Wednesday. NFL Draft Scott ranks him as the 52nd best quarterback prospect in the draft, but that sounds a little low. He deserves to be at least in the late 40s. Pro Football Weekly profiles 25 quarterback prospects in their Draft Guide magazine, but Riddle isn't one of them. Despite his FCS-level success, he wasn't considered a Draft commodity before the Cardinals visit, and he probably still isn't.

Riddle fits the Cardinals' indie sensibility at quarterback these days. Just look at their roster. There's Max Hall, who helped the Cardinals beat the Saints as a 25-year-old rookie last year and was America's favorite fiery young field general for about nine days. I needed Wikipedia to refresh myself on Hall, and it was there that I learned he is Danny White's nephew, cousin of Todd Heap, and brother-in-law of Dennis Pitta. How many Ravens tight ends can one person be related to? I think I spotted one of those famous Wikipedia errors here: Danny White isn't Hall's uncle, Ozzie Newsome is.

There's also John Skelton, who started four games, completed 47.6 percent of his passes, and played his college ball at Fordham. Finally, there's Richard Bartel, with one "l," who served brief stints with the Browns and Redskins, drifted into the UFL, then drifted back to mop up a 38-7 loss to the 49ers in the season finale. Derek Anderson is also still hanging around, but no one takes him seriously anymore.

This isn't a depth chart; it's the South By Southwest Quarterback Festival, and one of these acts is about to break big, unless it means sacrificing their artistic vision. You don't acquire this many off-brand quarterbacks unless you are purposely trying to be obtuse. The Panthers suffered a quarterback cataclysm last year, but at least serious fans had heard of all of their fringe festival favorites, because guys like Tony Pike and Brian St. Pierre played for major college programs. St. Pierre played a few downs for the Cardinals in 2009, but they must have thought he was too accessible. To play for the Cardinals, you must embrace mumblecore.

I was curious about Riddle, so I sought game tape on him. Elon game tape isn't easy to find. I dug up a Wofford highlight reel of their game against Elon, and the video started with a Riddle interception, followed a few plays later by a Riddle sack. Granted, this was a Wofford highlight reel, but the interception was ugly, a little crossing pattern where Riddle didn't see the defender sitting in the middle zone. It wasn't the most encouraging introduction to a prospect.

Eventually, I found a Riddle highlight tape, though it was the kind edited by an enthusiastic booster/roommate/girlfriend, with pop music accompaniment and all of the plays chopped together like a rock video. Most of the footage is shot from ground level. I couldn't get much from such source footage, except that Riddle's arm looked OK, he ran well, and he never set his feet. Short quarterbacks often hop around in the pocket, and Riddle appeared to be one of those guys on his highlight video. He looked like a good high school quarterback imitating Jeff Garcia. I have no doubt that he's a bright kid with outstanding work habits, because, let's face it, not even the Cardinals travel to Elon to scout 6-foot knuckleheads.

The Cardinals, of course, have far more knowledge of Riddle than I do. Their scouts no doubt drove straight from Fordham to Elon last year to document Riddle's every throw. They may have seen enough to convince them he's a Day 3 pick, which is not ridiculous. Like I said, my only observations come from tapes cut together by the boys at Sigma Phi. But the Cardinals should not be looking at Day 3 quarterbacks, certainly not in mid-March. They need a Day 1 pick.

A couple of the Cardinals message boards I checked showed that some fans are taking the primordial broth approach to the team's quarterback problems: toss Hall, the Fordham Flash, Riddle, and everyone else into the nutrient-rich soup of training camp and see who evolves. That doesn't really work. There are only so many practice reps and drills to go around. It's impossible to develop three or four quarterback prospects at the same time. Quantity is no substitute for quality at quarterback, and I don't think the Cardinals have a bona fide starting prospect right now. They have curios. And they appear to be in the market for more.

Or perhaps not. As I suggested earlier, the Cardinals may just be as lockout-bored as I am. Interviewing Riddle may be their equivalent of cleaning out the spice rack and organizing the bookshelf -- an odd job that gets pushed up the priority list because other work cannot be done. The relatively wide reporting of the interview is also a lockout symptom. In a typical mid-March, we would be knee-deep in free-agent transactions, and one little interview would get lost in the shuffle.

None of this will be relevant by draft weekend, because I believe the Cardinals will draft Ryan Mallett. He is the perfect Cardinals quarterback: Matt Leinart's mind in Derek Anderson's body. Come to think of it, maybe they should take their chances with Riddle.

Poetry Slam

One of my English teacher friends received these two poems from her moody Goth students last week. She thinks they are plagiarized, but she was unable to find the sources. I think I recognize some familiar phrases but cannot place them. Can you?

"Meditations on the ever-growing distance" by Anonymous

there is only one way to resolve our differences and that is through good
FAITH
collective
bargaining
in an atmosphere.
each
passingday
puts our game
further at risk.
you know of my respect and admiration for you
we need to cometogether
and soon.

"The Void of the Millionth Sorrow" by WolfRavenDemonChild96

we start
by reminding you
that we were there
that is why we were very troubled
your Statements are False
trying to sell it as a fair deal is not truthful
meaningless …
severely restricting …
orchestrated …
you had ample time
we thus had no choice
if you have any desire
you should contact Class Counsel

Quarterback Top Fives

During the Conference Championship week, I wrote a Walkthrough segment called "Climbing the NFL Ladders" in which I ranked the top five quarterbacks in the history of the Jets, Packers, Steelers, and Bears. A lot of readers provided their own "top five" lists in the comment box, and I think we all discovered that once you get past the best and second-best quarterbacks in the history of most franchises, you suddenly find yourself trying to sort through a ragtag collection of near-greats and journeymen. The exercise is a great way to remember some interesting personalities from the past, and it can also be a reminder to appreciate what you have if your favorite team has a pretty good quarterback.

Throughout the offseason, I will go division by division and list my top five quarterbacks for each of the remaining 28 franchises. Some divisions will get lumped together -- I already covered two NFC North teams, for example. Debate and conversation is the goal, so pick my choices (and each other's) apart, but don't offer choices for teams that haven't been covered yet. We will get to everybody.

Let's start with the NFC East, because we have a lot of great quarterbacks there to cover.

Dallas Cowboys

1. Roger Staubach

2. Troy Aikman: The battle for No. 1 is really close. Staubach played most of his career in the dead ball era, and some of his numbers are eye-popping if you put on your 1970s conversion lenses. When we ranked our Best Quarterback Seasons ever in the 2005 Pro Football Prospectus, Staubach had five seasons in the Top 50. Factor in scrambling and unassailable leadership, and this would be a no-brainer for most franchises.

