Joe Burrow and the All-Time Playoff Heroes

Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow
Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Divisional - Joe Burrow set the Cincinnati Bengals franchise record with his fourth postseason victory as their starting quarterback last Sunday night.

That's right: 26-year-old Burrow, at the end of his third NFL season, practically a cigar-chomping infant by the standards of the Bengals' five-plus-decade history, is the franchise's winningest postseason quarterback. And it's not like the Bengals haven't had some fine quarterbacks. Here's their all-time postseason win-loss records:

Cincinnati Bengals (9-15 franchise postseason record)

  • Joe Burrow: 4-1
  • Boomer Esiason: 3-2
  • Ken Anderson: 2-4
  • Andy Dalton: 0-4
  • Carson Palmer: 0-2
  • Virgil Carter: 0-1
  • AJ McCarron: 0-1

Wins are not a quarterback stat. But a quarterback's all-time playoff record can make useful shorthand for summarizing his accomplishments. Andy Dalton's 0-4 playoff record says it all, doesn't it? No one can seriously claim he was a "bad" quarterback, but that record undercuts any theoretical arguments about greatness.

Ken Anderson's 2-4 record says as much about his Pro Football Hall of Fame bona fides as all of the black-ink rate stats on his Pro Football Reference page, maybe more. I provisionally endorse Anderson as a seniors candidate, but it's worth noting how quickly Burrow breezed past him, even accounting for the increases in the number of playoff teams and games over the decades.

Playoff win-loss records for quarterbacks also freeze moments in time, like AJ McCarron's playoff start in relief of Dalton against the Steelers in the 2015 playoffs. Playoff games are often turning points for a franchise. That should have been one for the Bengals, but they talked themselves into three more years of Marvin Lewis and Dalton. All's well that ends well, since Dalton gave way to Burrow.

When I first heard about Burrow breaking the Bengals record, I assumed that four playoff victories would not break the top six or seven on the all-time lists of more successful franchises. Sure, there were no playoff games (only championships) for many decades, and only one or two rounds of playoffs for a long time after that. And there are extenuating circumstances like first-round byes that cut into the playoff win totals of Tom Brady types. But every franchise that didn't double as a punchline for half its history has bunches of quarterbacks who managed to lead them to four-plus career postseason victories. Right?

Not really.

We're just covering the eight remaining playoff teams in this little feature, but that gives us a wide span of franchise histories to choose from. And it turns out the Burrow would be rapidly climbing the charts for even the most storied franchises in pro football history.

Buffalo Bills (18-19 franchise postseason record)

  • Jim Kelly: 9-8
  • Josh Allen: 4-3
  • Jack Kemp: 2-2
  • Frank Reich: 2-0
  • Joe Ferguson: 1-3
  • Tyrod Taylor: 0-1
  • Doug Flutie: 0-1
  • Rob Johnson: 0-1

Josh Allen is safely the second-best quarterback in Bills history; few would argue at this moment that he should rank higher than Kelly or lower than anyone else. Joe Ferguson still ranks ahead of Allen in yards and touchdowns by virtue of playing in Buffalo forever, but … please.

If Allen joins Jack Kemp as the only Bills quarterbacks to ever lead the franchise to a league championship, it would push him past Jim Kelly for many (but not all) fans. There is also a chance that Allen ends up 0-4 in Super Bowls as part of this generation's Greatest Team to Never Win. That's terrifying to contemplate, especially since the BillsMafia would go Snowmobile Mad Max as a result, what with already being halfway there.

At any rate, postseason win-loss records shouldn't be used to settle any arguments about all-time franchise greatness, unless one guy is 8-2 and the other is 0-3 or something.

Rob Johnson's start in place of Doug Flutie in the 1998 playoffs—and by extension the Music City Miracle—is preserved forever here, as is Frank Reich's historic comeback against Warren Moon and the Houston Oilers in 1993. Reich went on to coach another of the all-time great playoff long relievers. We'll get to him momentarily.

Jacksonville Jaguars (8-7 franchise postseason record)

  • Mark Brunell: 4-4
  • Blake Bortles: 2-1
  • Trevor Lawrence: 1-0
  • David Garrard: 1-1
  • Byron Leftwich: 0-1

Lawrence is probably already the second-best quarterback in Jaguars history. Byron Leftwich and David Garrard were game-managing system guys, Blake Bortles a goofball.

Mark Brunell was a system-plus guy at his peak, on the border between "win with" and "win because of," with a supporting cast featuring Tony Boselli, Jimmy Smith, Keenan McCardell, and Fred Taylor. From a traits standpoint, Lawrence blows him away. By the time Lawrence signs his Standard Rich and Famous Contract in two years, there should be no question who the greatest quarterback in Jaguars history was.

Kansas City Chiefs/Dallas Texans (17-21 franchise postseason record)

  • Patrick Mahomes: 8-3
  • Len Dawson: 5-3
  • Joe Montana: 2-2
  • Steve DeBerg: 1-2
  • Alex Smith: 1-4
  • Trent Green: 0-2
  • Elvis Grbac: 0-1
  • Matt Cassel: 0-1
  • Steve Bono: 0-1
  • Todd Blackledge: 0-1
  • Dave Krieg: 0-1

Patrick Mahomes is the greatest quarterback in Chiefs history and would be a likely Pro Football Hall of Famer if he retired on President's Day.

Len Dawson remains the Chiefs' all-time passing yardage and touchdowns leader, a remarkable feat for a 1960s quarterback holding off a modern mega-star. Mahomes will pass him in yardage next year and touchdowns sometime in the next two years. Dawson also played with one of the greatest defenses in pro football history: the Chiefs won two playoff games and Super Bowl IV by a combined 53-20 score in the 1969 season. There is probably no one under age 60 who believes Dawson was better than Mahomes in any measurable way. Still: a unique legacy.

The Chiefs' long-standing obsession with other teams' aging veterans is on full display on the list above. Steve DeBerg, Elvis Grbac, and Steve Bono all merged with Joe Montana to form one huge 49ers 1990s Cosplay Gundam in my mind, and I forgot that Dave Krieg and Rich Gannon were wedged in there. It was the best of times, the worst of times, the Marty Schottenheimer-est of times, and it often ended with a 10-7 or 14-10 playoff loss.

Dallas Cowboys (36-29 franchise postseason record)

  • Roger Staubach: 11-6
  • Troy Aikman: 11-4
  • Danny White: 5-5
  • Craig Morton: 3-2
  • Tony Romo: 2-4
  • Dak Prescott: 2-3
  • Don Meredith: 1-3
  • Steve Beuerlein: 1-1
  • Quincy Carter: 0-1

Danny White's 5-5 record as a playoff starter may be the most bugnuts nugget I came across while compiling these lists.

White was the Cowboys quarterback of my preteens. He began his career as a punter and Roger Staubach's backup, took over in his fifth season in 1980 after Staubach retired, and led the Cowboys to a 62-30 record through 1988, holding onto his punting duties for much of that span.

White led the Cowboys to three NFC Championship Game losses. I remember it all, and yet I don't remember it. He was a proto-Romo, in that his playoff losses were used as evidence of how far America's Team had fallen (all the way to, like, fourth place). Yet at the same time, it was hard to hate a moonlighting punter (actually an accomplished triple-threat quarterback from Arizona State) throwing 29 touchdown passes in a season. White would be a legend for other franchises but is more of a footnote for the Cowboys.

