The Greatest QB of All Time – Preview

In Greatest QB of All Time on February 8, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Following is our preview to our selection of who we think is the Greatest QB in NFL history. We will announce the results in a few days, however this will give you some food for thought. If you’ve read our posts in the past you know that we try to put a lot of thought and a lot of statistical analysis in to what we publish. This post will be no different. Here’s what we did try to balance the books and make it fair for everyone. Unfortunately the passing era has taken over and makes it impossible to include guys like Otto Graham, Norm Van Brocklin, Bart Starr, Johnny Unites and many others who were all obviously tremendous football players and great leaders. They just didn’t fit in when looking at stats. Maybe in the future we’ll look at the pre-passing era and see what happens. We’ve selected 14 QB’s and 10 statistical categories based on career stats not individual season stats. Also, if the QB didn’t start more than half of his games in a season the stats were not included. An example would be Tom Brady played in only 1 game in 2008 so those stats were not included for that year. Each player was given 14 points if they finished 1st in the category and 1 if they finished 14th. When all 10 categories were calculated the results were added up and the guy with the most points wins. This is not the most sophisticated way but not the worst way of doing it. Also, the only thing included in the post-season was Super Bowl appearances and Super Bowls won. Just because a guy never made the Super Bowl or never won one shouldn’t be held against him. Just as well a guy could be in one Super Bowl and his team gets blown out but he throws for 400+ yards he shouldn’t get extra credit for that. We will provide a list with the 8 regular season categories and then a second list with the Super Bowl s included.

I’ll be honest to tell you I have done of the categories and all of the legwork but haven’t tabulated the results yet because I don’t want to know how it works out until it’s time to publish the results.

Feel free to click RESPOND at the bottom of the post and let us know your opinion. Let the great debate begin!!!!

The statistical categories are as follows:

  • Total Yards Produced versus Teams Total Yards %
  • Career Passing Yards/Game
  • Yards per Pass Attempt
  • Yards per Pass Completion
  • Pass Completion %
  • Pass Interception %
  • Pass TD’s  %
  • Career Game Winning Drives
  • Super Bowls Played In
  • Super Bowls Won

You may want to debate the QB list but they’re all Hall of Famers, future Hall of Famers or Super Bowl Champions so here they are in alphabetic order:

  • Troy Aikman
  • Drew Brees
  • Terry Bradshaw
  • Tom Brady
  • John Elway
  • Brett Favre
  • Dan Fouts
  • Jim Kelly
  • Peyton Manning
  • Dan Marino
  • Joe Montana
  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • Roger Staubach
  • Steve Young
  1. Bill, now you have my attention. Where is Warren Moon?

    • Actually didn’t check him out. He spent so much time in Canada. I’ll have to check his stats out. The 15th guy was actually Kurt Warner but when I started the analysis he didn’t have anough true seasons to be considered with these guys.

  2. Moon was one of the original “chuck and duck”, QB.
    Without seeing your numbers it looks like Emmet carried Troy onto this list.

  3. Bill, I looked back at some of the pre 70’s Qbs passing numbers they are anemic..

    I guess a comparison to base ball dead ball era can be made.

    Have stats other than wins and losses mattered that much in football?

    • Apparently because in many circles it drops Marino out of the discussion and he was pretty good. Many didn’t think Elway was that good until he won a super bowl.

      Sent from my iPhone

  4. Dan Marino is the best Qb that I have ever seen play the position. His accuracy, quick release, and feel for the position propelled him to a fantastic statistical career. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t play for a sb caliber team most of his career; thus, he is not always mentioned with the Montana’s, brady’s, etc…the guys with multiple SB’s. To me, SB wins is the most overrated measuring stick when comparing QB’s. It’s a team stat! I will relate it to baseball…a pitcher could win 20 games in a season and have an ERA of 5, but his team could give him 7 runs a game in his starts? Does that make him a better pitcher than a guy that gets 2 runs a game and wins 12, but has an ERA of 1.98? Of course not because wins and loses are very much a team stat as well. The best QB’s of the last 30 years based on how they play the position are below…forget about SB’s and wins and losses, these guys simply played the Qb position better than others:
    1. Dan Marino
    2. Peyton Manning
    3. Tom Brady
    4. Joe Montana
    5. Brett Favre

    • Terry,
      We felt the same and that’s why we seperated the 2 Super Bowl statistics. Obviously it’s a team game but I don’t think you can slight the fact that a QB and his team got to 4 or 5 Super Bowls even if they lost them all like Jim Kelly. I like your list except for Favre, I’ve just never been a fan. I always thought he was more of a bulldog type QB rather than what I consider a true QB.

  5. Where is Eli Manning? I am not reading this anymore till you put his name on there.
    He not only has two superbowl wins but has two of the most clutch passes in the last minute of two superbowl. The parade wouldnt stop in Philly if we could ever get something like that to happen here

  6. Otto Graham,

    He changed the game, he perfected the forward pass, let us not forget those who came before us.