That said, I think Aikman is very close. Aikman may be the last great quarterback in history who had his statistics severely hampered by the fact that he played for a great team. The 1990s Cowboys were heirs of the 1970s Steelers and Dolphins and 1960s Packers -- teams that didn't pass very often because they didn't have to. By the time Tom Brady came around, even a 14-2 perennial champion with a defense-minded coach was going to attempt 530 passes per season. Brady's numbers are certainly affected by his team's success, but it is nothing like the distortion seen in, say, Bob Griese's numbers. Aikman has more in common with Griese than Brady. We will never see a truly great quarterback throw 15 touchdown passes in one of his signature seasons anymore. By Aikman's era, we usually don't make the mental adjustments that we make for guys like Griese or Bart Starr, but for Aikman we must.

3. Don Meredith: The Bears originally drafted Meredith, but George Halas wanted the expansion Cowboys to have a good quarterback and box office draw, so he made the selection as a kind of "beard" pick and traded Meredith soon after the draft. The Bears then spent the 1960s trying to win with old journeymen like Billy Wade and Rudy Bukich.

4. Danny White: The last of the full-time quarterback-punters, White played his whole career in Staubach's shadow but had some great seasons in the early 1980s. Max Hall's uncle.

5. Tony Romo: Old-timers might argue for Craig Morton here. Morton was an immobile Kerry Collins-type who played on some tremendous Cowboys teams. He had several terrible postseason games. His calling cards are the fact that he led the Cowboys to Super Bowl V and he rotated with Staubach at times. The Cowboys of Morton's era were so great that they could overcome such nonsense. I will take Romo in a heartbeat.

New York Giants

1. Phil Simms: I don't think any franchise has had as many "near great" quarterbacks as the Giants. New York itself may have something to do with that. You can argue that the media overhypes otherwise ordinary players to look like "near greats," or that some Big Apple backlash makes us look down on otherwise fine players, or makes them wilt under the glaring spotlight. But look at the guys on this list, and you will see a mix of players who were very good for a long time (but never really outstanding) and Hall of Famers who played most of their best seasons elsewhere. In addition to the guys mentioned, players like Jeff Hostetler and Norm Snead played significant seasons with the Giants during their rambling careers.

Simms' career stats are like Aikman's. Once the West Coast Offense mentality spread, teams just stopped sitting on leads the way many did up to and through the early 1990s. Announcers of that era took note of the fact that Packers and 49ers quarterbacks were still throwing a lot of passes while leading in the fourth quarter. Quarterbacks like Simms and Aikman did not. Simms was not in Aikman's class, but there are similar distortions in his numbers.

2. Charlie Conerly: One of my favorite bits of research for The Philly Fan Code (coming this summer!) was my investigation into a December 1961 game between the Eagles and Giants. Conerly came off the bench to replace Y.A. Tittle and throw three touchdowns in a 28-24 win against the (sob) defending champion Eagles. Notoriety-wise, it was like Kurt Warner coming off the bench to relieve Brett Favre.

Conerly was a Hall of Fame finalist seven times, which was silly. He had four or five good seasons and then became more famous than great. But he was very good.

3. Eli Manning: Could be No. 1 if he steps his game up for a few seasons or stays at his current pace forever.

4. Y.A. Tittle: Tittle beats Eli if we count his 49ers record. Tittle's Giants body of work amounts to two amazing seasons and one very good one. Given the choice between the final seasons of a past generation's Jim Kelly and a durable 20-something who also happens to have a Super Bowl ring, I have to side with the youngin'.

5. Fran Tarkenton: Tarkenton's Giants teams were pretty bad. Other than the aging Homer Jones, his best target was usually Joe Morrison, who was like a late-60's version of Larry Centers. Soon after Tarkenton left, the Giants started going 2-12, so his scrambling and passing had a lot to do with keeping them competitive. His biggest competition for the No. 5 spot is Kerry Collins, who had a fine Giants career, and Ed Danowski, a leather helmet guy.

Philadelphia Eagles

1. Donovan McNabb.

2. Norm Van Brocklin: Ray Didinger argues that Van Brocklin was the best Eagles quarterback ever, and Didinger is a distinguished historian and one of my role models. Didinger's opinion also gets used as a trump card in the Philadelphia media, so his preferences get picked up by the McNabb Denier crowd when convenient. Ray Didinger says Van Brocklin is the best ever, so how dare you argue for McNabb?

Well, Van Brocklin played 37 games for the Eagles 50 years ago. I don't think people are comparing Van Brocklin's 37 games to McNabb's 164 games when they rank the Dutchman ahead of McNabb. They are comparing a newsreel of the 1960 Championship Game to a flesh-and-blood person who was still the region's favorite punching bag a year ago. It's a simple selection bias. The encyclopedia entry beats last week's or year's box scores every time. We are all guilty of making that kind of mistake. Even Didinger, who was 14 when Van Brocklin hung 'em up and is probably as fiercely protective of Van Brocklin as I am of the next guy on the list.

3. Ron Jaworski: Could easily rank second.

4. Randall Cunningham: If you are younger than 30 and you know Cunningham from his Vikings seasons, some NFL Films montages, and his stats, you really do not know the whole story. He was bonkers. He was unreliable. He was much more like Falcons Michael Vick than Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. He would not survive in the modern NFL environment, when all of his crazy remarks would be Tweeted around the clock and Skip Bayless would spend afternoons screaming about him. His psyche barely survived the late-1980s, which was a much more superstar-friendly environment.

He received bad coaching and played behind bad offensive lines, of course. We can talk about the "could have been" career, but the real career was an exciting mess, at least in Philly.

5. Sonny Jurgensen: More on Sonny in a moment. Tommy Thompson led the Eagles to two straight championships in the 1940s and posted incredible numbers in 1948. He was an old-school T-formation quarterback who made a dozen different ball fakes before either giving the ball to Steve van Buren or tossing a bomb to Pete Pihos. He could really rank as high as third on this list, but I never know what to make of World War II era players. This list is pretty darn strong, and Vick needs about three more strong years before he cracks it.

Washington Redskins

1. Sammy Baugh: A Babe Ruth character with one foot in each of two eras. You can see the game changing just by looking at his statistics. His position changes from A-formation "tailback" to "quarterback," he stops returning punts, then stops playing safety, then starts throwing more than 300 passes per season. The NFL Network listed him as the 14th greatest player in history, which sounds about right, but you could argue that he was the greatest ever without sounding like an old fogey.

2. Sonny Jurgensen: Eye-popping numbers for a series of forgettable teams. I was asked to talk about Jurgensen at NFL Films a few months ago, but the footage was never used. My main point was that I hate the "never won a championship" arguments more than anyone else in the world. At the same time, I want to see an all-time great quarterback win some playoff games, or at least play in more than one. There's a big difference between holding Super Bowl losses against Tarkenton or Kelly and suggesting that a decade of 7-7 records might be evidence that Jurgensen's statistical brilliance is a little misleading. Factor in Jurgensen's party-guy reputation (always charming when remembered a few decades later), and I just don't buy any argument that Jurgensen is overlooked. He's on two top five lists this week, reached the Hall of Fame, and falls generally into the same category as guys like Dan Fouts. I think Fouts was better. If Jurgensen played today, his reputation might be similar to Romo's.