Dak Prescott is ready to nose past Tony Romo; doing so would help flip the script on the "Cowboys as choke artists" storyline, which they came by honestly in Romo's time. A Super Bowl win would tie Prescott with White. That's ambitious, but Prescott is on pace to join the Staubach-Troy Aikman pantheon in a few years, a velvet rope that Romo could never slip past. A few performances like Monday night's should do the trick.

Interlude: Some QB Winz Guys

In the name of supplying readers with some grist for their mills, here are some not-so-great quarterbacks with noteworthy postseason records:

  • Trent Dilfer: 5-1
  • Mark Rypien: 5-2
  • Jake Delhomme: 5-3
  • Mark Sanchez: 4-2
  • Neil O'Donnell: 3-4
  • Mike Tomczak: 3-2
  • David Woodley: 3-2

Those are the quarterbacks who leap to mind as "ideal circumstances" or lightning-in-a-bottle guys who helmed teams with outstanding defenses and/or supporting casts. We will get to a few others in a moment.

A Trent Dilfer can indeed ride his defense to a Super Bowl victory. But it's very rare for an "ordinary" quarterback to crack five career postseason victories. That number may climb to six now that the playoffs have expanded, but a quarterback who leads seven or eight victories has reached a different level historically. At that level, brushing off his accomplishments by criticizing "QB WINZ" thinking becomes pedantic, as does ignoring a dearth of postseason success (in historical comparisons, as opposed to "should Team X sign Derek Carr?" discussions) for a longtime starter.

Philadelphia Eagles (23-24 franchise postseason record)

  • Donovan McNabb: 9-7
  • Nick Foles: 4-2
  • Ron Jaworski: 3-4
  • Tommy Thompson: 3-1
  • Randall Cunningham: 1-4
  • Rodney Peete: 1-1
  • Jeff Garcia: 1-1
  • Norm Van Brocklin: 1-0
  • Carson Wentz: 0-1
  • Michael Vick: 0-1
  • Jalen Hurts: 0-1
  • Ty Detmer: 0-1

The list above contains my hopes, dreams, memories, vicarious triumphs, heartbreaks, coming-of-age moments, and formative experiences, from the Fog Bowl to the Philly Special and so much more.

Nick Foles won more Eagles playoff games than Ron Jaworski, a stark reminder that what felt like an epoch of greatness in my childhood was just a blip in NFL history. Jaguars fans of a certain age might feel the same way about the Mark Brunell era. Somewhere, there are probably Jets fans who grew up during the Rex Ryan/Mark Sanchez playoff runs who lionize the achievements of that team. (Those fans will at least get a Darrelle Revis Pro Football Hall of Fame speech for their efforts.) So much fan experience is locked away in every 3-4 or 4-4 playoff record: a would-be dynasty, a mini-era, hope, fear, anguish, elation.

McNabb's 16 playoff starts and nine victories make a useful litmus test for modern-quarterback Hall of Fame arguments. McNabb has been eligible for seven years but has never been more than a nominee, nor does he really deserve to be anything more than perhaps a semifinalist. Yet 16 playoff starts summarize his impact and excellence succinctly. Matt Ryan is 5-6 in the postseason, Matthew Stafford 4-3, with careers that have drifted into an era when it is even easier to reach the playoffs. Even Philip Rivers was just 5-7. Barring unexpected late-career comebacks, miss me forever with your Hall of Fame arguments based on 21st century bulk yards or vibes when a quarterback who played a whole season's worth of postseason games cannot even sniff the final 25.

New York Giants (25-25 franchise postseason record)

  • Eli Manning: 8-4
  • Phil Simms: 6-4
  • Jeff Hostetler: 3-0
  • Ed Danowski: 2-2
  • Kerry Collins: 2-2
  • Don Heinrich: 2-1
  • Scott Brunner: 1-1
  • Daniel Jones: 1-0
  • Y.A. Tittle: 0-3
  • Charlie Conerly: 0-2
  • Tuffy Leemans: 0-2
  • Frank Filchock: 0-1
  • Danny Kanell: 0-1
  • Irv Comp: 0-1
  • Harry Newman: 0-1

Speaking of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Eli Apocalypse is imminent, as he will be eligible for nomination next year. Feel free to debate in the comment thread; I won't have anything new to say beyond this column until he reaches the semifinalist stage, which I think he will.

The Giants list is a total mess because:

  • Jeff Hostetler had a proto-Folesian Super Bowl run, siphoning off some of the Bill Parcells-era wins from Phil Simms.
  • Charlie Conerly and Don Heinrich platooned in the 1950s, with Heinrich often playing the first quarter to "probe the defense for weaknesses" before Conerly, the superior passer, took over. Heinrich started the 1956 NFL Championship Game before giving way to Conerly, who threw two touchdown passes. It didn't make much sense at the time, either.
  • The players in italics were A-formation tailbacks of the 1930s and 1940s. Assigning them wins and losses in "playoff games" (the NFL Championship Game) is much sillier than doing so for modern quarterbacks, which is already B-tier silliness.

But hey, if Jones leads the Giants to victory over the Eagles he moves into a fourth-place tie on the all-time Giants playoff wins list for a quarterback, ahead of Tittle, who's a Hall of Famer, and Conerly, who became the freakin' Marlboro Man.

San Francisco 49ers (36-23 franchise postseason record)

  • Joe Montana: 14-5
  • Steve Young: 8-6
  • Jimmy Garoppolo: 4-2
  • Colin Kaepernick: 4-2
  • John Brodie: 2-3
  • Jeff Garcia: 1-2
  • Frankie Albert: 1-1
  • Alex Smith: 1-1
  • Brock Purdy: 1-0
  • Y.A. Tittle: 0-1

Jimmy Garoppolo and Colin Kaepernick will probably be forever locked together with a 4-2 49ers playoff record: such fearful symmetry, like the universe mocking or cursing us, history grinding the past into an undifferentiated paste. Never forget that they are tied for third on the all-time playoff victory list of one of the NFL's most storied franchises; the rest shall remain unstated.

Only nine quarterbacks in history have led the 49ers to victory in the playoffs, and Brock Purdy is one of them! A win on Sunday pushes Purdy past Jeff Garcia, a three-time Pro Bowler, and ties him with John Brodie, once a frequent flyer on the Hall of Fame argument circuit.

Which brings us back to Joe Burrow, and how amazing four playoff victories are after three seasons, even in the era of 14 playoff teams. Only 16 quarterbacks in the histories of our eight remaining teams led their franchises to four or more playoff victories. Burrow is one win away from passing Stafford and tying Rivers and Ryan, all of whom played their full careers in the era of three pre-Super Bowl rounds.

Burrow is on a path to historic greatness. So is Allen. Mahomes is already there. Prescott is trying to pull his franchise back onto the path. Hurts may be starting his journey. Heck, maybe Jones and Purdy are, too.

Not all of them will make it. But they all did something fans may remember for decades, as well as something that most of their peers never get a chance to do.


82 comments, Last at 20 Jan 2023, 5:47am

#1 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 18, 2023 - 3:04pm

There is also a chance that Allen ends up 0-4 in Super Bowls as part of this generation's Greatest Team to Never Win. That's terrifying to contemplate, especially since the BillsMafia would go Snowmobile Mad Max as a result, what with already being halfway there.

