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Yesterday, we looked at which teams had the most pass attempts (including sacks) in individual games relative to league average. Today, we will analyze things on the season level.

Let’s use Tobin Rote as an example. As Brad Oremland noted, Rote was stuck playing for terrible Packers teams in the ’50s that were weak on defense and light at running back. In 1951, Green Bay ranked 12th in the 12-team NFL in rushing attempts, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns, and 11th in points allowed and yards allowed. The Packers often went with just one running back in the backfield — a rarity in those days — which is a sign that the emphasis on the passing game wasn’t just a result of the team’s losing record. Green Bay also went with a quarterback-by-committee approach: Rote started 11 of 12 games, but he finished the year with 256 pass attempts, while backup Bobby Thomason had 221. Individually, neither had great numbers, but together, they helped Green Bay finish with 50 more pass attempts than any other team in football.

The method I used yesterday, and will be using throughout this series, is to give the starting quarterback credit for all team pass attempts in that game. The reason? If a quarterback gets injured and finishes a game with just 5 attempts, that will kill his average in a misleading way. That would do more harm, I think, than giving him credit for all attempts in the game. But that decision has its drawbacks, and in particular, it seems ill-suited for teams in the early ’50s that employed a QBBC approach. This is particularly relevant here, because “Rote’s” 1951 season checks in as the most pass-happy on our list.

So the Rote line for ’51 should really be thought of as Rote and Thomason. Rote’s 1956 season also makes the top ten, and there’s no fine print necessary there. Rote started 11 of 12 games and threw 308 passes, while Bart Starr started the remaining game and had just 44 attempts that season. The ’56 Packers were not very good, ranking last in both points and yards allowed, and last in rushing attempts, too.

The table below shows the top 300 seasons (minimum 7 games started) in terms of pass attempts relative to league average. You can use the search function to see that Rote’s season in 1954 with Green Bay also makes the cut. To explain what’s in the table below, let’s use season #15 on the list, Shane Matthews in 1999, as an example. That year, Matthews started 7 games, but in those games, the Bears averaged an incredible 47.1 dropbacks per game, the second highest rate ever. Matthews shared some snaps with rookie Cade McNown that year, so you wouldn’t know it just by looking at Matthews’ raw numbers, but the ’99 Bears were insanely pass-happy under Gary Crowton. The league average was 36.3 dropbacks per game, so the Bears in “Matthews games” were 10.8 attempts above average, and 129.8% above league average.

