For anyone that saw Part I and Part II of our interview with Wesley Walker, you saw that Wesley gave a great deal of praise to his quarterback teammate, Ken O’Brien. This afternoon, I decided to bring you a background on the guy that Wesley Walker called the greatest quarterback he ever played with, hands down. So, spotlight on former Jets QB Ken O’Brien.
O’Brien was born in Rockville Center, NY, but moved out to California early in life. He played at Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California. He started his college career at Sacramento State in 1978, then transferred to the University of California, Davis. He was division II All-American in his senior year of 1982, and was selected All-Far Western Conference QB three times. Kenny was named to the Collge Football Hall of Fame in 1997.
Ken O’Brien was drafted as part of the famous 1983 quarterback class by the New York Jets, although history gives the Jets a lot of grief for making the pick. The Jets chose O’Brien with the 24th pick in the first round, but that left some guy named Dan Marino on the board for the Dolphins, and he went on to be, well Dan Marino.
But many Jets fans, myself included, will tell you that this was not the blunder that many made it out to be.
The problem was that Ken O’Brien suffered very often from the same problem that Mark Sanchez did in 2011, terrible offensive line play. He was sacked, and sacked, and sacked. From 1985-1991, O’Brien was sacked an average of almost 44 times per season.
However, he still managed to lead the AFC in passing in 1985. He threw for 3,888 yards, 25 TDs vs only 8 INTs, a conference leading 96.8 passer rating. He managed all of that after being sacked an amazing 62 times that season.
But never did O’Brien say a word. He never complained that the team never took care of him. He was a true Jet, through and through.
In 1986, Kenny helped lead the Jets out of the gate to a 10-1 record, including that famous game in September where he and Dan Marino dueled to a record 927 passing yards. The Jets won 51-45 in OT, and O’Brien added 29-43 passing for 479 yards, and 4 TDs, with 1 INT. Unfortunately, his own and other key injuries derailed the 1986 season into a much talked about second round exit in double overtime against the Cleveland Browns.
In 1986, Ken O’Brien, in a November game against the Seattle Seahawks, became the only QB to ever throw for more than 400 yards and achieve a perfect passer rating (158.3), when he threw for 431 yards and 4 TDs. That season he also completed 16 straight and 23 out of 25 passes against the Atlanta Falcons.
O’Brien retired after spending the 1993 season with the Philadelphia Eagles, but Wesley Walker was right. He was a guy that never got the credit he deserved for his sizeable talent.
For those who never saw him play, and those that want to remember his talent that did see him, take a look at the video:
In the early 1990s, the Quarterback Challenge was introduced. O’Brien was the defending championship in the following clip, and he smoked everyone in the accuracy category. Take a look, it’s impressive:
A much maligned Jet in team history, but a guy who could “Play like a Jet” as good as anyone. Spotlight on QB Ken O’Brien.