Being 0-8 in Super Bowls would be a truly singular franchise accomplishment. Like the urban legend of the kid who get a full ride to MIT because he got every question on the SAT wrong (thereby proving he'd have gotten a perfect score if he wanted it).

Points: 4

#3 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 18, 2023 - 3:22pm

Buffalo is only tied with Minnesota on that list. But Buffalo has a title season.

Points: 2

#23 by andrew // Jan 18, 2023 - 6:37pm

The bills won a pair of pre-merger AFL Championships, and technically the Vikings won a pre-merger NFL championship as well.   The only difference is the Bills then didn't play in a Superbowl afterwards.  Whether they could have beaten the 1964 Browns or 1965 Packers will have to remain academic, though general consensus at the time (reinforced by the first two superbowls) was the AFL wasn't there yet, though that consensus probably was there prior to Superbowls III and IV as well.

Points: 1

#78 by AnnieDuke61 // Jan 19, 2023 - 2:10pm

I get paid over $85 per hour working from home with 2 kids at home. I never thought I'd be able to do it but my best friend earns over 12,000 bucks a month doing this and she convinced me to try. The potential with this is endless.

Here's what I've been doing... w­w­w.P­a­y­a­t­h­o­m­e­7.c­o­m

Points: -3

#20 by Displaced Bill… // Jan 18, 2023 - 6:14pm

A pox upon your family and all generations to come for speaking such a thing into the universe... Doesn't mean it's wrong though

Points: 4

#2 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 18, 2023 - 3:10pm

Every team Ken Anderson lost to made it to at least the AFCCG. Two won Super Bowls.

There is probably no one under age 60 who believes Dawson was better than Mahomes in any measurable way.

Man, that's a tricky era-adjustment. Stram and Reid probably cancel each other out, but I don't know what Mahomes looks like in the era of the head-slap and when tackles can't use their hands, and I can't imagine Dawson in an era when you pass on every play and defense is illegal.

For all their defensive reputation, that was a juggernaut offense, too, for most of that dynasty. SRS suggests their offense was better than their defense for half their run.

Points: 3

#12 by mrh // Jan 18, 2023 - 5:07pm

The '69 Chiefs D had one of the great playoff runs.

Jets:  averaged 25 ppg in the regular season, scored just 6 in the Divisional Round

Raiders: averaged 27 ppg in the regular season, scored just 7 in the AFL championship

Vikings:  averaged 27 ppg in the regular season, scored 23, and 27 in the playoffs, and then just 7 in the Super Bowl

In three games, the Chiefs gave up 20 TOTAL points to three offenses averaging almost 27 points per game.

The Dawson record is complicated by not only era-adjustments but having the league/AFL-adjustment problem.  From '62-68, Dawson dominated the AFL in PFR's Adjusted Passing Stats, leading the league in AY/A+, Cmp%+, TD%+, and Rate+ a combined 23 times in 7 seasons (yes, Rate+ means there is some double-counting).  How do we compare that to the NFL of the '60s, much less the current NFL?  The Packer dynasty clearly was better than the Chiefs and Raiders in '66 and '67 but what does that mean about the rest of their respective leagues?  And the Jets and Chiefs whipped the Colts and Vikings.  Does that mean the end-of-era AFL was better than the NFL in those seasons? 

Points: 5

#14 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 18, 2023 - 5:17pm

The crazy part is the '68 team that lost 41-6 to Oakland in the divisional round was even better.

Points: 0

#15 by BigRichie // Jan 18, 2023 - 5:31pm

Jets didn't "whip" the Colts in the '69 Super Bowl. It was actually a very even game (that in itself a shocker) in which Morrall wouldn't stop throwing INTs.

Points: 1

#50 by mehllageman56 // Jan 18, 2023 - 11:15pm

I don't know if it was a "whipping", but a 16-0 lead while giving up a desperation touchdown late (and not passing once during the fourth quarter) isn't that even a game.  The yards were even, but as you pointed out (337 to 324, in the Jets' favor), the Colts kept turning the ball over (Unitas threw an INT too).  Back then passing didn't matter as much, but when you have two guys with a sub 50 passer rating you're not going to win.  Most games today you would get destroyed.

The Colts were overrated.  If Don Meredith hadn't melted down against the Browns, the Cowboys would have won it all.

Points: 1

#18 by OmahaChiefs13 // Jan 18, 2023 - 5:49pm

Man, that's a tricky era-adjustment. Stram and Reid probably cancel each other out, but I don't know what Mahomes looks like in the era of the head-slap and when tackles can't use their hands, and I can't imagine Dawson in an era when you pass on every play and defense is illegal.

If it helps any, our fandom has largely already had that debate, threw up our hands in frustration, and grudgingly agreed that Mahomes is the franchise GOAT and that'll only become more apparent over the next several years....but man, Dawson was pretty special, too.

Edit: please don't mistake this for a rational endpoint....we've also largely decided we have no interest in being rational about it.

I was at Arrowhead in 2018 when Mahomes broke Dawson's franchise season TD record...against Arizona in week 10. Whenever we dig too deep into our own history, we find a lot of very low bars, and it makes us cranky.

Points: 5

#4 by apbadogs // Jan 18, 2023 - 4:19pm

In my mind Eli Manning should not be in the HoF. He went to the playoffs 6 times and was one and done 4 times. Yes, the two were both historic runs but that doesn't pass the smell test for me. Throw in leading the league in INTs 3 times while never leading in TDs, a .500 career W/L record and barely 60% completion and that's not enough for me. 

Points: 8

#7 by BigCheeseburger // Jan 18, 2023 - 4:46pm

Plus, this is one of the times the eyeball test should count for something. What non-homer ever watched any Eli play and thought (about Eli), “wow I’m really watching one of the greatest players ever!”

Points: 8

#9 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 18, 2023 - 4:58pm

DYAR would really like a QB who leads two long scoring drives against a great defense, paired with four three-and-outs.

Points: 0

#10 by rh1no // Jan 18, 2023 - 5:02pm

Eli is a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. It's the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Statistical Greatness! 

He may have been one-and-done in four of his six trips to the playoffs, but he won a ring on the other two trips ... and he won those rings with some of the craziest and most improbable plays I've ever seen in my entire life. I'm definitely a stats nerd, but I'm happy to throw all logic and data out the window when it comes to Eli. He's a Hall of Fame-worthy entertainer and memory maker, even if his talent level falls a little bit short.

Points: 4

#16 by BigRichie // Jan 18, 2023 - 5:35pm

So you're saying Jim Plunkett belongs also? Or was he too good in Quarters 1-3 of his Super Bowls? (therefore no opportunities for 4th quarter heroics)

Points: 3

#46 by rh1no // Jan 18, 2023 - 10:32pm

I have no opinion on Jim Plunkett. I didn't grow up in the Jim Plunkett era. I never watched Jim Plunkett play. 

I did, however, watch Eli's career from start to finish. I saw a lot of his games, and even got to see him play live against the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on December 26th, 2004. It was his rookie season, and he was outdueled by Jon Kitna. He threw one pick and no touchdowns ... not very impressive. Eli had a lot of games that were not very impressive.

