Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Arguably the best to ever play QB

Jason Reid, who writes The Redskins Insider at The Washington Post, and who really should know better, writes about why Shanahan's Skins will likely draft Sam Bradford:

As a quarterback coach and offensive coordinator in two stints with the Denver Broncos, Shanahan played a big role in the success of Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, arguably the best to ever play the position.
Uh, no. Elway is inarguably NOT the best ever to play the QB position. I doubt he was ever even the 3rd-best quarterback in any season he was active.

I'm not saying he sucked. He gave them a chance to win any game: that's a powerful statement. But he's got to be just about the worst "great" quarterback I can think of. I'm pretty sure I would rather have any Hall of Fame QB over Elway.

And I'm not just saying that as an old Baltimore Colts fan.


  1. I agree with the nonsense quote but a bad quote doesn't diminish Shanahan's success with Elway nor Elway's accomplishments.

    If you look at Elway's similarity scores on PFR, they are a who's who of great quarterbacks, and not just for career but also seasonally.

    The best historical analogs I can think of for Elway are Griese and Bradshaw, guys who never put up eye-popping numbers but their teams won and they were considered great leaders and clutch players. Elway was better than either, but in terms of career type, all three were similar.

  2. 1. Elway is, of course, the original PSJOWTHBTTL, so nyah nyah.

    2. 9 Pro Bowls, 51k yards passing, 300 TDs, 148 reg season wins, 300 passing TDs (reg season), 2 SB wins, numerous other SB appearances with undermanned teams, The Drive -- Elway's accomplishments are great, and I'm not really trying to diss them.

    3. Elway's rep as a clutch player is deserved. He was better in the 4th Q than in the 1st. Good comparison with Griese & Bradshaw, btw.

    But the other HoF QBs who played after 1970 are:

    Over how many of those guys would you take Elway?

  3. Here's my list of guys I'd take above Elway:
    maybe Aikman.

    Not: Starr, Jurgenson, Namath, Dawson, Moon.

    Others: Push.


  4. Pretty sure I'd take Unitas over Elway.

  5. BS. You take Unitas over everyone except maybe Montana and Marino...maybe. Unitas is one of about five QBs with a rightful claim to be in the "best of all time" discussion.

    I still take Elway over Starr, Jurgenson, Namath, Dawson and honestly prolly Bradshaw. Moon maybe, but I like how dynamic Moon was.

  6. PFR Approximate Value statistic gives us a way to measure players across eras. Since 1950 Unitas is 9th, Elway 14th, Marino 6th, Fouts 38th, Moon 42nd, Montana 31st, Young 17th, Bradshaw 88th, Griese 93rd, Staubach 104th. Of active players Manning is 7th and Brady is 210th. This is among all players, not just quarterbacks.

    Thing is though, Career AV awards career length as well so guys like Moon (who didn't get started until he was 28) and Young (didn't become a full-time starter until he was 30) get dinged a bit. Young finishing 17th overall despite what was effectively a 10 year career is pretty remarkable, as is Peyton's 7th overall after only 12 seasons.

    I mention Brady to illustrate the limitations of the measurement. He's started 7 seasons and doesn't generate eye-popping statistics which explains his relatively low score, however I don't think anyone would really argue that he has been no worse than the 2nd best quarterback in the NFL for the majority of his starting career.

    So Unitas? I will say that his 11 stretch relative to other quarterbacks from 1957 - 1967 is unrivaled in NFL history, with 11 Pro Bowls and 4 All Pro teams. On the other hand, no team today would pick him over any but the worst players on the list, the game has simply changed too much.

  7. >>>> So Unitas? I will say that his 11 stretch relative to other quarterbacks from 1957 - 1967 is unrivaled in NFL history, with 11 Pro Bowls and 4 All Pro teams. On the other hand, no team today would pick him over any but the worst players on the list, the game has simply changed too much. <<<<

    I agree, although I think you can make that caveat about pretty much every old-school player on offense. On the other hand, you might be able to say the opposite about some defensive players, given how much they were allowed to do. Cornerbacks especially.

    But guys like Raymond Berry... No one picks him today over Randy Moss and Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson. Only one season over 1k yards, never a burner, etc. But in his time? He revolutionized the position...

    - Chris

  8. showing my point as the diff btw 9th and 14th best is vanishingly small.

    15-7 playoff record, MVP, SB MVP, 2 rings, bonus of 33 rush TDs, 231 starts, always healthy, 4 All-Pro teams.

    Not saying he's better than Unitas. Unitas was great. Elway was great. If Elway had a defense, he'd have won even more games in the postseason [although that 49ers team still would have annhilated anyone in their path.]

  9. Where do you find the PFR Approximate Value list?
    (Who's #1?)

    Odd, isn't it, that Young would be higher than Montana? When Montana was a full-time starter for 14 seasons and Young for ~8 (although with lots of appearances before he became a starter).

  10. There's no list, you can see the rating in each player's profile.

    I clicked around last night among quarterbacks. We already mentioned most of the contenders. I overlooked Favre who is #2OA. Ken Anderson (a vastly underrated QB) is #37ish.

    I was trying to figure out the #1OA AV and couldn't. Maybe Jim Brown or Sweetness.

  11. Favre is def in the 'push' category, and Anderson I'd rank higher than most but def not Johnny U or Elway.


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