What’s the measure of an NFL quarterback?

Aaron Rodgers photo courtesy of the Green Bay Packers

So what’s the measure of greatness at the quarterback position? Is it stats? Is it championships? MVPs? What?

That’s the subject of this week’s Talk of Fame Network poll. When you analyze a quarterback, what matters most? What’s the first thing you look at when you measure him up for a bust in Canton? What’s the most important line item on his resume? Here are your nine options:

Completion percentage. Drew Brees is the leader at 66.6 percent. Chad Pennington is next at 66.0 percent, followed by Kirk Cousins (65.9), Kurt Warner (65.5) and Peyton Manning (65.3). Only two quarterbacks are enshrined that completed fewer than 50 percent of their career passes – Bobby Layne at 49 percent and George Blanda at 47.7. Joe Namath was at 50.1.

Passing yards. Peyton Manning is the all-time leader with 71,940 yards, followed by Brett Favre (71,838), Drew Brees (66,111), Tom Brady (61,582) and Dan Marino (61,361). Joe Montana is 17th at 40,551, Johnny Unitas 18th at 40,239, Ken Stabler 57th at 27,938 and Bart Starr 74th at 24,718.

Yards per attempt. Otto Graham is the NFL record holder with an average of 8.63 yards per career passing attempts. Sid Luckman is next at 8.42 yards, followed by Norm Van Brocklin at 8.16 yards. Matt Ryan led the NFL last season with an average of 9.26 yards per attempt, followed by Tom Brady at 8.23 and Kirk Cousins at 8.11.

Passer efficiency rating. Aaron Rodgers is the current leader with a 104.1 rating. Russell Wilson is second (99.6), Tom Brady third (97.2), Tony Romo fourth (97.1) and Steve Young fifth at 96.8. Roger Staubach is  41st at 83.4, John Elway 69th at 79.9 and Terry Bradshaw 142nd at 70.9.

Passing titles. Sammy Baugh and Steve Young share the NFL record with six apiece. Both are Hall of Famers. Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, John Elway and Joe Namath are among the Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks who never won passing titles.

Touchdown/Interception ratio. Tom Brady has thrown 304 more touchdowns than he has interceptions in his 17-year career. Peyton Manning is next at a plus-288 and then comes Drew Brees at a plus-245 and Aaron Rodgers at a plus-225. That’s it for the plus-200 club. Joe Montana was a plus-134, Roger Staubach a plus-44, Troy Aikman a plus-24 and Joe Namath a minus-47.

Victories. Brett Favre and Peyton Manning share the record with 186 regular-season victories apiece.  Rounding out the Top 5 are Tom Brady (183), John Elway (148) and Dan Marino (147). Ken Stabler, Steve Young, Bart Starr, Troy Aikman and Kurt Warner are among the Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks with fewer than 100 career victories.

Super Bowls. Tom Brady holds the record with five. Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana won four apiece. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

MVPs. Peyton Manning is a five-time MVP and Brett Favre a three-time winner. Tom Brady, Joe Montana, Aaron Rodgers, Johnny Unitas, Kurt Warner and Steve Young won two MVPs apiece.


Vote now!

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  1. Rasputin
    April 13, 2017

    So who’s better, Dan Marino or Trent Dilfer?

  2. Rasputin
    April 15, 2017

    Who’s better, Dan Fouts or Doug Williams?

  3. Rasputin
    April 15, 2017

    Who’s better, Tony Romo or Brad Johnson?

  4. Rasputin
    April 15, 2017

    Who’s better, Fran Tarkenton or Joe Theismann?

  5. Rasputin
    April 15, 2017

    Who’s better, Warren Moon or Mark Rypien?

  6. Rasputin
    April 15, 2017

    Here’s a tough but telling one:

    Who’s better, Ken Anderson or Jim Plunkett?

    Neither is in the HoF. Anderson has very strong stats though not the best of his era. Plunkett has 2 Super Bowl wins to Anderson’s 0, a huge gap in Super Bowls. If Super Bowls are all that matter, or even just a factor that’s more important than stats then that should win out here, shouldn’t it?

    And yet I think I’m on firm ground by stating that most knowledgeable people, including me, would say Ken Anderson was better and is closer to being HoF worthy.

    PS – Era adjustment is important due to rule-driven stat inflation. By leaving that out your article is a little misleading in places. Some of those guys you seem to be implying have low stats actually had excellent stats, and aren’t merely in the HoF because they won SBs. Except for Marino you also leave out all the guys I listed above who are in Canton without winning a SB.

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