3. Joe Theismann: A very good quarterback who was helped by an amazing system for a few years. Theismann was nearly finished when Lawrence Taylor hit him, but could probably have won a Super Bowl with the 1987 team. I am not sure how history would have treated him if that happened. His long career as a bad announcer sometimes obscures how great he was in the early 1980s.

4. Billy Kilmer: Led some fine Redskins teams in the mid-1970s. Kilmer and Jurgensen were great friends, and both liked the nightlife and disliked Theismann.

5. Mark Rypien: Likeable, big-armed guy who could throw deep to Art Monk and Gary Clark. There are no other real contenders for the No. 5 spot. The Redskins were a mess from the time Baugh retired until George Allen arrived in the early 1970s, then ran the Kilmer-Theismann-Rypien gamut, and are now a mess again. It may be another decade before anyone threatens to crack the team's all-time top five.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 24 Mar 2011

119 comments, Last at 30 Mar 2011, 6:53am by t.d.

Comments

1
by Shattenjager :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 11:35am

I've always been curious about Rypien. I'm too young to remember his peak myself, but it's odd that someone with fantastic numbers like his (1988-1992 his numbers are absolutely fantastic, including one of the great statistical QB seasons of all time in 1991.) can come up in conversations as the worst quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl.

6
by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 2:18pm

His offensive lines were rather good.

9
by Mike Tanier :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 2:36pm

The Redskins, by that point, just had phenomenal talent. The Gibbs-Beathard team was a step ahead of everyone else in the late 1980s, in part because they did a better job evaluating small schools, in part because their talent development system was great. Think of what the Steelers do right now at LB: that's what the Redskins did on the O-line and elsewhere. So Rypien stood behind amazing lines and threw deep to great receivers. He was good for a few years, but he had a really easy job as far as NFL quarterbacks go.

99
by Blotzphoto :: Mon, 03/28/2011 - 8:54am

Rypien's Strat card from 1991 won a Superbowl in our league. For about 3 seasons he was Carson Palmer Lite. Now Carson Palmer is doing his best to follow Ryp's career path.

102
by The Other Ben Johnson (not verified) :: Mon, 03/28/2011 - 12:06pm

Rypien had an amazingly accurate deep ball. There were times when it seemed like he was better at throwing deep than he was at shorter passes (he could throw out patterns to Monk at the sticks all day long, but crossing routes and other intermediary timing stuff were not his strong suit). I'm sure that's why the Redskins picked him up in the first place. Accurate deep passes were the ideal "one thing I'm really good at" quality for a quarterback to have with that offensive line and receiving corps. The reason why he gets no respect is how many of his yards came from "we must respect their ability to run" play action bombs.

I also think an honorable mention should go to Danny Wuerffel here. Wuerffel retired after the 2002 season, and when Steve Spurrier called him with an invitation to rejoin the team in 2003, Wuerffel told him no thanks. As in "I've got better things to do with my time than lead the league in sacks" with shades of "have you even seen me play, coach?" Wuerffel turning down a roster spot on principal is one of the most heroic things a Redskins quarterback has ever done.

112
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Mon, 03/28/2011 - 10:52pm

Didn't he retire to go into the ministry or something?

2
by TomKelso :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 12:30pm

Slight correction on the 'Skins: Jurgensen was their QB after being traded for Norm Snead in the mid-60's, well before Allen. Most of those 7-7 seasons you mention came in that span. That Kilmer and Sonny became friends was despite Allen, who acquired Kilmer to replace Jurgensen; Allen thought Sonny was too pass-happy. But, yeah, they were a mess before the trade and after Rypien's departure (How close was Doug Williams to taking that spot on your list, fwiw?).

3
by JonFrum :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 1:08pm

I have a real problem with the Jurgensen=Romo comparison. In his time, Jurgensen was considered a 1-a QB - not the best, but very close. His 82.6 QB rating comes in at #31, and considering when he played and today's inflated numbers, that's damn high.

4
by Kayle (not verified) :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 1:20pm

Too bad his name isn't Tom...

... Go Voldemort!

5
by Kit Smart (not verified) :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 2:16pm

"To play for the Cardinals, you must embrace mumblecore."

Isn't mumblecore a form of pornography? (E.g, softcore - mumblecore) Is that some reflection on the Cardinals that I'm missing?

8
by Aaron Schatz :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 2:33pm
10
by Intropy :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 3:07pm

That depends entirely on what titillates you.

13
by Dean :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 3:31pm

Rule #34.

7
by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 2:24pm

"The Bears originally drafted Meredith, but George Halas wanted the expansion Cowboys to have a good quarterback and box office draw, so he made the selection as a kind of "beard" pick and traded Meredith soon after the draft."

Can anyone see Jerry Jones doing something like this, or even understanding why it was necessary?

57
by MCS :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 10:33am

The more I read and learn about George Halas, the more respect I have for the man.

73
by Marko :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 7:31pm

I did not know this story about the Bears and Meredith. It's entirely consistent with other things he did over the years to benefit another team or the league as a whole, such as helping the Packers get Lambeau Field built and pushing for revenue sharing rather than being greedy as the owner of a flagship franchise in a major market.

As for Jones, your point is well taken. The irony is that I have read several articles that discuss his admiration for Halas and the fact that he holds the McCaskey family (Halas' daughter and grandchildren who own the Bears) in very high regard.

11
by Dean :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 3:07pm

"South By Southwest Quarterback Festival, and one of these acts is about to break big, unless it means sacrificing their artistic vision."

Best joke you've had in ages. And you haven't exactly been in a slump. That was just awesome.

12
by Dean :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 3:27pm

The sad thing is, even as you were very critical of Ran-Doll, I still think you overrated him.

He is probably the very first player that was "made" by ESPN. He was always a big star, but rarely a great player. Cunningham would give you moments, but not games.

19
by Vincent Verhei :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 4:48pm

Strongly disagree. Check out his 1990 season, when he was top ten in every single passing statistic, second in passing touchdowns, and also ninth in the league in rushing. And he did it with two rookies at wide receiver and a right tackle who, in his fifth season, had started a total of 15 games, and then was out of the league the next year. He really should have been MVP that year.

22
by Mike Tanier :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 5:51pm

The problem is that Randall got the Michael Jordan treatment, and his fragile ego couldn't take it. He really thought he was an MJ-level performer and stopped working on his game. He got hurt in 1991, and when he returned in 1992 Buddy Ryan was gone and the whole timber of the team was more serious. Cunningham spent five seasons as a deluded, divisive figure who got teammates more and more ticked off until eventually he got replaced by Bubby Brister.

