The quarterback is the most important position on the field. It’s also the toughest. After all, the quarterback is the engine that gets the team going, and the position doesn’t come without pressure and high expectations.
With a good quarterback, a coach (and the fans) can rest easier at night. But there are also the quarterbacks who can give you grey hairs. The kind that a fan base, coach, and team pray will eventually get it together for the franchise…but that doesn’t always happen.
Brady Quinn Failed To Meet Expectations
Brady Quinn of Notre Dame didn’t give the Cleveland Browns what they needed — a quality quarterback. He didn’t really give them much outside of one good game during his rookie season.
Quinn played on seven teams overall and in that span only threw 12 touchdowns. Considering he completed just three passes over five years while on a $20.2 million contract, those were some expensive moves. Today you can find him as an analyst for Fox Sports. Let’s hope his analyst skills are better than his skills on the field.
Jamarcus Russell Is One Of The Biggest Busts In NFL History
Jamarcus Russell is the biggest QB bust to come out of Oakland. The first selection of the 2007 draft taken by the Oakland Raiders (along with a $61 million contract), he found himself out of the league just three years later.
Not only was Russell’s performance bad while playing for the Raiders (his stats were just 4,083 yards, 18 TDs, and 23 INTs in three years) but he was also arrested for possession of codeine syrup. Between the subpar stats and illegal activity, the Raiders released him in May 2010. Since then, he has desperately tried to make a return, even telling teams he would play for free.
Tebow Doesn’t Meet Expectations
Tim Tebow garnered lots of attention for his fantastic college career, but scouts didn’t see his game translating to the professional level. His rookie season started out slow, but he turned that around quickly leading the Denver Broncos to the playoffs.
In a remarkable turn of events, he mounted a comeback against the Steelers and won in the first round. That would be Tebow’s greatest moment as a professional athlete, however. He ended up becoming a backup for many teams before giving up the NFL entirely in 2015. As of January 2018, he is trying to make it in the MLB.
The Carr Broke Down
After picking the Texans first overall pick, everyone had high expectations for David Carr. The Fresno State alum, however, had a rough rookie season (and beyond).
He finished his time in the NFL with more interceptions than touchdowns even though he passed for over 14,000 yards through the span of his career. He started almost every game with the Texans from 2002-2006 but had an underwhelming record of 26-45 during that span. Hopefully, his brother Derek Carr will fair better.
Rick Mirer Under Fire
Hailing from Notre Dame, Rick Mirer was supposed to be the next Joe Montana. He was also to be the one who was supposed to make things better in Seattle. Thanks to a terrible season, Seattle was able to snag Mirer with the second overall pick in the 1993 draft.
His first season showed signs of life and he gave new hope to the fans of Seattle. Mirer broke records and made it look easy. Too bad after that, all the hope would vanish. He would only throw double-digit touchdowns once more in his career. The Seahawks traded him to the Bears in ’97, and then he became nothing more than a journeyman until he officially retired in 2004.
Mark “Butt Fumbler” Sanchez
Mark Sanchez never had standout numbers. He couldn’t compare to Tom Brady or even Eli Manning. However, early in his football career, Sanchez found some success. When Rex Ryan took over for the New York Jets, he became the quarterback. Suddenly, the Jets were in the AFC Championship game for two straight years. They would lose both times, to the Steelers and Colts.
The air was full of optimism for Jets fans, something they hadn’t felt in a while. Everyone was ready for Sanchez to become the franchise quarterback they had wished for. Instead, he became one of the worst and gave us the infamous “butt fumble” on Thanksgiving Day 2012 when he ran into his teammate’s rear end and led to another touchdown for the Patriots.
Johnny Football Couldn’t Even Make It In The CFL
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Johnny Manziel was drafted in 2014 by the Cleveland Browns to save the franchise. In 2016, the team unceremoniously released him. One year later, Manziel resurfaced in the Canadian Football League, but again failed to make an impact, throwing several interceptions in his first start. In 2019, the Alouettes released him, likely ending his football career for good.
