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I only caught a brief portion of the conversation on sports talk radio, ESPN-540 Milwaukee (the “Homer” and “Thunder” Show), but the topic, to me, was fascinating: The discussion centered on Green Bay Packers quarterbacks Bart Starr, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers and whether or not they were the best trio of QBs from an NFL franchise.
So… I decided to put some numbers to the discussion.
The premise I started with in my analysis is that to qualify for my rankings, the quarterback had to have thrown 100 or more TD passes with the team and won 40 or more games for that team as the starting quarterback (Note: Some of the older QBs do not have won-loss records in the resources I used, so had to give some of the “older” QBs a “pass” if I thought they deserved to be on the list).
Here’s my list of the Top 10 NFL Franchises with the Best Trio of Quarterbacks in their History (Agreements? Disagreements?)
1. San Francisco 49ers: Joe Montana, Steve Young and John Brodie. All three threw for 200 or more TD passes with the team (the only tandem in NFL history); all won 70 or more games as starting QB and Montana and Young not only won Super Bowls but also have been elected to the Hall of Fame. They have a fourth QB that fit my criteria: Y.A. Tittle.
2. Green Bay Packers: Bart Starr, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. Maybe a little bias being a Packers fan, but I believe they stack up pretty well against other trios. They are one of only three QB trios to lead their team to the Super Bowl (Washington and the New York Giants are the other two). Rodgers is still early in his career, but he has the potential to finish with many more TDs and wins as the Packers QB. They have a fourth QB that fit my criteria: Lynn Dickey.
3. Dallas Cowboys: Troy Aikman, Danny White and Roger Staubach. The ‘Boys actually have five QBs who fit the criteria (add Tony Romo and Don Meredith). Staubach and Aikman won Super Bowls and were elected to the Hall. All three QBs listed threw for 150+ TDs and won 60 or more games as Dallas’ starting QB. Romo could easily replace White on this list with his 177 TDs and 55 wins.
4. Washington Redskins: Sonny Jurgensen, Joe Theisman and Sammy Baugh. The Redskins QB history includes five QBs with 100 or more passing TDs when you add Billy Kilmer and Mark Rypien. Baugh holds the ‘Skins TD pass record; Jurgensen is in the Hall; Theisman won a Super Bowl (as did Rypien and Doug Williams).
5. New York Giants: Phil Simms, Eli Manning and Charlie Conerly. Another pair of Super Bowl quarterbacks in Simms and Manning. This threesome each had 170+ TD passes.
6. Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts: Peyton Manning, Johnny Unitas and Bert Jones. Manning and Unitas rank among the best of all time. Jones is not a real strong #3, so the team ranks lower in my rankings.
7. New England Patriots: Tom Brady, Steve Grogan and Drew Bledsoe: Each of the three has 60+ wins and more than 165 TDs on their Patriots resume. Brady and his three Super Bowls are a lock for the Hall. They have a fourth QB that fit my criteria: Babe Parilli.
8. Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans: Warren Moon, George Blanda and Steve McNair. This was the group that probably surprised me the most. This group each had over 150 TD passes. Moon and Blanda are Hall of Famers. They had a fourth QB that just missed the list: Dan Pastorini (he had 53 wins but only 96 career TDs).
9. San Diego Chargers: Dan Fouts, John Hadl and Philip Rivers. No Super Bowls leaves this group lower, but they each have over 150 TDs and 59+ wins. Rivers has the chance for 200+ career TDs (he currently has 189 TDs and will likely reach the 200-mark in 2013), which would give the team three QBs with 200+ (a rarity… see the 49ers above).
10 (tie). Philadelphia Eagles: Donovan McNabb, Ron Jaworski and Randall Cunningham; Cincinnati Bengals: Ken Anderson, Boomer Esiason and Carson Palmer. Solid groups, but no Hall of Famers or Super Bowl wins to make an impact on the list.
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Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a biweekly blog published every Wednesday and Sunday with a bonus “SIX STATS…” posting every Friday.
A lot has been said about Cam Newton‘s performance last Sunday in his NFL debut. Not to take anything away from Newton, but his fellow rookie starter at QB, Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton, also had a good start to his NFL career, although he was injured in the game and had to be replaced. Dalton completed 10 of 15 passes with one touchdown in his first NFL start for a 102.4 passer rating. Newton passed for 422 yards and finished the game with a 110.4 passer rating.
What makes Newton’s and Dalton’s first career starts impressive is that it is rare for an NFL QB starting his first career game to finish with a passer rating over 100. Case in point: Looking at the other 30 starting quarterbacks from last week, only four of them had a passer rating over 100 when they started their first career game in the league. Topping the list was Atlanta’s Matt Ryan who had a 137 passer rating in his first NFL start. The other three: Drew Brees (136.8), Philip Rivers (133.9) and Aaron Rodgers (115.5).
Worst starting debut in the league of the other 30 QBs who started last week: Alex Smith (8.5), Matthew Stafford (27.4), Matt Schaub (35.4), Tarvaris Jackson (35.4), Eli Manning (45.1), Donovan McNabb (46.3) and Matt Hasselbeck (48.4).
Here’s another interesting stat… Not only did Aaron Rodgers have a passer rating over 100 in his first career start, but he also had a passer rating over 100 in his second career start with a 117.0. Ryan, Brees and Rivers were all under 100 in their second career start, although Rivers just missed two straight 100 rating games with a 99.1 in his second career start. The big question: Can Newton and Dalton match Rodgers first two career starts with a passer rating over 100?
WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG FOR A TRIVIA QUESTION: Reader Steve Douglas asked against what franchise did the most Hall of Fame quarterbacks play their last game? Answer at the end of the blog.
Let’s expand the list of quarterbacks to compare Newton and Dalton. We looked at 13 Hall of Fame QBs who had 150 or more career TDs and 13 QBs not currently in the Hall who have 200 or more career TDs. Of those 26 QBs, only five had a passer rating of 100 or higher in their first career start. The five: Brett Favre (144.6), Roman Gabriel (128.5), Jim Kelly (119.8), Roger Staubach (115.3) and Dan Marino (108.7). Of those five, only Marino had a passer rating over 100 in his second career start as well (113.9).
Did you know? Hadl not only had a 0.0 passer rating in his first career start, he also had a 0.0 passer rating in his second career start as well. He went on to throw 244 career touchdowns, most with the San Diego Chargers.
TRIVIA ANSWER: Of the 25 Hall of Fame quarterbacks, four played their last game against the Los Angeles Rams (Otto Graham, Sonny Jurgensen, Roger Staubach and Fran Tarkenton). Four teams had two Hall QBs play their last game against them: Miami, San Diego, Washington, Jacksonville. (Note: Last game stats were not available for two of the 25, Bob Waterfied and Sid Luckman)