Originally posted on Sports Blog Movement:
There’s an old saying in sports that winning cures everything. Naturally, the opposite of that is what losing does. One thing we know for sure is that losing strains the relationships between players and coaches, and given the steaming pile of infected monkey shit the Steelers’ season has become, we are amazed knife fights aren’t a daily occurrence in the Pittsburgh locker room. One of the things leading us to that belief is this text thread between Steeler quarterback Ben Roethislberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley our crack research staff here at Sports Blog Movement intercepted* yesterday. We offer this completely without comment as an indicator how things are really going in the Steel City.
*Legal Disclaimer – J-Dub and Meehan have a strange way of defining certain terms. This statement could only be seen as factually correct if you took the word “intercepted” to mean…
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Yet another week has passed in the sportsgasm that is the NFL season, and that means it is time for us to tell you some things you need to know without the self-serving spin those assbags at ESPN will never give you. We know this because if you think you can get real football information from guys like Chris Mortenson and Adam Schefter, you probably also don’t know that everything at Taco Bell is made of the same five elemental ingredients and that they all end up in the same place. Speaking of which…
1) The Cleveland Browns have already flushed the 2013 season.
This is just the Browns way of saying they have flushed on 2013 and are stocking up on picks for 2014. But that’s not always a bad thing. If you never flush your toilet, your house will become Calcutta in about a week. Cleveland has already had it’s river catch fire more than once; the last thing they need is cattle running loose in the streets trampling children with flies on their faces.
Don’t pay attention to the fact they beat the Vikings after trading their best offensive player and started a third-string quarterback who couldn’t make the roster with the Arizona Cardinals. Never mind the fact that how they ripped the guts out of Viking fans may be a hate crime in at least 23 states. What this all comes down to is the Browns are auditioning guys for draft day trades in 2014. Believe it or not, the Browns have some depth almost everywhere except the offensive “skill” positions. This team is young, and with the right number of draft picks and the right decisions using them, they could end up with more positional talent than a copy of the Kama Sutra.
For old guys like J-Dub, well…those guys long for the Sam Rutigliano-led Cleveland “Cardiac Kids” of the 1970′s, and curse the Browns inability to recover from Earnest Byner’s notorious fumble in the 1987 AFC Championship Game.
For the younger guys like Meehan, the good news is that by this time next year, half of the current Cleveland Browns will be working at the Quad Cities Mall with them, and you just know those guys will have some pretty cool stories to tell about the Hooters in Akron. Face it, when you live in Bettendorf, Iowa, Akron is the fucking “City of Lights.” However, the bad news is that there is every chance that this new management approach in Cleveland may be (to quote Roger Daltrey) just an exercise in “meet the new boss…same as the old boss.”
This is the part where we have to join in an ESPN-style speculation-fest as to what are the Browns planning to do with two first-round draft picks, one of which is as guaranteed to end up in the top three as it was that one of the “Saved by the Ball” girls was going to end up on a stripper pole. We don’t mean in the movies, either. Lark Voorhies, if you are reading this, please drop us a line…we’re concerned about you…really. In any event, it seems the pointy-heads at the World Wide Bottom Feeder seem to think this makes it metaphysical certainty that Johnny Football will be getting his mail in northeastern Ohio about ten months from now.
If you recall back around the Super Bowl, there was a spirited debate about quarterbacks. On one hand, if Brady had won, would he be the greatest of all time? On the other, since Eli Manning won his second Super Bowl, where does he rank amongst the all-time greats? Let’s cut through the crap here…the best way to get a bunch of football fans arguing is to start a debate over a list of all-time greats, and no position gets a bigger reaction than the quarterback.
There are three main problems inherent in creating lists like this. For openers, everybody has personal biases and/or their favorites. Trust me, as you read this list, you are likely to find a guy who you will think I rated too low. Conversely, you are likely to find a guy who I rated too high or you may find a guy you don’t like rated above your favorite. The second issues is the subjective nature of “greatness;” this feeds into the “personal bias” issue and it isn’t easily solved by merely clinging to statistics, which leads to the third problem. The argument over “greatness” takes a major trip over the difference in eras; let’s face it, professional football is not the same game in 1940 as it is today. This is why I developed a list of criteria designed to mitigate those problems as much as possible.
Ability as compared to others in a player’s era – 30% of grade: This is what I consider the true measure of greatness. It is safe to assume that the players in the NFL at any time were the best football players on the planet, and standing out amongst the best of the best is a pretty good definition of greatness.
Athleticism – 20% of grade: Great quarterbacks have to make great plays, and that requires athletic skill. Another factor is that one-dimensional quarterbacks tend to rate lower in this criteria; the immobile pocket passer who can’t avoid a rush suffers in this category as well as the “scrambler” who can’t throw. To be at the top of this list, a quarterback really needs a high score here.
Performance in the “Clutch”- 15% of grade: Here’s where you get the play-off performances, fourth-quarter comebacks, and all those sort of greatness-defining moments. Conversely, if we are going to value winning championships, we also have to examine big-game failures.
Skill as a Passer – 15% of grade: This would be the statistic-heavy criteria on this list. Regardless of era, passing has been largely a sole responsibility of the quarterback.
Winning as a Team – 10% of grade: In the immortal words of Herm Edwards, “You play to win the game.” Winning is winning, and while regular-season wins are important, play-off wins and championships carry most of the weight for this criteria, but in the sense that football is a team sport, and quarterbacks are measured in this case as to how well they contributed to the performance of their team. In other words, a quarterback who never won championships can certainly make the list, yet one who didn’t have a regular-season winning record would find it very difficult. Also, A quarterback with winning-regular season record but a bad play-off record would suffer.
Leadership – 5% of grade: I’ve always thought this criteria for quarterbacks was a bit over-rated. Teams do need leaders, but that doesn’t always have to be the quarterback. It’s a bonus when that is the case, but it isn’t essential.
Toughness/Durability – 5% of grade: This is rather simple; you can’t be great if you can’t play, and you can’t play if you can’t stay on the field.
Really I’m trying to expand beyond the shopworn “who won more championships vs. who had better stats debate;” ESPN gives us a steady diet of that, but it also presents us the problem that really isn’t solvable. Not only is that debate an important part of the discussion, but any list of criteria is going to leave somebody out. Thankfully, this is why blogs have comments section. Peruse this list and share your thoughts.
First, look at the notable quarterbacks who didn’t make the cut. It’s a safe bet Eli Manning cracks the top 30 by the time he’s done, and of the current quarterbacks who aren’t included here, Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers seem to be the best bets to be in this discussion by the time their careers are done.
- Archie Manning
- Bob Griese
- Bob Waterfield
- Boomer Esaison
- Craig Morton
- Dave Krieg
- Donovan McNabb
- Drew Bledsoe
- Eli Manning
- Jack Kemp
- Jim Hart
- Jim Plunkett
- John Hadl
- Joe Namath
- Joe Theismann
- Ken Stabler
- Kerry Collins
- Phil Simms
- Randall Cunningham
- Roman Gabriel
- Ron Jaworski
- Vinny Testaverde
Now, for the actual Dubsism list of the 30 Greatest Quarterbacks to date:
30) Ken Anderson
Never a champion, but never a loser either. Despite the fact that Anderson played for some bad Cincinnati Bengal teams, that might be the best way to describe him. Anderson is the best quarterback who isn’t going to get into the Hall of Fame. The best thing on Anderson’s “great quarterback resume” is the fact he made the Bengals relevant for close to a decade and a half despite the fact the “Queen City Kitties” are one of the historic dysfunctional franchises in all of sport.
Even though he likely never gets into Canton, Anderson does have Hall of Fame worthy numbers as a passer; his stats are better than several guys long since immortalized in bronze. Granted his won-loss record in the regular season isn’t spectacular, but Anderson may be the best post-season quarterback who never won a championship. Anderson’s post-season passer rating is second only to Joe Montana, and that also happens to be the guy to whom Anderson lost his only Super Bowl appearance. Not to mention, Anderson’s 1982 single-season record of a completion percentage of 70.6% stood for 27 years; since when it has been passed twice by a guy who is likely to end up in the top ten of this list: Drew Brees.
