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Greatest Quarterbacks of All-Time: 11-20

11. Bart Starr- Packers (1956 – 1971)

Bart-Starr
Regular Season: 94 Wins – 57 Losses (.618) – #20
Playoffs: 9-1 (.900)
2 NFC Championships
2 Super Bowl Championships – 3 NFL Championships
1 MVP
2 SB MVP
4 Pro Bowls
Regular Season Statistics
24,178 YP – 152 TD – 138 Int – 57.4%
Playoff Statistics
1,753 YP – 15 TD – 3 Int – 61%
Bart Starr quarterbacked one of the greatest teams which was coached by arguably the greatest coach Vince Lombardi.   This works for and against Starr.  The Packers would likely have been a great team and won some championships with several other quarterbacks due to the game still being a run and play defense oriented game. The domination of the Lombardi’s “Packer Sweep” was the heart of the team.  But you cannot take way the fact that Bart Starr won five championships.  Starr came up big in the clutch and that makes him one of the greatest.   He had a 9-1 lifetime playoff record and played  superb throwing 15 touchdowns, just four interceptions and completed 61% of his passes.
In the regular season Bart Starr also put up very good numbers, particularly his 152 TD to 138 Int ratio which is very good for his era. Starr  was more than a game manager, he was the teams field general. He won the NFL MVP in 1966 to go along with winning the first two Super Bowl MVP’s, showing he can be the lead and carry the Packers if needed.
Bart Starr really has quite the resume which includes being a member of the NFL 1960s All-Decade Team, and while he lacks the big statistics or the intangibles to crack the top ten, he is in the same tier as many quarterbacks in the top ten.
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POSITIVE
Bart Starr’s 29 of 47 for 452 yards, 3 TD’s and 1 Int performance in Super Bowl I and II won him two Super Bowl MVP’s and established has one of the greatest clutch quarterbacks in history.
NEGATIVE
Bart Starr is the only quarterback in the top twenty to never reach 20 touchdown passes or never throw for over 2,500 yards in a single season.
CONSIDER THIS
Starr called the play, a QB sneak, in the Ice Bowl against the Dallas Cowboys to win the 1967 NFL championship game that lead to the Packers becoming the first Super Bowl champs and eventual naming of the Lombardi Trophy.

 

12. Terry Bradshaw – Steelers (1970 – 1983)

Terry_Bradshaw
Regular Season: 107 Wins – 51 Losses (.677) – #10
Playoffs: 14-5 (.737)
4 AFC Championships
4 Super Bowl Championships
1 MVP
2 SB MVP’s
3 Pro Bowls
Regular Season Statistics
27,989 YP – 212 TD – 210 Int – 51.9% – 2,257 YR – 32 TD
Playoff Statistics
3,833 YP – 30 TD – 26 Int – 57.2% – 274 YR – 3 TD
Terry Bradshaw is one of the toughest and most controversial quarterbacks to rank. Many argue that Bradshaw is hands down a top ten quarterback with his four Super Bowl wins and his rocket arm. On the other hand, some argue that Bradshaw should not be in the top twenty due to his average statistics and that the Pittsburgh Steelers were so good that several quarterbacks would have won with that team.
While winning is the point of the game, it is a team game and other subjects must be examined. The Steelers of the seventies were a great team, arguably the best ever. Their defense was among the most dominant in history, they possessed a a crushing running game, they had two great receivers, and they even played in the weakest division of the decade.  So there is some validity that the Steelers would have been successful with a different quarterback.
It is also true that Bradshaw’s statistics were very average for his era (212 TD – 210 Int and 51.9% completion rate). The fact that he only went to three Pro Bowls in his career tells you only three times did he perform at a level that was considered to be great in his era.
That is the case against Bradshaw, but when you look deeper into what he did, he deserves a top fifteen ranking. Naturally we start with the above stated four Super Bowl wins. In addition he went 14-5 in the playoffs, but more importantly Bradshaw turned it up a notch in the playoffs, the mark of greatness. In the playoffs Bradshaw threw for 3,833 yards and 30 TD’s – 26 Int and he came up big in the biggest game winning two Super Bowl MVP’s. Bradshaw’s mobility and athleticism were very underrated. He rushed for 2,257 yards and 32 touchdowns in his career. Finally, his 1978 NFL MVP proved that he could carry a team and that he deserves to be among the greatest quarterbacks of all-time.
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POSITIVE
Terry Bradshaw won four Super Bowls and two Super Bowl MVP’s.
NEGATIVE
212 TD – 210 Int ratio is far from great.  It could be viewed as statistical evidence for the argument that the Steelers won four championships despite Terry Bradshaw.
CONSIDER THIS
Terry Bradshaw’s 5.7% interception rate (Roger Staubach is 3.9%) is the highest in the top thirty besides Sammy Baugh (5.9%) in the 1940’s.