The Texas A&M product was a sensational college athlete. At his size, it was amazing to see the 6’0″ 209-pound quarterback turn the field into his canvas. He broke countless records while in college and was primed to excel in the NFL after winning the Heisman.
No Titan In Him
Vince Young led his Texas Longhorns to a National Championship over the highly favored USC Trojans. It seemed that he would be poised to be a great NFL quarterback as well when he was drafted by the Tennessee Titans. He struggled his rookie season but showed flashes of greatness so fans were still on his side.
Once he got to the NFL, he essentially became nothing more than a scrambling quarterback. He had an unheard of seven rushing touchdowns in his rookie year. Young just couldn’t figure out the NFL game as well as he did in college and as a result, he was out.
Anderson Was A Flash In A Pan
One thing that is sad about the Cleveland Brown organization is the constant dish of mediocracy they keep serving their fans. Year after year the fans have to endure a terrible season. Then one year, Derek Anderson showed up, and things started to look up.
Anderson led the Browns to a 10-6 record and the playoffs in 2007. He threw for 29 touchdowns, and people thought the Browns were going to turn the corner. The very next year, Anderson fell apart. He only played nine games and ended up being benched. He is now nothing more than a backup.
The Magic That Once Was
Imagine finishing second in MVP voting and leading your team to the playoffs. And the only reason you finished second was thanks to Joe Montana. For Don Majkowski, this was a reality. In 1989, he threw for 27 touchdowns during the regular season. Then a couple of injury-riddled seasons sucked the magic right out of the “Magic Man.”
This made Green Bay realize they had to move forward. So they traded Majkowski for Brett Farve. Farve would go on to become a legend and Majkowski spent the rest of his career as a backup.
RG3 Showed Hope
What can we say about Robert Griffin III? Someone that had so much potential had it all snatched away, thanks to a knee issue. In college, Griffin was also an Olympic caliber track and field athlete in the hurdles. During his rookie season, he won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award after passing for 3,200 yards and running 815 yards.
There was some skepticism surrounding his first playoff game because his knee wasn’t fully healed. Many thought he should have sat the game out, but Griffin still played. As a result, he tore his ACL. After that, his running prowess was limited and he was reduced to just a pocket passer. He was never the same again.
Steve Beuerlein Just Didn’t Cut It
The name Steve Beuerlein still haunts the people of North Carolina. They thought he would be the quarterback of their future, but he let them down. Maybe fans should wait and watch before making grandiose predictions. In 1999, he did give them a reason to believe he would perform. Beuerlein put up monstrous numbers: 4,436 passing yards and 36 touchdowns.
As with many of the other players on this list, his following season was not the same. He left North Carolina for the Denver Broncos for two seasons but only started five games during that time. Beuerlein ended up retiring and becoming an NFL analyst.
Grossman Plays Grossly
In recent years, the Bears have had bad luck with quarterbacks. We are not going to get started on Jay Cutler because this is about Rex Grossman. Grossman was selected in the first round of the 2003 draft by the Chicago Bears. His first three years were spent on the bench practically, thanks to injuries.
When he played his first full season in 2006, the Bears ended up in the Super Bowl! They lost to Peyton Manning and Colts. During that season Grossman had seven games with a passer rating over 100. The next season, he was benched after three poor games and spent the rest of his career as a backup.
Who Is Tommy Maddox?
We know Big Ben is a force to be reckoned with but who was in the pocket before him? His name was Tommy Maddox. It took him ten years before he made an impact. He was selected 25th overall in the 1992 draft by the Denver Broncos. His career was a pitfall, and he even was out of the league at one point before returning in 2002.
Maddox took over as starting quarterback for the Steelers in 2002. He led them to an AFC Wild Card victory. They would then fail to the Tennessee Titans. Nothing more notable happened to him after that and then Big Ben came.