29) Steve McNair
Steve McNair is the first example on this list of a quarterback who could beat you with his arm or his feet. His career year in 2000 with the Tennessee Titans exemplifies that. McNair registered career passing highs with 3,350 passing yards, 264 completions, 21 passing touchdowns, and a 90.2 quarterback rating. On top of that, he was also one of the team’s most effective rushers, tying for the team lead in rushing scores with five. This multi-faceted attack allowed McNair to become both the Titans’ all-time leading passer and one of the great running quarterbacks in NFL history.
McNair led the Titans to the playoffs four times, as well as once with the Baltimore Ravens. He came within one infamous play – the last-second, just-short-of-the-goal line completion to Kevin Dyson – of winning a Super Bowl. McNair was a three-time Pro Bowler and was All-Pro and Co-NFL MVP in 2003.
28) George Blanda
Throughout 26 seasons and 340 games in professional football as a quarterback and place-kicker, George Blanda was known for his toughness, versatility and longevity. He led the Houston Oilers to the first two AFL titles in 1960 and 1961. It took the Dallas Texans (later the Kansaa City Chiefs) double -overtime to keep Blanda and the Oilers from a “three-peat.”
Blanda’s professional career started for $600 in 1949. While the Chicago Bears primarily used Blanda as a quarterback and placekicker, he also saw time on the defensive side of the ball at linebacker. It would not be until 1953 that Blanda would emerge as the Bears’ top quarterback, but an injury the following year effectively ended his first-string status. For the next four years, he was used mostly in a kicking capacity.
Blanda retired after the 1958 NFL season because of Bears owner George Halas insistence of only using him as a kicker, but returned in 1960 upon the formation of the American Football League. He signed with the Houston Oilers again as a quarterback and kicker. He was derided by the sports media as an “NFL Reject,” but he went on to lead the Oilers to the first two championships in AFL history, and he was the All-AFL quarterback and won AFL Player of the Year honors in 1961. During that season, he led the AFL with 3,330 passing yards and a record 36 touchdown passes. That record, although tied by the Giants’ Y.A. Tittle in 1963, was not surpassed in pro football until 1984 when the Dolphins’ Dan Marino tossed 48 scores.
In 1962, Blanda had two 400-yard passing days for the Oilers; a 464-yard, 4 touchdown effort against the Buffalo Bills and a 418-yard, 7 touchdown blasting of the New York Titans. Blanda threw at least 4 touchdowns 13 times during his career and once attempted 68 passes in one game. Blanda would have easily been comfortable in today’s pass-happy game; from 1963 to 1965, Blanda led the AFL in passing attempts and completions, and ranked in the top ten for attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns during seven consecutive seasons. A four-time member of the American Football League All-Star team, Blanda’s already-long career seemed over when he was released by the Oilers in 1967. However, the Oakland Raiders signed him later that year, seeing his potential as a contributing backup passer and a dependable kicker.
During the 1967 season, Blanda’s kicking saw him lead the AFL in scoring with 116 points. The Raiders went on to compete in Super Bowl II, but the following two seasons ended in heartbreak as they lost in the AFL Championship games both times. In 1970, Blanda was released during the preseason, but bounced back to establish his 21st professional season with one of the most dramatic comebacks in sports history. Beginning with the game at Pittsburgh, Blanda put together five straight clutch performances.
Against the Steelers, Blanda threw for three touchdowns in relief of an injured Daryle Lamonica. One week later, his 48-yard field goal with three seconds remaining salvaged a 17–17 tie with the Kansas City Chiefs. Against the Browns, Blanda once again came off the bench to throw a touchdown pass to tie the game with 1:34 remaining, then kicked a 53-yard field goal with three seconds left for the 23–20 win. Immediately after the winning field goal, Raiders radio announcer Bill King excitedly declared, “George Blanda has just been elected King of the World!” In the Raiders’ next game, Blanda again replaced Lamonica in the fourth quarter and connected with Fred Biletnikoff on a touchdown pass with 2:28 remaining to defeat the Denver Broncos. The streak concluded one week later when Blanda’s 16-yard field goal in the closing seconds defeated the San Diego Chargers, 20–17.
In the AFC title game against the Baltimore Colts, Blanda again relieved an injured Lamonica and had a superb performance, completing 17 of 32 passes for 217 yards and 2 touchdowns while also kicking a 48-yard field goal and two extra points, keeping the Raiders in the game until the final quarter, when he was intercepted twice. At 43, Blanda became the oldest quarterback ever to play in a championship game, and was one of the few remaining straight-ahead kickers in the NFL.
Kansas City Chiefs’ owner Lamar Hunt said in jest, “Why, this George Blanda is as good as his father, who used to play for Houston.” Although he never again played a major role at quarterback, Blanda would serve as the Raiders’ kicker for five more seasons. Blanda played in his last game at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium on January 4, 1976, in the AFC Championship Game at age 48. Blanda went out on a 41-yard field goal and one extra point as the Raiders lost to the Steelers 16-10.
Blanda finished his 26 professional football seasons having completed 1,911 of 4,007 pass attempts for 26,920 yards and 236 touchdowns. Blanda also held the NFL record for most interceptions thrown with 277, until Brett Favre broke in 2007. He rushed for 344 yards and 9 touchdowns on the ground, kicked 335 of 641 field goals, and 943 of 959 extra points, giving him 2,002 total points. Additional stats include 1 interception, 2 kickoff returns for 19 yards, 22 punts for 809 yards, and 23 fumble recoveries.
In 1976, at the age of 48, he retired as the league’s all-time leading scorer, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981.
27) Ben Roethlisberger
Roethlisberger became the youngest Super Bowl-winning quarterback to date when he led the Steelers to a 21–10 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in his second professional season at the age of 23. Four years later, Roethlisberger led the Steelers to a second Super Bowl Championship. Roethlisberger never gets credit for what an efficient passer he is because of his ability to scramble and extend plays. He currently ranks 11th all-time in NFL passer rating (92.1), 5th in yards per attempt (8.0), and 12th in completion percentage (63.1%) among quarterbacks with a minimum of 1,500 career attempts. He also has a .700 winning percentage in the regular season. Having said all that, Roethisberger has plenty of time to move either up or down on this list.
26) Bart Starr
Starr is the quintessential model of efficiency and not beating one’s self. Starr is not the guy who will blow you away with his huge stats or game-winning plays, but he did lead the Packers dynasty that won five championships in seven years during the 1960s. His .900 winning percentage in the post-season e may be the most efficient passer ever and his 9-1 post season record is the best by a quarterback. As I said, Starr doesn’t have the huge stat sheet, but he does have 5 championships, an NFL MVP award, and 2 Super Bowl MVP’s. Let’s be honest, the great ones win when it matters.
25) Kurt Warner
Warner might just be the ultimate NFL “rags-to-riches” story. During journey from the fields of Iowa to the NFL, Warner at times bagged groceries and starred in the Arena Football. Nobody drafted him out of Northern Iowa and ended up having one the great careers of all time. He was the NFL MVP twice, Super Bowl MVP once, and owns the three highest single-game passing yardage totals in Super Bowl history.
24) Bobby Layne
For a guy who was never considered an “elite” passer, when Layne retired he held the league record’s for most career pass attempts, completions, passing yards, and touchdown passes. He was also one of the best running quarterbacks on this list. He won NFL Championships in 1952, 1953, and 1957, and just missed a fourth in 1954. The Lions haven’t won a championship since the shipped Layne to the Steelers in 1958. Bobby Layne is also the only player on this list who has a Dubsy Award named for him.
23) Norm Van Brocklin
‘The Dutchman” is the only quarterback to split the signal-calling duties with two other Hall of Famers during his career; Bob Waterfield in Los Angeles and Sonny Jurgensen in Philadelphia. Van Brocklin played in 9 Pro Bowls and was a first-team All Pro selection in 1960. He won two NFL championships and is the only quarterback to beat a Vince Lomabardi-coached Packers team in a championship game.
