Donovan McNabb the Next Tarkenton? The Top 10 QBs Never To Win the Super Bowl

Bill WrightCorrespondent IJanuary 20, 2011

Donovan McNabb the Next Tarkenton? The Top 10 QBs Never To Win the Super Bowl

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      With all stubbornness, this dead horse is going to be beaten again.

    There certainly doesn't exist a shortage of opinions on who are the greatest quarterbacks to never win the Super Bowl.  In complete honesty, it matters very little.  Is there anyone out there who truly believes that Brad Johnson or Trent Dilfer are better quarterbacks than Vinny Testaverde simply because they have Super Bowl rings?

    Whether the quarterback lacked a decent runningback, a solid defense, or a winning coach, there are numerous reasons as to why the players on this list never were able to hold up the Lombardi Trophy.  Under better circumstances, surely they would have at least one ring. 

    Some guys were simply victims of the time in which they played.  Jim Kelly couldn't overcome the NFC East with coaches who had already won a Super Bowl (Parcells and Joe Gibbs), and the 1990's dynastic Dallas Cowboys.  Dan Marino never had a top-notch running game and Dan Fouts never really had the defense he needed--these are all excuses, legitimate or not, that we all use.

    This list was compiled using the following career statistics: Passes completed; passing yards; passing touchdowns; passer rating; passing yards per game; and passing completion percentage. 

    Super Bowl appearances also is given much weight. 

    HONORABLE MENTION

    RANDALL CUNNINGHAM

    One of the most exciting players to watch in NFL history as a runner, passer, and even a punter, this four-time Pro Bowler had a 3-6 record in the playoffs.  The most disappointing playoffs coming while he was the play caller for one of the most dynamic offenses in the history of the NFL--the 1998 Minnesota Vikings.

    Cunningham was in the top ten in passing yards five seasons and is just a shade under 30,000 yards for his entire career.  He led the league in passer rating in 1998 and had nearly 1,000 yards rushing in 1990.

    JIM EVERETT

    Making the NFC Championship game in 1989 and the Pro Bowl in 1990, Jim Everett put up some great numbers over his career, time mostly spent with the Rams.  He is 20th all-time in passes completed and 18th all-time in passing yards with nearly 35,000 yards.

    Everett, who had the third best passer rating in 1989, is also in the top ten in career passing yards per game and passing completion yards amongst quarterbacks who have never won a Super Bowl.

    The fact that he tried to take out Jim Rome only helps his cause. 

    SONNY JURGENSEN

    Sure, not all of Jurgensen's career was in the Super Bowl era, but it could be argued that he played enough time during the Super Bowl era to include him on this list.  Yes, he did win an NFL Championship with the Eagles, but he still was playing at a high level once the Super Bowl came into existence.

    Jurgensen set records in passing completions and passing yards in a season.  He led the league in passing completions in 1966, 1967, and 1969.  He also was tops in the league in passing yardage during those same years.

    He ranks 12th all-time in passing touchdowns with 255.  Every season that he played he was never lower than 7th in terms of passer rating, even leading the league in 1967.

    This Hall-of-Famer and five-time Pro-Bowler was a victim of being born too early.  Having a few bad injuries, which may have been better healed in today's world, also didn't help Sonny's prospects. 

     

10. Kerry Collins

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    Having a roller-coaster career if there ever was one, Collins has shown signs of being a great quarterback at times during his career, even making it to the Super Bowl with the Giants in 2001--an accomplishment that puts him ahead of Jurgensen on this list. 

    The two-time pro-bowler is ninth all-time in passing completions and eleventh all-time in passing yards with just over 40,000.  He is currently third on the list in career passing yards amongst active quarterbacks.  Collins has been one of the top-ten leaders in passing yards during a season four times, his best being in 2002 with just over 4,000.

     

9. Vinny Testaverde

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    Sure, he played for 112 years.  Sure, he's fourth all-time in career interceptions.  But Testaverde's longevity allowed him to amass some great numbers.  He also had some great seasons.

    In 1998, the two-time Pro-Bowler led the Jets to the AFC title game against the Broncos--an Elway-led team that would not be denied.  Testaverde ended that year with a 101.6 passer rating--ranked as the 39th best season of any quarterback in the history of the NFL. 

    The former #1 draft pick of the Buccanneers ranks fourth in the categories of passes completed, passing yards, passing touchdowns, and passer rating amongst all quarterbacks who have never won a Super Bowl.  With over 46,000 passing yards, he currently ranks 7th all-time for that career number.

     

8. Boomer Esiason

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    Had it not been for Joe Montana, John Taylor, and a 92-yard drive in Super Bowl XXIII, Esiason would not be on this list.  But it's because of that appearance that he edges out Vinny for the #8 spot as one of the greatest quarterbacks who has never won a Super Bowl.

    In his 14 years in the NFL, Boomer Esiason only made the playoffs twice in his career--1989 and 1990.  That didn't stop him, though, from earning the NFL MVP award in 1988, when he led the league in passer rating.

    The four-time Pro Bowler is currently 14th in career passing yards with just over 37,000.  He also has seven seasons in which he finished in the top ten concerning touchdown passes and is 15th all-time with 247.

    Esiason ranks in the top ten of all categories used for this list, and is 7th in passer rating amongst all quarterbacks who have never won the Super Bowl. 

7. Dave Krieg

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    All attempts to move him lower on this list was thwarted by his statistics.  He is ranked in the top ten in five of the six categories used for this list, ranking 12th ahead of Sonny Jurgensen for passing yards per game. 

