Naturally, that made me wonder how far back we would have to go to calculate the last 500 touchdown passes for each franchise. The four most recent expansion franchises — Houston, Jacksonville, Carolina, and Baltimore — have yet to throw even 400 touchdown passes. For Manning, of course, he’s thrown 500 passes beginning in the 1998 season. That’s better than any franchise in the NFL; the closest team would be the Packers. To count 500 Green Bay touchdown throws, you would need to start on November 23, 1997. Beginning on that date, Favre would throw another 269 touchdowns for the Packers, Aaron Rodgers would chip in with 200, and a handful of other Green Bay players would combine for 31 scoring throws.
For the Colts and the Patriots, you need to go back to 1996, to capture the careers of Manning, Andrew Luck, Tom Brady, Drew Bledsoe, and a host of players with fewer than 25 touchdown passes. The table below shows how far back you need to go to get to 500 touchdown throws for each franchise in the NFL.1 For each team, I’ve listed the first date in the run to 500, along with every player who threw a touchdown pass for each franchise during the course of that streak. The players are listed in roughly reverse chronological order, and I’ve included each passer’s total number of touchdowns for the franchise during the streak in parentheses.
As Tanier pointed out, you would indeed have to begin on November 8, 1987, to count your way to 500 Cardinals touchdowns. But there are four franchises that would require an even longer trip in your time machine:
- For Chicago, you would need to set your dial for one week earlier — November 1, 1987 — to make sure you saw the day Jim McMahon throw for three touchdowns against the Chiefs. You’d then watch the remainder of McMahon’s career, before watching about a dozen Chicago quarterbacks — from Mike Tomczak to Jim Harbaugh to Erik Kramer to Cade McNown to Shane Matthews to Kordell Stewart to Craig Krenzel to Rex Grossman to Kyle Orton to Jason Campbell –disappoint Bears fans. You’d finally end up getting to watch Jay Cutler; for all his ills, he’s thrown over 100 touchdown passes with the Bears, and should pass Sid Luckman as the franchise leader in touchdowns at the end of this year or early in 2015.
- For Tampa Bay, you would need to set your dial for just one more week earlier — October 25, 1987 — when Steve DeBerg threw a pair of touchdown passes in a loss to the Bears. You would get to watch lots of quarterbacks who would go on to have success — Chris Chandler and Vinny Testaverde and Trent Dilfer and Jeff Garcia – just not with the Bucs. Of course, you would also get to watch the franchise’s career leader in touchdown passes… Josh Freeman!
- And then there are the Jets. It feels almost wrong to pick on the Jets today, after the Jets offense looked worse than any time other than well probably a game or two last year, some of the games from 2012, or just about random games at any other time during the Rex Ryan era. New York has not hired a head coach with an offensive background since Rich Kotite in 1996, which was a justifiably traumatic event. But for those curious, you would need to start counting on December 13, 1986, to get to 500 Jets touchdowns.2 Over that span, Chad Pennington (82), Testaverde (77), Ken O’Brien (69) and Mark Sanchez (68) were the main triggermen, Boomer Esiason threw 49 touchdowns, and the rest of the list is a whole bunch of unmentionables.
- But the saddest stat on the list would require a trip to the Factory of Sadness that is Cleveland, Ohio. Sure, the Browns weren’t around for 3 years — although I don’t know if that makes life less sad — but you need to start counting on November 27, 1983 to get to 500 Browns touchdown throws. On the other hand, if you include Brian Hoyer’s 3 touchdowns from yesterday, that means you would only need to go back to December 18, 1983, to count to 500 Cleveland touchdown passes. That would make the Browns actually look better than the Jets, if you adjust for the three year mini vacation from ’96 to ’98. In any event, it’s about as ugly for Cleveland as it is for the Jets: There’s some Bernie Kosar happiness and well, that’s about it for Browns fans. Tim Couch, Testaverde (of course), Derek Anderson, and Kelly Holcomb are the only other Browns passers with more than 25 touchdown throws.
In other words, that Peyton Manning guy is pretty darn good.
- For purposes of this post, all numbers are from prior to Sunday’s game in week 5 of the 2014 season. In other words, treat this post as if you are reading it Sunday morning, and not Monday morning. [↩]
- Note: I would need to double check, but I don’t believe including yesterday’s result would change this stat. [↩]