RkQuarterbackYearTmGDBLg AvgDiffRatio
1Tobin Rote1951GNB1142.828.714.1149.3%
2Bobby Layne1957DET735.625.210.3140.9%
3Frank Tripucka1962DEN1343.130.912.2139.4%
4Roman Gabriel1973PHI1436.626.710137.4%
5Fran Tarkenton1978MIN1638.928.710.2135.5%
6Frank Tripucka1961DEN1042.531.411.1135.3%
7Kurt Warner2005ARI1046.534.512134.9%
8Bob Celeri1951NYY838.428.79.7133.8%
9George Blanda1964HOU1343.732.711133.6%
10Tobin Rote1956GNB1132.424.38133%
11Lamar McHan1958CRD938.829.29.5132.7%
12Billy Volek2004TEN845.434.311.1132.4%
13Warren Moon1990HOU1543.132.610.5132.3%
14Archie Manning1972NOR1435.126.88.3130.9%
15Shane Matthews1999CHI747.136.310.8129.8%
16Matthew Stafford2012DET1648.13711129.8%
17Warren Moon1991HOU1643.233.49.8129.5%
18Tommy Kramer1981MIN1443.933.910129.5%
19Marc Bulger2005STL844.534.510129.1%
20Joe Ferguson1977BUF1435.327.47.9128.8%
21George Blanda1954CHI740.431.58.9128.3%
22Dan Fouts1984SDG1344.834.99.9128.3%
23Tom Flores1964OAK741.932.79.1127.9%
24Bobby Thomason1953PHI840.631.88.8127.8%
25George Blanda1965HOU1240.631.98.7127.4%
26Donovan McNabb2005PHI943.934.59.4127.3%
27Randy Wright1988GNB74333.99.1127%
28Roman Gabriel1974PHI1136.328.67.6126.6%
29Drew Bledsoe1994NWE1645.135.79.4126.2%
30Craig Whelihan1998SDG743.934.89.1126.1%
31Jim Zorn1976SEA1436.328.87.5126.1%
32Bill Kenney1983KAN1642.934.18.9126%
33Johnny Green1962NYT838.930.98125.8%
34Charlie Batch2001DET944359125.6%
35Steve DeBerg1979SFO1539.331.38125.5%
36Shaun Hill2010DET1045.135.99.2125.5%
37John Reaves1972PHI733.626.86.7125.1%
38Warren Moon1994MIN1544.635.78.9124.9%
39Danny White1987DAL943.334.88.6124.7%
40Cotton Davidson1964OAK740.732.78124.5%
41Adrian Burk1955PHI935.128.36.8124%
42Fran Tarkenton1971NYG1334.5286.6123.5%
43Neil Lomax1987STL1242.934.88.2123.5%
44Kerry Collins2003NYG1342.234.37.9123%
45Fran Tarkenton1976MIN1335.428.86.6122.9%
46Frank Tripucka1960DEN1438.631.57.2122.8%
47Tim Rattay2004SFO94234.37.7122.5%
48Gary Hogeboom1984DAL1042.734.97.8122.3%
49Brian Sipe1981CLE1641.533.97.6122.3%
50Karl Sweetan1966DET839.832.57.2122.2%
51Y.A. Tittle1950BAL934.728.46.3122%
52Sonny Jurgensen1967WAS1439327121.9%
53Steve Grogan1975NWE736.429.96.5121.9%
54Greg Landry1979BAL1238.231.36.8121.8%
55Billy Wade1956RAM829.624.35.3121.7%
56Doug Williams1988WAS1041.233.97.3121.7%
57Bobby Layne1950DET1234.628.46.2121.7%
58Dan Pastorini1976HOU103528.86.2121.6%
59Jim Plunkett1972NWE1432.626.85.7121.3%
60Jim Hart1973STL1232.326.75.7121.3%
61Joe Namath1967NYJ1438.8326.8121.2%
62Marc Wilson1981OAK941.133.97.2121.2%
63Ty Detmer1997PHI742.935.47.5121.1%
64Randy Johnson1973NYG732.326.75.6121.1%
65Steve Young1995SFO1144.8377.8121%
66Warren Moon1992HOU1039.332.56.8121%
67Bart Starr1957GNB1130.525.25.3121%
68Peyton Manning2010IND1643.435.97.5120.9%
69George Blanda1953CHI1238.431.86.6120.9%
70Matthew Stafford2011DET1643.936.37.6120.8%
71Bernie Kosar1990CLE1339.332.66.8120.7%
72A.J. Feeley2004MIA841.434.37.1120.7%
73Steve DeBerg1980SFO939.732.96.8120.6%
74Jack Trudeau1986IND1142.1357.1120.4%
75John Brodie1969SFO1037.3316.3120.4%
76Tommy Kramer1979MIN1637.731.36.4120.3%
77Jon Kitna2006DET1641.234.36.9120.1%
78Fran Tarkenton1977MIN932.927.45.5120%
79Kerry Collins1999NYG743.636.37.3120%
80Jason Campbell2013CLE845.5387.5119.9%
81Kurt Warner2008ARI1641.134.36.8119.9%
82Daryle Lamonica1968OAK1335.9306119.9%
83Joe Namath1976NYJ834.528.85.7119.9%
84Jim Finks1955PIT1233.928.35.6119.8%
85John Hadl1971SDG1433.5285.5119.8%
86Joe Montana1982SFO940.934.26.7119.7%
87Frank Reich1996NYJ742.635.67119.7%
88John Elway1994DEN1442.735.77119.7%
89Dan Fouts1986SDG1241.8356.9119.6%
90Warren Moon1993HOU1441.334.56.8119.6%
91Drew Bledsoe1995NWE1544.3377.2119.5%
92Drew Brees2010NOR1642.935.97119.5%
93Dan Fouts1981SDG1640.533.96.6119.4%
94Brett Favre2006GNB1640.934.36.6119.2%
95Dick Wood1963NYJ1237.731.66119%
96Johnny Unitas1959BAL123327.75.3119%
97Dan Fouts1980SDG1639.132.96.2118.9%
98George Blanda1963HOU1337.631.66118.9%
99Tommy Kramer1980MIN1539.132.96.2118.8%
100George Blanda1966HOU838.632.56.1118.7%
101John Brodie1966SFO1338.632.56.1118.7%
102Dan Marino1999MIA1143.136.36.8118.7%
103Adrian Burk1954PHI837.431.55.9118.6%
104Joe Montana1990SFO1538.632.66118.6%
105Brett Favre2005GNB1640.834.56.3118.4%
106Dan Marino1986MIA1641.4356.4118.3%
107Dan Fouts1983SDG1040.334.16.2118.3%
108Bart Starr1958GNB734.629.25.3118.3%
109Drew Brees2008NOR1640.634.36.3118.2%
110Jack Kemp1963BUF1237.431.65.8118.2%
111Earl Morrall1957PIT1129.825.24.6118.1%
112Drew Brees2011NOR1642.936.36.6118%
113Billy Wade1964CHI1038.632.75.9118%
114Drew Brees2007NOR1641.835.46.3117.8%
115Randall Cunningham1988PHI1639.933.96117.8%
116Ted Marchibroda1956PIT1128.624.34.3117.7%