He was great in 1990, very very good in 88 and 89, ok in 92, 87, 94. Excellent of course that one year in Minnesota. I generally feel the need to push back against batty Hall of Fame arguments, or against the usual suspects in Philly who rank him ahead of you know who.

109
by Dean :: Mon, 03/28/2011 - 4:57pm

You're acting as if he ever worked on his game in the first place. He was told to run around and make some plays. To hell with reading defenses or understanding the playbook. To be fair, once Doug Scovil passed, he wasn't exactly tutored any. Still, ESPN would show the highlights with his legs and completely ignore the routine plays that he was incapable of making. If you lived outside of Philadelphia and all you saw was the highlight reel, he seemed revolutionary. If you lived in Philly (and I know you know this, Mike - it's probably more accurately directed to Doug) and saw every snap, the truth was much less than the image.

He was every bit as frustrating to an Eagles fan as LaVar Arrington was to the Redskins. Possibly even more. The raw talent was there. But he believed he was much better than he actually was.

114
by Thok :: Tue, 03/29/2011 - 6:50am

If you lived outside of Philadelphia and all you saw was the highlight reel, he seemed revolutionary.

It's also worth noting the Tecmo Bowl effect, given that QB Eagles was one of the best players in the game.

14
by Formersd (not verified) :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 3:38pm

Looking forward to you Chargers list for QB, unlike most teams, they have quite a few good QBs (Kemp, Hadl, Fouts, Humphries, Brees, Rivers).

15
by Dean :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 4:13pm

1) Fouts.

2) Everyone else.

Last) Leaf.

17
by tgt2 (not verified) :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 4:41pm

I think you ranked Leaf too high.

82
by jebmak :: Sat, 03/26/2011 - 10:39am

LOL

110
by Dean :: Mon, 03/28/2011 - 4:58pm

My bad.

18
by Formersd (not verified) :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 4:42pm

Agreed, I'd list Fouts first (though Rivers could pass him in another 4-5 seasons). It's how the rest of the list plays out that makes me curious. Lots of really solid QBs to choose from. I've got Rivers the clear #2 at this point.

24
by PFR Robot (not verified) :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 6:31pm

Actually looking at PFR, this is a pretty simple list to make. There are 5 quarterbacks with at least 50 starts and then the next closest guy (Kemp) has 28. Ranking by Approximate Value:

1. Fouts
2. Hadl
3. Rivers
4. Humphries
5. Brees

Hadl is over Rivers due to quantity of games played. I could see someone swapping those two based on quality of play.

16
by Soulless Mercha... :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 4:28pm

The Bills' list is an easy one.

1. Jim Kelly
2. Jack Kemp
3. Joe Ferguson
4. Drew Blesdoe (yes, really)
5. Doug Flutie (again, yes, really.)

For added fun, this list includes everyone who ever threw more than 1,000 attempts in a Buffalo uniform. Kelly and Kemp were greats, Ferguson was above average for most of his long career, and Bledsoe and Flutie did pretty okay, all things considered.

Daryle Lamonica would have made the list, but they traded him after the 1966 season. Hey, he was just Kemp's backup, right? Lamonica goes on to be Mr. Awesome for the Raiders, while Kemp misses all of '68 and retires after '69. Who QBed for Buffalo in those years? Oh do not ask such horrible questions. It chills the blood to even consider.

81
by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Sat, 03/26/2011 - 9:39am

Wade Phillips would probably put Rob Johnson at #5 instead.

83
by jebmak :: Sat, 03/26/2011 - 10:40am

Hah!

20
by MilkmanDanimal :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 5:12pm

I look forward with some amusement to the list of the best NFC South QBs. You have the short-term Panthers, the relatively short-term and usually-awful Bucs, the usually-awful Saints, and the Falcons.

23
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 6:14pm

I'm certainly looking forward to the Texans list. Does Rosenfels' approximate competence elevate him above Carr's extra 10,000 yards? Is Dave Ragone's 20/40 for 135 yards (3.4y/a), 0 TDs, 1 interception and a 0-2 record better or worse than Jabar Gaffney's 1/5 for 39 yards and a score on trick plays? One thing's for sure: Gaffney was a better passer for Houston than Rex Grossman.

25
by T. Diddy :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 6:39pm

As long as FO establishes the Irrational Brees-Manning thread well ahead of time, the Saints discussion will be interesting.

115
by t.d. :: Tue, 03/29/2011 - 7:40am

gotta say, a brooks-manning-hebert irrational thread for second place makes more sense

117
by Some_FF-Player_in_nawlins (not verified) :: Tue, 03/29/2011 - 12:15pm

As a life long Saints fan, its patently obvious to me that if effectiveness is any part of the metrics, the list goes something like this...

1) Brees, 1 SB, 2 PO
2) Bobby Hebert, 1st and 2nd post season appearances in Saints history, but with the help of an amazing defense for several years.
3) Archie Manning, consistently beter stats over time than Aaron Brooks but owner of the worst won/loss ratio in NFL history for QBs with 100+ starts.

Then you have a tremendous drop off to an argument between Aaron Brooks who's two decent seasons saw a Saints post season visit, and who's remainder saw some spectacularly awful QB play, and Jim Everett, who, in three season, didn't do anything spectacular, but wasn't awful either. Some argument could be made for Ken Stabler, over Everett, but his career here was short and his numbers only O.K.

Yes, I put Bobby Hebert above Archie. The stats tell one story, but the games in each era tell another. Archie had difficulty seeing over the offensive and defensive lines (something he himself admitted on several occassions) and wound up having to scramble to get a throwing lane, of course, a lot of that was also him running for his life as the tissue paper tha was his O-line was shredded. Bobby was a better traditional passer in that sense. I'm not trying to bad mouth Archie. I know what he had to work with on those teams and his passing stats are excellent given those conditions, but I can't rank him ahead of Bobby for what could have been.

118
by witless chum :: Tue, 03/29/2011 - 2:29pm

Jim Everett should get the benefit of the doubt for giving Jim Rome just a bit of what he richly deserves.

27
by ABW (not verified) :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 7:45pm

Thinking about the Bucs got me wondering...how many of these lists will Vinny Testaverde show up on? He's definitely on the list for the Bucs and Ravens*. I think he would be on it for the Jets, but probably doesn't make the Browns list since he only played there a couple of years.

Who else makes it on two lists even?

* unless someone wants to argue the merits of Trent Dilfer, Tony Banks, Elvis Grbac AND Kyle Boller

29
by ABW (not verified) :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 7:50pm

Duh, Drew Bledsoe's on it for both the Bills and Patriots. Shame on me for not thinking of that. There's got to be some more I'm missing. I don't think anyone except for Testaverde has a shot at 3 teams though.