22) Drew Brees
This is a guy who is only going up on this list. After only 10 seasons, he already has 40,000 passing yards, 281 touchdowns, six Pro Bowl Selections, one first-team All-Pro selection and a Super Bowl MVP award. Barring injury, Brees has at least four or five high-level seasons left. Seems to me 400 touchdowns and 60,000 passing yards is in reach. Tack another championship to those numbers and Brees looks to be a top ten quarterback waiting to happen.
21) Len Dawson
Dawson was never flashy, and he never blew your mind with eye-popping statistics, but he was great nevertheless. Efficiency was his main weapon. Dawson led the AFL in completion percentage and passer rating six times and led the Chiefs to three championships. Along the way, he was a six-time AFL All-Star and was the MVP of Super Bowl IV.
20) Y.A. Tittle
Tittle’s is like the 1960′s answer to Jim Kelly. Tittle had the pieces around him and he was good enough to get his guys to the Championship on multiple occassions, but was never able to get over the hump. He came the closest in 1963 when he set a single-season record with 36 touchdown passes; a record that stood until Dan Marino threw 48 touchdowns in 1984.
19) Jim Kelly
Kelly is another quarterback who spent time in an inferior league (the USFL wasn’t a bad league, but it was closer in terms of talent to the CFL than the NFL). Even though he lost them all, playing in four straight Super Bowls was impressive, one can make an argument the Bills were over-matched in talent in two of them. If Scott Norwood makes that field goal in 1991, so many thing change. The Bills become discussed as one of the great teams of all time, the Bills likely win at least one more Championship, and Kelly moves up this list.
18) Warren Moon
The fact that Moon had over 49,000 passing yards and 291 touchdowns in the NFL is astonishing considering he spent the first five years of his pro football career in Canada. Even if one were to consider his CFL stats in the total (which is a bit ridiculous since one would need to assume the talent levels of the two leagues are comparable), he becomes the the only guy besides Brett Favre with 70,000 passing yards and one of only three quarterbacks as of this writing (Favre, Marino) with 400 touchdowns. Moon was never a successful play-off quarterback, but he was selected to nine Pro Bowls was named NFL MVP in 1990.
17) Dan Fouts
If Dan Fouts isn’t the best pure passer on this list, there’s no denying he is in the top three. He was a six-time Pro Bowler and was twice a first-team All-Pro. He was the first to throw for over 4,000 yards in three consecutive seasons, and his 4,802 passing yards in 1981 was a single-season record. However, his won-loss record was only 86-84-1, and he never appeared in a Super Bowl, having gone 0-2 in conference championship games.
16) Terry Bradshaw
Bradshaw started out as a bumpkin in cleats, and ended up winning four Super Bowls. However, in between, Bradshaw was a model of inconsistency. He would rapidly alternate between greatness and gruesome. He put together seasons which made him a 3-time Pro Bowler and once was named first-team All-Pro; he also had seasons in which he threw 25 interceptions, or only completed 45% of his passes, or got benched for some other reason. Inconsistency is a brutal enough factor to keep a league MVP and two-time Super Bowl MVP in the bottom half of this list.
15) Fran Tarkenton
Tarkenton greatness as a passer gets overlooked largely because he was such great runner (3,674 yards) and he was the first quarterback to lose three Super Bowls. His 47,000 career passing yards was #1 all-time when he retired. He completed 60 percent of his passe sin five of his final six seasons, which is incredible given that he played for 18 seasons, and at the time a completion rate that high was not common.
14) Brett Favre
Brett Favre was the ultimate riverboat gambler. He played at a high level into his 40′s. Of all the records he set, the one that nobody who is alive today will live long enough to see broken is 285 consecutive starts. He’s got 70,000+ passing yards, 500+ touchdowns, and he was an 11-time Pro Bowler, 3-time first team All-Pro, and a 3-time league MVP. That seems like a guy who should be in the top five. So, why isn’t he?
For starters, the fact that he threw 336 career interceptions, which is almost 60 more than the 2nd-place guy. More importantly, he threw way too many of those picks in crunch time, which helps to explain how a quarterback with a 186-112 regular season win-loss record was only a 13-11 performer in the play-offs, and only 3-6 in conference champiosnhip games and Super Bowls.
13) Troy Aikman
The New York Mets offered Aikman a contract when he came out of high school, but instead he chose to pursue football. 94 career wins, three Super Bowl championships and six Pro Bowls later, Aikman landed in the Hall of Fame as the quarterback with the most wins in any decade until he was surpassed by Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Aikman retired as the Cowboys passer despite the fact his career was cut short by injury issues.
12) Roger Staubach
The only reason Roger Staubach isn’t higher on this list is his career simply wasn’t long enough to rack up big numbers. He was a 27-year-old rookie in 1969 because he had a four-year service commitment after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy. His career gets even shorter when you consider that head coach Tom Landry didn’t name him as the full-time starter until 1971. But when he was on the field, there was none better. Between 1971 and 1979, Staubach won two Super Bowls and was a six-time Pro Bowler. The fact that he put up over 22,000 passing yards and 2,2200 rushing yards in what really amounted to only 9 full seasons, it isn’t hard to see that if Staubach had a more traditional-length career, he would easily be a top ten guy.
11) Tom Brady
Here’s where this is going to get ugly. I’m positive I’m going to get a lot of comments about how Brady should rate much higher than #11. No offense, but anybody who thinks that right now Tom Brady is a top ten quarterback now is blind to some crucial facts. But first, let’s look at the things that got Brady on to the list in the first place.
Brady’s NFL record of 358 consecutive passing attempts without an interception would be astounding in any era. So would the fact that he has three NFL Championships and two Super Bowl MVP awards. So would his .700+ winning percentage as a starting quarterback. Oddly enough, Brady’s accomplishments are somewhat over-valued by the era he played in.
First of all, he shares a major problem with Peyton Manning. Their lack of mobility coupled with rule changes made in the last twenty years mean neither would have been able to play before the 1970′s when quarterbacks really were “fair game.”
Second of all, Brady is great, but he simply isn’t that much better than many of his current colleagues…his 50 touchdowns or 5,000 passing yards aren’t such shocking numbers as they were in 1984 when Dan Marino was the first to approach them. The league values the forward pass, and has made rule changes to facilitate the passing game.
Lastly, I understand that Brady’s 5 Super Bowl appearances and 3 Super Bowl wins is a major accomplishment, but it’s also fair to look at Brady’s playoff performances in the years since the last of the those Super Bowl wins at the end of the 2004 season. In 12 play-off games since the last Super Bowl win, Tom Brady and the Patriots are only 7-5. More astounding are the stats for an average Tom Brady performance in those games: 23/36, 64% completion percentage, 256 yards, 2.17 touchdowns, and 1.42 interceptions.
Most of those numbers are acceptable, the touchdown to interception ration is the killer. For a guy who is supposed to be a great pure passer, and for a guy who holds that record of 358 consecutive passing attempts without an interception, having more three INT games than 0 INT games in your last 12 playoff performances kills ratings in categories like “Skill as a Passer” and “Performance in the Clutch”
10) Peyton Manning
Obviously, as of this writing, we have no idea if Manning’s career is over or not. As it stands right now, I believe Manning has earned the accolades which make him top ten all-time quarterback. Given the criteria we’ve established for making this list, the only way he moves up is to win another Super Bowl or league MVP award, neither of which seem very likely. Conversely, the only way he moves down is if another quarterback passes him.
Having said that, let’s look at what has made Peyton Manning a top ten quarterback. Nobody as of this date has won four NFL MVP awards. Peyton is the fastest quarterback in history to reach 4,000 completions and 50,000 passing yards. He is also an 11-time Pro Bowler and has been selected All-Pro eight times. Given all that, why is he only at #10 on this list?