117Drew Brees2012NOR1643.6376.5117.7%
118Jeff George1992IND1038.232.55.7117.6%
119Don Majkowski1989GNB1640.534.56117.5%
120Al Dorow1960NYT1336.931.55.5117.3%
121Brian Sipe1979CLE1636.831.35.4117.3%
122Bubby Brister1993PHI840.534.56117.3%
123Joe Montana1980SFO738.632.95.7117.3%
124Bill Kenney1986KAN841356117.2%
125Norm Van Brocklin1958PHI1234.329.25117.2%
126Matthew Stafford2009DET1041.535.46.1117.2%
127Tony Romo2012DAL1643.4376.3117.1%
128Tobin Rote1954GNB1236.931.55.4117.1%
129Jim Finks1953PIT937.231.85.4117.1%
130Bobby Layne1954DET836.931.55.4117%
131Tobin Rote1959DET732.427.74.7116.9%
132Joe Montana1986SFO840.9355.9116.9%
133Marc Bulger2006STL1640.134.35.8116.9%
134Kerry Collins2005OAK1540.334.55.8116.8%
135John Hadl1968SDG1435305116.8%
136Dan Fouts1985SDG124135.15.9116.8%
137Don Majkowski1990GNB83832.65.4116.7%
138George Blanda1961HOU1136.631.45.2116.6%
139Jeff George1994ATL1641.635.75.9116.6%
140John Elway1985DEN1640.935.15.8116.6%
141Matt Hasselbeck2002SEA104236.15.9116.4%
142Jim Hart1978STL1533.428.74.7116.4%
143Joe Ferguson1984BUF1140.634.95.7116.4%
144Joey Harrington2006MIA1139.934.35.6116.4%
145Charley Johnson1970HOU1034.129.34.8116.4%
146Archie Manning1980NOR1638.332.95.4116.3%
147Marc Bulger2004STL1439.934.35.6116.3%
148Chris Miller1990ATL1237.832.65.3116.2%
149Ken Anderson1978CIN1233.328.74.7116.2%
150John Hadl1969SDG1036315116.2%
151Stan Humphries1993SDG1040.134.55.6116.1%
152Terry Bradshaw1971PIT1332.5284.5116.1%
153Vinny Testaverde2000NYJ1641.135.45.7116%
154Dan Marino1988MIA1639.333.95.4115.9%
155Pete Beathard1968HOU734.7304.8115.9%
156Tommy Kramer1982MIN939.634.25.4115.8%
157Matt Ryan2013ATL1643.9386115.8%
158Ron Jaworski1984PHI1340.434.95.5115.7%
159Andrew Luck2014IND1643.137.35.8115.7%
160Rich Gannon2003OAK739.734.35.4115.6%
161Drew Bledsoe1996NWE1641.135.65.6115.6%
162Bobby Layne1955DET1032.728.34.4115.5%
163Jon Kitna2001CIN1540.5355.4115.5%
164Drew Brees2014NOR1643.137.35.8115.5%
165Butch Songin1960BOS1236.331.54.9115.5%
166Babe Parilli1965BOS1336.831.94.9115.4%
167Drew Bledsoe2002BUF1641.636.15.6115.4%
168John Brodie1967SFO1036.9324.9115.3%
169Nick Foles2014PHI84337.35.7115.3%
170Boomer Esiason1996ARI84135.65.4115.3%
171Daunte Culpepper2005MIN739.734.55.2115.2%
172Steve Ramsey1975DEN734.429.94.5115.2%
173Jay Cutler2008DEN1639.534.35.2115.2%
174Warren Moon1995MIN1642.6375.6115.1%
175Chris Miller1992ATL837.432.54.9115.1%
176Bobby Scott1976NOR833.128.84.3115.1%
177Chris Miller1989ATL1539.734.55.2115.1%
178Matt Schaub2008HOU1139.534.35.2115%
179Kerry Collins1998NOR74034.85.2115%
180Dick Shiner1968PIT1134.5304.5115%
181Joe Namath1966NYJ1337.432.54.9114.9%
182Bobby Douglass1971CHI732.1284.2114.9%
183Ron Jaworski1985PHI1240.335.15.2114.9%
184Ken O'Brien1989NYJ1239.634.55.1114.8%
185Hugh Millen1992NWE737.332.54.8114.8%
186Billy Kilmer1973WAS1030.626.73.9114.8%
187Kerry Collins2004OAK1339.334.35114.7%
188Mickey Slaughter1963DEN736.331.64.6114.7%
189Norm Snead1973NYG730.626.73.9114.7%
190Donovan McNabb2008PHI1639.334.35114.6%
191Y.A. Tittle1957SFO1128.925.23.7114.5%
192Dan Fouts1987SDG1039.834.85114.5%
193Peyton Manning2013DEN1643.4385.5114.5%
194Mike Livingston1976KAN1432.928.84.1114.4%
195Dan Marino1987MIA1239.834.85114.4%
196Bert Jones1974BAL832.828.64.1114.3%
197Matt Schaub2013HOU843.4385.4114.3%
198Erik Kramer1997CHI1340.435.45114.2%
199Dan Fouts1979SDG1635.831.34.4114.1%
200Kyle Orton2010DEN134135.95.1114.1%
201Cleo Lemon2007MIA740.435.45114.1%
202Archie Manning1971NOR1031.9283.9114.1%
203Dan Pastorini1973HOU1030.426.73.7114%
204Jake Plummer1997ARI940.335.45114%
205Ken Anderson1975CIN1334.129.94.2114%
206Brad Johnson2001TAM1639.9354.9114%
207Steve Bartkowski1978ATL1332.728.74114%
208Al Dorow1961NYT1435.831.44.4113.9%
209Pete Beathard1969HOU1035.3314.3113.9%
210Dan Fouts1982SDG938.934.24.7113.9%
211Jack Kemp1969BUF1135.3314.3113.8%
212Dan Marino1992MIA1636.932.54.5113.7%
213Warren Moon1997SEA1440.235.44.8113.7%
214Rex Grossman2007CHI740.335.44.8113.7%
215Anthony Dilweg1990GNB73732.64.4113.7%
216Neil Lomax1988PHO1438.433.94.6113.5%
217Fran Tarkenton1975MIN1433.929.94113.5%
218Rich Gannon2002OAK1640.936.14.9113.5%
219Jeff George1993IND1139.234.54.7113.5%
220Jim Everett1990RAM1636.932.64.4113.5%
221Roman Gabriel1975PHI933.929.94113.4%
222Joe Namath1965NYJ936.131.94.3113.4%
223Jim Zorn1982SEA738.734.24.6113.4%
224Pat Haden1979RAM1035.531.34.2113.3%
225Drew Brees2013NOR1643385113.3%
226Ken Stabler1973OAK1130.226.73.5113.2%
227Greg Landry1977DET113127.43.6113.1%
228Carson Palmer2012OAK1541.9374.8113.1%
229Jon Kitna2007DET1640.135.44.6113%
230Mickey Slaughter1965DEN73631.94.1113%
231Y.A. Tittle1956SFO827.524.33.2113%
232Marc Bulger2003STL1538.834.34.5113%
