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Cook’s Top 5: Atlanta Falcons Quarterbacks

Steve Cook continues his look at each NFL franchise’s best QBs with his Top 5 Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks!

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New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons

Steve Cook continues his look at each NFL franchise’s best QBs with his Top 5 Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks!

We continue our look at the Greatest Quarterbacks of each NFL franchise with another humdinger of an assortment of talent. The Atlanta Falcons have made two Super Bowl appearances during their existence, winning neither. Their first couple of decades were mediocre at best, but the 21st century has seen a reversal of fortune. The Falcons have at least seemed relevant more seasons than not.

Today we look at the top 5 Falcons quarterbacks of all time.

5. Chris Miller

Taking a look at Miller’s numbers gave me one thought: there could have been something there. He certainly wasn’t bad, with the exception of two really bad performances that consisted of his rookie season, Miller had decent enough numbers for a not so great collection of Falcons teams. He still has the third-most passing yards & is tied for the third most passing touchdowns in Falcons history.

Things improved through Miller’s time there. 1991 was his best season, throwing for over 3100 yards, getting 26 passing touchdowns and making the Pro Bowl. It seemed like Miller had a future…until two severe knee injuries led to his departure from Atlanta. He signed with the Rams in 1994 and dealt with a new recurring problem: concussions. Miller suffered 5 concussions in 14 months, with nasty side effects that led to him retiring from football.

He attempted a comeback with the Denver Broncos in 1999, but a concussion early into his tenure there led to him going back into retirement. Miller could have lived up to the high expectations people had for him coming out of Oregon, but we’ll never know.

4. Chris Chandler

Prior to arriving in Atlanta, Chandler was the definition of a journeyman. He played for five teams in the first nine seasons of his career. Chandler couldn’t catch on anywhere until he signed with the Falcons and obtained the coaching services of Dan Reeves. Business picked up then.

Chandler made the Pro Bowl in the 1997 & 98 seasons. 1998 was the season of the Dirty Birds’ 14-2 regular season and trip to the Super Bowl, where they got the honor of laying down for John Elway in his last game.

The Falcons & Chandler came back to earth in the years afterward, and it was decided to bring in a new young arm. After a year backing Chandler up, it was Michael Vick’s team. Chandler went on to the Bears & Rams in completely forgettable stints.

Chandler can say something that only one other man can: he quarterbacked the Atlanta Falcons to the Super Bowl.

3. Steve Bartkowski

Like most NFL franchises, the Falcons got off to a slow start. Ok, maybe a bit slower than most. Atlanta struggled through their first few seasons, trying to find a way to become relevant. Then, as now, one of the best ways to become relevant is to draft a franchise-level quarterback.

Atlanta found theirs with the first pick of the 1974 NFL Draft. Steve Bartkowski, who had led the nation in passing during his senior season at Cal. Bartkowski would make the Pro Bowl in 1980 & 81, and would take the Falcons to their first playoff appearance in 1978. The Falcons were such an afterthought at this time with a revolving door of head coaches, that even getting to the playoffs was one heck of an accomplishment.

Bartkowski lasted eleven seasons with the Falcons before ending his career with the Rams in 1986. He would have played more games and racked up more stats if not for the seven knee operations he went through during his career. His QB record with Atlanta was only 55-66 and he only had two winning seasons, but It’s hard to see too many people from that era doing much better with those teams.

Up until the Falcons found their current quarterback, Steve Bartkowski held every relevant Falcon passing record. He sits on the team’s board of directors, is part of the Falcons Ring of Honor and has had his jersey retired. It was a pretty solid run, and up until this century the best in Falcons history.

2. Michael Vick

Many have chosen to leave Vick off of their lists of great players due to the situation that led to his departure from Atlanta. The dogfighting ring. Don’t get me wrong, it was disgusting and Vick got what he deserved for taking part in it.

That being said, Vick has shown regret for his actions and has avoided further problems since. Football has shown a tendency to be more forgiving than other sports, people aren’t outcast forever or denied consideration for the Hall of Fame for a mistake. Vick’s play while wearing an Atlanta Falcon uniform was notable, and you can’t really tell the story of the Atlanta Falcons without mentioning him. Other than Vick, the only Falcon that ever really got mainstream coverage was Deion Sanders.

