Mike Glennon Wins Loser Championships

Chicago Bears ER Trevis Gipson
Chicago Bears ER Trevis Gipson
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 17 - We interrupt your regularly scheduled Losers for the New York Giants. Again.

I was going to spend the essay this week highlighting the top performers as we enter the final week of Loser League action, the handful of teams with the real chances to win a trip to the Big Game or the PlayStation 5. You know, a little hype and pomp and circumstance for anyone who has navigated 17 weeks of football to find the worst of the worst.

But then Mike Glennon had to roll back into our lives and redefine Loserdom, shifting the balance of power and winning championships. Just like Ja'Marr Chase will forever live in fantasy fame for single-handedly winning championships last week, Glennon will be forever a Loser League stud for putting up one of the worst days of all time at a key moment in the competition.

Glennon's statline belongs in the Louvre. He went 4-for-11 passing for just 24 yards, with two interceptions and two lost fumbles. That hardly seems possible; his -6.0 adjusted yards per attempt just misses out on one of the worst 100 days in NFL history, and is the worst day anyone has had since the legendary Nathan Peterman debacle in 2017—the five-interceptions-in-one-half game.

Glennon's performance will be remembered in much the same way. The very first play of the game saw Glennon sacked, fumbling and losing the football.

His very first pass of the game was tipped and intercepted.

At that point, the powers that be in New York realized that, hey, this may not be Glennon's day, and shifted to a run-heavy game plan. An exceptionally run-heavy game plan. A game plan so run-heavy that, for a while there, it looked like Glennon might not hit the 10-attempt minimum needed to avoid the Lower League penalty. Glennon did not record a second pass attempt until there were 14 seconds left in the first quarter, when he hit a 4-yard dumpoff to Devontae Booker. Definitely a play Glennon was in control of the entire time.

Of course, I say "second pass attempt" because the Giants did call a third pass play in the first quarter. Glennon was sacked by Angelo Blackson who, while an adequate player, is not exactly a pass-rushing maven; that was just his first full sack of the year. Glennon somehow lost 9 yards on a sack to a nose tackle.

Glennon then went the entire second quarter without throwing a pass, causing Loser League teams to panic. The Giants have 15 lines in the play-by-play for the quarter: one punt, one field goal, one horribly botched kickoff return, one false start from the 2-yard line, five Saquon Barkley rushes for a net total of 22 yards, and six Devontae Booker carries for 9 yards and a safety. It really does take a village to have a day as bad as Glennon's, and I don't want to downplay just how badly the entire team played from top to bottom; they were very much there to support Glennon's quest for Loser League infamy.

Glennon upped his attempt total to five in the third quarter, including his one and only completion beyond the line of scrimmage. He also was strip-sacked, again, and had yet another fumble which he managed to scoop up and throw incomplete—that doesn't count for Loser League points, which is what we call "foreshadowing."

Finally, in the fourth quarter, down 29-3, Joe Judge and the Giants realized that they may need to throw the ball slightly more frequently than a bad 1970s Wing T team if they were going to come up with a miracle comeback. Glennon got eight plays—on one drive! They included a 13-yard scramble, with 5 yards tacked on for illegal contact, that was the longest play of the game for the Giants. But they also included a 4-yard loss on a screen, a sack called back due to defensive holding, and another strip-sack, one that the Giants were lucky enough to recover.

And most importantly, between all those sacks and penalties, Glennon did find an opportunity to attempt his 10th pass of the game—one that went nowhere even in the vague vicinity of an intended receiver—a beautiful sight for all Loser Leaguers everywhere.

That was fourth down, a turnover on downs, and the capper for one of the greatest Loser days in league history. But, like at the end of any great performance, Glennon came back out for one last encore; one more pass attempt as a finishing touch. Brava.