For starters, Manning suffers greatly in two categories, Performance in the “clutch” and athleticism. Manning’s play-off record is dismal and Manning, like Brady, is an immobile pocket passer who would have only flourished in this league in the last twenty years. Put him and Brady in the 1960′s when defenders were allowed to literally beat the stuffing out of quarterbacks and neither of them would have survived.
9) Sid Luckman
To understand why Sid Luckman is in the top ten, you really have to consider the power of the difference in eras, and the length of season and individual careers. Considering Luckman played in an era when the forward pass was treated as a “trick” play, it’s difficult to look at sheer numbers and appreciate his greatness without considering the difference in eras. While Sammy Baugh (see #6) was inventing the modern passing game in the 1930′s and 1940′s, Luckman’s 2,194 passing yards and 28 touchdowns in 1943 seemed like an impossiblilty in those days; it would be roughly equal to a quarterback tossing for more than 6,800 yards and 57 touchdowns today. Luckman won four Championships and still holds the NFL record for touchdown pass percentage (7.9), and his 8.4 yards per pass attempt is second only to Otto Graham.
8 ) Sonny Jurgensen
Jurgensen is perhaps the #2 or #3 pure passer of all-time. Vince Lombardi once said that Jurgensen was the best he’d ever seen. Jurgensen was the dominant quarterback of the 1960′s. He led the NFL in passing yards five times (good for second-place all-time which he shares with Dan Marino) and led the league in passing touchdowns twice. Even though he spent time as a back-up early in his career, if he played today, an average Jurgensen season would be ~ 4,800 passing yards, yards and 37 touchdowns against 11 interceptions per season.
7) Steve Young
In terms of athleticism, Young ranked second behind John Elway. Young had a run of dominance emjoyed by only a select few in league history, but it was only long enough to rate him at #7 on this list. Young easily could have rated as high as Elway in the overall rankings had he not wasted two seasons in the USFL, two seasons in Tampa Bay, and played back-up to Joe Montana for four more. By the time he became the starter in San Francisco, half his career was over, but in the seasons he started, Young was a seven-time Pro Bowler, first team All-Pro three times, two-time NFL MVP and won a Super Bowl in which he was also the MVP. By the way, in that Super Bowl, he threw a record six touchdown passes. That’s just for openers on Young’s impressive stats. He retired with the highest career passer rating (98.6), he had a passer rating of 100 or greater in seven seasons, while racking up 4,239 career rushing yards and 43 rushing touchdowns.
6) Sammy Baugh
Without a doubt, Sammy Baugh is the greatest all-around football player on this list. At one time, Baugh held 13 NFL records at three different positions (quarterback, punter, and defensive back). As a quarterback, spot number six may be too low. Even though he retired 60 years ago, Baugh is still the record-holder for most years leading the league in passing yards. Baugh is still the record-holder for most years with the lowest interception percentage. Baugh was a 6-time Pro Bowler, a 4-time first team All-Pro, and he won two NFL Championships. The most amazing performance was Baugh’s 335 passing yards when he led the Washington Redskins over the Chicago Bears in the 1937 NFL Championship game. Remember, the league average for passing yards that season was 102.2 yards per game, so Baugh’s performance would be like somebody throwing for about 750 yards today. Oh, and he was a rookie when he did it. It’s still the best performance for a rookie quarterback in a playoff game.
5) Dan Marino
Marino is the highest ranked guy on this list that never won a Championship, and it really doesn’t matter. No matter what your criteria, if Marino doesn’t grade out as a top five quarterback, your list is wrong. His 48 touchdown, 5,000-yard campaign in 1984 is one of the great single-season performances in all of sport, not just football. Marino retired holding many NFL passing records, including total yards, touchdowns, and career completions.
4) John Elway
Not only is Elway perhaps the best pure athlete on this list, he also made so many mediocre players around him better. Tremendous athleticism. He was Vince Young, except he could throw it accurately to any place on the field. Elway made legitimate receiving threats out of no-names like Ricky Nattiel, Mark Jackson, and Vance Johnson, and the threat of Elway’s passing game meant defenders played back in coverage, which allowed bench-jockeys like Gaston Green, Bobby Humphrey, and Sammy Winder to become Pro Bowlers at running back. all earned Pro Bowl berths taking handoffs from Elway.
Elway’s five 5 Super Bowl appearances ties him (as of this writing) with Tom Brady, and while he lost three of them, Elway’s dominating performances were the sole reason the Broncos mattered for a decade and a half. Along the way, Elway won two championships, was selected to nine Pro Bowls, was a Super Bowl MVP, and 1987 NFL MVP. Not to mention, he was nicknamed “Captain Comeback” because pulling a fourth-quarter comeback might as well be called an “Elway.”
3) Joe Montana
Montana wasn’t big and athletic. Montana wasn’t lightning quick. Montana didn’t have the quickest release. But he was the definition of “cool under pressure;” the ice water which flowed through his veins allowed him to dissect defenses with surgical precision. This is why in a 10-year span in San Francisco, Montana won four Super Bowls, was named Super Bowl MVP three times, and was NFL MVP twice.
2) Johnny Unitas
Unitas was a three-time NFL MVP and was first-team All-Pro five times. Unitas has 3 championships, 10 Pro Bowls, was voted All-Pro 6 times., and still holds the record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass (47) ; a record which has been on the books for 52 years.
More importantly, he was the inventor of the modern passing game. Unitas revolutionized the game, without him there would be none of the guys the under-40 crowd will try to claim are greater than he was.
1) Otto Graham
Anything you say about Otto Graham starts with this sentence: Graham was the greatest winner in the history to date of pro football. Given the listed criteria this list with which this list was built, “Automatic Otto” was a lead-pipe cinch for the top spot. Graham was the living, breathing definition of what being a pro quarterback is. Stack him up against the criteria:
Toughness/Durability: Graham played in an era when there were few rules to prevent defenders from turning quarterback into potted plants. Graham never missed a game, even after having his face split open in a game in 1953. Graham returned to that game with 15 stitches in his mouth to lead his team to a comeback win.
Leadership: Before his career in football, Graham served in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II. After his pro football days, he served as the head football coach and athletic director at the U.S. Coast guard Academy
Winning as a Team: In his entire 10-year professional football career, Graham never finished a season without playing in a championship game. That means in 10 years, he played in 10 championship games and won 7 of them. That’s more than twice as many championship appearances as Joe Montana or Terry Bradshaw, with nearly twice as many victories. Not to mention, his regular season winning percentage of 80% is still the all-time record as well.
Athleticism: With 44 career rushing touchdowns, there’ really no question that Graham was top-flight athlete. Not to mention, he spent a year playing professional basketball with the Rochester Royals (now the Sacramento Kings).
Skill as a Passer: Just look at the numbers. 9.0 yards per pass attempt still ranks #1 on the all-time list, his career passer rating is the highest on this list and his interception percentage is the lowest.
Performance in the “clutch:” .700 winning percentage in championship games, and an .800 winning percentage overall. That ought to cover it.
Ability as Compared to Others in his Era: Because Graham spent the first four years of his career with the Cleveland Browns while they were still part of the All-American Football Conference (AAFC), and because the NFL doesn’t recognize AAFC championships or statistics, Graham rarely gets a high ranking in most discussions. That’s just ridiculous for a host of reasons, not the least of which was the fact Graham and the Browns dominated the NFL after the leagues merged in 1950. In many respects, the AAFC was a better league than the NFL, and the NFL recognizes AFL records.
Administrative decisions aside, there’s really no debating Otto Graham is the greatest quarterback of all-time.
Now for the fun part: I’m hoping you will comment on this list, but before you do, consider the following. When you are going to tell me about how wrong I am, be sure to include what you would have done differently. Otherwise, go make your own list
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With the NFL Draft looming, I found a list courtesy of the NFL Network featuring the schools consider to be the Top Ten Football Factories. We here at Dubsism took that list and crossed it against each schools three arguably most interesting players. Be mindful of the fact this list was devised and ordered by the NFL Network and not us, which is why before you write us nasty letters about it, wait for our comments at the end so you can be REALLY pissed when you comment.