 

13. Sammy Baugh – Redskins (1937 – 1952)

sammy-baugh
Regular Season: NA
Playoffs: 3-3 (.500)
2 NFL Championships
2 NFL Player of the Year Awards
1 Pro Bowl – 5 All-Stars
Regular Season Statistics
21,886 YP – 187 TD – 203 Int – 56.5%
Playoff Statistics
831 YP – 7 TD – 8 Int – 56.9%
“Slingin’ Sammy” comes in at #13 mostly due to the fact that he was a revolutionary quarterback and was one of the two best of his era. The forward pass was being used before Baugh played, but it was used with great caution. Baugh’s accuracy (56.5% lifetime is amazing for his era) changed the game of football and lead to one of the most exciting rivalries against the Bear’s Sid Luckman.
Baugh was dominate in his era winning six NFL passing titles and two NFL Championships. The fact that he led the league in interceptions (as a defensive player) doesn’t help his ranking, but gives you an idea how much the game as changed. Baugh ran what is the forerunner of today’s West Coast offense, a short pass offense which included the revolutionary screen pass. During the 1945 season, Baugh completed 128 of 182 passes for a 70.33 completion percentage, which was an NFL record. It remains the fourth best today (to Ken Anderson, 70.55 in 1982, and Drew Brees, 70.62 in 2009 and 71.23 in 2011).
Simply put, Sammy Baugh was the first NFL quarterback to make the forward pass a key component of his game, he was successful at it, and is therefore one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time.
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POSITIVE
2,934 yards in 1945 is similar to a quarterback throwing for close to 6,000 yards in today’s era.
NEGATIVE
Sammy Baugh is the oldest quarterback to make the top thirty and doubt his innovations and importance to the passing game, he is going to lose out to quarterbacks of other eras.
CONSIDER THIS
Sammy Baugh (#33) was considered a tailback most of his career. In addition, in Baugh’s day players played offense and defense and Baugh did indeed lead the NFL in interceptions in 1943 with 11.

 

14. Sid Luckman – Bears (1939 – 1950)

sid luckman
Regular Season: NA
Playoffs: 6-1 (.737)
4 NFL Championships
1 NFL Player of the Year
5-Time First Team All-Pro
Regular Season Statistics
14,686 YP – 137 TD – 132 Int – 51.8%
Playoff Statistics
721 YP – 7 TD – 4 Int – 52.9%
Sid Luckman is considered the first successful T formation quarterback.  The T formation was a major step in the evolution of the passing game and thus Luckman is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time due to the revolutionary changes he helped make to the game.
While Sammy Baugh gets credit as the first truly great forward passer, George Hallas’s and Sid Luckman’s T formation offense was the one most teams try to emulate after the 73-0 championship game defeat of Sammy Baugh’s Redskins.
Luckman finished with four championships,  a lifetime 51.8% completion percentage, and threw more touchdowns than interceptions, which is a rare accomplished in his time.
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POSITIVE
In 1943 Sid Luckman won the MVP after throwing 28 touchdown passes in 12 games.  He then threw five more touchdown passes in the 1943 NFL Championship game helping establish the passing game as the way to win.
NEGATIVE
Luckman threw for under 15,000 yards in his career (rival Sammy Baugh threw for over 21,000), so he can only go so high in the all-time rankings.
CONSIDER THIS
Luckman is one of just four quarterbacks in NFL history to win four or more NFL Championships or Super Bowls (Bart Starr – 5, Terry Bradshaw – 4, Joe Montana – 4, Tom Brady – 4).

