Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

12 Aug 2005

The Worst QB Seasons Ever

Sure, Pro Football Prospectus 2005 contains a list of the best quarterback seasons since 1960, but where's a list of the worst quarterback seasons since 1960? Well, golly, I'm glad you asked, because here's your answer, courtesy of yours truly and ESPN Page 2. Return once again to the magic year of 1998, and then meet the one quarterback in history who was worse than Ryan Leaf. Here's a hint: In one game, his running back outgained him by 258 yards!

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 12 Aug 2005

24 comments, Last at 15 Aug 2005, 2:45pm by David Keller


by zip (not verified) :: Fri, 08/12/2005 - 1:27pm

The Buffalo Bills had 2 of the 3 worst QB season ever?

And Rob Johnson wasn't one of them?


by princeton73 (not verified) :: Fri, 08/12/2005 - 1:32pm

I can't believe that at least ONE of Mike Phipps' seasons from 73-75 didn't make the list

by Richie (not verified) :: Fri, 08/12/2005 - 2:08pm

Aaron is going to talk to Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton on the radio tonight? Very nice.


by GrimJim (not verified) :: Fri, 08/12/2005 - 2:10pm

No Bears made this list? Impossible.

by TMK (not verified) :: Fri, 08/12/2005 - 2:11pm

Wow, truly bad -- but no Stoney Case? Eric Zeier? Tony Banks? Chris Redman?

As bad as the Raven QB's have been, I guess it tells how truly awful these seasons were that none of them -- not even Vinny (he thinks orange is purple) Testaverde? -- makes the list. Scary people indeed.

by Richie (not verified) :: Fri, 08/12/2005 - 2:27pm

Pretty interesting list. You have somebody like Leaf making the top-20 twice!

You have QB's who made the list either before or after otherwise good careers: Namath, Esiason, Bradshaw, Archie Manning and Kerry Collins.

And there are guys I've never heard of, like Dan Darragh. What is up with his hair???

by Teddy (not verified) :: Fri, 08/12/2005 - 2:34pm

Somewhere, Hugh Millen weeps as his last chance at lasting fame slips quietly away...

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 08/12/2005 - 2:35pm

Instead of projecting thier stats into 2004 form, shouldn't you have projected them to the heydey of bad quarterbacking (1976)?

by Rick "32_Footsteps" Healey (not verified) :: Fri, 08/12/2005 - 2:47pm

You mentioned Bobby Hoying. I shall now assume the fetal position.

In all seriousness, I do have a question related to that. You say in the article on 1998 rankings here that Hoying had the worst season that year. But in this article, he's only ninth (and Leaf's 1998 was second). So is Hoying the worst or not?

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 08/12/2005 - 3:03pm

I think the answer is Hoying was worse on a per game basis, but 10 games of Leaf is worse than 8 games of Hoying.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 08/12/2005 - 3:18pm

Nope, that's not it either. Even in only 8 games, Hoying's DPAR was just as bad as Leafs.

by Kevin Pelton (not verified) :: Fri, 08/12/2005 - 4:16pm

Might that be a discrepancy between the use of DVOA and the use of conventional statistics?

by jim's apple pie (not verified) :: Fri, 08/12/2005 - 5:28pm

Has everybody what Leaf is studying now? Media Relations ... oh, the wicked irony ...

I think Leaf might have had a chance if he had falled, Aaron Rodgers-style, to a better team. Although you could say that about almost all highly drafted QB's. What Leaf really needed was an iron-willed head coach to keep him inline and give him some time to mature.

What's funny is that the Chargers managed to win their first 7 games of the Ryan Leaf era -- they went 5-0 in the preseason in 1998 and then squeaked out wins in the first two real games. And then he had that disastrous game in KC, and it was all over from there.

Although, to be fair, it's not like Leaf had much help with that '98 offense. Natron Means at the end of his career ... receivers like Bryan Still and Mikael Ricks. This just serves to remind me how happy I am to be rid of Bobby Beathard and to have AJ Smith as the general manager.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 08/12/2005 - 5:56pm

From said article on the 1998 Season:
Finally, we can answer the question, "Who was worse, Ryan Leaf or Craig Whelihan?" The answer, believe it or not, is Bobby Hoying.

by Aaron (not verified) :: Fri, 08/12/2005 - 6:06pm

OK, I deleted the comment where someone called someone else an idiot. Let's keep the tone high around here, ok?

