Ranking the NFL’s worst quarterback franchises

Ranking the NFL’s worst quarterback franchises

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Mike Glennon
Image: (Getty Images)

The Bears’ quarterback situation is dismal. You knew that. You’ve known that. You’ll continue to know that. It’s been the case for decades and it’s not getting any better. But how bad is it?

On Wednesday, NBC Sports Chicago reporter JJ Stankevitz tweeted, “It’s always good to be in a full circle of benching quarterbacks with the Jacksonville Jaguars,” reacting to the news that former Bears signal caller Mike Glennon is replacing Jake Luton under center in Jacksonville, after Luton took over for Gardner Minshew, who replaced Nick Foles, who’s now the Chicago starter, having overtaken Mitchell Trubisky on the depth chart, after Trubisky replaced… Mike Glennon.

Here’s the thing, though: it’s not the Bears who should be appalled by riding a quarterback carousel with the Jaguars, but the other way around. Chicago would love to have had Mark Brunell, David Garrard, or Byron Leftwich.

Since 1995, when the Jaguars entered the NFL, they rank 26th in the NFL in yards per passing attempt, 21st in passer rating, and 24th in completion percentage. The Bears are 31st, 29th, and 26th in those categories. Plus, while the Jaguars have thrown only 353 interceptions in their history, the Bears have been picked off 437 times in the same span, fifth-most in the NFL.

The Bears aren’t the worst quarterback team of the last quarter-century, but they’re close. These are the 10 at the bottom of the barrel

Sorry to all the other Jesse Spectors for ruining your Google results.

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10. Buccaneers

10. Buccaneers

Jameis Winston
Jameis Winston
Image: (Getty Images)

Jameis Winston, who got dumped for a 43-year-old wellness grifter looking for a tax shelter, is arguably the best quarterback in franchise history. The Bucs spent four years starting Josh Freeman, who had a passer rating of 78.8, got cut after three losses to start his fifth season as starter, then played only two more games in the league. And Freeman is third in career yards with Tampa Bay behind Winston and Vinny Testaverde. Trent Dilfer threw 70 touchdowns for the Bucs, and 80 interceptions. The Bucs won a Super Bowl despite having Brad Johnson as their quarterback, and he was gone two seasons later as Tampa Bay tried Brian Griese, Chris Simms, Bruce Gradkowski, and Jeff Garcia with little to no success. Like many teams on this list, the Bucs also employed Josh McCown, who was 1-10 as their starter in 2014.

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9. Dolphins

9. Dolphins

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Jay Fiedler
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After Dan Marino retired, the Dolphins spent four years with Jay Fiedler as their starter, then moved on to A.J. Feeley and Gus Frerotte, a series of signal callers that might best be known as F-minuses. Miami then moved on to Joey Harrington, Cleo Lemon, Chad Pennington, Chad Henne, and Matt Moore, before several years of Ryan Tannehill with a bit of Jay Cutler mixed in. Dolphins quarterbacks in the last 25 years have the lowest passer rating in the state of Florida at 80.2, losing what can best be described as a Sunshine State slap fight with the Buccaneers at 80.5 and the Jaguars at 81.6. Is Tua Tagovailoa the answer? Time will tell.

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8. Ravens

8. Ravens

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Joe Flacco
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Joe Flacco is not, and never was, elite. The year that the Ravens won a Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer as their quarterback? Their leading passer that season was Tony Banks. Do you remember Jim Harbaugh, Elvis Grbac, and Steve McNair as Ravens quarterbacks? That’s weird to think about, and generally best not to. There’s also several years of Kyle Boller in there. The Ravens’ identity is as a running team with a great defense over the years, and they’ve finally gotten it right at quarterback with Lamar Jackson, whose MVP exploits include taking part in that ground game in addition to his excellent passing.

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7. Lions

7. Lions

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Matthew Stafford
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For a team with as little success as the Lions have had, they’ve had remarkable stability at quarterback, led for the past 25 years mainly by Scott Mitchell, Charlie Batch, Joey Harrington, and Matthew Stafford. The problem is that being led by Scott Mitchell, Charlie Batch, Joey Harrington, and Matthew Stafford is a good way to maintain a streak of not having won a playoff game since 1991. The only Lions quarterback with a winning record as a starter in the era? Stoney Case, who went 13-for-25 with no touchdowns and an interception in a season-opening win at New Orleans in 2000, backed up Batch and played four games the rest of the season, then never appeared in the NFL again. The Lions had Josh McCown in 2006, but he never threw a pass for them.