 

15. Fran Tarkenton – Giants, Vikings (1961 – 1978)

fran tarkenton
Regular Season: 124 Wins – 109 Losses (.531) – #6
Playoffs: 6-5 (.545)
4 AFC Championships
1 MVP
9 Pro Bowls
 1 NFL Offensive Player of the Year
Regular Season Statistics
47,003 YP – 342 TD – 266 Int – 56% – 3,674 YR – 32 TD
Playoff Statistics
1,800 YP – 11 TD – 17 Int – 51% – 70 – 1 TD
When Fran Tarkenton, like Unitas (#5) before him and Favre (#7) after him, hung it up, he retired as the greatest statistical quarterback in history. He had surpassed Johnny Unitas for most passing yards and touchdowns and was even the all-time leading rushing quarterback.
Tarkenton was like Steve Young playing, but with Jim Kelly’s track record. He lead the Vikings to three NFC Championships in four years and might have gone to four in a row if not for the Hail Mary throw of Roger Staubach in 1975. Unfortunately, Tarkenton and the Vikings never won the big one even though they did lose to some of the great teams of all-time (Dolphins, Steelers, and Raiders).
The losses alone do not prevent Tarkenton from entering the top ten, it is his poor playoff statistics that costs him a higher ranking. Tarkenton had threw 11 TD’s against 17 Int in the playoffs and  averaged just 164 yards passing per game.  The great ones turn it up a notch in the playoffs and did the opposite. His poor performances are given an asterisk with the knowledge that it was Tarkenton who carried some very average Minnesota offenses into the playoffs in the first place.
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POSITIVE
It is worth repeating that Tarkenton was the all-time leading passer and quarterback rusher when he retired.
NEGATIVE
In three Super Bowl appearances Tarkenton threw for just 489 yards and threw just one touchdown against six interceptions.
CONSIDER THIS
Fran Tarkenton was traded from the Minnesota Vikings to the NY Giants  because head coach, and former quarterback great, Norm Van Brocklin, did not like the idea of a scrambling quarterback. Tarkenton would be one of the first quarterbacks to make mobile, running quarterbacks an asset.

 

16. Norm Van Brocklin – Rams, Eagles (1949 – 1960)

norm-Van-Brocklin
Regular Season: 61 Wins – 36 Losses (.624) – #64
Playoffs: 2-2 (.500)
2 NFL Championships
1 MVP
9 Pro Bowls
Regular Season Statistics
23,611 YP – 173TD – 178 Int – 53.6%
Playoff Statistics
736 YP – 4 TD – 8 Int – 48.4%
Norm Van Brocklin, aka the “Dutchman”, is the only quarterback in NFL history to win two championships with two different teams.  In addition, he was the only quarterback to defeat a Lombardi-coached Packer team in championship game when he lead the Philadelphia Eagles to a 17-13 win.
Van Brocklin was not just a game manager who lead great teams, often it was the opposite, he could carry average teams to winning seasons. A testament to his ability to carry a team is best shown when in 1951 Norm Van Brocklin threw for an astonishing 554 yards against the New York Yanks carrying them to a 54-14 victory. It is amazingly still an NFL record today.
Add to his the trophy room nine Pro Bowls and one NFL MVP and you have one of the greatest quarterbacks of the fifties and of all-time.
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POSITIVE
Norm Van Brocklin went to nine Pro Bowls in the eleven seasons as a starter.
NEGATIVE
Van Brocklin, doubt his two titles, he played very average in the playoffs (4 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, and 48.4 completion percentage).
CONSIDER THIS
Van Brocklin’s 554 yard performance in 1951 should blow your mind.  554 yards in 1951 is similar to throwing for over 700 yards today.