Good Effort From Scott Mitchell
After Scott Mitchell had successfully backed up Hall of Famer Dan Marino in Miami, the Detroit Lions figured he would be the perfect quarterback for them in 1994. The Lions thought they were going to have an unstoppable passing offense. Once his career with the Lions started, that didn’t exactly pan out.
His first year ended with injury as he looked stressed on the field. He was throwing highly inaccurate passes. The next season he ended up giving the Lions his best. He broke the Lions passing record and touchdown record. But he would never return to that form again. The Lions fanbase ran him out of town.
Frank Reich Makes History
How many quarterbacks can say they pulled off the greatest comeback in NFL playoff history? Frank Reich can say it. Reich was the backup when the playoffs started but when the starter got injured, he got the start in the Wild Card round against the Oilers. By the third quarter, his team was down 35-3. By the time the clock expired in regulation, the game was tied and they went on to win in overtime.
He led the Bills to another playoff victory but by the AFC Championship game, the real starter had returned and Reich went back to the bench. He would never become a starter and played backup for the rest of his career.
The Marino Replacement
Like most others on this list, Jay Fiedler had shown glimpses of greatness when he started. While he was in Jacksonville, his play had other teams convinced that he could lead. The Dolphins took the bait and signed him to take over for Dan Marino in 2000.
When he arrived in Miami, he strung together some pretty good seasons. They made the playoffs a few times and he had 20 touchdown season. But the real reason the team was so good was thanks to the dominant defense. Fiedler would never put up stats like that again.
Rob Johnson Has A Showing
Jacksonville had Rob Johnson patiently waiting on the bench. He played behind Mark Brunell and Steve Beuerlein. One game in 1997, he finally got a start and put his talents to use. He racked up nearly 300 passing yards and three touchdowns with one of them being a rushing touchdown. That following season, Jacksonville used him as trade bait and teams wanted him.
Sadly, his career ended up being filled with injuries and letdowns. Other teams fell in love with other players. But Johnson will always have that game where he impressed everyone.
Elvis Grbac Tricks The Ravens
The 49ers chose Elvis Grbac in the eighth round of the 1993 draft. He waited on the bench behind Steve Young for three years before the Chiefs signed him as a free agent. He was supposed to replace the retiring Joe Montana. It’s always tough when you have to replace a legend.
He stunk it up in Kansas up until the 2000 season when he threw for over 4,100 yards and 28 touchdowns. He would be selected to the Pro Bowl that year. The Ravens ended up picking him up after that year in hopes that he would produce the same and they were out of luck.
Another Bears QB That Had Flashes
Here’s one more Chicago Bears quarterback for you. Jim McMahon was a bad boy. He had the job of making sure the offense didn’t screw up things for the best defense in NFL history. Sounds easy but one wrong move could mess up all the momentum that the defense created for the team.
The bears went to Super Bowl XX, and McMahon became the first quarterback to rush for two touchdowns in the Super Bowl. The Bears never did return to Super Bowl form after that season and McMahon ended his career as a journeyman playing backup for different teams.
Gabbert Can’t Figure It Out
As of 2018, Blaine Gabbert has played and started for three different teams. His stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars ended after three seasons with his rookie season being his best. Then he had a try in San Francisco leaving much to be desired.
His 2017 slump happened with the Arizona Cardinals. After starting quarterback, Carson Palmer went down. Again, nothing changed in Arizona as Gabbert was mediocre, at best. For a tenth overall pick, we think the Jaguars might have wanted a re-do.
Fiedler Gets Fielded
Talk about empathy. Jay Fiedler got inducted into the National Jewish Museum Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 with nothing to show for it. He started 60 games while playing with five different franchises.
We give him credit for graduating Dartmouth, but no credit gets earned for the career he had. Fiedler only went to the playoffs during one season in 2002, but it was all thanks to that Miami Dolphin defense. The guy threw 19 inceptions that season. That was also the only season where he started all 16 games.