But he had some games that were very impressive, and a lot of those games came against the toughest competition on the biggest stage. The Giants won two Super Bowls in large part due to clutch plays from Eli Manning, including the single greatest play I've ever seen in football. Those Super Bowls came against the best team in NFL history during the peak of its greatness. 

You can't tell the story of football in the 21st century without Eli Manning and the New York Football Giants. I don't get a vote, but if I did, I'd vote for Eli every time his name showed up on the ballot.

Points: 2

#71 by SavagelyAverage // Jan 19, 2023 - 12:17pm

Eli's interesting in that I think his chances of getting in the Hall would be a lot better if he'd retired immediately after the 2011 season. If he'd done that he'd have a case as a guy who "didn't post awesome numbers but was a proven winner who knew how to get it done in the playoffs." His final 8 years undermine that narrative. He wasn't bad, but the Giants lost a lot and his only playoff appearance was a blowout defeat.

Points: 3

#84 by rh1no // Jan 19, 2023 - 4:32pm

I can see where you're coming from. Even in this thread, you see people dinging Eli for being a career .500 quarterback. Funny thing, though ... as much as we make fun of mainstream commentators for relying on QB WINZ as the only metric that counts, we seem to apply QB LOSSEZ to Eli without taking into account the coaching, defense, offensive line, and talent he had surrounding him in the last 5-6 years of his career.

The truth is that Eli was incredibly productive without much help from anyone but Odell Beckham, Jr. That Eli Manning is #10 in passing yards, #10 in touchdowns, #9 in passing attempts, and #10 in passing completions is what nails down his Hall of Fame case for me. No, he was not an efficient passer. No, he was never an NFL MVP. But he was a prolific passer who was unbeatable during two different playoff runs, getting the best out of no-name and flash-in-the-pan receivers.

Points: 1

#85 by SavagelyAverage // Jan 19, 2023 - 8:49pm

I don't think it was at all clear from my first comment, but *I* don't personally think the losing stretch at the end of Eli's career should ding his legacy.

Yeah, Eli's later Giants teams were not great but he did what he could, stayed on the field and posted prolific numbers even if as you say not always efficient numbers.

To me, Eli's only elite abilities were health and toughness - but those are important abilities. He stabilized the position for the Giants for years and kept himself on the field, usually playing a smidgen above the level of a league-average starter. It's good as an organization to go into a season knowing you're getting a certain level of production from the QB position - even if it's a level you wish was a bit higher.

I have no idea if Eli belongs in the Hall or what the Hall is good for at this point (probably the Hall is just an excuse to have fun arguments where you rank people). Personally I'd rank Rivers, Romo, and maybe Carson Palmer ahead of Eli. Their postseason accomplishments don't compare to his. I just think they were better.

Points: 1

#30 by RickD // Jan 18, 2023 - 7:44pm

It's really the Hall of Greatness.  You don't see Tony Siragusa in there.  Or Bo Jackson. 

If Eli were to make it (a strong possibility given that he played in the media capital of the nation), he'd immediately be the worst QB inductee of the Super Bowl era (and likely the worst overall).  He had two fluky runs in the middle of an underwhelming career, and those runs only convinced me that he really didn't push himself half as hard as his older brother did. 

Meanwhile, Ken Anderson is on the outside looking in. 

Points: 3

#47 by rh1no // Jan 18, 2023 - 10:42pm

I'm a Bengals fan, so you don't have to sell me on Ken Anderson's legacy. Put him in, too.

As for Eli, I feel like "Worst Player in the Hall of Fame" is the perfect description for him. He's such a schmuck! And yet ...

Points: 1

#68 by serutan // Jan 19, 2023 - 12:00pm

It was kind of interesting that Mike conveniently ignored the fact that a big chunk of Anderson's career was spent in the company of the Steel Curtain Steelers of the 1970s.

Points: 1

#74 by DGL // Jan 19, 2023 - 12:38pm

Speaking of which, the Steelers have an extremely bimodal distribution:

Bradshaw 14-5

Roethlisberger: 13-9

Neil O'Donnell: 3-4

Kordell Stewart: 2-2

Mark Malone, Bubby Brister, Mike Tomczak, and Tommy Maddox all 1-1

Cliff Stoudt: 0-1

Johnny Clement (actually a single-wing tailback in the one postseason game the Steelers played before the 1970s. a Division game against the Eagles in 1947) 0-1

Points: 3

#40 by Kaepernicus // Jan 18, 2023 - 8:57pm

I agree for a more artistic reason. Eli Manning is the perfect encapsulation of an NY Giants QB. A couple of pro bowls. Prototypical size. Too many interceptions. Inexplicably outplays superior QBs on a defense driven playoff run while making huge plays to supporting cast members that will never make the HOF. Eli and his one and done moments is the NY Giants. They are a great franchise, that I hate, and they deserve to have a QB in the HOF. Post-merger era it seems pretty clear the Eli is the best of the bunch.

Points: 4

#19 by JIPanick // Jan 18, 2023 - 6:00pm

I'd rather choose Romo or McNabb if we want to put in a QB from the 2005-2015ish NFC East.

Points: 4

#31 by dharrell // Jan 18, 2023 - 7:47pm

If (when?) Eli gets in the PFHoF, I will once again have to fly to Canton and burn the building down, as I also did after Jerome Bettis was inducted.

Points: 7

#52 by Will Allen // Jan 18, 2023 - 11:41pm

After the 2011 season, I was confident that a, what, 30ish? Eli was going to the HoF, because he was so, so, good in the playoffs that year. His NFCCG in San Francisco was positively heroic, with that goddamned berserk rhino, Justin Smith, crushing all humans in his path. 

Then, he never came within a parsec of being that good again. I wouldn't vote for him.

Points: 1

#5 by edholiday // Jan 18, 2023 - 4:31pm

I was a big Staubach fan and the transition to White could only be a letdown in comparison. He was a good QB on a talented but aging team and unfortunately for him, became the Pinata for a lot of teams that had developed a hate-on for the Cowboys due to the multi-decade success the team enjoyed on and off the field.  I still see the SI cover of Marshall and Wilson bearing down on him (or was that Hogeboom - its all a blur now). Scary.  As reminded periodically by a friend who was a Red...Commie fan at the time and has subsequently moved his fandom to the Bills (for 'geographical' reasons, but that says a lot about him!), the most memorable onfield incident involving White is the "no, Danny, no" 4th down fiasco.  Tom Landry was a great coach but Conservative to a fault. 

Points: 4

#6 by rh1no // Jan 18, 2023 - 4:32pm

As a Bengals fan, I used to look at Ken Anderson's absence from the Hall of Fame as a snub of epic prproportion. This guy was an MVP and four-time Pro Bowler who led the league in Passing Yards, Passer Rating, and Completion Percentage multiple times. He pioneered the West-Coast Offense before the West Coast Offense moved to the West Coast to take the Head Coach role with the 49ers!

All of that is true, of course. And advanced stats review Anderson's career even more glowingly. But watching Burrow surpass Anderson's legacy -- and Boomer's legacy, too -- so quickly has made even a biased homer like me reevaluate my stance. Watching Joe Burrow is watching a player grow into greatness. If he continues to learn, improve his game, and win against top competition, nobody will need to make arguments for him because his body of work speaks for itself.