233Jim Hardy1950CRD1032.128.43.7113%
234Trent Green1998WAS1439.334.84.5112.9%
235Andrew Luck2012IND1641.8374.8112.9%
236Dan Marino1994MIA1640.335.74.6112.9%
237Donovan McNabb2006PHI1038.734.34.4112.9%
238John Elway1988DEN1538.233.94.3112.8%
239Kyle Boller2005BAL938.934.54.4112.8%
240Jack Kemp1960LAC1235.531.54112.8%
241Kent Graham1996ARI840.135.64.6112.8%
242Bill Kenney1984KAN839.434.94.5112.8%
243Tom Brady2012NWE1641.8374.7112.8%
244Stan Humphries1997SDG839.935.44.5112.7%
245Gary Huff1974CHI1132.328.63.6112.7%
246Billy Kilmer1975WAS1233.729.93.8112.6%
247Mike Phipps1975CLE1133.629.93.7112.5%
248Daryle Lamonica1967OAK1436324112.5%
249John Skelton2011ARI740.936.34.5112.5%
250Bobby Hebert1993ATL1238.834.54.3112.5%
251Norm Snead1969PHI1334.8313.9112.4%
252Archie Manning1978NOR1632.328.73.6112.4%
253Brett Favre1994GNB1640.135.74.4112.4%
254Bill Munson1965RAM1035.831.93.9112.4%
255George Blanda1962HOU1434.730.93.8112.3%
256Jack Concannon1970CHI1332.929.33.6112.3%
257Pete Liske1970DEN932.929.33.6112.2%
258Billy Wade1959RAM931.127.73.4112.2%
259Bob Griese1968MIA1333.6303.7112.2%
260Steve Beuerlein2000CAR1639.735.44.3112.1%
261Warren Moon1996MIN839.935.64.3112.1%
262Michael Vick2012PHI1041.5374.5112.1%
263Boomer Esiason1987CIN1238.934.84.2112%
264Brett Favre2000GNB1639.635.44.2112%
265Cotton Davidson1962OAK1234.630.93.7111.9%
266Brad Johnson2003TAM1638.434.34.1111.9%
267John Brodie1964SFO1236.632.73.9111.8%
268Dave Krieg1985SEA1639.335.14.1111.8%
269Vinny Testaverde1997BAL1339.535.44.2111.8%
270Dan Pastorini1971HOU831.3283.3111.7%
271Jim Plunkett1973NWE1429.826.73.1111.7%
272Scott Mitchell1993MIA738.634.54111.7%
273Craig Morton1974NYG73228.63.4111.7%
274Len Dawson1974KAN83228.63.4111.7%
275Danny White1985DAL1439.235.14.1111.7%
276Vinny Testaverde1989TAM1438.534.54111.7%
277Brett Favre2004GNB1638.334.34111.6%
278Bob Griese1967MIA1035.7323.7111.6%
279Johnny Unitas1957BAL1228.225.22.9111.6%
280Jack Kemp1965BUF1335.531.93.7111.6%
281Sonny Jurgensen1969WAS1434.6313.6111.6%
282Joe Ferguson1983BUF163834.13.9111.5%
283Matt Hasselbeck2009SEA1439.535.44.1111.5%
284Steve DeBerg1984TAM1338.934.94111.5%
285Tom Flores1960OAK1235.131.53.6111.5%
286Todd Blackledge1984KAN838.934.94111.4%
287Jim Zorn1978SEA1631.928.73.3111.3%
288Brian Griese2000DEN1039.435.44111.3%
289Chris Weinke2001CAR1539354111.3%
290Phil Simms1980NYG1336.632.93.7111.3%
291Steve McNair2005TEN1438.434.53.9111.3%
292Marc Bulger2007STL1239.435.44111.2%
293Dennis Shaw1970BUF1232.629.33.3111.2%
294Matt Ryan2014ATL1641.437.34.2111.1%
295Billy Kilmer1968NOR1133.3303.3111%
296Randall Cunningham1987PHI1238.634.83.8111%
297Rob Johnson2000BUF1139.335.43.9111%
298Terry Bradshaw1970PIT832.529.33.2110.9%
299Ken Anderson1972CIN1329.826.82.9110.9%
300Jay Fiedler2004MIA73834.33.7110.9%
  • Frank Tripucka was the first Broncos quarterback, and his performances in ’60, ’61, and ’62 make the top 50. Tripucka’s pass-happy days — which made Lionel Taylor produce stat lines straight out of 2014 — were most notable in ’61 and ’62, where he incredibly produced two of the top six seasons in the above table.
  • Another AFLer, George Blanda, is the only quarterback with three top-25 seasons. I did not separate the AFL and NFL when generating this data, and this shows that there is some truth to the conventional wisdom that the AFL was a pass-happy league.
  • Warren Moon is the first quarterback with 4 seasons on the above list, narrowly edging out Blanda. Moon’s high-octane attack in ’90, ’91, and ’92 with the Oilers made the top 70, while his work during his first year with the Vikings (1994) checks in at #38. Moon’s ’93 is number 90 on the list, making him the first player to show up with five seasons. But Blanda, by virtue of the 98th and 100th most pass-heavy years, is the first to six.
  • Two other quarterbacks famous for great stats but not winning it all have four top-100 seasons: Fran Tarkenton and Dan Fouts. Tarkenton gets there in ’71 with the Giants and each year from ’76 to ’78 with the Vikings, when the defense had eroded from its once dominant level. Fouts’ 1984 season was extraordinarily pass-happy, and then he has 8 other seasons where the Chargers threw between 114% and 120% as many times as the average team.
  • Fouts, Blanda, and Moon dominate this list, which is not filled with many modern quarterbacks. But Drew Brees does manage to show up 7 times: each of the last 8 seasons other than the year the Saints won the Super Bowl. Dan Marino has 6 top-300 seasons, while the four quarterbacks with 5 top-300 seasons offer two surprises: Tarkenton, Brett Favre… and Marc Bulger and Kerry Collins.