What didn’t go wrong with Cade McNown? The first round 12th pick of the 1999 draft got selected by the Chicago Bears. This is a team that has a history of selected bad quarterbacks. McNown was no different.
He had no accuracy, and his arm strength was lacking. You know it’s bad when the fans start to cheer the name of the backup quarterback when you’re in the game. McNown would only last in the NFL for two seasons.
Walsh Was Washed
The Cowboy fanbase got extremely happy when their team drafted Steve Welsh in the 1989 supplemental draft. He was reuniting with his old coach Jimmy Johnson, and things never felt better. Nothing came to fruition as thought and Walsh couldn’t provide.
The Cowboys ended up using Troy Aikman at quarterback and shipping off Walsh to the Saints. After that, he turned into a journeyman, playing for six different teams in his career. He retired with 20 touchdowns and 50 interceptions.
Komlo Got Rushed To Play
The Detriot Lions used to be horrendous for a long time. The people in the front office had no clue how to talent scout, thus leaving them vulnerable. After their starter sustained an in 1979, Komlo got rushed into the starting lineup.
A rookie, Komlo went 2-12 on the season. He didn’t make another start for two years, and things went wrong again. He lost both of the games he started and ended up retiring two years later. With a 50.9 career quarterback rating and 28 interceptions, Komlo didn’t have it.
Mike Tomczak Somehow Lasts 15 Years
For someone to stay in the NFL for 15 years, you wouldn’t think of them being a bust. Mike Tomczak is the exception. He started 73 games during his tenure, but nothing ever came of it. After a self-inflicted contract holdout in 1992, the Packers decided to release him and go with somebody named Brett Farve.
The Steelers eventually picked him up, but nothing good came from that either. He started 27 games during his seven-year stint in Pittsburgh. 43 interceptions happened during that time alone.
The Discount Version Of Mike Vick
Imagine what Michael Vick would have been with less skill and you have Kordell Stewart. If you leave it up to YouTube, then you might get led into thinking Stewart was the next best thing since sliced bread. Highlights though tantalizing are often deceiving.
Stewart had moments of brilliance, yes, but he never developed that true quarterback feels for the game. He had two great seasons, but every other season didn’t compare. He finished with a sub-70 quarterback rating.
The Fluke Nix
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Kent Nix started his career in 1967 fro the Pittsburgh Steelers. He played under a great coach in Tom Landry. Landry went as far as to say Kent Nix was the best rookie in his class. Boy, he needed a new pair of glasses.
Nix went on to never have a winning record. He also played for two other teams in the Houston Oilers, and Chicago Bears. His touchdown to interception ratio was atrocious. He threw 23 touchdowns and had 29 interceptions.
The Ultimate Fumble
Joe Pisarcik had a seven-year career that would have been more forgettable except he had an unforgettable fumble. Pisarcik just had a regular run of the mill career.
Throughout 30 starts, his lifetime quarterback rating was 53.9. The fumble occurred during the “Miracle at the Meadowlands” game. Depending on who you were rooting for, the miracle changes. He fumbled an essential snap in that game and Giants fans will never let him live it down. He also played with the Eagles.
Reaves Didn’t Bring His Skills With Him From College
You would figure that a first-team All-American from the Florida Gators would be a safe bet to draft. The Eagles learned the hard way that is not the case. John Reaves had a great arm but also had a growing drug problem.
After going 0-7 as a rookie, he ended up leaving the NFL in the late ’70s. He came back in 1981 for a season and in 1987 for one last season. We can say his best highlight is being the father-in-law of coach Lane Kiffin.
The Raiders Make Another Bad Selection
The Raiders are known to make questionable draft choices, and this leads back to 1980. With the 15th pick in the 1980 draft, they didn’t draft another kicker in the first round, but they got Marc Wilson.