Would Anderson have won a Super Bowl if Paul Brown had chosen Bill Walsh over Tiger Johnson as his replacement? Almost certainly. Anderson had the talent to be one of the greats. But the Hall of Fame isn't about what players could have accomplished, it's about what players actually accomplished. 

Points: 9

#8 by jerbear50 // Jan 18, 2023 - 4:54pm

Joe Flacco :10-5

Truly Elite

Points: 9

#11 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 18, 2023 - 5:03pm

Just as a gentle reminder:

Earl Morrall was also 4-1 with a SB loss as a playoff starter.

\WoodStrock was 3-3.
\\Bob Griese was 7-5, but 4-0 in games in which he threw fewer than 10 passes

Points: 2

#13 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 18, 2023 - 5:12pm

For Detroit:

Layne: 3-1
Rote: 2-0
Kramer: 1-2

Gutowski/Presnell: 1-0

Points: 5

#53 by mansteel // Jan 18, 2023 - 11:44pm

My first thought: how sad

My second thought: wait, the Lions have a .700 winning pct in playoff games? Is that the best in the league?

Points: 1

#56 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 19, 2023 - 12:18am

I didn’t include the depressing sea of guys with no wins.

For completion:

Landry: 0-1
Hipple: 0-1
Danielson: 0-1
Krieg: 0-1
Mitchell: 0-2 (He would be benched in both games)
Frerotte: 0-1
Stafford: 0-3

Aside from Stafford, the other guys all basically shit the bed. Landry actually scored more points for Dallas than he did for Detroit -- and he was the second-best performer behind Stafford!

Points: 3

#69 by Will Allen // Jan 19, 2023 - 12:05pm

Now, now, Landry was playing in the deadball era, and it was hard to score points, and not turn the ball over. Landry was a good player. This is what qbs in that era had to put up with....

.... 2 HOFers, 1 borderline HOFer, 1 Pro Bowler, d-linemen, threatening you with great bodily harm, then the malevolent coordinator decides to bring a head hunting strong safety, unencumbered by rules that protect the qb. I was a little kid in the stands for this game (although not the one in the video clip), and remember thinking "Greg  Landry is a tough sunovabitch" ( I was a fouled mouthed rugrat), and he became my favorite non-Viking football player.

Points: 2

#79 by Joey-Harringto… // Jan 19, 2023 - 2:17pm

Stafford having 3 losses is something the fans bagged on him for, but when you're playing for the Lions, even making the playoffs 3 times is an accomplishment.

Points: 5

#70 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 19, 2023 - 12:16pm

Mike Utley.

The 1991 Lions started 5-1, then Lionsed their way to 6-4, facing a tricky closing stretch (Vikings, Jets, Bears, Bills). Utley gets paralyzed against the Rams. The Lions then reel off six straight wins, winning @Buffalo to win the division and get the bye. Then they pants the Cowboys in the divisional round and go into halftime in Washington down only 17-10. Then the magic ends.

But basically, the defense played out of their minds in those seven games and the team basically refused to lose in a completely non-Lionsian manner. I think the catalyst was basically Utley. It snapped them out of the funk they were settling into as they Lionsed away another season. With someone to play for, they did.

It's a completely different season if they lose that second Bears game, and in a normal year they would have spiraled to a 9-7 or 8-8 finish and missed the playoffs entirely. (The 10-6 49ers and Eagles missed the post-season -- the #2 DVOA team and the best defense in the DVOA era) Even at 10-6, they would have missed the playoffs much in the manner of this year, as they lost the tiebreaker with San Francisco.

Points: 1

#80 by Joey-Harringto… // Jan 19, 2023 - 2:19pm

One caveat is that Bills team had already clinched the #1 seed, and were resting their starters in the last game.  Instead of Kelly, Thomas, and Reed, the Lions defense only had to face Frank Reich, Kenneth Davis, and Steve Tasker.

Erik Kramer was as mediocre passer during the regular season, but played well enough to not screw things up while Barry, the defense and special teams balled out.  In the Divisional playoffs against a pretty good Dallas team, though, he went full Super Saiyan.  He even played okay against Washington, but that Washington team was a machine.

Points: 1

#81 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 19, 2023 - 2:34pm

There's an interesting youtube video about that game.

Basically, Dallas refused to unload the box, because they were terrified of Sanders, who had gashed them in the regular season meeting. So Detroit kept calling the same two pass routes, and Dallas was just completely unable to stop it. Finally, in the 4th, they figured screw it, and gave Sanders some carries so he wouldn't get bored. And he scored anyway.

Detroit smacked Dallas because they played like the worst defensive game plan ever.

Points: 4

#17 by MJK // Jan 18, 2023 - 5:48pm

For Buffalo, where's Jack Kemp?  He should be 2-2 by my count...

Points: 0

#22 by Vincent Verhei // Jan 18, 2023 - 6:29pm

He's in there, tied with Frank Reich. Reich is 2-0 but this is a list of most wins, not best record.

Points: 0

#21 by KnotMe // Jan 18, 2023 - 6:19pm

This just highlights the weirdness of looking at of playoff records.  You have to win to have the chance to win more, so the only possible records are 0-1, 1-1, 2-1,3-0,3-1, 4-0 

Points: 0

#26 by MJK // Jan 18, 2023 - 6:57pm

No, you could go 1-0 or 2-0 in a season if you win a playoff game or two, and then get injured and don't start in the ultimate loss (or SB win) for that season.  

But in general, yes.  Playoff records are weird.  

A smaller but also non-negligible effect of weirdness is that the expected number of games played in the playoffs does not monotonically increase with the strength of your (or your team's) play, due to byes.  Mediocre teams that squeak in will have a low number of expected playoff wins in a given season.  Strong teams will have a larger number of expected wins.  But the strongest, most elite teams, will likely have a lower number of expected wins because they get a bye and can play at most three games in a season, whereas slightly weaker teams can play four. 

Points: 2

#32 by RickD // Jan 18, 2023 - 7:50pm

Over the course of a career, any record is possible.

I'm reminded of a math puzzle:

Some hypothetical nation decided that every family should have one boy.  So if a mother had a girl, she could have more kids until she had a boy. But if she had a boy, the family stopped having kids.

What's the boy-girl ratio in this country?  (Assuming any particular birth will be either gender with 50-50 odds.) 

If you look at family composition, you might bend yourself out of shape.  Half the families will have one boy and zero girls, a quarter will have one boy and one girl, an eighth will have one boy and three girls, and so on.  But the answer is simple.

Points: 1

#38 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 18, 2023 - 8:20pm

I think it only works if it’s “has to have”, rather than “can have”. Otherwise the boy-less families throw the distribution off.

Points: 0

#45 by dbostedo // Jan 18, 2023 - 10:00pm

If the assumption that "any particular birth will be either gender with 50-50 odds" holds, then the behavior of the parents doesn't matter. Given enough births, the boy/girl ratio will be 50/50. 

Points: 2

#64 by MJK // Jan 19, 2023 - 11:16am

Clever.  You're right of course... but only if the statement "any particular birth will be either gender with 50-50 odds" is true because *every* couple has a 50-50 chance of getting either gender each time they have a baby.

