New York Jets: Ranking Every QB Who Started a Game Since Joe Namath Left
When the AFL and NFL merged, the Jets had perhaps the top quarterback in the sport as the league started its takeover as the great American pastime.
One would have figured that although Joe Namath couldn't last forever, the New York Jets could at least field a quarterback who even approached Namath's prolific career.
It just simply hasn't happened.
While the Jets have had some fan favorites who have had their share of success, for nearly four decades, the Jets have rolled out over-matched rookies, over-the-hill veterans or quarterbacks who flat-out just do not belong in the NFL.
Altogether, the Jets have had 24 different starting quarterbacks since Namath gave way to Richard Todd in 1976.
This cringe-worthy slideshow ranks those 24 signal-callers, for better or worse.
24. David Norrie
Years as a Jets QB: 1987
Record as Starting QB: 0-2
If you knew David Norrie would even be mentioned on this list, you are a better Jets fan than I am.
Norrie was the Jets' starting quarterback for two losses during the players' strike of 1987. In a Week 3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Norrie was 18-for-33 and even managed to throw a touchdown to replacement tight end Jamie Kurisko.
Norrie's brief NFL career ended the next week when he was at the helm for what had to be an unwatchable 6-0 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
Before his stint with the Jets, he was a quarterback at UCLA and is currently a college football analyst for ESPN.
23. Marty Domres
Years as a Jets QB: 1977
Record as Starting QB: 0-2
Domres started in Weeks 9 and 10 in 1977 against the Seahawks and Colts, respectively, and split time in those games with Matt Robinson.
Of the 16 passes he threw, Domres only completed three and did not throw a touchdown.
Both games he started, the Jets lost.
The bottom line is that Marty Domres is lucky David Norrie played for the Jets, otherwise he'd be at the bottom of this list.
22. Kyle Mackey
Years as a Jets QB: 1989
Record as Starting QB: 0-1
Kyle Mackey was a replacement quarterback for the Miami Dolphins in 1987 and after the strike ended, he landed with the New York Jets.
He appeared in three games in 1989, starting a Week 6 matchup against the New Orleans Saints.
Mackey went 7-14 for 74 yards and one interception in a loss.
21. Tony Eason
Years as a Jets QB: 1989-1990
Record as Starting QB: 0-2
Tony Eason had a decent career for the New England Patriots from 1983-1989 and even finished in the top five in the NFL in passer rating in 1984 and 1986.
However, this list only takes into account his time with the Jets, and his reign as a starting quarterback was brief and unproductive.
The two games resulted in losses and capped off a 4-12 season for a Jets team that was clearly in a downward spiral.
His only touchdown pass as a Jet was a 63-yard hookup with Jo-Jo Townsell in the loss to the Rams.
20. Jack Trudeau
Years as a Jets QB: 1994
Record as Starting QB: 1-1
Apparently, Fleer thought enough of Jack Trudeau's two-game stint as a Jet in 1994 to give him his own football card in 1995.
Trudeau is the first of the bottom-feeders of this list to have actually won a game for the team.
Not that his performance was anything to write home about, but Trudeau started a Week 6 matchup against his old team, the Indianapolis Colts, and helped the Jets to a 16-6 win.
Trudeau was only 4-of-10 for 40 yards on the day before giving way to Boomer Esiason, who ultimately led the Jets to the win.
The week before, he was an impressive 28-of-46 for 288 yards in a loss against the Browns.
Trudeau went on to play one more game for the Carolina Panthers in 1995 before his 10-year career was over.
19. Bubby Brister
Years as a Jets QB: 1995
Record as Starting QB: 1-3
It was dark days for the Jets franchise when they were trotting Bubby Brister out there as their quarterback.
Luckily, that lasted for just four weeks in the middle of the 1995 season.
Brister had been a decent backup quarterback for the Steelers the seven years prior, but his one year as a Jet was truly forgettable.
His lone win came against the Bernie Kosar-led Miami Dolphins in Week 8. In his nine total games as a Jet, he managed just four touchdowns against eight interceptions.