Their Top Three – Peyton Manning, Reggie White, Doug Atkins
Those are three top-flight hall-of-famers, and that’s only part of the reason why Tennessee belongs on this list. In terms of college football, Tennessee has a long history; the Volunteers were the power of the SEC before Bear Bryant and Alabama. Of course, recent history hasn’t been kind to the Vols, and that’s just fine with me, since Tenneesee still grinds my gears.
9) The Mid-America Conference (MAC)
Their Top Three – Jack Lambert, Ben Roethlisberger, Randy Moss
Honestly, this entry caused the most discussion amongst the staff here at Dubsism; at least no punches were thrown this time, but suffice it to say there are several staffers here who fervently believe it is wrong to include an entire conference. In defense of the MAC, that’s a pretty solid Top Three as compared to some of the others on this list. I would like to believe the MAC is here to represent the contributions of all small schools, but more importantly, look at what those three represent – a toothless psychopath, a multi-ringed “may-be” rapist, and complete douchebag.
8 ) Syracuse
Their Top Three – Jim Brown, John Mackey, Donovan McNabb
This is just the saddest story on this list; the classic case of how the mighty have fallen. In my lifetime, I’ve watched the Orange go from the pride of eastern football to a team that can barely stay afloat in the weakest big conference in football. I blame it all on Dick MacPherson, their Hall-of-Fame coach who steadily built the Orangemen into an Eastern football power. One of SU’s most stunning wins during MacPherson’s tenure came in 1984 when the Orangemen upset then No. 1 Nebraska, 17-9. MacPherson later bolted from the Orange, trying to parlay his success in college into a career in the NFL, but his two years stint with the New England Patriots..well, let’s just say calling it an “abject failure” is being kind. Sadly, the Orange have been rancid ever since.
7) Penn State
Their Top Three – Jack Ham, Lenny Moore, John Cappelletti
This is another case of a school getting its coach hired away by the New England Patriots. Back in 1972, the Patriots offered Joe Paterno a contract which have made him football’s first million-dollar coach, a contract which JoePa accepted. However, his tenure as an NFL coach lasted less than 12 hours; the morning after signing the deal, Paterno called the Patriots to tell them the deal was off. Had Paterno left, it is a certainty the Nittany Lions would have languished at the bottom of college football for decades; just look at what happened to Syracuse. Hell, it could have been worse, look at what happened to SMU when Ron Meyer left for New England.
Their Top Three – Joe Namath, John Hannah, Derrick Thomas
Given their history, there is not anybody young or old who didn’t picture this team on this list. And why not? Alabama has always paid as well, if not better than any NFL franchise.
Their Top Three – Dan Dierdorf, Tom Brady, President Gerald Ford
There’s only three other schools that have produced both a Super Bowl winning quarterback and a U.S. President – Navy (Roger Staubach/Jimmy Carter), Stanford (John Elway & Jim Plunkett/Herbert Hoover), and Miami of Ohio (Ben Roethislberger/Benjamin Harrison), but Michigan is the only one whose quarterback has won the Super Bowl three times (Tom Brady) and whose President was also an All-American offensive lineman. Despite that, Michigan also grinds my gears.
4) Ohio State
Their Top Three – Jim Parker, Paul Warfield, Cris Carter
Another school with long history, and a new problem. Nobody can deny Ohio State has pumped hundreds of players into the NFL, but given the stuff swirling around the football program these days, one starts wondering how many hundreds are going to be pumped into the pockets of defense attorneys and bail bondsmen in the near future. Given that, it shouldn’t shock anybody the effect Ohio State has on my gears.
3) Notre Dame
Their Top Three – Joe Montana, Paul Hornung, Alan Page
Now, Notre Dame is a team that produces more corpses with scissor-lifts and sexual assault reports than it does NFL talent, but let’s not forget this list is historically all-inclusive. The way things look in south Bend now, it is feasible the Fighting Irish could be moving down this list over time; Notre Dame doesn’t look to be a top-flight program anytime soon.
2) Miami, FL
Their Top Three – Jim Kelly, Ray Lewis, Michael Irvin
If Notre Dame represents the oldest of history, Miami is the other side of the college football coin; the Hurricanes were hardly a breeze until the 1980′s. But in that time they have produced an astonishing amount of talent. But they also spent most of the 80′s being completely hateable, leading to one of my favorite moments in all of college football – Pete Giftopoulous’ interception at the end of the 4th quarter of the 1987 Fiesta Bowl, giving Penn State the national championship over Miami.
1) Southern Cal
Their Top Three – Ronnie Lott, Bruce Matthews, O.J. Simpson
In most cities with multiple professional sports franchises, there’s a “pecking order” in terms who gets fan support no matter what; the team which is always in the spotlight. In New York, the top of the food chain is inhabited by the Yankees and the Knicks. In Chicago, that honor belongs to the Cubs and the Bears. In Los Angeles, its the Lakers and USC. Make no mistake, the Trojans are every bit a professional franchise; they’ve got the NCAA sanctions to prove it. Long before that, there’s reason I called them them U$¢ (The University of Dollars and Cents).
The thing that really struck the staff here at Dubsism was not the teams on the list (other than that whole MAC thing), but some of the teams not on it.
Texas – Their Top Three – Earl Campbell, Bobby Layne, Tommy Nobis
Their exclusion has to be because for close to 25 years after the Darrell Royal era, for the most part Texas became an afterthought on the national landscape.
Oklahoma – Their Top Three – Lee Roy Selmon, Billy Sims, Tommy McDonald
The Sooners got left off the list for two words – Brian Bosworth.
Purdue – Their Top Three – Len Dawson, Bob Griese, Drew Brees
Ok, I know this one is a stretch, but I would put
West Lafayette Vo-Tech Purdue on the list over an entire conference just on quarterbacks alone. Alabama is the only other school that has produced three Super Bowl winning quarterbacks (Bart Starr, Joe Namath, Ken Stabler) and the three produced by Purdue are to a man better quarterbacks than the three coming from the Tide. Then there’s all the other legit NFL quarterbacks this school has produced other than the ones already mentioned - Gary Danielson, Bob DeMoss, Jim Everett, Jeff George (transferred/got kicked out to Illinois), Mark Herrmann, Mike Phipps, and the Greatest Athlete in the History of Ever, Kyle Orton.
Grambling – Their Top Three – Everson Walls, Doug Williams, Charlie Joiner
Eddie Robinson produced so much NFL talent – a list of the players he prepared for NFL success reads like a list of guys you forgot about, but when you read the list, its a never-ending parade of “how the hell did I forget that guy!” Look past the three we already mentioned – there’s still Buck Buchanan, Ernie “Big Cat” Ladd, Sammy White, Trumaine Johnson, James Harris, Willie Brown, Willie Davis, “Tank” Younger, and 1976 Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner.
There are several key storylines which require all media outlets to discuss in the days leading up to the Super Bowl. Seriously, any media outlet, even penny-ante blogs, are required to cover them, lest they have their noses flayed and their genitals set on fire. As usual, to meet our blogospherical canons before the upcoming event, we will inform you, the blog-reading public about why you should not support the Pittsburgh Steelers.
1) We’ve heard enough about Troy Polamalu’s hair
For years, we’ve been subjected to tales of Troy’s mane. Even this year, Polamalu has received more attention from his hair than needed. He was even given a prestigious Dubsy Award in 2010. We get it, Troy…you look like a feather duster that shared a “protein shake” with Barry Bonds. Get over it; the rest of us have.
2) The Steelers encourage smoking and drinking among America’s youth
Face it, kids buy stuff too, and like the rest of us, they buy stuff with a winning logo on it. The Steelers have won two Super Bowls in the last five years, and I’m amazed at all the cigarette-hacking little drunks I see in my neighborhood with these Steeler “junior puffin’-and-swillin’” sets. The Packers don’t have this problem; science has proven every kid in Wisconsin is born as a cirrhotic little booze-bag.