I'll throw in a wrinkle... what if exactly half the couples were pre-disposed towards boys, and the other half were equally pre-disposed towards girls.  In other words, there are two populations, each comprising half the total population of couples.  Population A produces boys with probability p > 50%, and Population B produces girls with the same p.    

In that case, if you pick a random couple without knowledge of which population they are in, then you would estimate a 50-50 chance the child is a boy or girl, so it would be true that "any particular birth will be either gender with 50-50 odds", but I think in this case the boy/girl ratio would *not* be 50/50 in this fictional country.  The couples who are pre-disposed towards boys would end up having fewer children than the couples that are pre-disposed towards girls, I think.  Selection bias in action! 

(However I have to think about this some more to be sure). 

Points: 0

#24 by DisplacedPackerFan // Jan 18, 2023 - 6:44pm

Packers (36-25 Franchise)

  • Brett Favre: 12-10 (Season: 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 01, 02, 03, 04, 07)
  • Aaron Rodgers: 11-10 (Seasons: 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21)
  • Bart Starr: 9-1 (Seasons: 60, 61, 62, 65, 66, 67)
  • Arnie Herber: 2-0 (credited as starter for 36 and 44 playoff games)
  • Cecil Isbell: 1-2 (credited as starter for 38, 39, 41 playoff games)
  • Lynn Dickey: 1-1 (82)
  • Scott Hunter: 0-1 (72)

Rodgers having one fewer win than Favre as well as being 2600 yards behind him for the franchise passing yardage record is why I don't believe he'll retire despite all the rumors. I also think he'd be hugely picky about a trade to the point it wouldn't happen and his contract means he's either retiring or playing, it's too much dead cap otherwise.

As for the other Packers franchise passing records, he won't catch Favre on attempts for another 2 seasons (1094 behind), could get him on completions next season (376 behind though he's only been better than that 1 season). Needs 25 games and 13 wins to catch him on those. Already has the TD's (by 33) and career sacks (by 92). He's also 181 INT behind Favre but I don't think he wants that one, or the sacks. But the dude carries so many chips and I'm pretty sure he wants to be on top of the major Packers traditional stats leaderboards.

Points: 10

#36 by big10freak // Jan 18, 2023 - 8:04pm

Very legitimate item (or items) of consideration.



Points: 0

#43 by Kaepernicus // Jan 18, 2023 - 9:15pm

Disclaimer: I hate Brett Favre 

How do Packers fans see these two? I think Rodgers is significantly better than Favre. Rodgers has 1 more MVP and significantly better rate/advanced stats. He won a SB on a WC team that he carried offensively. He laid 300 passing yards on a great defense in that SB. Favre lost the SB MVP to Desmond Howard against a bad NE team on one of the greatest rosters I have ever seen. He then lost to the Broncos in a SB they had no business losing. As a certified Packers hater I truly believe Rodgers was better than Favre.

Points: 4

#57 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 19, 2023 - 12:20am

Not a Packer fan, but my teams plays them.

Peak Rodgers is better than Peak Favre.

Ninny Favre is better than Ninny Rodgers.

Points: 9

#76 by DisplacedPackerFan // Jan 19, 2023 - 1:04pm

Basically. They both have character flaws as people and that kinda reflect on how they play the game. Favre was a 12 - 15 year old kid, complete with that level of maturity and self control (pain killer addiction, dick pics sent to female reporters, etc). He played like it on the field which could make him really fun to watch but it also lead to him not caring about throwing 6 INT in a game or breaking the fingers of his receivers in practice by rifling the ball. It was also why coaches who hounded him about things like footwork (Holmgren, McCarthy, Childress) got the best out of him and coaches who capitualted to players more (Sherman, Mangini) didn't. Favre played street ball when things broke down on a play.

Rodgers is a 20 year old college sophomore who thinks he knows everything now and also knows that he could do your job better than you can. He gets easily offended when his beliefs are challenged but if you make him think it's his idea you can get him to change things (I think this is how his throwing mechanic was rebuilt during his 3 years on the bench). Rodgers does study and he uses his ego and knowledge that he knows more than everyone else on the field to make big plays when things break down. Joeseph ate his lunch so much this season by breaking on passes that Rodgers simply knew he couldn't reach. Rodgers is trying to constantly get on Star Talk Radio to explain to Neil deGrasse Tyson about the new physics Rodgers has discovered because it's the only explanation as to why one player could pick him off three times in a season.

But yes because Rodgers could actually study at a college level and Favre only at a high school level Rodgers peak was higher. He lows tended to be lower because he couldn't accept that things were going wrong but Favre would just say F it were just gonna play street ball, which can work for a time even against NFL level talent.

You can actually see this a bit in the advanced stats from here. I'm using the * to indicate the MVP seasons, I'm including DVOA mostly to help point out Rodgers injured seasons (2013, 2017). Not sure if this will be readable since I can't make an actual table in a comment.

Player                  Year    DYAR (rk)   DVOA (rk)
Aaron Rodgers*   2011    2059 (2)    46.6 (1)    
Aaron Rodgers*   2020    1649 (2)    33.7 (1)    
Aaron Rodgers*   2014    1564 (2)    32.2 (1)    
Aaron Rodgers*   2021    1510 (2)    27.8 (1)    
Brett Favre*         1995    1507 (3)    27.5 (3)    
Aaron Rodgers    2012    1395 (4)    23.4 (4)    
Brett Favre          2007    1311 (3)    24.5 (4)    
Aaron Rodgers    2010    1286 (4)    26.8 (4)    
Brett Favre          2004    1280 (5)    24.5 (8)    
Aaron Rodgers    2016    1279 (6)    18.7 (8)    
Brett Favre*         1997    1118 (3)    19.4 (6)    
Aaron Rodgers    2009    1105 (9)    17.8 (9)    
Brett Favre*         1996    1090 (2)    18.0 (4)    
Brett Favre          1994    1000 (4)    14.5 (7)    
Brett Favre          2001    966  (5)    15.9 (5)    
Aaron Rodgers    2018    817  (9)    8.1  (12)
Brett Favre          1998    813  (7)    10.4 (12)
Aaron Rodgers    2019    794  (8)    9.0  (13)
Brett Favre          2000    742  (9)    7.6  (12)
Aaron Rodgers    2013    740  (10)   25.4 (6)
Brett Favre          1999    728  (8)    7.2  (14)
Aaron Rodgers    2008    708  (11)   8.5  (14)
Brett Favre          2003    654  (10)   9.4  (10)
Brett Favre          2005    592  (11)   3.6  (18)
Brett Favre          2002    584  (14)   3.8  (16)
Brett Favre          1992    553  (11)   5.9  (14)
Aaron Rodgers    2022    437  (16)   0.3  (21)
Aaron Rodgers    2015    406  (17)   -1.0 (17)
Brett Favre          2006    394  (15)   -1.5 (19)
Aaron Rodgers    2017    334  (18)   7.8  (14)
Brett Favre          1993    194  (24)   -5.8 (24)

92 was Favre's first season in GB and was basically still a rookie season because he nearly got kicked off the Falcons his actual rookie season for still basically partying all the time and not caring.

The fact that Favre has 2 seasons that advanced stats think are better than 2 of his MVP seasons and that 1090 DYAR was 2nd in 1996 and 2059 DYAR was 2nd in 2011 shows that Favre played through several of the rules changes that made passing easier and helped inflate all passing stats.