33
by Shattenjager :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 8:37pm

For two teams (and admittedly some of these are stretches):
It's at least somewhat possible that Jake Plummer could, depending on whether he makes the Cardinals.
Fran Tarkenton will be since it's just possible that he'll make the Vikings. Maybe. Just a guess there.
Y.A. Tittle should for San Francisco and is on the Giants.
Could Randall Cunningham make the Vikings?
Drew Brees has at least an outside shot at the Chargers and should be on the Saints.
Steve DeBerg could have a shot at both Tampa Bay and Kansas City (though he could also be on neither list).

For three teams:
Warren Moon could make Houston/Tennessee, Minnesota, and Seattle, maybe (the Seattle competition would not be great--Moon is sixth all-time in passing yards for them).

37
by Shattenjager :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 10:43pm

Steve McNair should also make both Baltimore and Houston/Tennessee.

I wanted to figure out a way that he didn't make Baltimore, because he had one decent season and one terrible one there, but, seriously, that's probably enough to put him in the top three.

48
by Jerry :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 2:26am

Obviously, Jurgensen is on two of Tanier's lists this week.

Bobby Layne is on Mike's Steelers list, and is almost certainly on the Lions list as well.

50
by rfh1001 :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 5:17am

Er, Kurt Warner? Has everyone else already written this in invisible ink and I've missed it. Might have done. I'm pretty drunk.

56
by Shattenjager :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 10:26am

You didn't miss it. I can't speak for the others in this discussion, but I for one feel bad about somehow forgetting Warner. He's more likely than most of the guys I've mentioned.

34
by Thok :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 9:09pm

Joe Montana has a decent argument for a top five place on the Chiefs list. Dawson and Green are clear 1-2, but then you're comparing Montana's generally better quality two seasons to lots of other players crappy quantity.

Montana is obviously a top 2 QB for the Niners. (I'm not prepared to do a Montana/Young comparison, but Brodie and Tittle are a clear step behind.)

84
by jebmak :: Sat, 03/26/2011 - 10:44am

1. Bill Walsh
2. Bill Walsh
3. Tittle

...

55
by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 10:18am

The fact that Testaverde lost 2/3 of his games as a starter Tampa, had about half again as many INTs as TDs, threw THIRTY FIVE interceptions his second season, and is still probably going to wind up on "Tampa's best QB" list says something about the history of this franchise. So, Doug Williams at the top, Dilfer second (I feel kind of dirty typing that), Brad Johnson third . . . maybe it seems silly to put Josh Freeman up high after one excellent year, but I guess he's fourth by default? Then who, Craig Erickson? Steve DeBerg?

87
by Bob B. (not verified) :: Sat, 03/26/2011 - 3:06pm

I am curious about Testaverde as well... but I would argue the list should include (what I condsider to me) the TRUE history of the Ravens, which would include the years as the Cleveland Browns before they became the Ravens. I know the NFL says that the Browns history belongs to the expansion team called the Browns... but to me that is just ludicrous. That's my brief rant.

92
by BigCheese :: Sun, 03/27/2011 - 3:52am

He's 4th on the Jets list, no need to guess.

- Alvaro

21
by tuluse :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 5:40pm

Dallas has really had an embarrassment of riches at QB.

28
by Theo :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 7:50pm

The Niners and the Steelers are quite ok too.
49ers:
Joe Montana
Steve Young
Jeff Garcia
...
...
Steelers:
Terry Bradshaw
Ben Roethlisberger
Neil O'Donnell
Kordell Stewart

35
by Thok :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 9:11pm

3/4 for the Niners are probably Brodie/Tittle.

44
by Intropy :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 11:57pm

O'Donnell and Stewart are a good argument for the drop off after 2 observation.

91
by BigCheese :: Sun, 03/27/2011 - 3:49am

And why they don't even belong in the embarrasment of riches argument at all. I'll take the Niners, Cowboys, Colts, Packers and even Dolphins over the Steelers any day of the week and twice on sundays (and monday nights)

- Alvaro

26
by Alex Smith: killing coaching careers since 2005 (not verified) :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 7:28pm

Another interesting debate would be which teams have been the most QB rich...

Here's my list according to which teams have had the most consistently good QB situation over their history:

1. Colts (Unitas, Manning)
2. Niners (Tittle, Montana, Young, Garcia)
3. Cowboys (Meredith to Staubach to White to Aikman to *gap* to Romo)
4. Dolphins (Griese, Marino)
5. Jaguars (Brunell, Garrard)

Whoa Jacksonville! They've had a short history but in that time their QBs have been pretty good.

I left out GB because of the huge gap between Starr and Favre/Rodgers.

Finally here's my bottom 5:

1. Panthers
2. Ravens
3. Buccaneers
4. Bears
5. Bills

30
by tuluse :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 8:08pm

I think you are underrating delhomme

41
by Shattenjager :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 11:33pm

Lynn Dickey had a handful of decent and a couple of good seasons between Starr and Favre (though I think it's still fair to put Jacksonville ahead of them).

I think the 49ers should be number one. You skipped John Brodie in there and it wouldn't be insane to start with Frankie Albert (his numbers, era-adjusted, are fantastic, but I'm not sure how to adjust for the AAFC). They were pretty much a mess 1972-1980, but very good-to-excellent 1946-1971 and 1981-2003. Albert, Tittle, Brodie, Montana, Young, and Garcia cover 49 years of the 65 they've existed.

And I disagree with the Panthers there. Kerry Collins started the first three years and he was pretty bad, but then Beuerlein took over for three years and was pretty good, then they had two bad years with guys like Chris Weinke and Rodney Peete, then the generally average Jake Delhomme took over for the next seven years. That's not great, but it's a lot of decent QB play to have the worst QB situation over their history in the league. They have definitely never had a particularly good quarterback, and that's got to hurt them, but I'm not sure to the level that they drop to worst in the league.

I would go with the order for the worst as: Ravens, Buccaneers, Bears, Lions, and Panthers.

42
by justanothersteve :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 11:35pm

Lynn Dickey was a pretty decent Packers QB for several of those years between Starr and Favre. There is a bigger gap between Herber/Isbell and Starr of really sucky QBs.

43
by justanothersteve :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 11:50pm

I think Raiderjoe might have something to say about teams with the most consistent QB play and I'd agree with him. Ignore most of the last decade. Flores, Lamonica, Stabler, Plunkett, then some Schroeder/ Hostetler mediocrity before some excellent Gannon years. Plus, they had super-backup QB Blanda.

46
by Shattenjager :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 1:07am

The Marc Wilson-Jim Plunkett combo in the early '80s (mostly the Wilson half of it), Schroeder's mediocrity, and the last eight years are all marks against them to me. I'm also not sure what to think about Flores. His numbers are quite inconsistent (mediocre in '61, '64, and '65; excellent in '63 and '66; and somewhere in between in '60) and I suspect that Al Davis and Art Powell had a lot to do with his performance.