18. Brooks Bollinger
Years as a Jets QB: 2004-2005
Record as Starting QB: 2-7
Brooks Bollinger is the first quarterback on this list to have seen extensive action as a starter, and things didn't go well to say the least.
Bollinger ended up starting nine games for Herman Edwards in the predictably sour season. Bollinger threw just five touchdowns in his nine starts and was gone after the Jets finished 4-12.
17. Frank Reich
Years as a Jets QB: 1996
Record as Starting QB: 1-6
Frank Reich may have only gone 1-6 for the Jets in his brief run as a starting quarterback in 1996, but he sure showed that he had no reservations about chucking the ball all over the field.
Reich played in 10 games overall and threw at least one touchdown in every game. Unfortunately, he threw an interception in every game he started except for one.
Reich topped 250 yards passing in six of his seven starts, including a 352-yard, three-touchdown performance in a wild 34-29 loss to the Colts.
The Jets ended up 1-15 in 1996, which led to the merciful resignation of Rich Kotite.
16. Glenn Foley
Years as a Jets QB: 1994-1998
Record as Starting QB: 1-7
Believe it or not, there was a time when Glenn Foley was actually looked upon as a possible heir apparent to the Jets' starting quarterback throne.
Instead, Foley could never establish himself in the brief chances he was given and spent most of his time as a backup.
Perhaps his most memorable game came on Opening Day of the 1998 season.
Foley was 30-of-58 for 415 yards and three touchdowns in a loss made famous by Garrison Hearst, who ran 96 yards from scrimmage in overtime to give the 49ers a 36-30 win.
Foley's only win as a starter came in 1997 against the Bears when he was just 8-of-13 passing.
15. Browning Nagle
Years as a Jets QB: 1991-1993
Record as Starting QB: 3-10
When Ken O'Brien decided to hold out for a new contract in 1992, Jets head coach Bruce Coslet decided to turn to Browning Nagle instead as the team's starting quarterback.
Nagle went 3-10 as the starter and threw just seven touchdowns as opposed to 17 interceptions.
Nagle went back to his role as understudy in 1993 and was off the team the following year.
The good news was that his 1992 debacle of a season got the Jets' the fourth pick in the draft and led to the selection of Marvin Jones.
14. Rick Mirer
Years as a Jets QB: 1999
Record as Starting QB: 2-4
To be fair, most of the quarterbacks already listed here didn't have much help around them.
That wasn't the case for Rick Mirer.
Mirer was named the starter when Vinny Testaverde went down with an injury in 1999, one year after the Jets advanced to the AFC Championship game.
13. Quincy Carter
Years as a Jets QB: 2004
Record as Starting QB: 2-1
Quincy Carter actually didn't do that bad during his three-game stint as the Jets' starting quarterback in the middle of the 2004 season.
In Carter's first start, he nearly led the Jets to a victory over a strong Baltimore Ravens team, before falling 20-17 in overtime.
While he struggled to generate offense in his next two starts against the Browns and Cardinals, he did manage to lead the team to two close wins before handing the team back to Chad Pennington.
The 2004 Jets went on to clinch a playoff spot and upset the San Diego Chargers in the first round before losing to the Steelers in the disastrous "Doug Brien Game."
It wouldn't have been possible without Carter leading the Jets to a 2-1 record in his three games as a fill-in.
12. Kellen Clemens
Years as a Jets QB: 2006-2010
Record as Starting QB: 4-5
There were times that the Jets looked like they made a solid pick landing Kellen Clemens in the second round of the 2006 NFL draft.
As the Chad Pennington era was coming to an end, Clemens had shown promise in preseason games and training camp and generally drew positive reviews from coaches.
With Pennington struggling halfway through the 2007 season, head coach Eric Mangini decided to give Clemens a chance as the starter.
Clemens was plagued by a low completion percentage and a poor quarterback rating as the Jets went 2-4 with Clemens at the helm for a six-game stretch.