But you can see a clear pattern with Favre that is all explainable. 92, 93, growing years. 94 Holmgren finally gets through to him. 95-97 peak. 98, 99, 00, 01 gentle decline. 02-05 Sherman is a bad head coach and a worse GM so Favre gets sloppy at the same time as team talent is rapidly declining. 06 Favre clashes with McCarthy like he did with early Holmgren and isn't in sync with the new offense sets a career high in pass attempts. 07 McCarthy gets him back on track and 2nd season in offense has Favre clicking again. The talent Thompsons (starting with 05) brought in with draft classes and super infrequent free agent signings help with supporting cast. There are some injuries he played through that can help sort out his dips too.

Favre despite the potentially massive play to play variation was a more consistent player. Yes I said he was more consistent because you could more reliably count on him to recover from a mistake by him or someone else. Most seasons you could live with the mistakes because of the bonuses and he was just fun to watch. He wasn't as dependent on support cast because he didn't care as much if someone screwed up a route or missed a block. Of course sometimes it also seemed like he didn't care what play was called or what the game plan was installed during the week as well. Favre playing in Favre's era is probably better than Rodgers by say like 10% because I don't think Rodgers would have dealt with the rules differences as well.. Favre playing in Rodgers era is still probably worse than Rodgers but by probably closer to only 5% worse. Don't forget that Favre's best DYAR was 1646 and best DVOA was 34.5% in 2009 with the Vikings at age 40. Rodgers as a 2nd year starter was 1105, 17.8% that same year. Had the Saints not brutally targetted him in the NFC championship he very likely is 2-1 in Super Bowls.

Rodgers has better mechanics and is a better student of the game than Favre. Their other physical tools are actually pretty similar. Favre may have had a stronger arm but Rodgers actually throws better and makes up for the difference. Rodgers will perform better on a high talent team than Favre can. So he has a higher ceiling. Favre's personality and approach to the game was different and on a per season basis it raised his floor and let him do better with lesser talent. So who is better depends entirely on the team to me. I don't think peak Favre transported to that 2011 GB offense does better than Rodgers, though he might have actually beaten the Giants and not wasted a 15-1 season. I also don't think he wins the Super Bowl in 2010 either because that Pitt defense would have been worse for him to deal with. But I also don't think that peak Rodgers plopped into that 96 offense (with 52% catch rate Antonio Freeman, 31 year old Keith Jackson at TE, and 32 year old kick returner turned receiver Don Beebe for his top targets after Brooks went down during week 7) wins that Super Bowl either. Both the 96 and 10 squads had nasty defenses that bailed out sputtering offenses at times.

Points: 5

#83 by Eddo // Jan 19, 2023 - 3:39pm

This is a really comprehensive and informative post.  Thanks for writing it.

Points: 1

#73 by All Is On // Jan 19, 2023 - 12:28pm

Personally, the off-field crap they both decided to do at the end of their careers has kind of soured me on both of them. But looking purely at their play, I preferred the Rodgers era. Watching Favre, there was always the sense that anything could happen, for good or for ill. Every time he dropped back was exciting, but there was always that little bit of terror to temper it (although some seasons, the terror was a little bigger than others). No matter what, he was going to try and be the hero, no matter how ill-advised that was.

Rodgers in his early career, when the scramble drill was still a big part of his game, was just as exciting as Favre, but without that sense of potential doom. Even as he's aged or in the seasons where he led ho-hum offenses, the failure state for Rodgers was stalled drives or sacks. At his worst, Rodgers would navigate the team to a state of not-winning. Favre at his worst would actively lose football games. From my watching perspective, I preferred the Rodgers method, but I get why someone would prefer watching Favre.

Points: 1

#25 by MJK // Jan 18, 2023 - 6:52pm

The premise of this article is that 4+ playoff win starting QBs are rare.  I'm not sure that's true.  In addition to the eight teams listed here, every other AFC franchise save the Houston Texans has at least one 4+ playoff win starting QB.  (I haven't finished looking through the NFC franchises much).  And, due to inadvertent selection luck perhaps, the data here implies that 4+ wins is really impressive, but by luck, the teams that have had some super successful playoff quarterbacks (Dolphins, Colts, Patriots, Steelers, Titans/Oilers, Browns, Rams, Packers) are not on the list.  


In short, while 4-1 is certainly a nice playoff record for Joe Burrow, it's not that crazy good.  

Points: 5

#27 by MJK // Jan 18, 2023 - 6:57pm

Pop quiz: Who is the Jets only 4+ playoff winning starting QB?  I was surprised at the answer.

Points: 0

#28 by KnotMe // Jan 18, 2023 - 7:12pm

I think Sanchez had 4 bc they lost the AFCCG twice in a row. Unless they got the bye....don't think so however. 


Got curious so I checked Brady's record: 35-13.  Only Dallas and the Nines have more wins in the above list. :O  (And NE's franchise record is 37-22 :D )

Points: 3

#33 by dharrell // Jan 18, 2023 - 7:53pm

Eh, I don't know if the premise was that 4+ win QBs are rare, just that it can make you a hero to whichever fanbase. Sure, most teams have one of these QBs in their history, but most only have one or two. In the whole franchise history! So they define the story of the team in a lot of ways. I don't want to put words in Mike's mouth, but that was my takeaway: Burrow is almost guaranteed not to be a mere footnote in Bengals lore - he'll have his own whole chapter.

Points: 4

#29 by dharrell // Jan 18, 2023 - 7:43pm

Denver Broncos (23-19 franchise postseason record)

  • John Elway: 14-7
  • Peyton Manning: 5-3
  • Craig Morton: 2-3
  • Tim Tebow: 1-1
  • Jake Plummer: 1-3
  • Steve DeBerg: 0-1
  • Gus Frerotte: 0-1

Elway and Manning are the obvious #1 and #2 for greatest Broncos QB. I’m not old enough to remember the discourse around Elway in the early ‘90s, but from talking to older fans in Colorado, it’s crazy how much those last two career-capping SBs rehabbed his reputation—he was at 7-7 coming into the ’97 season.

Manning might be one of only three QBs to be top-two for multiple franchises? Brady and Warner being the others?

Third place may depend on how old the fan is you’re talking to. Old-timers might still point to Morton, and he certainly holds a special place in the fandom for finally getting the team to the playoffs after years stumbling drunkenly around the AFL basement. But for my money (and I think most Bronco fans these days), it’s Plummer. His style of play and confidence on the field were audacious—sometimes exceeding his actual talent level—but damn did he bring us a lot of joy with that playoff win over Brady. Jay Cutler could never.

Points: 4

#35 by RickD // Jan 18, 2023 - 7:58pm

Elway's reputation shouldn't have been considered to need "rehabbing".  That would imply guys like Marino and Kelly were failures. 

Points: 1

#66 by dharrell // Jan 19, 2023 - 11:52am

That's fair - didn't want to imply he (or those other two) was a failure; just that without those runs, he probably would've been squarely below Marino in most people's minds, whereas now he's more on par (slightly above or below depending on who you ask).

Points: 1

#39 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 18, 2023 - 8:25pm

Montana was top-2 for two teams before Mahomes came around.