What about the least pass-happy years? The 1988 Patriots are taken right out of a Rex Ryan fan fiction piece: The team ranked last in pass attempts, first in rushing attempts, and in the top 5 in points allowed, yards allowed, and first downs allowed. New England went 9-7, going 6-3 in the games started by Doug Flutie, and 3-4 in the other seven. Flutie’s nine starts came in weeks 6 through 14, and he took the vast majority of snaps.1 During those 9 games, New England had just 179 dropbacks — a hair under 20 per game! — while every other team had at least 235 dropbacks during those weeks.2 That’s insane, and it led to Flutie’s 1988 season going down as the least pass-happy season ever. Flutie may have been a great quarterback, but he could never earn the trust of his head coach, Raymond Berry, who chose to slap handcuffs on his diminutive quarterback.

Below are the 300 least pass-happy seasons since 1950:

RkQuarterbackYearTmGDBLg AvgDiffRatio
1Doug Flutie1988NWE919.933.9-1458.8%
2Scott Hunter1971GNB1016.528-11.559%
3Sammy Baugh1951WAS91828.7-10.762.7%
4Bobby Douglass1972CHI1416.926.8-9.963.1%
5Warren Rabb1962BUF719.730.9-11.263.8%
6Charlie Conerly1950NYG818.428.4-1064.7%
7Jim McMahon1984CHI922.734.9-12.264.9%
8Milt Plum1958CLE111929.2-10.265%
9Jeff Kemp1984RAM1322.834.9-12.165.2%
10Joe Ferguson1973BUF1417.426.7-9.265.4%
11Scott Hunter1972GNB1418.126.8-8.767.6%
12Tommy O'Connell1957CLE917.225.2-868.2%
13Jim Harbaugh1994IND924.435.7-11.368.5%
14Ben Roethlisberger2004PIT1323.534.3-10.768.7%
15Earl Morrall1972MIA918.426.8-8.468.7%
16Charlie Conerly1951NYG1119.728.7-968.8%
17Jack Concannon1967CHI1222.132-9.969%
18Bobby Thomason1957PHI717.625.2-7.769.6%
19Jay Schroeder1990RAI1622.832.6-9.770.1%
20Bob Griese1973MIA1318.826.7-7.970.4%
21Eddie LeBaron1957WAS1217.825.2-7.470.6%
22Joe Ferguson1974BUF1420.328.6-8.470.8%
23Ben Roethlisberger2005PIT1224.434.5-1070.8%
24Len Dawson1968KAN1321.430-8.671.4%
25Derek Anderson2009CLE725.435.4-1071.8%
26Mike Tomczak1986CHI725.135-9.871.9%
27Steve Fuller1979KAN1222.731.3-8.772.3%
28Bart Starr1961GNB1422.931.4-8.672.8%
29Lamar McHan1956CRD1017.924.3-6.473.6%
30Russell Wilson2012SEA1627.437-9.773.9%
31Tim Tebow2011DEN112736.3-9.374.3%
32Al Dorow1956WAS718.124.3-6.274.6%
33Bob Davis1971NYJ720.928-7.174.6%
34Mark Sanchez2009NYJ1526.535.4-8.974.9%
35Bob Avellini1976CHI1421.628.8-7.274.9%
36Alex Smith2005SFO725.934.5-8.675%
37Colin Kaepernick2013SFO1628.538-9.575.1%
38Mike Pagel1984IND926.234.9-8.775.1%
39Vince Young2010TEN82735.9-8.975.1%
40Mark Malone1984PIT926.334.9-8.675.4%
41Kellen Clemens2013STL928.738-9.375.5%
42Joe Kapp1968MIN1422.630-7.375.6%
43Bob Griese1975MIA1022.629.9-7.375.6%
44Quincy Carter2001DAL826.535-8.575.6%
45Dave Krieg1994DET727.135.7-8.676%
46Bob Berry1969ATL723.631-7.476.1%
47Russell Wilson2013SEA162938-976.4%
48Bart Starr1966GNB1324.932.5-7.676.6%
49Trent Dilfer1997TAM1627.335.4-8.177%
50Frank Ryan1963CLE1324.431.6-7.377.1%
51Bart Starr1960GNB824.331.5-7.277.1%
52John Hadl1973RAM1420.626.7-6.177.2%
53Bob Griese1974MIA1322.228.6-6.577.3%
54Bobby Layne1960PIT1124.431.5-7.177.4%
55Joe Kapp1967MIN1124.832-7.277.6%
56Ryan Fitzpatrick2009BUF827.535.4-7.977.6%
57Richard Todd1979NYJ1524.331.3-777.7%
58Don Strock1978MIA722.328.7-6.477.7%
59Jim Harbaugh1993CHI1526.934.5-7.777.8%
60Milt Plum1961CLE1324.531.4-6.977.9%
61Boomer Esiason1988CIN1626.433.9-7.577.9%
62Jay Fiedler2000MIA1527.635.4-7.878%
63Michael Vick2004ATL1526.734.3-7.578%
64Otto Graham1955CLE1222.128.3-6.278%
65Mike Pagel1983BAL1526.634.1-7.578.1%
66Bart Starr1965GNB1424.931.9-6.978.3%
67Tarvaris Jackson2007MIN1227.835.4-7.778.3%
68Brady Quinn2012KAN82937-878.3%
69Milt Plum1960CLE1224.731.5-6.878.4%
70Robert Griffin2012WAS1529.137-878.5%
71Dave Krieg1987SEA1227.334.8-7.478.6%
72Jack Scarbath1953WAS72531.8-6.878.7%
73Ed Brown1964PIT1325.832.7-6.978.8%
74Bobby Layne1962PIT1124.430.9-6.578.8%
75Charley Johnson1966STL925.732.5-6.978.9%
76Karl Sweetan1967DET825.332-6.778.9%
77Jay Schroeder1989RAI927.234.5-7.279%
78Bart Starr1962GNB1424.430.9-6.579.1%
79Jake Delhomme2008CAR1627.134.3-7.279.1%
80Colin Kaepernick2012SFO729.337-7.779.1%
81Ryan Fitzpatrick2014HOU1229.537.3-7.879.1%
82Kordell Stewart2000PIT112835.4-7.479.1%
83Dave Brown1994NYG1528.335.7-7.479.2%
84T.J. Rubley1993RAM727.434.5-7.179.4%
85John Roach1960STL102531.5-6.579.4%
86Otto Graham1950CLE1222.728.4-5.879.8%