Lamonica, Stabler, Hostetler (whom I would say was far better than mediocre), and Gannon cover 22 of the 51 years the team has existed. Even if you add in Flores, that's 28 of 51. Pretty good, but not on the level of the 49ers, Cowboys (42 of 51 years covered by Meredith, Morton, Staubach, White, Aikman, and Romo), Dolphins (30 of 45 years covered by Marino and Griese), or Colts (41 of 58 years covered by Unitas Jones, Harbaugh, and Manning). I think they could be next in line, though.

47
by David C (not verified) :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 2:06am

Jaguars!? Seriously? Yes, they've never had a bad quarterback, but they've never had a good quarterback either. I'd put both the Steelers or Green Bay ahead of them. For the Steelers, their two good quarterbacks (Bradshaw, Roethlisberger) were better than the Jags quarterbacks, and the majority of the rest were decent. Green Bay did have some good seasons from Lynn Dickey whom I think you're forgetting.

59
by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 11:03am

what I've always found striking as a Bucs fan is how many of our ex-QB's went on to much better careers after leaving Tampa. Steve Young's in the HOF, Doug Williams won a SuperBowl MVP, Trent Dilfer won a SB, Vinnie had a very long, productive career. I think there are other former Bucs QB's that at least made pro-bowls that I'm forgetting

61
by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 11:34am

I think you've pretty much named the ones who went on to better careers. Look at the leading passing seasons:

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/tam/

Erickson, Simms, Garcia, Johnson, and King were effectively done post-Tampa. Steve DeBerg stuck around for years, but apparently never made a Pro Bowl (as an aside, in 1990, the Chiefs were 11-5 and DeBerg had a 23/4 TD/INT ratio, and didn't make the Pro Bowl; Jim Kelly and Warren Moon were the only two QBs from the AFC for some reason).

There's always Bruce Gradkowski . . .

60
by MCS :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 11:23am

What I found most interesting about this list is that a huge gap between Starr and Favre/Rodgers is cited for the reason to exclude the Packers. Yet, the gap between Unitas and Manning is not cited as reason to exclude the Colts.

70
by OKChristian (not verified) :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 7:05pm

Colts also had Bert Jones in there. While not an all-time great, he did help the Colts win several AFC East titles and in 1976 he won the MVP and OPY award.

95
by silentrat :: Sun, 03/27/2011 - 3:05pm

Why leave out GB for the "huge gap" but put the Colts first when there's an even longer gap. Now, had you mentioned Bert Jones, you might have gotten a pass, but since you neglected that I had to call you out

98
by ammek :: Mon, 03/28/2011 - 6:54am

Jones > Dickey
Jim Harbaugh > Don Majkowski
Earl Morrall > Scott Hunter
Manning > Favre

and for many people

Unitas > Starr

111
by BigCheese :: Mon, 03/28/2011 - 10:41pm

I think you meant to say "And for many people living in Green Bay."

I have honestly never heard ANYONE even mention Starr in the same breath as Unitas, let alone above. I'd think you'd find a lot more supporters of Majkowski over Harbaugh than Starr over Unitas.

- Alvaro

113
by ammek :: Tue, 03/29/2011 - 4:35am

You're underestimating the "rings = greatness" posse and also those who believe postseason passer rating to be the most important stat. Trust me, they are manifold.

31
by sswoods (not verified) :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 8:12pm

Fun fact regarding a couple QBs mentioned in this article.

There have been 22 QBs in NFL history who've been to the league championship game (NFL Championship to 1965, Super Bowl since) at least three times.
18 are in the HOF
2 will be in the HOF (Brady, Warner)
1 is arguably in, depending on the remainder of his career (Roethlisberger)
2 are not. They are:
Tommy Thompson (47-L, 48-W, 49-W)
Charlie Conerly (56-W, 58-L, 59-L)

Conerly would certainly be there had his NY Giants won those '58 and '59 games vrs the Unitas Colts (59 is a stretch, but 58 certainly isn't).
Thompson is interesting - one could argue that he was the league's 2nd best QB during his peak - Baugh, Luckman, and Herber were at the end of their careers (8 championships the previous 11 years, 14 title game starts in the same span), Van Brocklin, Tittle, and Layne were just beginning theirs, and Graham was in the AAFC - though no one took him seriously until the Browns joined the NFL in '50. Waterfield was in his prime during that stretch and probably was considered the best at that time. (All of these are HOFers, btw.) Although, those Eagles were ultra run-centric, even by the standards of the late 40's.

32
by sswoods (not verified) :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 8:15pm

Oops, that should read 17 are in the HOF. My bad.

36
by someguy (not verified) :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 9:58pm

As far as the Texans are concerned I say:

1. Schaub
2. Rosenfels
3. Tony Banks
4. Carr
5. Dave Ragone/Rex Grossman

38
by GG Eden (not verified) :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 10:48pm

Sammy Baugh and Roger Staubach are the best two NFC East QBs....if this exercise is about a process of elimination.

39
by GGEden :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 10:50pm

Sammy Baugh and Roger Staubach are the best two NFC East QBs....if this exercise is about a process of elimination.

45
by Broker (not verified) :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 12:03am

I think you called this exactly right. Interesting argument after all this is over is who was the best QB for each division.

40
by zlionsfan :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 11:28pm

but don't offer choices for teams that haven't been covered yet.

Sure, no problem. We'll just talk about ... um ... uh ... someone help me out here.

52
by ammek :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 6:34am

Yeah, since nobody's taken any notice of that, I thought I'd have a crack at the NFC East from the opposite angle: the worst QBs for each team. (Especially relevant since this article begins with the Cardinals.) Quarterbacks must have led the team in a significant quantative passing category (eg, yards or attempts) for at least one season to qualify.

Dallas:
1 Chad Hutchinson
2 Quincy Carter
3 Eddie LeBaron

The Cowboys really haven't had much bad quarterbacking: even when their starter got hurt, the likes of Steve Pelluer, Jon Kitna and Gary Hogeboom filled in okay. The exception, of course, was the Dave Campo era.

New York:
1 Joe Pisarcik
2 Danny Kanell
3 Scott Brunner

One of my favorite bad NFL quarterbacks, Jerry Golsteyn, doesn't qualify, alas. I don't know anything about the pre-1960 QBs, but the Giants have had a lot of different passers in their long history. They're one of the few teams for which Dave Brown would not come close to making the bad list.
Is there an argument to put Kurt Warner (Giants version) on this list?