3) Dan Rooney will cause geo-political strife
I’m still waiting for somebody to explain to me how owning a sports franchise team qualifies one to be an Ambassador. Granted, it’s only Ireland, so nothing that really affects us is likely to happen, but can you imagine if we had done this with a real country? How about Jerry Jones as an Ambassador to England, Al Davis as an Ambassador to Germany, or my personal favorite, Mark Cuban as an Ambassador to anyplace?
4) Bret Michaels
Yep, this aging rocker is a Steelers fan, and if they win, he and Ben Roethlisberger are legally entitled to come to your house and tag-team your wife until she has Hepatitis C and “a lack of physical evidence.”
5) Barack Obama
Because your current president is the one who made the Michaels and Roethlisberger putting your wife on the old “spit roast” legal. I’m pretty sure I saw that on C-Span.
6) Ben Roethlisberger hates bloggers
You have to be a fan of the Dan Patrick Show to understand this reference to Roethlisberger’s dislike of bloggers. The bottom line is that some of us defended this turd-swallower during his issues this past spring, so wanting us to all be dodgeballed is simply bullshit…But to be fair, Andrew “McLovin” Perloff does bring it on himself by always going “against the grain.”
7) The general dimwitted nature of Steelers’ fans
There’s really not much more to add to this other than a few items that aren’t pictured, namely the Chuck Noll shrine and the Neil O’Donnell dartboard.
8) When the Steelers were the league’s floor mat, they cut Al Bundy
Two things happened in 1970 that tectonically shifted what the Steelers were all about. Having been founded in 1933, the Steelers were the definition of terrible for nearly 40 years. With the merger with American Football League, three old NFL teams were moved into the newly-formed AFC; the Steelers being one of them. 1970 was also the year the Steelers saw fit finally to hang on to the franchise quarterback they drafted.
Terry Bradshaw became the man around which the Steeler dynasty would be built; but they blew plenty of chances to do it earlier. The Steelers drafted Johnny Unitas in 1955, but they cut him during training camp; Unitas went on to become arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. The Steelers signed Len Dawson, only to cut him so that he could become a Hall-of-Famer in a Kansas City Chiefs uniform.
The Steelers cut lots of winners in their floormat days. There was future Congressman and presidential candidate Jack Kemp (who was a pretty damn good quarterback in his day), there was 6-time NCAA Basketball Coach of the Year Gene Keady (who couldn’t use a quarterback who knows how to win?), and there was shoe salesman extraordinaire Ed “Al Bundy” O’Neill (who once scored four touchdowns in a single game for Polk High).
9) The Steelers are not pet friendly
Believe me when I tell you I hate cats. How can anybody like a creature that eats its own hair until it barfs? However, none of God’s creations deserve to have a Steeler logo shaved into it.
10) The Steelers are not environmentally friendly
You know this wasn’t the only tree to be defaced like this in Steeler Nation. Pretty soon you’ll have Sting and Al Gore trying to save the forests of Western Pennsylvania.
11) The Terrible Towel
Seriously, who the hell thought it was a good idea to show support for their team by airing their laundry at the stadium? Knowing Pittsburgh, we very easily could have ended up with the “Terrible Tighty-Whiteys” or the “Steeler Sweatsock.”
12) Even in death, Steelers fans have an insatiable need to be noticed
Can you possibly imagine what a meaningless and empty life you’ve led if the only thing you wish to be identified with in memoriam is a football team?
Either ESPN’s Chris McKendry just uh…gagged on this or it is the Freudian slip of all time.
Either way, there’s much hilarity at the 21 second mark.
Of course, the fact that I’m making Roethlisberger jokes has nothing to do with the fact that Big Ben’s performance last night cocked my fantasy football team…
Rankings by Division
Any way you slice it, the Jets made a statement during last season’s playoff win in San Diego. The scary part is they have built on that team since then. Granted, they need to get the holdout situation with Darelle Revis resolved, but once they do, it will be very difficult for teams to throw the ball against a defense with two shutdown corners and #1 draft pick waiting in the wings. Meanwhile, Mark Sanchez is on the verge of being the next breakout star in this league, and the Jets have put a solid line in front of him and a myriad of weapons around him.
While this is the Jets’ division to lose, both the Patriots and the Dolphins stand ready to snatch it away should they stumble. Tom Brady is still Tom Brady even after the ACL injury, Randy Moss seems to have a few more reps left in the tank, and Wes Welker will return by some point in September. They also added some depth at the tight end position and in the secondary. However, Miami also made plenty of acquisitions on both sides of the ball. Brandon Marshall becomes the true downfield threat Chad Henne needed to complete the passing game. Add that to running back Ronnie Brown and a solid offensive line anchored by Jake Long, and the ‘Phins sport a well-balanced offense that will give headaches to defensive coordinators across the league.
- New York Jets
- New England Patriots
- Miami Dolphins
- Buffalo Bills
Even though the Baltimore Ravens have started resembling a MASH unit, they have too much talent and depth not to whether a few injuries. The loss of Domonique Foxworth brings questions, and they really need a healthy Ed Reed, but this team no longer relies solely on that fearsome defense. With offseason additions Anquan Boldin and Donte’ Stallworth, the Ravens will likely supplant the Vikings as the most interesting offense wearing purple.
The Steelers are likely the most balanced team in this league with or without Ben Roethlisberger. While it seems most probable that Big Ben’s suspension will be shortened from six to four games, the period Pittsburgh has to be without him may make or break their season.
This leads us to the team most likely to dissappoint; the Cincinnati Bengals. The Queen City Kitties have been garnering a lot of buzz around Terrell Owens, Ochocinco, but this comes from the same mentality that worships the over-the-hill Brett Favre. It makes sense though, because T-Old and King Brett I have some things in common: they’re way past their prime, they are cancers in the locker room (when they actually show up), and they haven’t won anything in years. Ultimately, the fate of the Bengals falls on the performance of the offense. The defense is one of the best in the league, but if the offense doesn’t perform after the team invested in Antonio Bryant, Jermaine Gresham, plus two wide receivers drafted in the third and sixth rounds, heads will roll in Cincinnati. And at the end of the day, it will all be for not if Cedric Benson doesn’t repeat his solid 2009 season on the ground.
- Baltimore Ravens
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Cleveland Browns
FACT: The Colts are the defending AFC Champions and are returning most of the roster. FACT: Peyton Manning is the best quarterback in the league; the only one who gives his team a chance to win every time he touches the ball. FACT: The Colts have developed a culture of winning while becoming one the NFL’s model franchises.
So why am I not buying the Colts?
FACT: The offensive live is old and largely mediocre. FACT: The Colts running game is a joke. FACT: The defense has some star power, but is largely a middle-of-the-pack unit that isn’t capable of dominating a ball game if it needs to. In other words, for the Colts run of 12-win seasons is to continue, a lot of “ifs” have to break the right way, and it may just be the number of “ifs” has finally surpassed Manning’s ability to overcome them.
Plus, the Colts are going to face a host of teams in their own division that historically play them tough. The Titans got rid of some age (replacing Kyle Vanden Bosch with first-round pick Derrick Morgan) while performing a bit of “addition by subtraction” by getting rid of chronic under-performer LenDale White. Once the Titans combine that with a full season of the game-changing Vince Young we saw in 2009 and the most interesting weapon in the league in Chris Johnson, they can easily give the Colts fits.
Don’t sleep on the Texans, either. This team could easily be a dark horse in the AFC. With Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson form the core of one of the league’s best high-octane offenses, if they can rekindle the running game, they will provide more than one surprise during the coming season. The big question mark will be the progression of the defense. While it boasts young stars like Mario Williams and Brian Cushing, they did lose Dunta Robinson in the off-season, and they get to face offenses like the Cowboys, Giants, Chargers, Ravens, plus the Titans and the Colts twice.
- Tennessee Titans
- Indianapolis Colts
- Houston Texans
- Jacksonville Jaguars
While the Chargers do face some pre-season holdout issues, and the transition to the post-LaDanian Tomlinson era has begun, but this is still one of the best squads in the NFL. Philip Rivers is a legitimate franchise quarterback even if he gets no respect, Antonio Gates is the league’s best tight end, and Malcolm Floyd is more than ready to become River’s #1 target. Now, the Chargers just need to find a way to keep playoff games off the foot of Nate Kaeding.