The answer to the question about Hoying and Leaf is that Hoying had a slightly lower DPAR, Leaf a slightly lower DVOA. The equations used in the ESPN article and the article in PFP 2005 will not give results quite as exact as DPAR, however, because I'm not breaking down every single play. This is the reason why Tom Brady's 2004 doesn't show up in the top 100 in the book -- the equation that attempts to turn conventional stats into a DPAR-like number underestimates Brady's value last year. It just so happens that it also slightly overestimates Bobby Hoying's value in 1998, giving him a value closer to Whelihan than to Leaf.

Golly, in between my colossal email backup, writing the pre-season preview for the Sun, working on the game charting experiment with Roland Beech and MDS, book touring, and reading my daughter the same book 100 times in a row, I really should get to writing up 1999 shouldn't I? Can someone give me an eighth day this week?

Seriously, Richie asks the most important question: What the heck is up with Dan Darragh's hair? I can't figure that out myself.

by sippican (not verified) :: Fri, 08/12/2005 - 6:14pm

I used to enjoy watching Tony Eason curling up into the fetal position at the end of his three step drop, but maybe that's just me.

by superdave (not verified) :: Fri, 08/12/2005 - 8:09pm

Dick Wood. *pause* Dick. Wood. *shakes head* "..will be played by Peter O'Toole". Hysterical. The only other man who has not one but TWO euphemisms for "penis" in his name.

I still find it hard to believe that there wasn't a single mention of ANY of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers alleged quarterbacks.

by John (not verified) :: Sat, 08/13/2005 - 1:03am

Hey, Bobby Hoying was pretty good. After all, he did lead his team in rushing in an NFL Championship Game.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Sat, 08/13/2005 - 3:20am

It's interesting that A.J. Feeley was the only 2004 QB to make the top 20, but then again, I suppose none of the Chicago guys had enough attempts to make the cut.

Also, it's interesting to see Plummer on that list. Most of the other decent QBs on that list were either not yet established (Bradshaw) or way past their prime (Namath), but Plummer had already had a decent season under his belt, and later went on to have several more good seasons (finishing 6th and 12th in DVOA in 2003 and 2004, respectively). Sort of a weird blip in the radar type of thing.

by Darren Rasmussen (not verified) :: Sat, 08/13/2005 - 7:59am

He didn't have enough attempts to qualify, but Randy Hedberg of the '77 Bucs had a truly horrendous season: 25 completions in 90 attempts (27.8%), 2.71 Yards Per Attempt, 0 TD's & 10 Interceptions. Wow! (by the way, Hedberg is now the Head Football Coach at division II St. Cloud(MN)St. Let's hope he's not giving his QB's any pointers.) Also, regarding athletes with two Penis euphemisms in their name: former Seattle Mariners pitcher Dick Pole.

by GrimJim (not verified) :: Sat, 08/13/2005 - 8:54pm

I'm pretty sure we'll be able to add Chad Hutchinson to the list in just a couple months. Finally one of my Bears wil make an all-time QB list. Now I'll go talk to TO and ask him if he can talk to God about Rex Grossman's ankle. If anyone can get him healed TO can.

by Rick \"32_Footsteps\" Healey (not verified) :: Mon, 08/15/2005 - 12:42pm

Heh, overestimating Bobby Hoying. That's funny.

Another funny thing is actively having debates on who had a worse QB. Given that the Eagles have had a solid run in recent years, I probably shouldn't wallow in the memories of 1998's season. Of course, if I wasn't a sports masochist, would I cheer for Philly teams?

Also, anyone note that Dan Darraugh has the same hair that the brother in "The Wedding Crashers" has? No wonder the brother refused to join the football game.

by senser81 (not verified) :: Mon, 08/15/2005 - 1:13pm

Interesting list. I also think that Mike Phipps 1975 season should be on the list somewhere, because he inherited a pretty good Browns team and drove it into the ground.

I will assume that 'since 1960' doesn't include 1960, because Jim Ninowski's 2-18 TD/INT ratio for a Lions team that finished one game back of the division-winning Packers is remarkable. I think some consideration has to be made for the supporting cast, because Ninowski's season on a good Lions team is worse than Joe Kapp having a bad year with possibly the worst offensive team in history, the early-70's Patriots.

Its strange that Dick Wood rates much worse than John McCormick in 1966, when in real life Wood finished ahead of McCormick in QB efficiency. Also, Wood was playing on an expansion team.

How about Pete Beathard's 1967 season with the Oilers for worst QB to win the division?

by David Keller (not verified) :: Mon, 08/15/2005 - 2:45pm

Sometimes the numbers do not tell the whole story. Who can forget Dieter Brock? Marc Wilson? Bobby Riggs?