87Bill Kenney1981KAN1327.133.9-6.979.8%
88Steve McNair1997TEN1628.335.4-7.179.9%
89Lamar McHan1959GNB722.127.7-5.679.9%
90Trent Dilfer1999TAM102936.3-7.379.9%
91Vince Young2009TEN1028.335.4-7.179.9%
92Vince Evans1980CHI1026.332.9-6.680%
93Rudy Bukich1961PIT725.131.4-6.380%
94Pete Beathard1967HOU925.732-6.380.2%
95Vince Young2006TEN1327.534.3-6.780.3%
96Bart Starr1964GNB1426.332.7-6.480.3%
97Pat Haden1976RAM723.128.8-5.680.4%
98Billy Kilmer1972WAS1021.626.8-5.280.5%
99Frank Ryan1967CLE1325.832-6.280.5%
100Rudy Bukich1966CHI1426.232.5-6.380.6%
101Greg Cook1969CIN112531-680.7%
102Len Dawson1970KAN1223.729.3-5.680.8%
103Jim Harbaugh1995IND1229.937-7.180.8%
104Frank Ryan1965CLE1225.831.9-6.180.8%
105Dave Wilson1986NOR1328.335-6.780.9%
106David Woodley1982MIA927.734.2-6.581%
107Jeff Hostetler1991NYG1227.133.4-6.381.2%
108Frank Ryan1964CLE1426.632.7-6.181.2%
109Jay Schroeder1991RAI1527.133.4-6.281.4%
110Steve Grogan1976NWE1423.428.8-5.481.4%
111Jim Plunkett1977SFO1422.427.4-581.6%
112Alex Smith2012SFO930.237-6.881.6%
113Bob Griese1970MIA1423.929.3-5.481.6%
114Fran Tarkenton1964MIN1426.732.7-681.7%
115Bernie Kosar1985CLE1028.735.1-6.481.7%
116Bobby Hebert1987NOR1228.434.8-6.381.8%
117JaMarcus Russell2008OAK1528.134.3-6.281.8%
118Bubby Brister1989PIT1428.234.5-6.381.8%
119Craig Morton1970DAL112429.3-5.381.9%
120Bob Griese1971MIA1322.928-582%
121Dieter Brock1985RAM1528.835.1-6.382%
122Jay Fiedler2002MIA1029.636.1-6.582.1%
123Steve DeBerg1989KAN1028.334.5-6.282.1%
124Matt Ryan2008ATL1628.234.3-6.182.2%
125JaMarcus Russell2009OAK929.135.4-6.382.2%
126Kyle Orton2005CHI1528.334.5-6.182.2%
127Anthony Wright2003BAL728.334.3-6.182.4%
128Mike Livingston1978KAN1423.628.7-582.4%
129Eddie LeBaron1958WAS1024.129.2-5.182.5%
130Phil Simms1990NYG1426.932.6-5.782.5%
131Dave Krieg1986SEA1428.935-6.182.5%
132Archie Manning1981NOR112833.9-5.982.5%
133Ken Stabler1981HOU122833.9-5.982.5%
134David Garrard2006JAX1028.434.3-5.982.8%
135Bob Gagliano1989DET728.634.5-5.982.9%
136Ralph Guglielmi1960WAS1126.131.5-5.482.9%
137Y.A. Tittle1959SFO102327.7-4.782.9%
138J.P. Losman2007BUF729.435.4-683%
139Josh McCown2007OAK929.435.4-683.1%
140Trent Edwards2007BUF929.435.4-683.1%
141Russell Wilson2014SEA163137.3-6.383.1%
142Steve Grogan1977NWE1422.827.4-4.683.2%
143Chris Chandler1988IND1328.233.9-5.783.2%
144Bill Munson1970DET824.429.3-4.983.2%
145Shaun King2000TAM1629.435.4-683.2%
146Tony Banks2001WAS1429.135-5.983.2%
147George Shaw1955BAL1223.628.3-4.783.3%
148Chris Chandler1998ATL142934.8-5.883.4%
149Bobby Douglass1969CHI725.931-5.183.4%
150Mike Taliaferro1969BOS1425.931-5.183.4%
151Lamar McHan1963SFO926.431.6-5.283.6%
152Earl Morrall1965NYG1426.631.9-5.283.6%
153Jim Plunkett1980OAK1127.532.9-5.383.7%
154Terry Bradshaw1973PIT922.326.7-4.383.8%
155Kyle Boller2003BAL928.834.3-5.683.8%
156Jack Trudeau1987IND829.134.8-5.683.8%
157Johnny Unitas1964BAL1427.432.7-5.383.8%
158Phil Simms1979NYG1126.331.3-5.183.9%
159Greg Landry1969DET72631-583.9%
160Don Heinrich1955NYG823.828.3-4.683.9%
161Phil Simms1993NYG162934.5-5.584%
162Troy Aikman1994DAL143035.7-5.784%
163Trent Dilfer2000BAL829.835.4-5.684.1%
164Len Dawson1962DTX142630.9-4.984.1%
165Steve Young1997SFO1529.835.4-5.684.2%
166Greg Landry1971DET1423.628-4.484.3%
167Mike Tomczak1996PIT153035.6-5.684.3%
168Dave Krieg1988SEA928.633.9-5.384.4%
169Len Dawson1969KAN726.131-4.884.4%
170Bart Starr1967GNB122732-584.4%
171Tony Romo2014DAL1531.537.3-5.884.4%
172Michael Vick2006ATL1628.934.3-5.384.4%
173Bernie Kosar1992CLE727.432.5-584.5%
174Joe Reed1975DET825.329.9-4.684.5%
175Billy Wade1961CHI926.631.4-4.984.5%
176Warren Moon1988HOU1128.633.9-5.284.6%
177John Brodie1961SFO1426.631.4-4.884.6%
178Otto Graham1954CLE1226.731.5-4.884.6%
179Bubby Brister1990PIT1627.632.6-584.7%
180Terry Bradshaw1976PIT824.428.8-4.484.7%
181Mike Tomczak1992CLE827.532.5-584.7%
182Rodney Peete1991DET828.333.4-5.184.7%
183Matt Schaub2011HOU1030.836.3-5.584.8%
184Vince Young2007TEN1530.135.4-5.484.8%
185Rodney Peete1993DET1029.334.5-5.284.9%
186Bobby Hebert1992NOR1627.632.5-4.984.9%
187Joe Flacco2008BAL1629.134.3-5.284.9%
188Cliff Stoudt1983PIT1528.934.1-5.184.9%
189Cam Newton2013CAR1632.338-5.785%
190Dan Pastorini1978HOU1624.428.7-4.385%
191Bart Starr1963GNB1026.931.6-4.785%
192Charlie Conerly1952NYG1126.330.9-4.685.1%
193Dan Pastorini1979HOU1526.731.3-4.785.1%
194Ken Stabler1983NOR142934.1-5.185.1%