Philly:
1 Bobby Hoying
2 John Reaves
3 Doug Pederson

Reaves was the archetypal first-round bust: thrown into the starting line-up too soon, in three years with the Eagles he finished with a sacked-to-completions ratio of almost 1:3. He popped up again, aged 37, crossing the picket line in 1987. The demonization of Donovan McNabb in Philly is even more difficult to understand given the run of terrible Eagle quarterbacks in the mid-to-late 1990s: Bubby Brister, Rodney Peete, a selection of Detmers, plus Pederson and Hoying. Ugh.

Washington:
1 Heath Shuler
2 Tony Banks
3 Patrick Ramsey

Here's a franchise that didn't start a properly bad quarterback for half a century between 1937 and 1993. However, there are a few names — McNabb's the most recent — who played much better elsewhere. Limiting the assessment to his performances as a Redskin alone, I'd put Mark Brunell top of this list.

64
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 1:12pm

Regarding Washington:

Ramsey wasn't that bad. He threw more TDs than INTs, his completion% was a not-horrible 55.7%, and his rating was an even 75. Ramsey kind of got jerked around by Gibbs, who always preferred Brunell even to the point of absurdity, and who then drafted Campbell to seal the deal on Ramsey never getting a shot. I also take issue with Brunell being on the "worst" list- while he was horrible in 2 out of his 3 years in Washington, his 2005 season was quite good. (I won't defend his 2006 even though the stats are misleadingly decent.)

Redskins QBs who should make this list before Ramsey or Brunell:

McNabb (unless he stays with the team and plays better)
Uh, Ralph Gugliemi?

And... huh. Washington hasn't had almost any truly bad QBs, ever.

78
by The Ninjalectual :: Sat, 03/26/2011 - 6:14am

Brunell had a great year with the Redskins in 2005, making the Pro-Bowl back when it meant something to do that. I remember one Sportscenter anchor quip, "Brunell to Moss is the new Culpepper to Moss!"

49
by usedbread (not verified) :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 4:41am

Just for the hell of it, I thought I'd do a Saints list...
(1) Brees
(2) A. Mannning
...and here's where we start getting to the flotsam & jetsam. I think any of these next 3 guys are interchangeable with each other.
(3) Jim Everett
(4)Bobby Hebert
(5) Aaron Brooks

meh.

62
by Joseph :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 12:28pm

It's definitely Brees, Archie Manning, Hebert, Brooks, then Everett in my book. Hebert at least "guided" his teams to the playoffs; Brooks had good stats and the first playoff win; and then prob. Everett is the best of the rest. Kilmer, Kerry Collins, Delhomme, Jeff Blake, Stabler, and Richard Todd had better careers before or after coming to the Saints--and really, is there anyone else worth mentioning?

63
by Shattenjager :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 1:01pm

You're not considering John Fourcade?

What if he gets extra credit for a cool last name and even cooler p-f-r id (FourJo)?

Note: For the curious, http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/F/FourJo00.htm

51
by Podge (not verified) :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 5:24am

I can only hope that when it comes time to do the Rams list, Jim Everett is called Chris.

53
by dryheat :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 9:28am

Wow...Chris Everett could feasibly make two teams' lists.

Thoroughly mediocre NFL career, but still a hero to me. Jim Rome needed that badly. In fact, he's probably due for a refresher.

85
by jebmak :: Sat, 03/26/2011 - 10:49am

I would tune in for that.

I hate how he sucks away one of my two sports radio choices during the lunch hour.

54
by Mike Tanier :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 9:29am

Nope. That's Jim Rome's joke. His only joke. I can't steal from the poor.

58
by tonic889 (not verified) :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 11:01am

I'd like to see one for the Ravens. Any list where Elvis Grbac has a shot at third place is worth reading....

B

65
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 1:20pm

No shot. Flacco, Testaverde, and McNair easily beat him. Hell, Dilfer was better than him. And that's just off the top of my head as a non-Ravens fan.

66
by Temo :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 2:05pm

Troy Aikman: The battle for No. 1 is really close.

Eh, I dunno about that. Staubach is an all time great, not so for Aikman.

67
by Lance :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 3:24pm

I sort of liked Tanier's analysis, Temo. I am too young to have really seen Staubach and appreciate him; my earliest memories are Danny White's Cowboys losing to "The Catch". So perhaps my view of Aikman is slanted. But I felt like he always got a bad rap because he didn't put up the kind of numbers that the famous contemporaries he played with did-- Montana, Marino, Elway, Young, etc. But why should he? He's got one of the all-time best running back in the game and played in a run-first system. You know that when Dallas got inside the 20, the game plan was "Hand off to Emmitt, hand off to Emmitt, hand off to Emmitt, hand off to Moose, hand off to Emmitt, touchdown." And the results show: Emmitt is the all-time leader in rushing TDs, and second in TDs overall.

Dallas, it seems, was running an offensive system that was on the way out. Moreover, as the league has, over the last 10-15 years, gradually tweaked the rules to encourage passing, we've seen fewer and fewer. Tanier is right: Aikman gets viewed poorly because we compare him to QBs in more passer-friendly systems. But he probably shouldn't be.

Anyhow, it's still impressive for the Cowboys to have the list they have.

68
by tuluse :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 5:21pm

Yeah, I think at this point Aikman is underrated. He was a great QB at a time in the league when there weren't many. Which 90s QBs would you want over him? There's Favre and Young. Then what, an aging Marino, Moon's final few years, and John Elway's bad years.

71
by Shattenjager :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 7:14pm

Yeah, it's not like John Elway had the best years of his career 1993-1998. Those were his bad years.

93
by BigCheese :: Sun, 03/27/2011 - 4:32am

No QB started more games in the 90s than Troy Aikman. He is definetly #2 in Cowboys history and definitely at the very least top 8 among QBs that played at least 16 games in the 90s (and top 6 if we only count their 90s production, since that list includes Manning and Warner).

However, these are the QBs that, IMHO, just base on their 90s play, would have taken the 90s cowboys to at least three SB titles (note, that doesn't mean they were better or even equal than Aikman): Favre, Marino, Elway, Montana, Young and Kelly without a doubt. Simms if he had a decent back-up to tide him over while he was injured. Quite possibly Bledsoe and Esiason. And I'm pretty certain Testaverde as well.

And Floutie and Cunningham would have at least one.

- Alvaro

119
by t.d. :: Wed, 03/30/2011 - 6:53am

no effin' way 70 year old joe montana takes the cowboys to multiple super bowls in the 90's, and young's teams were virtually as stacked as aikman's and we saw how that played out. by then, marino was relatively washed up, and kelly's accomplishments came in a historically weak afc. simms, again, had a comparably strong supporting cast. favre and elway, maybe, could have won multiple super bowls in dallas

69
by Spielman :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 5:59pm

The focus of the Cowboys offense is indeed a powerful defense for why Aikman's counting stats were never that impressive in any given season.

I'm not at all sure why it should be a defense for his rate stats being less than overwhelming, though. Just as an example, Aikman's ANY/A+ for his career is 106. Staubach's was 121.