You might argue that I shouldn’t rate him over Bartkowski due to Steve’s importance to the franchise’s early days. I can only say that Vick was the most exciting quarterback I ever watched up until seeing Lamar Jackson at Louisville. What Vick lacked in passing yardage (his besy season in that category is 23rd in Falcons history), he made up for with the rest of his game.

Honorable Mention: Jeff George

George was considered an absolute bust after getting drafted first overall by the Colts in 1990. They couldn’t wait to get him out of the city after getting to know him, and the Falcons would do the same after two pretty solid seasons. George did throw for over 4,000 yards in 1995, and guided the Falcons to the playoffs for the first time since 1991. If George hadn’t made June Jones mad, he might have been in Chris Chandler’s spot for the Falcons’ first Super Bowl trip.

1. Matt Ryan

Ryan arrived in Atlanta from Boston College as the third pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. In the ensuing years, Ryan has gone on to shatter every Falcon passing record and see the team through more success than any previous quarterback. He’s played in eighty-two more games than any other Falcons QB. Completed nearly 3,000 more passes. 193 more touchdowns than second place. Over 32,000 more passing yards. Ten of the top eleven passing yardage per season totals belong to Matty Ice.

It’s not really fair to compare Ryan to his fellow Falcons. Where does he compare with his current peers? He’s never led the league in touchdowns or passing yards. He’s been to four Pro Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro in 2016. That was Ryan’s best season to this point, culminating in Ryan becoming the first Atlanta Falcon to win the Most Valuable Player award. There was also a trip to the Super Bowl that the Falcons should have won. You know, considering they were up 28-3 and all that. The Falcons had a winning record each of Ryan’s first five seasons, which was the first time they managed to have five straight winning seasons.

Ryan will be thirty-six years old when the 2021 season starts. His current contract will expire after the 2022 season. Will the Falcons keep him around so he can keep adding to his Atlanta legacy? Time will tell.


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Cook’s Top 5: Dallas Cowboys Quarterbacks

Steve Cook graces you with more NFL QB talk, and this time it revolves around the best signal callers for America’s team. Not the Browns–the Dallas Cowboys!

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Troy Aikman Dallas Cowboys

Steve Cook graces you with more NFL QB talk, and this time it revolves around the best signal callers for America’s team. Not the Browns–the Dallas Cowboys!

HOW BOUT DEM COWBOYS?

There are few more high profile position in sports than that of the Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback. Something about “America’s Team” makes the Cowboys one of the most discussed teams in the NFL every season, whether they deserve to be or not. Whether people love or hate them, everybody has an opinion.

Today, we look at the five greatest Dallas Cowboy quarterbacks of all time. It wasn’t hard filling this list.

5. Don Meredith

“Dandy” Don was beloved during his high school & college football career in the Dallas area, so it only made sense for the expansion Cowboys to have him on their roster. Sure enough, Meredith was one of the first Cowboys, and after a couple years serving as a backup he became the full-time starter in 1962. He had a couple of rough seasons, but broke out in the late 1960s and was selected to the Pro Bowl each of his last three seasons in the NFL. His laid-back style made him popular with his teammates, if not with his coaches.

1966 was his finest season, with 2,805 yards, 24 touchdowns & 12 interceptions. He won the Bert Bell Award, becoming the first Cowboy to win a player of the year award. His retirement after the 1968 season at the age of 30 came as a surprise, as he’d led the Cowboys to an 11-2 record that season and seemed to have a few good seasons left. He had gotten tired of playing though, and found new things to do in television. As it turned out, Meredith would start a long-running tradition of Cowboys quarterbacks announcing games on television after their retirement.

4. Danny White

Being the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys isn’t as easy as some people make it look. There’s a lot of pressure involved with leading America’s Team out there every week. Take Danny White, for instance. By most standards, White had a good, solid career. He led the Cowboys to three straight NFC Championship Games from 1980-82, went to the Pro Bowl in 1982 & had his best season in 1983 with 3,980 passing yards & 29 touchdowns. That wasn’t good enough for Cowboys fans, who had become spoiled by the performance of Roger Staubach during the 1970s.