11. Matt Robinson
Years as a Jets QB: 1977-1979
Record as Starting QB: 6-7
Matt Robinson was a serviceable backup to Richard Todd in the late 1970s and the only time he was pressed into extensive action, he did an admirable job.
Robinson started 11 games in 1978 and led the Jets to a 6-5 mark during that time. His statistics weren't particularly impressive, but he kept the Jets close in every game he started, except a Week 16 blowout loss to the Cowboys.
He ended up throwing for 2002 yards in 1978 with 13 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
10. Ray Lucas
Years as a Jets QB: 1997-2000
Record as Starting QB: 6-3
After the Jets fell to the Denver Broncos in the 1998 AFC Championship game, fans were eager for the team to take that next step in 1999.
Then Vinny Testaverde's Achilles' heel blew on Opening Day and all hope looked lost, especially after an unspectacular six-game stint with Rick Mirer at the helm.
With nothing to lose, Bill Parcells turned the team over to third-string quarterback Ray Lucas and magic nearly ensued.
After losing 16-13 to a Peyton Manning-led Colts team, Lucas rejuvenated the Jets with divisional wins over the Patriots and Bills.
Under Lucas, the Jets went on to win the final four games of the season, but fell just short of the playoffs with an 8-8 record.
Although it was just a fleeting moment of glory over the final nine weeks of a season, Lucas' near-miss will always be remembered.
Lucas didn't have the longevity of some of the players listed below him, but really there were no negatives to his brief career.
9. Neil O'Donnell
Years as a Jets QB: 1996-1997
Record as Starting QB: 8-12
Neil O'Donnell was the starting quarterback for one of the worst Jets teams in their history, but actually had a nice bounce-back season the following year to land him in the middle of this list.
In 1996, O'Donnell signed as a free agent with the Jets and promptly lost the first six games he started.
His season ended with a shoulder injury after throwing just four touchdowns and seven interceptions.
That offseason, Rich Kotite was replaced by Bill Parcells and O'Donnell showed improvement in the one year he had under the legendary head coach.
With O'Donnell at the helm, the Jets went from 1-15 in 1996 to a 9-7 mark in 1997.
O'Donnell threw 17 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions while mostly just trying to manage the game.
O'Donnell is mostly panned for his performance as a Jet, but give him credit for engineering a season that would serve as a great steppingstone to the 1998 team.
8. Pat Ryan
Years as a Jets QB: 1978-1989
Record as Starting QB: 11-8
Pat Ryan was as loyal a player the Jets have had in their franchise's history.
Ryan served as a backup for both Richard Todd and Ken O'Brien, providing the Jets security at the position for over a decade.
Ryan only saw considerable time as a starter in 1984, when he went 6-5 over an 11-game stretch.
Overall in his Jets' career, he threw 31 touchdowns and had 31 interceptions.
7. Brett Favre
Years as a Jets QB: 2008
Record as Starting QB: 9-7
New York may have been just a pit stop on his way to Minnesota for Brett Favre, but when you get past the circus that came along with him, he did well for the team for the most part.
Favre got off to a slow start when he failed to top 200 yards passing in either of his first two games, but showed signs of life in a loss to the Chargers in the team's third game.
With the Jets standing at 1-2, Favre led the team to wins in six of their next seven games, and when they knocked off the Patriots and Titans in consecutive road games, the Jets were being trumpeted by some as the best team in the NFL.
Favre's downfall, and the reason most fans should harbor resentment towards the gunslinger, is that he tore his biceps tendon and didn't disclose to the team that he was injured.
Favre's accuracy and power dropped off dramatically and the Jets sputtered to a 1-4 finish, missing the playoffs by one game.
Over the first 11 games, Favre completed 70 percent of his passes for a 94 quarterback rating. During his final five games, those numbers dropped to 56 percent and 55.2 rating.
Favre threw 22 touchdowns, but he also led the NFL with 22 interceptions.
6. Boomer Esiason
Years as a Jets QB: 1993-1995
Record as Starting QB: 15-27
When Boomer Esiason came to the Jets, it was supposed to be a triumphant homecoming for a New York kid.
