Before 4,000-yard seasons were commonplace, before he won an MVP, before he led his team to a Super Bowl victory, Joe Namath set the Jets record for most passing yards in a season with 4,007. At the time, he was the very first to accomplish this feat in pro football.
He accomplished this feat in just 14 games, and he did it with a completion percentage of just 52.5, abysmal by today's standards. Namath averaged a career-high and league-league leading 286 yards passing per game. He also averaged 15.5 yards per completion.
Namath had a career-high 26 touchdown passes in 1967 and tied a career-high with 28 interceptions, a ratio that is almost unheard of in today's NFL.
What makes Namath's passing yards total so impressive are things like the low completion percentage and high yards per completion.
Compare that to someone at the top of his game like Patrick Mahomes. The Kansas City Chiefs star completes 66 percent of his passes but averages only 12.7 yards a completion.
It was a different game in 1967 but despite that, the 4,007 passing yards for Namath was pretty incredible.
NY Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson should break this record soon
Zach Wilson should be able to break Namath's historic passing record soon, maybe this season, if things go better than for most Jets rookie quarterbacks. It is incredible the record has lasted as long as it has.
Last year alone, 12 NFL quarterbacks passed for well over Namath's team record. Five players passed for over 4,500 yards. Now with an extra regular-season game to play in 2021, expect even more players to reach that mark.
In today's game, Wilson should at least make a run at the record in 2021, and if he doesn't hit it this year, it should fall fairly soon in future seasons, if Wilson is as good as the Jets think he can be.
The question becomes whether Wilson has enough tools around him to accomplish such a feat, or if his line can offer enough protection, and the Jets will be concentrating on those going into the season.
Namath is a Hall of Famer and Jets legend, but it is time for this record to fall and Wilson might just be the quarterback to do it. This record has stood long enough!