Points: 4

#41 by BroncFan07 // Jan 18, 2023 - 9:07pm

And of course, the only one of the QBs above to win a playoff game for Denver, and be drafted by Denver, is... Tim Tebow.

Points: 5

#51 by Will Allen // Jan 18, 2023 - 11:32pm

Tarkenton only played 5 years for the Giants, on horrible, poorly coached rosters,  but he's still one of their top two qbs. His 1970 season was insanely good, considering the context.  Paul Zimmerman said a 1971 game Tarkenton played in Dallas, against that championship club, was the best qb performance he ever saw. Tarkenton is the best Vikings qb ever, of course, by a huge margin.

Points: 2

#54 by Grendel13G // Jan 18, 2023 - 11:46pm

I've long had a fondness for the Plummer Broncos. It's a shame that they had two playoff games against the Colts with Terminator Manning in the three seasons that they made the playoffs. Just a horrendous matchup for them. Manning lit up the scoreboard like a pinball machine in both games, and as a consequence the Broncos couldn't run their standard running-and-bootleg offense, which was ordinarily a lot of fun.

I would have taken the '04-'06 Broncos against any team in the playoffs... except the Colts. I still miss those Plummer bootlegs!

Points: 5

#42 by BroncFan07 // Jan 18, 2023 - 9:10pm

My favorite stat above is that all 8 of Eli Manning's playoff wins came in the 2 seasons the Giants won the Super Bowl, and all 4 his losses came in the 4 other seasons Manning made the playoffs. 

Also, just throwing this out there, what if Patrick Mahomes is here to follow in the footsteps of Brett Favre and Russell Wilson as QBs who went to back-to-back Super Bowls early in their careers, won the first, lost the second, and then never appeared in one again. 

Points: 4

#49 by rh1no // Jan 18, 2023 - 11:12pm

Before this season, Russell Wilson was still in my head as "the next generation" of quarterbacks waiting to take over from Brady, Manning, and Roethlisberger. But now I have to come to terms with the fact that he's 34 and maybe only a couple of years away from retirement. His time isn't just over, it was over 7 years ago.

The fact that Brady has hung around for so long has really thrown off my sense of time for these guys. Joe Flacco hanging around and Big Ben being just one year removed from his career doesn't help, either.

Points: 2

#44 by Kaepernicus // Jan 18, 2023 - 9:41pm

Colin Kaepernick is the SF leader in road playoff wins at 3. Jimmy G is second with 2. Joe had 1 and everyone else had 0. Jimmy was carried to those victories and posted a QBR < 76 in all of his post seasons. He definitely made some great 3rd down conversions and operated a GWD against the Packers last year. Jimmy was carried by a great defense. Kaepernick was insane though. He never became a better passer than he was in his first start against the Bears in 2012. He was a rugged runner though. The performance he put together against the 2013 LOB Seahawks was truly incredible. He was terrible as a passer other than the greatest throw I have seen for a TD to Anquan. He kept them in the game with his legs running for 130 yards. It was one of the gutsiest performances I have ever seen.

Points: 6

#48 by occams_pointed… // Jan 18, 2023 - 11:00pm

Zac Taylor has the most postseason wins of any Bengals head coach ever. It says more about the franchise's long history of not being very good.

The Bengals on Sunday Night achieved their all-time highest ELO rating from 538. That rating is only better than two other franchises' peaks: the Jets and the Texans. Before Sunday night, the Bengals were the lowest peak.

Points: 3

#65 by Pat // Jan 19, 2023 - 11:49am

I can't figure out what Mike is trying to say in the McNabb comment. I mean, you start off by saying "dude should be maybe a semifinalist at best" (which implies he doesn't show up for like 20+ years on a ballot and briefly gets attention his last few years before being forgotten). And then you get:

Yet 16 playoff starts summarize his impact and excellence succinctly.

And an awkward-to-read comment about keeping HoF arguments about certain other QBs away. Which I really don't get: pretty sure those 16 playoff starts plus the "semifinalist at best" bit summarizes Andy's impact, not McNabb's.

Points: 0

#67 by Scott P. // Jan 19, 2023 - 11:58am

I think Mike is saying that if you want to make the argument that postseason appearances and success make or break a QBs candidacy, and also want to argue that McNabb doesn't get in, then you are setting the bar at more than 16 postseason games and 9 wins for a QB to get into the HoF based on postseason success.

Points: 2

#75 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 19, 2023 - 12:40pm

He's trying to discuss where the top of the Hall of Very Good is. It's basically McNabb. He's not going to get into the HOF. So he defines the upper limit of the good guys on a great team -- He won 9 playoff games and had 16 starts. So until you start sniffing around those numbers, consistently making the playoffs without a ring on good-to-great teams doesn't really make a strong case for you.

Eli is really the antithesis of McNabb.

Points: 3

#77 by Pat // Jan 19, 2023 - 1:37pm

Is that what it is? Honestly, I can't tell, because it's followed by this:

Barring unexpected late-career comebacks, miss me forever with your Hall of Fame arguments based on 21st century bulk yards or vibes 

Who the heck is the "21st century bulk yards or vibes" QB then? The "21st century bulk yards" leaders would be Roethlisberger, Rivers, and Ryan. Two of whom he mentioned right there.

And, I mean, I'm not a huge Ryan or Rivers Hall fan (definitely not!) but both of those guys are bucketloads closer than McNabb. McNabb's entire "success" part of his career was with Andy Reid, and even an average NFL QB automatically has playoff-appearance success with Reid. Rivers spent his career with Schottenheimer and Norv Turner and on the Chargers.

Maybe Matt Ryan, but, again, the coaching difference is just massive. And we're not even talking about just QB success, because McNabb also had some of the top defenses in the league in that span.

I hate ragging on McNabb because he was a really good QB, but Reid's success with Mahomes showed me, at least, just exactly how far from being a great one he was.

Points: 2

#72 by trammo71 // Jan 19, 2023 - 12:27pm

Given that 14 of 32 teams make the playoffs now, versus 8 of 26 or 10 of 28, and the with 3 rounds in the playoffs plus the super bowl, it should be really easy for todays QB to be high on their teams lists.

Points: 2

#82 by andrew // Jan 19, 2023 - 3:25pm

Vikings:  so many QBs who only got one playoff run:  Only ones with more than one season are Tark, Cunningham, Culpepper, Wilson, Kramer and Cousins.

Fran Tarkenton:   6-5
Joe Kapp:   2-1
Randall Cunningham:  2-2
Daunte Culpepper:  2-2
Wade Wilson: 2-3
Bob Lee:  1-2
Jeff George:  1-1
Brett Favre:  1-1
Case Keenum:  1-1
Tommy Kramer: 1-2
Kirk Cousins:  1-2

Gary Cuozzo 0-1
Sean Salisbury:  0-1
Jim McMahon: 0-1
Warren Moon:  0-1
Brad Johnson:  0-1
Tarvaris Jackson: 0-1
Joe Webb:  0-1
Teddy Bridgewater:  0-1

(edited to add Cuozzo and one more loss to Bob Lee, who apparently started over Cuozzo in 71)




Points: 1

Save 10%
& Support Mike
Support Football Outsiders' independent media and Mike Tanier. Use promo code TANIER to save 10% on any FO+ membership and give half the cost of your membership to tip Mike.