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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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NFL

Cook’s 2022 NFL Picks: Week 4 TNF Edition

Cook chimes in with his look at the NFL Week 4 Thursday Night Football showdown between the surging Miami Dolphins and his Cincinnati Bengals!

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Tua Tagovailoa

Cook chimes in with his look at the NFL Week 4 Thursday Night Football showdown between the surging Miami Dolphins and his Cincinnati Bengals!

Hi, hello and welcome to Week 4 of the National Football League! I don’t want to make a habit of these TNF exclusive columns, but this Thursday night has a game that deserves such treatment. The Miami Dolphins that have taken the league by storm over the first three weeks. They did a Butt Punt and still won in Week 3. The Cincinnati Bengals that won the AFC last season. They lost their first two games in inexcusable fashion, but came back strong against the New York Football Jets. This game needs the Cook Breakdown, so let’s get right to it! The line is via the Vegas Insider Consensus on Wednesday night.

Thursday, September 29

Miami at Cincinnati (-3.5)

I’ll be honest, as I am 95% of the time in this column. Some of these games will be difficult for me to talk about, as there are certain teams in the NFL that don’t really stoke my interest. Dolphins vs. Bengals on THURSDAY NIGHT IS FOOTBALL NIGHT has all of the things going on. The Miami Dolphins have been the biggest surprise of the first three weeks. Early returns seem to show that Tyreek Hill was the most important cog of the Chiefs offense in recent years. Miami even managed to beat the Bills last week after executing the rarely seen Butt Punt, which is pretty amazing since the media told me Buffalo wouldn’t lose a game this season. They’re a dangerous team with a lot of tools, even if Tua Tagovailoa got hit on his head and somehow ended up with a back/ankle injury in the process.

Everything reported about the Tua injury smells like BS to me. Since he had trouble walking off the field after getting hit in the head, his ankle must have been injured too. OK. That ankle is why he fell down, sure. All I know is that the Dolphins will make sure Tua is on the field Thursday night whether he’s 100% or not. This is a big week for them, as its a chance to defeat the defending AFC Champions on their home turf. A victory here would further solidify the Dolphins in the eyes of football fans. Tyreek vs. Eli Apple seems like a handicap match to me, especially with Tyreek having revenge for last year on his mind.

Vegas obviously thinks that the Bengals got right against the Jets. They also know that the Bengals will be working the White Tiger gimmick, with White Bengal helmets. Isaac Curtis & Willie Anderson will be inducted into the Bengals Ring of Honor. In case you’re not as familiar with Bengal lore as I am, allow me to explain. Curtis was the first great Bengal wide receiver, before Chad Johnson, Cris Collinsworth, A.J. Green and all the folks you see these days. Anderson was the second great Bengal offensive tackle after Anthony Munoz. He got a bunch of Pro Bowl slots and would have gotten more earlier in his career if voters didn’t ignore the Bengals at that time. We’re talking two Cincinnati Bengal living legends here. We’re also talking about some awesome helmets. I know opinion on the Bengals helmets is divisive out in the unwashed masses, but to me the Bengal stripes are iconic. Switch the orange out for white, and it’s a unique look.

I would love to tell you that the Bengals got right against the Jets and are ready to make another run. It’s especially tempting now that Tua is whatever he is. But the Dolphins still have a ton of talent ready to go, and if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that if the Bengals end up against a backup QB they will make that man look good. The Dolphins’ backup? Teddy Bridgewater.

Football fans have varying opinions on whether one should support their college players against their pro teams. My man Hodge immediately cuts off all of his Big 10 favorites once they don’t get drafted by the Bears. Me, I’m a little more sentimental. Louisville has their peaks & valleys when it comes to producing NFL talent. There are some Cardinals I don’t get attached to, and some I do. Lamar Jackson is one for me. Yes, he plays for an AFC North rival, but I still love him like I imagine one loves a son and want him to do well. He gave me too many positive memories. Teddy Bridgewater is in that same boat for me. He’s such a wonderful person that everybody seems to love. Maybe he didn’t become a top notch NFL quarterback, but he established himself as one of those backups that can stay in the league for years. If the Bengals play against him, I can’t bring myself to root against him, even if he’s against the pro team I grew up rooting for. Some of you won’t understand this, others will smell what I’m cooking.

I’m hoping that the Bengals get a win here and turn their season around in a big way. But I see what the Dolphins are doing, and can’t bet against them down more than a field goal on a wild Thursday night game.

Week 3 Results: 7-8-1
Overall Results: 22-25-1


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NFL

Chairshot NFL: Dolphins, Eagles, Raiders and Texans

Join PC Tunney and Rey Cash as they discuss the undefeated and the winless heading into week 4 of NFL action!

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Join PC Tunney and Rey Cash as they discuss the undefeated and the winless heading into week 4 of NFL action! The dynamic duo also runs down all the point spreads and over unders for this week of action. Let us not forget to pay attention to the LOCKS OF THE WEEK and give your kids the Christmas they deserve.

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