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6. Panthers

6. Panthers

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Jake Delhomme
Image: (Getty Images)

Yes, Carolina had Cam Newton for the bulk of the 2010s, but over the course of their history, only Cleveland has completed passes at a lower rate than the Panthers have. Jake Delhomme (who was backed up for two years by Josh McCown) could pull a rabbit out of a hat — he led seven game-winning drives in 2003 alone — but also could do magic by making possessions disappear. In seven years with the Panthers, Delhomme threw 120 touchdown passes, but 89 interceptions. In their best years, the Panthers have thrived with a strong running game — including by Newton — and defensive studs like Julius Peppers and Luke Kuechly.

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5. Bills

5. Bills

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Doug Flutie
Image: (Getty Images)

No team has been in the NFL for the entire last quarter-century and thrown for fewer yards than Buffalo, which has the sixth-lowest collective passer rating of the last 25 years. That includes two seasons at the end of Jim Kelly’s career, a couple of nice Doug Flutie seasons, and the recent development of Josh Allen. In between, there’s been Rob Johnson, Alex Van Pelt, the withered husk of Drew Bledsoe, Kelly Holcomb, J.P. Losman, Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick, E.J. Manuel, Kyle Orton, and Tyrod Taylor (who was actually pretty good, but had little help and didn’t get a fair shake). The Bills have had a top-10 scoring offense in the league three times in the last 25 years, and never higher than seventh. Fitzpatrick is fourth in franchise history in passing yards, behind Kelly, Joe Ferguson, and Jack Kemp. And the Bills are the only team that’s actually put Nathan Peterman in an NFL game.

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4. Cardinals

4. Cardinals

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Jake Plummer
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Nobody gets intercepted more often than the Cardinals, whose quarterbacks have thrown 491 picks in the last 25 years, way ahead of the team with the next most, the Rams at 450. An important distinction between the two former St. Louis teams is that the Rams are in the middle of the pack for touchdowns and yards per attempt, while the Cardinals are… 23rd and 27th in those categories. Jake Plummer was fun, but not good, and even though Kurt Warner took Arizona to a Super Bowl, he wasn’t what he was with the Rams, a common theme for a team that’s also employed Dave Krieg, Boomer Esiason, Jeff Blake, and Carson Palmer at the tail end of their careers, not to mention the gruesome tenures of Matt Leinart, Kevin Kolb, Drew Stanton, Josh Rosen, and Derek Anderson in the desert, where Josh McCown also spent four years, going 11-13 as a starter. At least things are looking up with Kyler Murray.

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3. Bears

3. Bears

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Jay Cutler
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Jay Cutler is the franchise leader in passing yards at 23,443… over Sid Luckman, who played in Chicago from 1939-50 and averaged 114.7 yards per game. Cutler has more than twice as many passing yards as any Chicago quarterback since Luckman, with Jim Harbaugh next on the list at 11,567. And it’s not like Cutler, who took the Bears to the playoffs exactly once, on a team led by its defense, was so great. Yet, Cutler still was miles better for the Bears than their other quarterbacks of the era, a group that includes Erik Kramer, Dave Krieg, Shane Matthews, Cade McNown, Jim Miller, Kordell Stewart, Chad Hutchinson, Kyle Orton, Rex Grossman, Brian Griese, Matt Barkley, Mitchell Trubisky, Nick Foles, and yes, three years of Josh McCown on the roster — he was 4-3 as Chicago’s starter!

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2. Jets

2. Jets

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Boomer Esiason
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It’s still mind-boggling that the Jets went to back-to-back AFC title games with Mark Sanchez as their quarterback. Chad Pennington and Vinny Testaverde had some good seasons along the way, but over the last 25 years, the Jets are second-to-last in the NFL in adjusted net yards per passing attempt, last in touchdown passes among teams that have been in the league the whole time, fourth-to-last in completion percentage, and have thrown the third-most interceptions. The parade of QBs who were better elsewhere includes Boomer Esiason, Brett Favre, Neil O’Donnell, Joe Flacco, and, naturally, Josh McCown showing up to lose three games in 2018

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1. Browns

1. Browns

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Johnny Manziel
Image: (Getty Images)

Baker Mayfield this year will become the first quarterback to be Cleveland’s leading passer for three straight seasons since Tim Couch in the first four years of the Browns’ second iteration. In between, they’ve had Kelly Holcomb, Jeff Garcia, Trent Dilfer, Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, Colt McCoy, Jason Campbell, Brian Hoyer, Cody Kessler, and DeShone Kizer. That’s not all the starters — notice, say, that Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel aren’t on the list — just the annual passing leaders for the Browns in that time. And the jury is still out on whether Mayfield is actually good. Think about what a passing league this has become, and then think about Brian Sipe still having the No. 1, 2, and 5 passing yardage seasons in Browns history. Josh McCown, who was 1-10 as Cleveland’s starter over two years, is 41st and 77th… ahead of Luke McCown, whose 608 yards while going 0-4 in 2004, rank 99th in Browns history.

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Sorry to all the other Jesse Spectors for ruining your Google results.