Ranking the quarterbacks

The Baltimore Sun

1. Joe Montana

The numbers: 40,551 yards (10th all time), 273 touchdown passes (ninth), 92.3 passer rating (sixth), 63.2 percent completion rate (ninth), eight Pro Bowls, four Super Bowl wins.

The skinny: Montana can't match Favre for durability or raw passing totals. But his uncanny accuracy, the greatness of his teams and his excellence in big games made him the greatest of all time.

2. Johnny Unitas

The numbers: 40,239 yards (11th), 290 TD passes (seventh), 10 Pro Bowls, two NFL titles, one Super Bowl win.

The skinny: By modern standards, Unitas threw a lot of interceptions and didn't complete a high percentage. But by the standards of a more pass-averse NFL, he was as statistically dominant as Favre or Dan Marino. NFL talent evaluators still revere him, and he won more titles than Favre.

3. Tom Brady

The numbers: 92.9 passer rating (fourth), 63 percent completion rate (11th), four Pro Bowls, four conference titles, three Super Bowl wins.

The skinny: It's always hard to rank players mid-career, and Brady's raw numbers don't compare with Favre's. That said, he already has three rings and just completed one of the greatest individual seasons in NFL history. He could top the list someday.

4. John Elway

The numbers: 51,475 yards (third), 300 TD passes (fifth), nine Pro Bowls, five conference titles, two Super Bowl wins.

The skinny: Like Favre, Elway improvised his way to many mistakes. But with an unmatched arm and uncommon running ability, he was the physical prototype for a modern quarterback and carried several mediocre teams to the Super Bowl.

5. Brett Favre

The numbers: 61,655 yards (first), 442 TD passes (first), nine Pro Bowls, two conference titles, one Super Bowl win.

The skinny: Only Marino can hang with him in production over a long period, and Favre improvised his way to many indelible plays. But his tendency to take risks at inopportune moments (he's the all-time interception leader) and the fact he won only one Super Bowl keep him out of the top spot.

6. Peyton Manning

The numbers: 41,626 yards (ninth), 306 TD passes (fourth), 94.7 passer rating (second), 64.2 percent completion rate (fourth), eight Pro Bowls, one Super Bowl win.

The skinny: Manning is on pace to become the greatest statistical passer of all time. If he can add another Super Bowl or two, he will pass Favre and challenge Montana for the top spot.

7. Otto Graham

The numbers: 86.6 passer rating (14th), nine yards per attempt (first), 10 All-Pro selections, seven league championships.

The skinny: Graham played long before the era of complex passing attacks. But we can't ignore the seven league titles in 10 seasons or the fact he led the league in passing yards five times.

8. Dan Marino

The numbers: 61,361 yards (second), 420 TD passes (second), nine Pro Bowls, one conference title.

The skinny: Marino was slightly more productive than Favre per game, and his quick release made him the pre-eminent pure passer of his era. But Favre won a Super Bowl and remained great deeper into his career.

9. Steve Young

The numbers: 96.8 passer rating (first), 64.3 percent completion rate (third), seven Pro Bowls, one Super Bowl win.

The skinny: Young didn't last as long as Favre or approach his raw totals. But he ranks among the most efficient quarterbacks ever and also was among the best runners at the position.

10. Roger Staubach

The numbers: 83.4 passer rating (25th), six Pro Bowls, four conference titles, two Super Bowl wins.

The skinny: Perhaps a controversial choice given his modest numbers and Terry Bradshaw's four rings. But Staubach got a late start because of his Navy commitment and was an early version of Young with his accuracy and athletic ability.

childs.walker@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
50°