195Alex Smith2011SFO1630.936.3-5.485.2%
196Drew Brees2004SDG1529.234.3-5.185.2%
197Tobin Rote1963SDG142731.6-4.685.3%
198Bart Starr1969GNB926.431-4.585.3%
199Heath Shuler1994WAS830.535.7-5.285.4%
200Mark Rypien1991WAS1628.533.4-4.985.5%
201Jay Fiedler2003MIA1129.434.3-585.5%
202Kerry Collins2008TEN1529.334.3-585.5%
203None1950PIT1024.328.4-4.185.5%
204Otto Graham1953CLE1127.231.8-4.685.5%
205John Brodie1962SFO1426.430.9-4.585.5%
206Steve Grogan1983NWE1229.234.1-4.985.6%
207Jay Fiedler2001MIA163035-585.6%
208Tommy Thompson1950PHI1224.328.4-4.185.6%
209Trent Dilfer1998TAM1629.834.8-585.7%
210Terry Bradshaw1974PIT724.628.6-4.185.8%
211David Whitehurst1978GNB1624.628.7-4.185.9%
212Jim Zorn1983SEA829.334.1-4.885.9%
213Kordell Stewart1997PIT1630.435.4-585.9%
214Jeff Hostetler1992NYG927.932.5-4.685.9%
215Jimmy Clausen2010CAR1030.935.9-586%
216Frank Ryan1962CLE726.630.9-4.386%
217Steve Bartkowski1977ATL723.627.4-3.886%
218Jeff Garcia2004CLE1029.534.3-4.886.1%
219Jack Scarbath1954WAS727.131.5-4.486.1%
220Ben Roethlisberger2007PIT1530.535.4-4.986.1%
221Vinny Testaverde2001NYJ1630.235-4.886.2%
222Danny Kanell1997NYG1030.535.4-4.986.2%
223Greg Landry1973DET72326.7-3.786.3%
224Steve McNair2000TEN1530.535.4-4.986.3%
225Bob Avellini1977CHI1423.627.4-3.886.3%
226Chad Pennington2002NYJ1231.236.1-4.986.4%
227Troy Aikman1995DAL163237-586.4%
228Bobby Layne1961PIT727.131.4-4.386.4%
229Neil O'Donnell1994PIT1430.935.7-4.886.4%
230David Archer1985ATL1130.435.1-4.786.5%
231Jake Delhomme2005CAR1629.834.5-4.786.5%
232Kordell Stewart2001PIT1630.335-4.786.5%
233Bubby Brister1991PIT828.933.4-4.586.6%
234Steve Walsh1994CHI1130.935.7-4.886.6%
235Rudy Bukich1965CHI1227.631.9-4.386.6%
236Joe Kapp1969MIN1326.831-4.186.6%
237Gus Frerotte1996WAS1630.835.6-4.886.6%
238Charlie Conerly1957NYG821.925.2-3.486.7%
239Heath Shuler1997NOR930.735.4-4.786.7%
240Lamar McHan1955CRD1124.528.3-3.886.7%
241Jim Hart1975STL1425.929.9-486.7%
242Joe Theismann1979WAS1627.231.3-4.186.8%
243Geno Smith2013NYJ1632.938-586.8%
244Todd Blackledge1986KAN830.435-4.686.9%
245Christian Ponder2012MIN1632.237-4.886.9%
246Colt McCoy2010CLE831.335.9-4.787%
247Eli Manning2004NYG729.934.3-4.487.1%
248Bill Munson1969DET72731-487.1%
249Mike Phipps1979CHI1027.331.3-487.1%
250Jim Plunkett1976SFO1225.128.8-3.787.1%
251J.P. Losman2006BUF1629.934.3-4.487.1%
252Trent Green2002KAN1631.436.1-4.687.2%
253Philip Rivers2007SDG1630.935.4-4.587.3%
254Jim Kelly1990BUF1428.432.6-4.187.3%
255Randy Johnson1966ATL1128.532.5-4.187.5%
256Chad Hutchinson2002DAL931.636.1-4.587.5%
257Alex Smith2006SFO163034.3-4.387.5%
258Jake Delhomme2003CAR1530.134.3-4.387.5%
259Michael Vick2005ATL1530.234.5-4.387.6%
260Tobin Rote1953GNB727.931.8-3.987.6%
261James Harris1974RAM925.128.6-3.587.7%
262Jim Harbaugh1998BAL1230.534.8-4.387.7%
263Dan Marino1983MIA929.934.1-4.287.7%
264Jim McMahon1985CHI1130.835.1-4.387.8%
265Mark Brunell2002JAX1531.736.1-4.487.8%
266Ray Lucas1999NYJ931.936.3-4.487.8%
267Troy Aikman2000DAL1131.135.4-4.387.8%
268Damon Huard2006KAN830.134.3-4.287.9%
269Terry Bradshaw1975PIT1426.329.9-3.687.9%
270Bob Berry1971ATL1024.628-3.488%
271Chad Pennington2004NYJ1330.234.3-4.188%
272Tony Eason1985NWE1030.935.1-4.288%
273Jake Plummer2006DEN1130.234.3-4.188%
274Jim McMahon1983CHI133034.1-4.188.1%
275Greg Landry1972DET1423.626.8-3.288.1%
276Norm Van Brocklin1953RAM122831.8-3.888.1%
277Boomer Esiason1990CIN1628.732.6-3.988.1%
278Steve Grogan1980NWE122932.9-3.988.2%
279Andy Dalton2014CIN1632.937.3-4.488.2%
280Mark Malone1987PIT1230.734.8-4.188.2%
281Terry Bradshaw1978PIT1625.328.7-3.488.2%
282Johnny Lujack1950CHI1225.128.4-3.388.3%
283Steve Beuerlein1989RAI730.434.5-488.3%
284Al Woodall1970NYJ925.929.3-3.488.3%
285Bobby Hebert1989NOR1330.534.5-488.4%
286Bobby Layne1953DET1128.131.8-3.788.4%
287Fran Tarkenton1973MIN1423.626.7-3.188.4%
288David Garrard2010JAX1431.835.9-4.188.5%
289Mark Brunell2006WAS930.334.3-3.988.5%
290Jake Plummer2005DEN1630.534.5-488.5%
291Neil Lomax1982STL930.234.2-3.988.5%
292Doug Williams1978TAM1025.428.7-3.388.6%
293Norm Van Brocklin1954RAM1127.931.5-3.688.6%
294Ron Jaworski1979PHI1627.831.3-3.688.6%
295Ken Stabler1982NOR830.334.2-3.988.6%
296Adrian Burk1951PHI1225.428.7-3.388.6%
297Dave Brown1995NYG1632.837-4.288.6%
298Danny White1981DAL1530.133.9-3.988.6%
299Milt Plum1959CLE1224.627.7-3.188.7%
300Pat Haden1977RAM1024.327.4-3.188.7%