 

17. Drew Brees – Chargers, Saints (2001 – Present)

drew brees
Regular Season: 117 Wins – 84 Losses (.582) – #9
Playoffs: 6-5 (.546)
1 NFC Championship
1 Super Bowl Championship
1 SB MVP
9 Pro Bowls
2 NFL Offensive Player of the Years
Regular Season Statistics
56,033 YP – 396 TD – 194 Int – 66.2%
Playoff Statistics
3,529 YP – 24 – TD – 6 Int – 65.9%
Drew Brees is a lot like Fran Tarkenton, Dan Fouts, Dan Marino, and Warren Moon in that they put up monster statistical seasons in their era, but weren’t generally considered the best of their eras due to being on very average teams. The difference is, the aforementioned never won a Super Bowl and Drew Brees did. In addition, he has played great in the playoffs throwing for 3,529 yards, 24 TD’s and just 6 Int in 11 games.
Statistically Brees is shaping up to be one of the top three greatest of all-time. He is currently #4 all-time in passing yardage and #4 all-time in TD passes. To give you an idea of how statistically dominating Brees is, in 2014 he threw for 4,952 yards in an “off year”, just 48 yards shy of his fourth consecutive 5,000 yard season. He has thrown for 5,000 yards five times. Think Dan Marino with a ring.
Though Brees hasn’t won an NFL MVP, he has won two NFL Offensive Player of the Year Awards and has gone to nine Pro Bowls.
Brees is likely to crack the top ten before he retires, and possibly the top five, by either putting up more significant career stats, adding a MVP, or having more playoff success.
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POSITIVE
Downright gaudi statistics. Over 5,000 yards five times? At some point you don’t care about his era, rule changes, or wins when Brees just destroys NFL secondaries year-after-year.
NEGATIVE
Drew Brees came into an era made for quarterbacks, nothing revolutionary, just a benefactor of years of rule changes.
CONSIDER THIS
In nine years with the New Orleans Saints Brees has averaged 4,854 passing yards and 35 touchdown passes per season.

 

18. Len Dawson – Chiefs (1957 – 1975)

len-dawson
Regular Season: 94 Wins – 57 Losses (.616) – #21
Playoffs: 5-3 (.625)
2 AFL Championships (Conferences)
1 Super Bowl Championship – 1 AFL Championship
1 AFL MVP
1 SB MVP
1 Pro Bowl – 6 AFL All-Stars
Regular Season Statistics
28,711 YP – 239 TD – 183 Int – 57.1%
Playoff Statistics
1,497 YP – 7 TD – 8 Int – 56.9%
Len Dawson is probably one of the most underrated quarterbacks in NFL history. He has all the statistics needed to be considered one of the greatest, including one of the best TD – Int ratio’s (239-183) of his era. In addition to those numbers, Dawson showed consistency by throwing over 20 TD’s in six consecutive seasons, including 30 in 1964.
While most teams of of his era were using pocket-passing formations, the Kansas City Chiefs with head coach Hank Stram and Len Dawson brought back the T-formation, but with new innovations, including the “moving pocket” which took advantage of Len Dawson’s mobility and deadly accurate arm.  In the end Dawson finished with over 28,000 yards passing and he won two championships and playing in the era of the sixties and seventies that is amongst the best.
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POSITIVE
Seven Pro Bowl/All Stars, two league championships, one Super Bowl MVP, and one league MVP sounds a lot the top twelve.
NEGATIVE
Most of Len Dawson’s best seasons occurred during his AFL years where the passing  game had friendlier rules than those of the NFL.  AFL statistics do count in NFL statistics.
CONSIDER THIS
Joe Namath gets so much credit for the AFL’s first Super Bowl win (deservedly so) and for being the face of the new NFL, but Len Dawson also helped bring legitimacy to the AFL by winning Super Bowl IV the next season and finishing with a much better statistical career.