Meanwhile in Denver, Josh McDaniels is clearly building a team around guys who are not a pain in the ass. So far, he’s exiled (probably correctly) Jay Cutler to the NFL’s version of Ice Planet Hoth, he shipped Brandon Marshall to Miami, while adding drunk-but-quiet Kyle Orton. Then there’s this year’s draft where McDaniels passed over bad-reputation wide receiver Dez Bryant for Demaryius Thomas. Then there was the drafting of Saint Tebow.
But don’t forget that Tebow won a national championship at Florida while playing second fiddle at quarterback to the oft-maligned Chris Leak. For some reason, Kyle Orton is a guy who can’t get any love anywhere he goes, despite the fact that he wins football games wherever he goes. Whether or not Tebow sees the field this season matters little. What matters is this season when Orton mentors the young Saint to be an NFL quarterback is also a make or break proposition for Josh McDaniels.
- San Diego Chargers
- Denver Broncos
- Oakland Raiders
- Kansas City Chiefs
On paper, the Cowboys offer one the most talented teams in the league. Too bad they don’t play the games on paper. Frankly, I’m convinced that the Cowboys as an organization are bi-polar. This is a team that can look dominant against Philadelphia team that was nearly a #2 seed in the NFC last year (more on why those days are over in a bit) and yet get destroyed by the more pretender-than-contender Vikings. Despite that inconsistency, Dallas just has too much talent on the roster not to be recognized as one of the top squads in the NFC. Hopefully, the soap opera that is the Cowboys is on hiatus as indicated by the shockingly silent off-season; this team can either win football games or be drama queens. It can not do both.
If Dez Bryant can provide a third viable option for the passing game and if Tony Romo can play leader and mitigate the aforementioned wackiness from which this team suffers, there are not very many teams in the conference that could keep the Cowboys out of Super Bowl. Of course, one of those teams could be the Cowboys, especially if they don’t address two areas. In general, the offensive line needs to understand that keeping Romo alive is a team function, particularly with the departure of left tackle Flozell Adams. The other soft spot is the secondary; it is time for Mike Jenkins to step up and lead that unit into providing an effective pass-defense.
Meanwhile, the Giants will be depending on their stockpile of defensive linemen to ease the pressure on a rebuilt secondary, one that depends on a healthy Kenny Phillips and the newly acquired Antrelle Rolle to stop the bleeding from last season. The odds that the Eagles will figure in the standings in this division stand directly in between “slim” and “none.” Read that as “none” for the Redskins.
The simple fact is that the Eagles are completely gambling on their young quarterback Kevin Kolb. You may think they are rebuilding, I may think they are rebuilding, the world may think they are rebuilding, but the Eagles seem to be in a complete state of denial. The post McNabb/Westbrook era offers a ton of uncertainties on offense, but anybody wearing green in Philadelphia seems to be sticking to the party line. The coaching staff seem convinced that Kolb was ready for full-time action last season, and some whisper that he might be a better fit in Andy Reid’s offense than Donovan McNabb himself. I guess September will tell all.
- Dallas Cowboys
- New York Giants
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Washington Redskins
The Packer offense may be the best in the conference. When you watch the development this squad showed between game 4 and game 10 of last season coupled with the additions made during the off-season, it is hard not to picture Green Bay along side the Cowboys and the Saints as the class of the NFC. The offensive line that was Swiss cheese in September became a stone wall in December, a wall that only got mightier with the addition of first-round tackle Bryan Bulaga.
There is a concern that the loss of Aaron Kampman, the suspension of Johnny Jolly, and the starting-to-get-up-there age of the secondary leaves too many questions for a contender. First of all, those issues aren’t likely to spell a fatal drop-off for a defense that was ranked second in the entire league last year. More importantly, they are just question, not the facts that doom the Vikings.
FACT: The Vikings find themselves stuck in yet another soap opera, no thanks to the drama queen quarterback for whom they’ve mortgaged their future. FACT: Brett Favre joined a division-winning team and transformed it into a division-winning team. FACT: The Vikings did nothing to address the weaknesses which cost them a trip to the Super Bowl.
We all know the bullshit Brett Favre puts teams through every off-season now. It’s all just that…bullshit. But the big problem the Vikings don’t seem ready to address is that all their current eggs and all their future eggs are in Favre’s basket; a basket being bet on a Super Bowl championship. But the Vikings weren’t a Super Bowl-worthy team last year, and they’ve regressed in the off-season. The Viking running game rates only in the middle of the pack despite the fact it featured two stud-caliber running backs. Of the two, only Adrian Peterson remains, and while Peterson is a physical specimen the likes of which only come along once a generation, it all goes for naught if he can’t stop putting the ball on the ground.
But the real reason this team can’t run the football is because as a unit, the offensive line sucks out loud. Steve Hutchison is the real deal at guard, John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt may someday be legitimate NFL players, but Bryant McKinnie and Anthony Herrera shouldn’t be allowed as grade-school crossing guards let alone NFL linemen. Viking fans love to bitch about all the “dirty” hits Favre took against the Saints; they miss the point that a good line wouldn’t let defenders get that close that often. They rest of the league saw that; it’s no coincidence the Bears and Lions both stocked up on defensive linemen. When you add all that to the fact the Vikings’ secondary is a glaring weakness that was not realistically addressed (Lito Sheppard would have been a nice addition 5 years ago), this team may have enough talent to make the playoffs, but are “one and done” at best.
- Green Bay Packers
- Minnesota Vikings
- Chicago Bears
- Detroit Lions
One could be accused of taking the easy way out by saying the defending Super Bowl champions are the best team in the league. But let’s look at what has changed: Drew Brees is still running a high-powered offense which is returning every key contributor. On defense, the goal in the off-season was to add to an opportunistic, ball-hawking defense so as to give Brees and the offense a bit more margin for error. That mission was accomplished by signing defensive ends Alex Brown and Jimmy Wilkerson, and by drafting cornerback Patrick Robinson). Also, by keeping Darren Sharper, it is just another finger in the eye of the Vikings; a living, breathing reminder that Minnesota keeps coming up short in part due to its stupid player personnel decisions.
Not be overshadowed, but this division features another reasonably good football team. Led by Matt Ryan and Michael Turner, the Atlanta Falcons have the right combination of a high-flying offense and a defense that can allow the offense to take over games.
- New Orleans Saints
- Atlanta Falcons
- Carolina Panthers
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
One would expect a team led by Mike Singeltary to feature a bone-bruising defense, and it does. Now it seems the offense is gearing up for some smash-mouth of its own, considering the 49′ers used two first-round picks to draft a couple of man-mountains in Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati for the offensive line. With an improved line and weapons like a healthy Frank Gore, receivers Michael Crabtree and Ted Ginn, Jr., and tight end Vernon Davis, it’s “fish or cut bait” time for former #1 pick quarterback Alex Smith.
Oh, and the Cardinals after having lost a slew of key players such as Kurt Warner, Antrelle Rolle, Karlos Dansby, and Anquan Boldin, still feature talent like Beanie Wells, Early Doucet, and Larry Fitzgerald. That’s really all it takes to be the other team in this division that doesn’t suck.
- San Francisco 49ers
- Arizona Cardinals
- Seattle Seahawks
- St. Louis Rams
- New Orleans Saints
- New York Jets
- San Diego Chargers
- Dallas Cowboys
- Baltimore Ravens
- Green Bay Packers
- Tennessee Titans
- Indianapolis Colts
- Minnesota Vikings
- San Francisco 49′ers
- New England Patriots
- New York Giants
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Denver Broncos
- Arizona Cardinals
- Atlanta Falcons
- Houston Texans
- Miami Dolphins
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Carolina Panthers
- Chicago Bears
- Washington Redskins
- Seattle Seahawks
- Buffalo Bills
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Oakland Raiders
- Detroit Lions
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Cleveland Browns
- St. Louis Rams
It’s amazing what one punch can do. Before last fall’s Falcon Punch, Blount was under legitimate consideration as an NFL Draft Pick. Even afterward, many thought he had rebuilt his stock enough to be taken in the 3rd or 4th round. But for some reason, the NFL guys had a different opinion; they selected Blount in the NEVER round.