My guess is you don’t know much about Scott Hunter, the Packers quarterback in the early ’70s. The Packers and Jets both tried to replace their HOF Alabama quarterbacks with, well, more Alabama quarterbacks. For the Jets, Richard Todd was a disappointment with the 6th overall pick, but started 94 games for the team. Hunter was a three-year starter at Alabama during a rare three-year down period for the Tide. He was a low round draft pick, like Starr, and then replaced Starr in 1970 when the Hall of Famer quarterback was limited with an arm injury.

The Packers asked very little of Hunter, who mostly excelled as a vertical passer. Over the two-year period from ’71 to ’72, he was in the bottom four in completion percentage but in the top four in yards per completion. Combined with an above-average sack rate, and Hunter ranked above league average in Net Yards per Attempt.

But it’s Starr who is the real stand out on this list. He has a whopping 9 top-300 seasons here! Perhaps more interesting, his pre-Lombardi seasons in ’57 and ’58 cracked the top 300 of the first list, but each of his seasons from 1960 to 1967 make this list. The Lombardi Packers were very run-heavy, and this is pretty good evidence of that. It’s also why it’s so difficult to compare someone like Starr to someone like Fouts.

As it turns out, no other quarterback has even six top-300 seasons. Three other quarterbacks have five top-300 seasons here, and two of them also played on dynasties. Bob Griese makes the list in every year from 1970 to 1975, ’72 excepted due to injury (but, given the circumstances, it probably would have been his least pass-happy season of the lot). Terry Bradshaw checks in with his 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, and 1978 seasons. The only quarterback with five top-300 seasons of low-octane passing without multiple Super Bowl rings is…. Frank Ryan. The Browns quarterback during the middle of the ’60s won one title in ’64, but his career was dominated by handing off to Jim Brown and then Leroy Kelly.

And, given the talk of Griese and Ryan, let’s not forget that Paul Warfield and his stat line had the misfortune of playing in both of these offenses.

Check back tomorrow for part III, where we analyze the data on the career level.

  1. The first of those 9 games was a disaster, and Steve Grogan threw seven passes in mop-up duty in a 45-3 thrashing by the Packers. []
  2. Also, check out that Miami Dolphins sack rate during this stretch! []
  • sacramento gold miners

    Good stuff. The 1988 Patriots did have the late John Stephens, who rushed for nearly 1200 yards, but had no clue they were last in pass attempts. When Paul Warfield came up for HOF consideration, there were people who criticized his modest number of receptions, but failed to see how quality is more important than quantity.

  • Richie

    “Also, check out that Miami Dolphins sack rate during this stretch!”

    Whenever I see Marino’s impressive sack numbers, then I look at his interceptions and it makes me wonder if there are too many times where he could take a sack, and instead forced a pass that got intercepted.

    In that 9-game stretch you linked to, Miami had a 6.85 ANY/A. Which is good, but not spectacular. Minnesota was just behind with a 6.77 ANY/A. But they were the opposite. 23 sacks, but only 7 picks. Cincinnati was 3rd with a 6.20 ANY/A, 20 sacks and 10 picks. This was Cincinnati’s Super Bowl season and the year that Esiasion won the MVP.

    1988 was also Marino’s lowest sack year. He got sacked 6 times for a 1.0% sack percentage. I assume this is one of the best sack avoidance seasons in league history.

    Another one of those crazy Dolphins-Jets games were in there. Marino, Pat Ryan and Ken O’Brien combined to throw for 786 yards and 9 touchdowns! Miami led 34-24 at the end of the 3rd quarter, and then Ken O’Brien came in and threw 2 TD passes to win the game. (O’Brien missed the previous game and appeared in relief here. Was he injured or benched?)

    Joe Cribbs returned 2 kickoffs for the Dolphins. I have no memory of Cribbs being on the Dolphins.