To sum up, Glennon had 17 dropbacks against the Giants. They were:

  • Strip-sack
  • Interception
  • Sack
  • 4-yard pass
  • Incompletion
  • 12-yard pass
  • Strip-sack
  • Incompletion
  • 12-yard pass
  • 13-yard scramble
  • -4-yard pass
  • Incompletion
  • Sack
  • Strip-sack
  • Incompletion
  • Incompletion
  • Interception

Glennon lost 34 yards on his sacks, meaning that the Giants had -10 net passing yards, the worst total since Ryan Leaf's Chargers put up -19 back in 1998. It's not hard to see how Glennon kept the offense moving backwards, what with this passing chart.

So, did Glennon manage to make history? Do we have a new all-time Loser League Leader? Do we need to gold-plate his neck and send it to Canton?

Sadly, not quite. Here are the worst Loser League quarterback games since 1990, which is when Stathead starts including fumbles lost in their database.

Worst Quarterback Loser League Games, 1990-2021
Player Year Team Opp Cmp Att Yds INT FL Rush Points
Jon Kitna 2000 SEA MIA 6 15 54 4 1 5 -8
Anthony Wright 2000 DAL TEN 5 20 35 2 2 9 -7
Alex Smith 2005 SF IND 9 23 74 4 1 3 -7
Rex Grossman 2006 CHI GB 2 12 33 3 1 -1 -7
Jake Delhomme 2009 CAR PHI 7 17 73 4 1 9 -7
Todd Collins 2010 CHI CAR 6 16 32 4 0 0 -7
John Skelton 2012 ARI SEA 11 22 74 4 1 2 -7
Peyton Manning 2015 DEN KC 5 20 35 4 0 0 -7
Nathan Peterman 2017 BUF LAC 6 14 66 5 0 4 -7
Tim Hasselbeck 2003 WAS DAL 6 26 56 4 0 2 -6
Luke McCown 2011 JAX NYJ 6 19 59 4 0 4 -6
Sam Darnold 2019 NYJ NE 11 32 86 4 1 -1 -6
Mike Glennon 2021 NYG CHI 4 11 24 2 2 13 -6
Pat Ryan 1991 PHI WAS 4 14 24 3 0 0 -5
Todd Marinovich 1992 LARD PHI 3 10 25 3 0 0 -5
Erik Kramer 1994 CHI GB 5 10 34 2 1 0 -5
Alex Van Pelt 1997 BUF NE 3 12 38 3 0 8 -5
Trent Dilfer 1997 TB NYJ 2 15 38 2 1 0 -5
Charlie Batch 1998 DET ARI 10 17 71 3 1 5 -5
Scott Mitchell 2001 CIN CLE 4 12 38 3 0 0 -5
Rex Grossman 2006 CHI ARI 14 37 144 4 2 -7 -5
Rex Grossman 2006 CHI MIN 6 19 34 3 0 -9 -5
Brad Johnson 2006 MIN CHI 11 26 73 4 0 3 -5
Chris Redman 2007 ATL TB 4 15 34 2 1 1 -5
Mark Sanchez 2009 NYJ BUF 10 29 119 5 0 6 -5
Matt Cassel 2017 TEN HOU 4 10 21 2 1 0 -5

If you go back to 1950, there are 65 more games which should qualify for this list, though without fumble lost data, we can't 100% verify their final scores. Jon Kitna's -8-point day against the Dolphins in 2000—a four-interception performance in one half before being pulled for Brock Huard—remains the lowest score from the verified era. There is, however, one—and only one—score that we are sure is lower from before that: Zeke Bratkowski's -9-point day against the Browns in 1960; five interceptions to just 14 yards passing will do that for you. Either way, Glennon doesn't take home the crown.

But man, he comes so close. That 13-yard scramble earned him an extra point, which bumped him just down from the post-realignment record. And those two fumbles he didn't lose are killers, too—if just one of them bounces to the Bears, Glennon ties Kitna and threatens Bratkowski. With only 11 pass attempts, flipping one of those recovered fumbles to a turnover does threaten the penalty, but the third-quarter fumble led to a punt on the next play; it wouldn't erase any of his actual pass attempts. But as it stands, Glennon falls just short of making history.