In other words, Blount spent his Saturday afternoon just like I did; chilling on the couch and not getting calls from NFL teams. Sure, I wasn’t being broadcast live on ESPN, but even if I were, I’d still be in my own living room and not on full humiliation display like Brady Quinn a few years back.
Photo hat tip: Deadspin
As mentioned, Blount had some believers, but none enough to have picked up the phone and select the former Oregon Duck running back. Now, he’s suddenly a rookie free-agent plying his wares around a league that likely just got a hell of a lot more sensitive to off-field issues in light of the situation currently embroiling a certain Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback. It really has to hurt to know you are too much of a problem child for even the Vikings or the Raiders.
He’s as alone on the proverbial NFL desert island as Boise State lineman Byron Hout was knocked unconcsious by Blount’s sucker punch. While it may have cost him a phone call on draft day, he can take consolation in the fact that punch was sweet enough to win a Dubsism Budd Dwyer Award for Excellence in Career Suicide. He can also hope that some will see the redemptive power of his right hand; it may have been unsportsmanlike and most assuredly a cheap shot, but how many people would welcome LeGarrette Blount back into the fold if he were to unleash one of those jaw-rattling, brain-bruising knuckle wonders into the face of Ben Roethlisberger?
At least in the NFL, there is a penalty for piling on. Now that Ben Roethlisberger has been legitimately disgraced, the stories of what a complete toolbag Big Ben has been are streaming on to the Net. Some of them are so priceless letting them go by unnoticed would be a violation of my Blogger’s oath.
Deadspin quotes a senior at the University of Pittsburgh who passed along more tales about jammed-up quarterback. It turns out Roethlisberger’s douchebaggery is not reserved just for females; it seems just about anybody around Big Ben can get a glimpse of what a truly large ass he is.
I make no claim as to whether these reports are true; there is really no way of knowing. The important thing to remember is now it all will come out; expect many more stories to surface in the next few weeks, all while you should employ the usual skepticism for just such reports.
Working the door at a local cabana bar, Ben, Hines Ward, and Jerome Bettis rolled up on a night there was a band playing and a $5 cover. Ben, being first in line, flipped out and refused to pay, walking right by me. He said covers were “bullshit” to people of his status. Ward was next and apologized for Ben being a dick, gave me $20 for the two of them and told me to keep the change. Bettis also apologized and gave me $200 and told me to let as many people in as that would cover.
At a local golf club, Ben was chilling by the pool with Jamie-Lynn Sigler from The Sopranos. I was working and brought them over some towels and Ben cursed me out for bothering him. I already hated the guy and by no means wanted his autograph or even to talk to him. I for sure wasn’t expecting a tip, but the dick head couldn’t even muster a thank you.
This is not even counting the countless number of friends of mine he’s accosted in Pittsburgh’s South Side, the trendy bar area. Everyone from here knows he is a big joke and this was a long time coming, except he kept winning super bowls and all was okay. No one here is shocked or surprised by the recent sequence of events at all. I love the Steelers like everyone else here, but the majority of the city has had enough of Ben and is ready to move on without him. Unfortunately his contract will make him un-tradeable, and we are all stuck with this giant tool playing QB.
According to the aforementioned student, everyone in the greater Pittsburgh area has their own “Why Big Ben is a Big Dick” story, but my own personal favorite has to be yet another tome of about unwanted exposure to Ben Roethlisberger’s allegedly GRAY penis. Yes, you read that right…a GRAY penis.
Back in 2004, my then girlfriend (now wife) lived with her best friend. Her best friend was a bartender at a high-end restaurant located in the Mt. Washington area of Pittsburgh and it was not uncommon to see multiple Steelers dining there each weekend. This best friend and her colleagues from the restaurant hung out with us a lot on the weekends. One night, my wife’s friend and her bartender colleague met up with us at a bar. We were all sitting around and my wife’s friend said to her colleague that she had to tell us what had happened earlier that week. Here’s her tale — we’ll call her Mandy: Mandy and her friends are at a bar in the Strip District area of Pittsburgh dancing and drinking. Ben (and little Ben) arrive at the bar and over the course of the evening, Ben takes an interest in Mandy and approaches her. I believe he recognized her from the restaurant, but at any rate, they have some drinks and dance.
He invites her and her friend back to his place. They head back to Ben’s house along with a couple friends/bodyguards of his. Mandy’s friend takes up with a bodyguard/friend of Ben’s downstairs and Mandy heads upstairs with Ben. He shows her around the house a bit upstairs and then they head to his room. They made out a little but mostly were talking. At this point, she said she had pretty much decided nothing was going to happen because he was pretty drunk and really arrogant. At this point, Ben gets a call on his cell and heads to the bathroom. She looks around his room and sees in his closet he has dozens of football jerseys. She notices one in particular that’s autographed all over.
In a moment of questionable decision-making, she nabs the jersey and throws it out the window of the bedroom intending to grab it on her way out. She is walking to the door of the bedroom to go find her friend when Ben emerges from the bathroom naked as the day he was born and at full attention. She said she was shocked, certainly by the full nude approach, but also because he had a gray penis (this is the part of the story we’ve laughed at most over the years – such a bizarre detail. We asked so many times what she meant by “gray” and she just said it was gray and almost looked ashy. Amazing). She sort of laughed a little and said she had to leave.
He cursed her out at this point, calling her a tease (the worst crime in Ben’s world, apparently) and telling her to get the fuck out. She ran downstairs, collected her friend and away they went… but not before collecting the jersey. They had no ride so they hoofed it until they were able to get a cab to meet them somewhere further along.
Next morning, she wakes up with a great story and this jersey. She also wakes up with several voice mails. Turns out Mandy’s friend had made a connection with Ben’s bodyguard/friend and given him her cell. Mandy’s friend had left several voice mails for Mandy because the bodyguard had contacted the friend saying in no uncertain terms that Ben needed that jersey back. There would be no problems so long as the jersey was returned. Turns out the jersey was a QB competition jersey signed by a bunch of Hall of Famers like Steve Young/Elway/Marino etc and was extra special to young Ben.
Mandy was already regretting the theft and was worried about her job considering Ben knew where she worked. She gave the jersey to her friend who made arrangements to get it to the bodyguard. The jersey was returned and no more was every made of the incident.
As to the veracity of the tale, there are some relevant points to be made. First, this girl was pretty attractive, so it was not beyond her to have ended up with Ben. Second, she was a pretty decent person and not someone prone to exaggeration. In fact, the biggest doubt any of us had about the story at first was that Mandy would’ve been involved because she was not the type to chase a football player, let alone go home with him. Any doubts I had were erased by the bizarre nature of the details she provided. And as I said, she told this story, often begrudgingly, many many times and the details never wavered. There was actually a period at the beginning where she wouldn’t tell the story and demanded secrecy from those of us that knew because she was so spooked about the jersey aspect even after returning it. She was sure Ben was gonna get her fired or something.
Anyhow, that’s the tale. Do with it what you will and believe it or not, but it happened and the legend of the gray penis will live on. Here’s hoping he got some special lotion or something before he started attacking girls with it.
You just can’t make stuff like this up. Granted, these tales swim in a lake of unverifiability, but we bloggers live for stories stuck in those gray areas.
In a move designed both to lessen the impact of Ben Roethlisberger’s impending 6-game “give or take” suspension, the Pittsburgh Steelers have traded the beleaguered quarterback to the Duke Lacrosse Team.
While details of the deal have not yet been made official as of this time, reports have Duke Lacrosse sending two defense attorneys and a disgraced district attorney to Pittsburgh for Roethlisberger and a shady rape charge to be named later.