The Raiders wanted him to come in and replace Plunkett, but Wilson had other plans. He never matured into the player Oakland wanted and needed him to be. Wilson also didn’t get a chance to start a whole season. He ended his career with a sub-70 quarterback rating.
Banks Didn’t Stand A Chance
Tony Banks arrived in St. Louis in 1995. From the start, he was never going to make it. He started his rookie season, but also set a record for most fumbles in a season with 21. That wouldn’t be the end of his abysmal play.
He took on 40 or more sacks for each of the three seasons he played with the Rams. Banks also never won more than three games in St. Louis as a starter.
Hoying Flames Out
Bobby Hoying split his four years of playing between two teams. He got drafted by the Eagles in the third round back in 1996 and showed a lot of promise his rookie season. People thought he would be the next big thing. Then the second season happened, and everything changed.
He didn’t win a single game, forcing the coaches to bench him halfway through the season. Donovan McNabb got drafted, and the spelled the end of Hoying in Philly. He ended with the Raiders.
The Interesting Mark Malone
Mark Malone could have been an Olympic decathlete, but he chose the NFL. A choice that he might later have regretted. His most significant achievement was helping bring the Steelers to the AFC title game in 1984.
Outside of that, he was a turnover machine. He threw an interception on nearly five percent of his passes and fumbled the ball 33 times over his career. His record as a starter was 23-30 which isn’t good at all.
Up next, another Raider bites the dust.
Boller Runs Dry
Naturally, all first-round picks are thought to bring in a much-needed boost for your franchise. Kyle Boller disproved that theory in 2003 after being drafted 19t overall by the Baltimore Ravens. His rookie season consisted of a 5-4 record when he started.
Two years later, he went 4-5 as the downward spiral started. The Ravens brought in Steve McNair the following season, and Boller ended up losing his starting job. After bouncing around with the Rams and Raiders, his career ended in 2011.
Vince Evans Had It Bad
Imagine playing for the two teams that have had the worst luck at quarterback. Vince Evans did that. Evans got drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1977 in the 6th round. He later found himself on the Raiders. It wasn’t all bad because he had a long career that ended in 1995.
His career stats are bad. Evans never had a winning record as the starter. He also threw a mere 52 touchdowns compared to his 74 interceptions.
Randy Wright Didn’t Play Right
Drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 6th round of the 1984 draft, Randy Wright didn’t have much of a career. We suppose he didn’t upset seeing that he got drafted so late, but he certainly didn’t perform.
Two years after being drafted, he finally got the chance to start for the whole season. Wright ended up bringing his team to four wins. After that season, he only started 14 more games for his career and won two.
Rattay Couldn’t Play
Tim Rattay got drafted in the 7th round of the 2000 draft by the San Fransico 49ers. They would have been better off not drafting him at all. When your first and only completed pass as an NFL rookie goes for negative four yards, you might not be cut out for the job.
His first start didn’t happen until three years after being drafted. He went 2-1 that season as a starter. The following three seasons Rattay managed a 3-12 record as a starter. His career only lasted seven seasons.
Rodney Peete Had A Showing
The quarterbacks on this list that manage to have long careers must have a high football IQ. That has to be the only reason because their play doesn’t translate to an extended career. Rodney Peete is another one you can add to that list.
Playing from 1989 to 2004, Peete had one okay season in 2002 with the Panthers. After helping them bounce back from a 1-15 record to 7-9, Peete had finally done some good. Unfortunately, he would get replaced the next season, and the Panthers went to the Super Bowl.
Run Bobby Run!
Being a double-threat quarterback is amazing. Having the ability to run and pass the ball can cause real problems for the defensive coordinator of opposing teams. Too bad for Bobby Douglas, he had the speed but no arm.
The second round Chicago Bears pick in 1969 put up great rushing yards in his career. He ran for over 2,000 yards as the quarterback, but his passing stats are laughable. His touchdown to interception ratio for his career stands at 36-64, ouch.