That is, he falls short of making one-game history. In Week 16, Glennon came on in relief of Jake Fromm and managed just seven points. And in Week 15, Glennon led all passers with -2 points. We're in the midst of a run of terrible play the likes of which we have very rarely seen before—that's -1 point over three consecutive weeks. Anyone can have a terrible day—I mean, Peyton freaking Manning is on that list up there. But to be bad week after week after week? Glennon is carving out some serious new ground here.

It's also especially difficult ground to search, as I don't have a convenient database of every quarterback's Loser League numbers for every game they've ever played; it's not enough just to find some bad games, you have to make sure they're surrounded by other mediocre games along the way. That being said, I went through a fairly exhaustive search of every quarterback of the past 35 years, and I found only five other passers who had put up 10 or fewer Loser League points in three consecutive games—not three straight games in which they played or qualified, but week after week after week. I can't say they're the only five who join Glennon, but I simply could not find any others.

The only one who tops Glennon's -1 point is also the last to do it: Geno Smith, as a rookie in 2013. Smith committed four turnovers against the Bills in some 30 MPH winds, threw two more interceptions to Corey Graham against the Ravens the next week, and then went 4-for-10 for 2 yards with a pick against the Dolphins before being pulled for Matt Simms. That's -3, 2, and -1 points, for a combined total of -2 Loser Points. While no individual day was worse than Glennon's performance this week, Smith didn't throw a touchdown for five straight games as a rookie, so he ends up just on top of Glennon. Glennon will have to console himself with the second-worst three-game stretch in the last 35 years.

Just some quick hits on the other four guys:

  • Trent Dilfer ended the 1995 season arguing with coach Sam Wyche on the sidelines; Wyche had decided before the game that he would pull Dilfer for Casey Weldon no matter what, though Dilfer's one pick and two strip-sacks in the first half alone against the Lions probably justified a move anyway. No matter—1996 saw Dilfer still with the Buccaneers and Wyche replaced by Tony Dungy, so it was Dilfer's time to shine, if by shine you mean "throw four interceptions in a 34-3 rout against the Packers and trigger rumors the franchise was moving to Cleveland." Dilfer added two more interceptions the next week against the Lions, for a net total of 2 loser points in three games, albeit divided by an offseason.
     
  • Jay Schroeder ended his time with the 1992 Los Angeles Raiders by throwing for just 159 yards in his last three games combined, with Vince Evans coming off the bench in all three games. Schroeder had a sore right shoulder—nothing unusual for him, as his shoulder was on-again, off-again injured after he separated it in 1987. He re-injured it while throwing for just 93 yards against the Dolphins and spent the next two weeks starting the game, throwing 10 or so passes, and the retreating to the sideline hurt, with a 4-for-13 day for 25 yards against the Chargers being his nadir. That was worth just 3 Loser points.
     
  • Stan Gelbaugh was the third-string quarterback for the 1992 Seahawks, forced into action when Dan McGwire and Kelly Stouffer both got hurt. Things started out OK—he threw for 238 yards against the Raiders in his first start in Week 7—but then, uh, they gradually went downhill. 130 yards and a score against the Giants is nothing to sneeze at, but a two-pick day against Washington and then 65 yards against the Raiders saw him quickly back to the bench. 8 Loser points.
     
  • Bobby Hebert's final three games of the 1989 season also qualify. The Saint threw four interceptions against the Falcons in a game the Saints somehow won 26-17, and he went on to throw picks in each of his last two games of the year as well. He then missed the last three games of the year and held out the entire 1990 season over a contract dispute. I can't imagine why the Saints wouldn't want to pay him a ton of money. 10 Loser Points.

Glennon may be no Geno Smith, but he was definitely one for the record books. It's too bad his hand probably will keep him from going for a four-spot of terrible performances to close the year out. Oh well, I'm sure we'll have another lousy day from Jake Fromm to keep us company.

