This past weekend, I was reading over and over again how Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez were both average, or sub par quarterbacks. I had the urge to check out John Elway for some reason. I found myself wondering how would the Jets be if they had a franchise guy like Brett Favre in his youth, or John Elway. You know, one of those guys that plays 15 years on a team, and the city loves him. His is the non moving unmistakable face of the franchise. Oddly, this is what I saw.
I randomly googled Elway’s statistics, first on NFL.com, and then more detailed at pro football reference. Shout out to those guys. Here’s what I got. From the best ever “quarterback class of 83″, or so it’s called comes John Elway. Hall of fame, 9 time Pro Bowl, 2 time Super Bowl winning quarterback. Here’s the numbers line for John Elway.
In 16 years of playing (missing 22 total games), only three times did Elway complete over 60% of his passes. That’s right, THREE! 1993, 1994, and 1996 where he topped out at a whopping 63.1%. His career average for pass completions is 56.9%. I thought that wasn’t so great, so maybe it was that he was a touchdown machine. But he wasn’t that either. Only 6 times in 16 years did he throw over 20 touchdown passes. Again he topped out at a 26 two times, and a high of 27 touchdowns.
By now if you haven’t figured it out I’m getting at this fact. Why is Elway a beloved hall-of-famer, while Mark Sanchez, or all New York quarterbacks after Joe Namath not treated with such reverence? Elway had 16 years to do his thing without Denver trying to shuffle him out-of-town to my knowledge. 5 times Elway had double-digit fumbles, with as many as 12 in his 10th and 11th seasons, and another 5 times he had 8 or 9 fumbles. Basically 10 out of 16 years he was a fumble machine. If you’re talking about interceptions between his rookie year in 1983, and his 10th season in 1992 he threw 157 interceptions, for an average of 15.7 INT’s a year.
Now obviously the passing rules have changed since the 80’s through what we see today, but come on. How can so many people remember one guy that we all saw play in our lifetime, and describe him as that cannon armed, fearless quarterback, all the while sniping at the quarterback on our own team? I’m included in this, because I look at Sanchez and I think if he can’t cut down on his turnovers than he is toast. But consider the facts. He’s already had a 26 touchdown season in 2011, the best Elway ever did was 27 and that was in the twilight of his career. Sanchez has already made the post season twice. Elway’s claim to fame was his comebacks, where he had 46 game winning drives in 16 years, Sanchez has had 12 game winning drives in 4 years. If he maintains his pace, he would be on pace for 48. Would he then be a hall of fame quarterback?
This blog isn’t as much about John Elway or Mark Sanchez as it is about our thought process about New York quarterbacks. Elway you can say is better if you want, he has the accolades to prove it. He also had pro bowl receivers like Ed McCaffrey and Rod Smith for a decade, to go along with hall of fame tight end Shannon Sharpe. If that wasn’t enough, he had for a brief time another hall of fame-ish guy in running back “Touchdown” Terrell Davis. Despite all these weapons, it is Elway who gets the praise, and none of the flack for the somewhat Sanchez like numbers he put up throughout the majority of his career. The stats are fact, so that part is not an opinion it is what it is.
That brought me to all NY quarterbacks, because we have one in Eli Manning who plays for the “other guys” in town, who has won two Super Bowls. When is the last time you heard his name mentioned as a great quarterback? When’s the last time you saw a billboard of Eli Manning? When’s the last time you saw 10 people within 6 months outside of a football stadium with an Eli Manning jersey on? I think that we as New York fans in general are overly critical of our signal callers, and not as quick to applaud them. Just give it a thought and think of those John Elway career numbers before you bad mouth Sanchez or whoever quarterbacks the Jets for the next ten years.