White’s inability to get over the hump & make a Super Bowl got the fans upset with his performance, and eager to see new faces like Gary Hogeboom get a chance. It didn’t help that White’s teammates were irritated by his siding with the owners during the players’ strike in 1982. White did have a 62-30 quarterback record, and still holds the record for most games played by a Cowboys quarterback, largely due to his stint as punter while he was backing up Staubach.

3. Tony Romo

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

I have to admit that I was surprised to find out that Romo was the all-time passing yardage (34,183) & touchdown (248) leader for the Cowboys. He was a four-time Pro Bowler, and as people have found out during his time on CBS, a fine spokesperson for the league. Romo went from an undrafted quarterback out of Eastern Illinois to one of the league’s biggest stars.

Much like White, Romo’s career with the Cowboys had one major flaw: He never made a Super Bowl, in fact, he never got past the Divisional round. There are high standards in Dallas, set by a couple of eras of dominance that they haven’t been able to replicate since. During his career, Romo’s playoff shortcomings & love life were the main topics of conversation. I think hindsight will be kinder to his actual play on the field.

2. Troy Aikman

The Cowboys had reached a low point when they took Aikman with the first overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft. They had lower to go, as they went 1-15 during Troy’s first season with the team. Jimmy Johnson & Jerry Jones had plans though, and they had a lot of draft picks, many of which became focal points of an early 1990s run where the Cowboys won three Super Bowls in four seasons. Aikman was selected to six straight Pro Bowls & was MVP of Super Bowl XXVII.

Aikman’s career numbers are comparable to the likes of Mark Brunell, Alex Smith, Ken Stabler, Carson Palmer & Jay Cutler. Yet, Aikman was a first ballot Hall of Famer while none of these men would be considered in that class. Winning the biggest games in the biggest moments is what separated Aikman’s perception from that of other men that might compare to him in statistical categories. Aikman also had better players around him, but he wasn’t in control of all that. What he could control, he handled very well. He played more games than any other Cowboys quarterback, won more games and is second in career passing yards and touchdowns for the franchise.

Honorable Mention: Dak Prescott

Dak is well on his way to joining this list, and with his recent contract extension will have plenty of time to do so. He’s on a pace that would give him most of the franchise records should he stick around and stay healthy. The question Cowboys fans have: Will he be able to win the big one like the top two on this list, or will he come up short like the two behind them? He’s 1-2 so far in playoff games.

1. Roger Staubach

The man that became known as Captain Comeback first gained attention as the quarterback for the Naval Academy, where he won the 1963 Heisman Trophy. After serving in Vietnam, Staubach joined the Cowboys & was the quarterback throughout most of the 1970s. He led the Cowboys to a 10-0 record and a victory in Super Bowl VI in his first season as starting quarterback, also winning the game’s MVP award. He missed most of 1972 due to a separated shoulder, but won his job back in a playoff game and never gave it up for the rest of his career.

He added a victory in Super Bowl XII & led the team to a 85-29 record before retiring after the 1979 season. 1979 was his best statistical season, with 3,586 passing yards & 27 touchdowns as career highs. The Cowboys won less than ten games one season during his time as quarterback. Staubach is the yardstick against which all Cowboys quarterbacks are measured on & off the field.

Thanks for reading! Join me next time when we look at the Denver Broncos!


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Chairshot Radio: The NFL Adds Game 17 [040221]

After forty plus years the NFL has voted to add a 17th game to the regular season schedule. Join Rey, Chris, AJ and PC as we divulge our opinions.

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Chairshot Radio: The NFL Adds Game 17 [040221]

After forty plus years the NFL has voted to add a 17th game to the regular season schedule. Join Rey, Chris, AJ and PC as we divulge our opinions.

Today’s Hosts: PC Tunney (@PCTunney) Chris Platt(@therealcplatt) Rey Cash (@itsreycash) & AJ Balaz (@PhenomenalAJB)

  • The NFL Votes to Add a 17th Game

About Chairshot Radio

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