    Warren Moon, for everything he went through and prevailed
    Joe Montana,
    Terry Bradshaw,
    Roger Staubach
    Troy Aikman
    Tom Brady
    Dan Marino

    Tom Brady the only one still playing deserves this ranking.

    • Frank,
      I agree with you about Graham and that’s why included him in the post qnd looked up some of his numbers. Unfortunately the pass crazy game now takes guys like his out of the mix as well as the things they accomplished to make the game what it is today. I’ve had so much discussion over the last few days I’m going to go to work on the “dead ball era” of pro football and see how that works out. On purpose I still haven’t finalized the numbers even though all the number crunching is done because I don’t want to know yet either since there’s been some real good discussion and comments. From what I’m looking at so far I think you might be surprised by the outcome.


    • Frank, I forgot to mention Warren Moon from your post. You’re the 2nd person that mentioned Moon. I may have to apologize because I didn’t consider him. I was thinking he spent too many years in the CFL. I may need to back track on him.

  7. Sorry guys you couldn’t do a full review of QB’s , but Sports Illustrated did… not close… Johnny Unitas…

    • Paul, thanks for the feedback. I’m not sure what SI did but there’s no way to compare the “dead ball era” QB’s to the current day guys statistically, with all due respect to Johnny U, one of my favorites. There’s been so much discussion over the last few days we’re going to begin working on the pre-70’s guys in a seperate post. One thing that can’t really be figured in is wins and losses because it becomes such a team game. For example, Jim Kelly making it to 4 straight Super Bowls is amazing but he didn’t win any. That doesn’t take away from him leading his teams to those games. Thanks again for the feedback. We’ll be posting the results this week.

  8. No question, Dan Marino.

    Marino made the mediocre Dolphins a contender year in and year out and he did without ever having had a running threat to hand off to. In addition to never having had a running threat, the Dolphins consistently between 1985 and Marino’s retirement had one of the lowest ranked D’s in the NFL.

    As to receivers; whereas Montana had others had QBs capable of gaining separation from defenders, Marino had no such receivers, but Marino could thread a needle like no QB before or since and one of the most beautiful aspects of his game was his ability to hit his receivers between the numbers in the densest of coverage.

    Put Marino on a quality team and there would be no discussion today as to who is the greatest QB.

    Phil Downey

    • Phil, I’m a huge Marino fan too. I still don’t think there’s anyone that could throw the ball like he could. Imagine if he would’ve had knees. He did help make a couple receivers pretty good, Duper and Clayton, The Mark’s Brothers, were pretty good but surely not Rice and Taylor. I’ll be putting out the results this week. There’s a lot of good discussion going on right now and everyone has a different (no doubt) favorite.

  9. Marino had it so bad, Coached by the all time leader in wins and took over a team that just been to the Super Bowl.

  10. All this talk about QB, deducts should happen for great coaches and exceptional surrounding team mates.
    Randall with Bill Walsh and Montana with Buddy Ryan now who makes the list?
    Aikman with an average line and no Emmett.

  11. Buddy not being able to coach Offense, Lets see who would agree with me, George Halas, Iron Mike and probably Richie Kotite ( he had to be as shocked as anyone when he became OC).
    How much O do you need to win a Super Bowl when you have the top D in the league, maybe a Raven’s fan can help with that question.
    Yes an average offensive head coach should have made the Super Bowl with the Eagles teams of Buddy’s era.

    • I’m not saying Iron Mike was an Offensive guru by any means. Next thing you’re going to say is Trent Dilfer couldn’t play QB but he has a ring!!! Team game in the end.

  12. Dilfer was a serviceable QB, and in the right place at the right time.

    Football is the ultimate team game, one guy can look like a hero the other a goat but no one play or player really wins or loses the game. Unless of course the Zebras screw up.

  13. •Troy Aikman, blows, he’s a cowboy
    •Drew Brees, excellant but needs more time in the game
    •Terry Bradshaw, good on great teams
    •Tom Brady, lots of rings, must be considered, hot wife
    •John Elway, great but improved with age
    •Brett Favre, just hung around toooo long
    •Dan Fouts, no ring, no vote
    •Jim Kelly, ditto
    •Peyton Manning, needs two more rings…never happen
    •Dan Marino, amazing stats but no rings
    •Joe Montana, THE MAN
    •Ben Roethlisberger, plus is he loves hot college girls, but not the best Steeler QB TB #1
    •Roger Staubach, blows, he’s a cowboy
    •Steve Young, very good but not the best 49er QB ever, JM #1

    Moon was very good but your list is missing JOHNNY U

    I know your loyalty is with Eli but he blows too

    • Don’t disagree with many of your comments. The results will be posted on Friday. Interesting that many of your comments are based around winning Super Bowls, is that really the measuring stick or should it be?? Unites stats don’t match up in any way with these guys. Going to do another one with the older guys. Moon is a miss on my part. He’s been mentioned by a few people. I didn’t consider him but thought he spent to much time in Canada. My 15th was Kurt Warner but when I started working up the stats he didn’t have enough good seasons for consideration. I think you’ll find the results very interesting. Not sure 3 out of 5 rings and the Super Model wife with the foul mouth aren’t the way to go!!!

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