Week 17's Biggest Losers

QUARTERBACKS

Worst of the Worst
Three times in a row Mike Glennon (-6) finds himself in this section. For shame.

Other Loser Leaders
Cam Newton and P.J. Walker were not the answers for Carolina. Neither, however, is Sam Darnold (2), who spent most of Sunday buried under at least three Saints defenders. The preseason Loser League quarterback showing his mettle here as we go down to the wire. He was the worst quarterback in the NFC South, which was a higher-level competition than you might expect with Matt Ryan (7) having a touchdown called back in the fourth quarter.

Not a great day for rookies, with both Trevor Lawrence (8) and Davis Mills (10) ending up near the bottom of the list. Lawrence had yet another multi-interception day in a string of them, while Mills couldn't feast on his usual dinks and dunks against the 49ers defense.

Tua Tagovailoa (6) and Ben Roethlisberger (8) round out your single-digit passers.

Loser Flop
Mac Jones (24) has been a high-floor, low-ceiling pick for much of the year. The Jaguars forgot to install a ceiling as Jones threw for three touchdowns against a defense that, I suppose, technically existed in physical space. That's about all I can credit Jacksonville with, however.


RUNNING BACKS

Worst of the Worst
With the Vikings blown out very quickly, there wasn't much time for Dalvin Cook (1) to get going. I'm confused by the Vikings game plan, which involved rushing Cook nine times and having Sean Mannion throw the ball around the field, but hey, I'm not a professional head coach.

Other Loser Leaders
Devontae Booker (4) joined the Giants' parade of failure, to little surprise. There aren't any bonus points lost for taking a safety, so he just gets credit for his 46 rushing yards.

Cook wasn't the only big name to struggle—Ezekiel Elliott (2), Nick Chubb (5), and Cordarelle Patterson (4) are among your losers, as was my pick for rookie running back of the year in Javonte Williams (3).

Jordan Howard (2), Ronald Jones (2), and Latavius Murray (3) round out your bottom scorers.

Loser Flop
I recommended D'Onta Foreman (19) as an alternative to my top picks last week. Hopefully you didn't listen, as Foreman rattled off his third 100-yard rushing day in the past five weeks, with 132 yards and a score against the Dolphins. He's no Derrick Henry, but Foreman has kept the Tennessee rushing attack at relatively respectable levels; a key part in their run towards the top seed in the AFC.


WIDE RECEIVERS

Worst of the Worst
A sextet of Goose Eggers to report: Olamide Zaccheaus, Marquise Brown, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Tavon Austin, Rashard Higgins, and DeSean Jackson. Austin managed to do it on three receptions for 2 yards, which hardly even seems possible, physically … but it's the third time Austin has managed a three-reception Goose Egg in his career. That ties him with Cordarrelle Patterson, from back when he was a wide receiver, with three three-catch Goose Egg days. A much-deserved NFL record.

Other Loser Leaders
Four players with one point apiece: Laviska Shenault, Josh Palmer, Chase Claypool, and Quez Watkins.

Loser Flop
Braxton Berrios (17), fantasy champion? If you won your actual fantasy football league with Berrios in your starting lineup, send me a screenshot of that; I want to believe it's true. But with eight receptions for 65 yards and a pair of scores, Berrios was absolutely a solid pick to have in your real fantasy football lineup. A Jets player! A Jets wide receiver! This is madness.


KICKERS

Worst of the Worst
Ka'imi Fairbairn (-1) missed an extra point that would have kept the Texans in their game a little bit longer; true Losers knew it was coming.

Other Loser Leaders
Greg Zuerlein and Matt Gay each ended up with 0 points, missing one field goal each but making up for it with a pair of extra points.

Loser Flop
Jason Myers (15), have yourself a day! Myers has been a solid Loser League pick all year long because the Seahawks' offense can't score points. Well, they unleashed a season's worth of points against the Lions, with Myers making three field goals and six extra points, kicks that he may have been waiting to make all year long.

Week 17 Contest Results

Every one of our top 15 teams this week featured Mike Glennon; shoutout to Deacon Blues, who managed 21 points without him.