 

19. Kurt Warner – Rams, Giants, Cardinals (1998 – 2011)

kurt-warner
Regular Season: 67 Wins – 49 Losses (.578) – #56
Playoffs: 9-4 (.692)
3 NFC Championships
1 Super Bowl Championship
2 MVP’s
4 Pro Bowls
Regular Season Statistics
32,344 YP – 208 TD – 128 Int – 66.5%
Playoff Statistics
3,952 YP – 31 TD – 14 Int- 66.5%
Kurt Warner is quite the story, coming out of nowhere (actually the Arena Football League) to become a two-time league MVP and going to back-to-back Super Bowls and winning one.
Injuries soured him in St. Louis Rams and he failed with the NY Giants so it seemed as if Warner would slip away and likely be just one of those “could have been one of the great quarterbacks”, but his career was resurrected in Arizona. He threw for a career high 4,585 and led the Cardinals to their first ever Super Bowl only to lose in the last minute.
In his career Warner threw for over 4,000 yards three times and threw 41 TD’s in 1999. In addition to his strong regular season statistics, Warner is one of the greatest post season quarterbacks ever posting a 9-4 mark and throwing for 3,952 yards, 31 TDs – 14 Int.
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POSITIVE
Kurt Warner proved that while the St Louis Rams were loaded with offensive talent including  Marshall Faulk, he was able to lead a less talented offense in that of the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl.
NEGATIVE
A somewhat short career prevented Warner from accumulating huge career numbers like many is his era, and this fact does affect his ranking somewhat.
CONSIDER THIS
If not for a last minute touchdown by Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLIII and a last second field goal in Super Bowl XXXVI, we would be talking about a three-time champ and top fifteen quarterback at least.

 

20. Warren Moon – Oilers, Vikings, Seahawks, Chiefs (1984 – 2000) – CFL (1978 – 1983)

warren-moon
Regular Season: 102 Wins – 101 Losses (.501) – #12
Playoffs: 3-7 (.300)
4 CFL Grey Cup Championships
1 CFL MVP
9 Pro Bowls
2 Grey Cup MVP’s
 1 NFL Offensive Player of the Year
Regular Season Statistics
49,325 YP – 291 TD – 233 Int – 58.4% (21,228 YP 144 TD – 77 Int CFL)
Playoff Statistics
2,870 YP – 17 TD – 14 Int – 64.3%
The most prolific passer for much of his era in the regular season, Warren Moon threw for just under 50,000 yards and 291 TD’s in his career. He threw for well over 4,000 yards four times in the early nineties taking the “big-time throwing quarterback” torch from or along with Marino into the late nineties.
His long NFL career followed a great fiver year career in the CFL with the Edmonton Eskimos. There Moon threw for over 20,000 more yards, won four Grey Cups, two Grey Cup MVP’s, one CFL MVP, and he is in the CFL Hall of Fame. While the stats from AAFC, WFL, USFL, and the CFL will carry a little weight, the real thing to look at is that Moon won 4 of 4 win championships.  The fact that he did win in the CFL when given a good team around him shows his knock of being a playoff choker isn’t really true.  In fact Moon played very solid in the NFL playoffs.
The bottom line is Warren Moon and the Run and Shoot offense were revolutionary.  He helped the NFL take a step in the evolution of the passing game, and we should also not forget that his success was a big step in bringing down racial barriers for future NFL quarterbacks.
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POSITIVE
In ten playoff games doubt a 3-7 mark, Moon averaged 287 yards passing with 1.7 TD’s and 1.4 Int per game.
NEGATIVE
His 233 interceptions are too many for a quarterback in his era to be ranked any higher.
CONSIDER THIS
If his professional career in Canada counted at 100%, we would be possibly talking about the greatest quarterback of all-time.

 

Next: Greatest Quarterbacks 21-30
Back: Greatest Quarterbacks 1-10

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