It was far from that.
Although Esiason had no help around him and was subjected to playing for Rich Kotite, Pete Carroll and Bruce Coslet during his three-year tenure, he didn't do much to help the situation.
Esiason accumulated a record of just 15-27 while wearing the green and white and couldn't do anything to rescue the team from one of the worst stretches in their existence.
5. Mark Sanchez
Years as a Jets QB: 2009-2011
Record as Starting QB: 27-20
The people who bash Mark Sanchez must either have a short memory or were too young to have to endure the days of Bubby Brister, Brooks Bollinger or Glenn Foley.
Sure, Sanchez has plenty of improving to do, but compared to the rest of the schlubs the Jets threw out there for the better part of four decades, Sanchez has been a godsend.
It's actually tough to keep Sanchez as low as No. 5 on this list because of his playoff success, but longevity is a real issue.
If Sanchez falters in 2012 or suffers an injury and Tebowmania kicks into high gear, there's a chance Sanchez will just end up as a flash-in-the-pan for the Jets.
But if he continues to progress, he could find himself as one of the top two or three Jets quarterbacks of all time.
4. Richard Todd
Years as a Jets QB: 1976-1983
Record as Starting QB: 42-51-1
It's hard to rank Richard Todd this high as he had a losing record overall with the Jets, but his longevity places him pretty high on the Jets' quarterback statistical charts.
Todd took over for a beaten-down Joe Namath in 1976, but he suffered through injuries and inconsistent play during his first few seasons.
In 1981, Todd finally broke through and led the Jets to a 10-5-1 record and a berth in the AFC playoffs.
The Jets would lose 14-0 to the Dolphins, and Todd would be off the team one year later.
3. Ken O'Brien
Years as a Jets QB: 1984-1992
Record as Starting QB: 50-55-1
Throw out the fact that the Jets passed on Dan Marino to take Ken O'Brien in the 1983 draft, and you could say O'Brien had a decent career with the Jets.
While the Jets endured a handful of disappointing seasons during his tenure, O'Brien was consistently a strong passer when healthy.
O'Brien was incredibly accurate in the early part of his career, leading the NFL in lowest interception percentage in three of his first four full seasons, and even led the NFL in passer rating during his first full season in 1985.
The one main knock on O'Brien (besides his losing record as a starter) is that he never won a playoff game, going 0-3 in his only three chances.
O'Brien's 50 wins as a Jets quarterback ranks second, behind only Joe Namath.
2. Chad Pennington
Years as a Jets QB: 2000-2007
Record as Starting QB: 32-29
It was a tough choice as to who would take the top spot on this list, but a career plagued by injuries will keep the popular Chad Pennington in second place here.
Pennington was always a fan favorite as a tough quarterback who played smart, winning football when healthy.
Unfortunately, Pennington only played a full 16 games one time in his Jets' career.
Pennington may not have had the most prolific passing numbers, but his completion percentage was always excellent and he always took care of the football.
For his Jets' career, Pennington threw 82 touchdowns and 55 interceptions and led the NFL in completion percentage twice.
1. Vinny Testaverde
Years as a Jets QB: 1998-2003, 2005
Record as Starting QB: 35-26
It was a close call between Testaverde and Chad Pennington for the top spot on this list, but the thing that put Testaverde over the top was that he was at the helm for the franchise's best team since Super Bowl III.
In 1998, Testaverde took over for Neil O'Donnell and led the Jets to a 12-4 record. Testaverde was 12-1 as a starter with his only loss coming to Peyton Manning in an exciting 24-23 game at Indianapolis.
The Jets won the AFC East and then topped the Jaguars to advance to just the third AFC Championship game in franchise history.
Testaverde was 31-of-52 for 356 yards in the game, but he threw two interceptions as the Jets fell to the Broncos.
Testaverde is a borderline Hall of Fame quarterback who played in the league for an incredible 21 seasons. His seven seasons as a Jet marked his longest tenure with any team, and his 35 wins were the most he recorded for any franchise.