Our winner this week wanted to make sure he got as much as he could out of the Giants, and thus started both Glennon and Jake Fromm, just to ensure he got the Giants' quarterback—not quite as popular a strategy as just starting Glennon, but one used by a fair chunk of our top performers this week.

But to win it all, Semyon's Shooters needed to do more than just lean on the Giants quarterbacks, and so he did. Glennon was joined by Jordan Howard (2), Rex Burkhead (7), Tavon Austin (0), Marvin Jones (4), and Ka'imi Fairbairn (-1); leaning on the Giants, Texans, and Jaguars is never a poor strategy. And thus, the Shooters come out on top, winning the FO shirt and the 2,200 Madden Ultimate Team points. That's more than enough to get you a Marvin Jones to add to your team, in honor of your victory!

Your top five for the week:
1. Semyon's Shooters (6)
2. The Downward Spiral (13)
3. Headless Chickens (16)
T4. Factory of DSadness (17)
T4. Awfinkelstein (17)
T4. Loserville Slouchers (17)

And so we come to the penultimate season-long rankings. There are 15 eligible teams within 50 points of the lead (not including Scott Spratt or Aaron Schatz, each of whom have a chance for a high score but aren't eligible for prizes for obvious reasons). It would be beyond stunning if someone came from outside that group to win either the grand prize or the runner-up.

Two of our top 15 teams scored fewer than 20 points last week, shooting themselves up the leaderboards—Awfinkelstein (17) and Force Majeure Bitch (17). Both ran a Glennon/Burkhead/Laviska Shenault/Marvin Jones train to victory, and it pulled them into ninth and 14th place, respectively. They may need a repeat of that to catch the leader, but they have given themselves chances.

Our new top three—Deacon Blues (21), Octuplicate (28), and In the Hunt (24)—led the group of top teams with 20-odd points in Week 17, along with Covid Shutdown Corner (23), Jeremy B (27), and Alec B (23). It will probably take a day like this for anyone to take down the leader; Deacon Blues is averaging a league-best 31.8 points per week, but someone is almost assuredly going to have to be above average if they want to take home the grand prize.

A score in the 30s is average for top teams, which is where How to Lose a Game in 10 Plays (31), Mojo Momenteers (35), Looking Kinda Dumb (30), and DVO-EH? (35) found themselves last week. The Momenteers led for most of the season but have fallen a little off the pace the last couple weeks, as if their, uh, energy or impetus or impulse has faded. Still, do not count out one final massive push from them as we go forward.

And don't think the top three are safe and away; one bad choice can lead to a significant score. AlecV (41) ended up with Kenny Golladay and Robby Anderson, penalty-takers both, at wide receiver this week; Davante's Inferno (42) was stuck with Darius Slayton and Adam Humphries; StMedard (47) had D'Onta Foreman and Duke Johnson. In a race this close, one bad pick can be the difference between winning and losing.

I would guess our top three or four teams would be the favorites to win the trip to the Big Game. But I suppose we'll find out in one week's time, won't we? If you're outside the top three but still in striking range, it may behoove you to make some unorthodox picks. It doesn't help you to have -6 points from Mike Glennon if everyone above you has -6 points from Mike Glennon too!

Here are the top 17 teams; everyone within 50 points of the leader.

1. Deacon Blues (540)
2. Octuplicate (544)
3. In the Hunt (548)
4. How to Lose a Game in 10 Plays (551)
5. Scott Spratt (552)
6. Mojo Momenteers (555)
7. AlecV (560)
8. Davante's Inferno (563)
9. Awfinkelstein (569)
10. Covid Shutdown Corner (570)
11. Jeremy B (571)
T12. Alec B (580)
T12. StMedard (580)
T14. Force Majeure Bitch (587)
T14. Looking Kinda Dumb (587)
16. DVO-EH? (589)
17. Aaron Schatz Has a Posse (590)

Best of luck to all of you, and may the fumbles bounce forever in your favor.