I tend to think that Staubach is the one who is generally underrated these days.

75
by Lance :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 10:32pm

"I'm not at all sure why it should be a defense for his rate stats being less than overwhelming, though. Just as an example, Aikman's ANY/A+ for his career is 106. Staubach's was 121."

Eh. While I am a fan of these sorts of metrics in general (obviously; I've been a FO reader for years), and I've read Hidden Game of Football two or three times, I've never ben convinced that their AY/A (upon which ANY/A+ is based) was the perfect measure of QB effectiveness. I'm not sure their is a good measure. But if the argument is that the offensive system Dallas ran ca. 1990-1995 was one that favored the run, especially in "red zone" situations, then obviously Aikman's not going to have the sort of numbers you might expect from a West Coast-style offense (or one run with more liberalized passing rules). And of course, a metric that is built around passing yards (and converting TD passes into years) is also not going to measure Aikman very high.

One could counter that if passing wasn't a major part of that Dallas offense, then why should we rate Aikman so high? And it's a fair question. But unlike some Super Bowl teams, Dallas didn't get there (and win) in spite of Aikman. Passing wasn't a last resort, or something done just to keep defenses honest. He was accurate, and smart with the ball. This wasn't Trent Dilfer or Brad Johnson under center, where the team won based on other strengths (the running game; its defense) and just an average QB.

That said, I think it's fair to put Staubach ahead of Aikman on an "all-time" list for Dallas QBs. I simply think that because pass-based metrics put Aikman behind contemporaries, he gets a bad rap and I was happy to see Tanier (of all people) actually cut the guy some slack.

76
by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 10:32pm

One of my pet peeves is people stick Dilfer and Brad Johnson in the same category all the time; Dilfer was marginal, Brad Johnson was really a pretty darn good QB. Never elite, no, but a guy who could actually help you win games on a reasonably regular basis.

90
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Sat, 03/26/2011 - 9:03pm

Seconded.

88
by Aaron Brook's Good Twin (not verified) :: Sat, 03/26/2011 - 4:41pm

Aikman was *maybe* the 3rd best player on his own offense (Smith and the Crack-Addict were better), had a stellar offensive line, and a dominant defense. Those Cowboys could have won with Hutchinson at QB. But it says something that he wasn't trusted to throw the ball near the goal line in a pass-heavy era, and what it says is that he wasn't great. He was a rich man's Trent Dilfer.

89
by Temo :: Sat, 03/26/2011 - 6:18pm

He was a rich man's Trent Dilfer

Exaggeration.

Not everyone has to be useless or awesome (or a rich man's useless, as you have it). They can just be good.

94
by BigCheese :: Sun, 03/27/2011 - 4:42am

Exaggeration indeed, as is the Hutchinson comment. Vinny Testaverde, however, would have several rings.

- Alvaro

96
by Aaron Brook's Good Twin (not verified) :: Sun, 03/27/2011 - 4:47pm

How's that an exaggeration?

Trent Dilfer won a ring by not screwing things up, and riding a quality running attack and a stellar defense. He's not as good as Aikman, but was Aikman required to do much more? Aikman had a much better offense around him than the 2000 Ravens. How many QBs couldn't have prospered just throwing balls up for Irvin to grab over a smaller DB, or simply handing off to Smith behind that line?

97
by tuluse :: Sun, 03/27/2011 - 5:03pm

Trent Dilfer was awful and won a ring because of a historically good defense probably in the top 5 all time.

100
by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Mon, 03/28/2011 - 10:23am

Who did he have to throw to in Tampa or Baltimore? Warrick Dunn was his leading receiver! Brandon Stokely may have been the best WR he played with.

101
by Shattenjager :: Mon, 03/28/2011 - 11:26am

He did have a Hall of Fame tight end in Baltimore.

103
by tuluse :: Mon, 03/28/2011 - 2:09pm

He threw 11 interceptions in 226 attempts and fumbled 9 times while quarterbacking for the Ravens. He didn't "not screw up" he screwed up plenty, the defense was just good enough to overcome.

106
by Shattenjager :: Mon, 03/28/2011 - 4:19pm

It's amazing how pervasive the "Trent Dilfer was a game manager who did not make mistakes" meme is, considering its lack of a relationship to reality.

Dilfer has become one of the most overrated quarterbacks in NFL history.

116
by Geronimo (not verified) :: Tue, 03/29/2011 - 11:18am

Aikman's accomplishments are not similar to Dilfer's. First of all, Aikman had to lead his team past some pretty great teams on their way to the Super Bowl, including the 49ers, the Packers with a young Favre, and good Bills and Steelers teams in the game.

The Ravens' season in 2000 has always felt a little overrated to me. They won a weak 6-team division where they played six games against Tim Couch, Akili Smith, and Kordell Stewart (this partially explains their defensive numbers that year). The Ravens got to play one of the worst teams to ever appear in a Super Bowl and their AFC playoff opponents were solid teams with some major weaknesses. Not Young-Rice-Deion.

86
by Temo :: Sat, 03/26/2011 - 2:30pm

I never saw Staubach play either, but his numbers are mind-boggling.

The thing that I think really dings Aikman is that while his peak was great, it was relatively short as far as really elite QBs go.

72
by Marko :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 7:20pm

If Scott Riddle makes it onto a roster, I hope he wears a question mark as his "number." That would be awesome.

74
by Alaska Jack :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 9:00pm

And all the way down here at the end of the thread, a little gem to make me laugh out loud. Well done.

- aj

77
by sublime33 (not verified) :: Fri, 03/25/2011 - 10:42pm

" You know that when Dallas got inside the 20, the game plan was "Hand off to Emmitt, hand off to Emmitt, hand off to Emmitt, hand off to Moose, hand off to Emmitt, touchdown."

That exact same argument can be applied to Jim McMahon. Neither Aikman or McMahon got to throw those 4 yard TD passes on first and goal very often when Emmitt Smith or Walter Payton were in the backfield with a bunch of All Pros blocking up front.

79
by Mike Tanier :: Sat, 03/26/2011 - 8:03am

Except that McMahon only played 8 games per year.

80
by Mike Tanier :: Sat, 03/26/2011 - 8:03am

Except that McMahon only played 8 games per year.

104
by jw124164 :: Mon, 03/28/2011 - 3:11pm

I guess the Falcons would run:

Bartkowski
Vick
Chandler
Ryan
Chris Miller? Bob Berry? not sure if there's a decent 5th here!
Jeff George? Eww...

105
by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Mon, 03/28/2011 - 3:55pm

I'd out Chandler over Vick.

107
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 03/28/2011 - 4:40pm

Now there's an interesting choice of verb . . .

108
by Dean :: Mon, 03/28/2011 - 4:52pm

It would be even funnier in the Aikman/Staubach discussion.