The New York Jets Draft: A Look Back at the Class of 1983

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KEN O’BRIEN

We look at Ken O’Brien as he was chosen to be the Jets’ franchise quarterback for years to come.  They were looking for the next guy after Joe Namath, Richard Todd got close to being the guy, but couldn’t get the Jets over the hump.  Pat Ryan was best in a backup role, so the Jets brought in the strong armed Kenny O’Brien.  And he performed well for a great deal of his career.  Take a look at his stats through the years:

G GS Comp Att Pct Yds Avg TD Int Sck SckY Rate Att Yds Avg TD FUM Lost
1993 Philadelphia Eagles 5             4 71 137 51.8 708 5.2 4 3 15 116 67.4 4 17 4.3 0 4 2
1992 New York Jets 10             3 55 98 56.1 642 6.6 5 6 10 61 67.6 8 8 1.0 0
1991 New York Jets 16 16 287 489 58.7 3,300 6.7 10 11 33 273 76.6 23 60 2.6 0 6 0
1990 New York Jets 16             – 226 411 55.0 2,855 6.9 13 10 34 262 77.3 21 72 3.4 0
1989 New York Jets 15             – 288 477 60.4 3,346 7.0 12 18 50 391 74.3 9 18 2.0 0
1988 New York Jets 14             – 236 424 55.7 2,567 6.1 15 7 37 267 78.6 21 25 1.2 0
1987 New York Jets 12             – 234 393 59.5 2,696 6.9 13 8 50 364 82.8 30 61 2.0 0
1986 New York Jets 15             – 300 482 62.2 3,690 7.7 25 20 40 353 85.8 17 46 2.7 0
1985 New York Jets 16             – 297 488 60.9 3,888 8.0 25 8 62 399 96.2 25 58 2.3 0
1984 New York Jets 10             – 116 203 57.1 1,402 6.9 6 7 22 168 74.0 16 29 1.8 0
1983 New York Jets 0             – 0.0
TOTAL 2,110 3,602 58.6 25,094 7.0 128 98 353 2,654 80.4 174 394 2.3 0 10 2

Not a career to be laughed at, that’s for sure.  He performed as well as anyone could have behind an offensive line that was barely equipped to block me.  He had great weapons on the outside in Wesley Walker and Al Toon, and used them as an aid to guide the Jets to nearly the AFC Championship game in 1986, and further back, to the top of the AFC in passing in 1985.

Who can forget 1988, when Kenny let the Jets on a last minute drive to beat the Giants on the last day of the season to knock them out of the playoffs?  It was a great day, was it not?

Take a look at this excellent final drive:

Despite the Jets best efforts to turn his job over to Browning Nagle in 1992, O’Brien was able to earn his job back and lead the Jets to one more playoff berth in his career.

Everyone’s biggest problem with O’Brien was that his name wasn’t Dan Marino. If you look back at that class, you will see that Marino was chosen by the Dolphins four picks later. However, it’s really an unfair comparison to make, as there is no way to guarantee that someone will be an all-time great coming out of college.

If the Jets scouts had issues about Dan Marino at the time, they were correct not to draft him. It’s unlikely that the Jets would have picked someone in the draft that they didn’t have highly ranked. And, don’t forget, when the Jets had an offensive line, Kenny could throw it with any of them.

For their careers, Dan Marino posted a 59.4% completion percentage. O’Brien went 58.6%. Their passer ratings were 86.4 to 80.4 in favor of Marino. We all know that Dan threw a lot more often, so TD’s and INT’s is not a fair comparison. But the point is, in measurables that Ken could compare with Dan, he did, and it wasn’t so unfavorable.

Despite what a lot of people think, this was a good year for the New York Jets. There is no way to have known how good that Marino was going to be. They could not have been faulted for drafting O’Brien.

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