Plays for Week 18

Remember to set your roster for Week 18!

QUARTERBACKS

We started this year saying that Sam Darnold was going to be a great Loser League pick, and we're ending it saying Sam Darnold will be a great Loser League pick. It has been a bumpy road to get here—a hot start, a mid-season injury, the return of Cam Newton to the fold—but Darnold ends the season where we expected he would be when it all began: my Loser League QB1.

Oh, and Jake Fromm, of course. I enjoy having the Giants' offense on my team in all its forms.

Other Promising Picks: Trevor Lawrence (v. IND), Zach Wilson (@ BUF)


RUNNING BACKS

Saquon Barkley avoiding the penalty may be the most likely thing in the known universe, considering the Giants hate their passing attack and refuse to use it. And even a 102-yard day last week doesn't scare me away; I can't imagine the Giants running quite as much as they did this week, so 15-ish carries for 60-ish yards sounds like a workable ceiling for me.

Rex Burkhead went back to more traditional Burkhead numbers, dropping from 149 rushing yards to 47. That's more what I'm talking about. And, considering the Texans are once again double-digit underdogs against the Titans, I expect a limited and inefficient workload one more time from a Loser League MVP.

Chuba Hubbard had a high-scoring day as the Panthers stuck with the Saints all the way through the contest. They won't stick to the Buccaneers, and Hubbard remains a bottom-five runner in DYAR and DVOA.

Other promising picks: Latavius Murray (v. PIT), Rhamondre Stevenson (@MIA), Any Dolphins Running Back (v. NE)


WIDE RECEIVERS

Oh, I am so tempted to just go three-for-three with New York receivers here. Kadarius Toney, Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, Braxton Berrios, Jamison Crowder, Elijah Moore? All realistic picks. I'll limit myself to one from each squad—Toney and Berrios, for the record—but you could easily go 1-2-3 here.

I'll finish the list with a Jaguars player, going with Laviska Shenault over Marvin Jones this week. Jacksonville's skill positions need a complete overhaul for 2022.

Other promising picks: Robby Anderson (@TB), Jerry Jeudy (v. KC)


KICKERS

Once more unto the breach with Matthew Wright and Ka'imi Fairbairn.

Other promising picks: Joey Slye (@NYG), Jason Myers (@ARI)

Comments

6 comments, Last at 11 Jan 2022, 1:59pm

1 Another idea for next season

Not a scoring idea, but a UI idea - it would be very cool if, in the leaderboard, one could click on a team's weekly results and their lineup and scores for the week would pop up, so you could see how others achieved their mediocrity on a weekly basis.

2 One week to go...

One week left, and things are exactly how I would have predicted months ago:

I forgot to switch out an inactive Jash Lambo for Matthew Wright way back in Week 4. It cost me six points, and I've spent every week since then hoping I don't finish within six points of the title.

So I'm confident that whoever wins will finish exactly five points ahead of me.

Good luck, everyone!

3 Braxton Berrios

Braxton Berrios (17), fantasy champion? If you won your actual fantasy football league with Berrios in your starting lineup, send me a screenshot of that; I want to believe it's true. But with eight receptions for 65 yards and a pair of scores, Berrios was absolutely a solid pick to have in your real fantasy football lineup. A Jets player! A Jets wide receiver! This is madness.

If your league includes points for return yardage, Berrios made sense as a high-floor player at an injury/COVID-ravaged position.

4 If I remember correctly,…

If I remember correctly, when Russell Wilson was kicked off the NC State football team (because he wanted to play baseball too), it was so the coach could hand the team over to Mike Glennon. I think we are finally seeing the verdict come in on that decision. What a time to be alive.

5 Any Lovie Smith HOF Candidacy

Starts with the table above with Rex Grossman's three 2006 efforts highlighted followed by a picture of Lovie with a word bubble saying, "Still made the Super Bowl."

That also ends any potential candidacy, in part because they had zero chance of beating Manning and the Colts running Cover-2.