    This three-time Pro-Bowler's career is defined by his inability to have a team believe he could be a franchise quarterback.  Although his inconsistencies probably have something to do with that, he always rose to the challenge when he was either challenged for his job or was filling in for the first stringer.

    The many quarterbacks who were considered better: Jim Zorn, Sam Adkins, Gale Gilbert, Kelly Stouffer, Dan McGwire, Scott Mitchell, and Erik Kramer.  When Krieg replaced these players he outperformed and usually led his teams to victory.  When he replaced Joe Montana while they were both with the Chiefs, Krieg should receive just as much credit for them reaching the AFC Championship for the 1993 season.  He took the Detroit Lions to the playoffs, out of all things, after they started 4-5 under Mitchell.

    Krieg is ranked 13th all-time in passes completed for a career and is 5th amongst quarterbacks who have never won a Super Bowl.  He is 13th overall in passing yards with just over 38,000 and is 8th in that category for the players on this list.  He ranks 10th all-time in passing touchdowns with 261 and was 2nd in that category for a season twice.

     

     

     

6. Dan Fouts

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    Dan Fouts spent 15 seasons with the San Diego Chargers, compiling some amazing statistics.  The six-time Pro-Bowler was also the NFL's 1982 MVP.  Had he made it to just one Super Bowl, he'd be a bit higher on this list.

    He ranks 11th all-time in passes completed throughout his career, and had seven seasons in which he was in the top ten in that category.  The Hall of Famer ranks 9th all-time in passing yardage with just over 43,000 and is 13th in career touchdown passes with 254.

    Had it not been for the strike-shortened 1982 season in which he only played nine games, Fouts would probably hold the record for most passing yards in a season.  Fouts was averaging 320 yards per game that season and had progressively better passing yards in the previous three seasons with 4,000, 4,700, and 4,800 yards leading up to the 1982 season--all league-leading for 1979, 1980, 1981, and 1982. 

    Fouts is 7th all-time in passing yards per game average, and 2nd amongst players on this list.

5. Donovan McNabb

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    Playing with the Eagles for the first ten seasons of his career, McNabb took them to the NFC Championship five times and to one Super Bowl--an accomplishment that gives him an edge over Dan Fouts on this list.  He was 2nd in MVP voting in his sophomore year in the NFL.

    The six-time Pro-Bowler is currently 14th all-time in passes completed and 15th all-time in passing yards with 36,250.  He also places 2nd in career passer rating amongst quarterbacks who have never won the Super Bowl.

    In 2004, McNabb ranked 3rd in touchdown passes and 4th in passer rating. His playoff record is 9-7 and he has rushed for over 100 yards in every season except one (2005 with only 9 games played).  He has five seasons in which he has rushed for over 300 yards, including rushing for 629 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2000.

    Considering his age, ability, and his current team, it's doubtful that McNabb will add another Super Bowl appearance.  It would take two Super Bowl appearances and/or many more great statistical seasons for McNabb to move up on this list.

4. Fran Tarkenton

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    Fran Tarkenton was the MVP of the NFL in 1975 and took his Minnesota Vikings to three Super Bowls during his second stint there.  He was also a nine-time Pro-Bowler and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986.

    Tarkenton ranks 6th all-time in passing yards with just over 47,000 yards and ranks 2nd in the same category amongst quarterbacks who have never won a Super Bowl.  He is ranked 6th all-time in career completions and 4th all-time in touchdown passes (342).

    Tarkenton ranked in the top ten in 17 of his 18 seasons in passing yards, leading the league in 1978.  In 1975 he led the league in passing touchdowns and in 1969 he led the league in passer rating. He also rushed for over 3,000 yards and over 30 touchdowns during his career.

     

3. Warren Moon

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    If only the brilliant decision makers in the NFL the late 1970s would have considered him to be a quarterback...that's another topic.  In the fives seasons he played in the CFL he threw for over 20,000 yards.  Not saying that he would have done that during his first five seasons in the NFL, but he surely would have higher career totals.

    The nine-time Pro-Bowler and Hall-of-Fame quarterback spent 17 seasons in the NFL and created an awesome resume.  Had he made just one Super Bowl, he'd be 2nd on this list.

    Moon ranks 6th all-time in passes completed and led the NFL three times in that category.  He also ranks 3rd amongst all quarterbacks on this list in terms of passes completed in a career.  He ranks 5th in total career passing yards with just under 50,000, led the league twice in that category for a season, and ranked in the top ten nine times for a season.  On two different occasions, Moon put up back-to-back 4,000-yard seasons.

    He is 6th all-time in passing touchdowns with 291, led the league with 33 in 1991, and ranked in the top ten in passing touchdowns nine seasons during his career.  He finished in the top ten in passing percentage seven seasons and is 8th all-time amongst quarterbacks who have never won a Super Bowl.

    His 1990 season was probably the best, statistically speaking, as he led the league in completions, attempts, yards, touchdowns, was 2nd in completion percentage, 2nd in passer rating, and rushed for over 200 yards.  In terms of passing yardage, Moon's 4,689 is the 13th best in the history of NFL.  He passed for just one yard more in 1991 to hold on the 12th best passing season in NFL history.

     

2. Jim Kelly

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    Jim Kelly's ability to make it to so many Super Bowls is the reason he is this high.  Take away one Super Bowl and he is 3rd.  Take away all of his appearances in the Super Bowl and he's 8th.  To lead his team to win four AFC Championship games in a row is an amazing accomplishment. Wide right....wide right.

    Although not all the blame can be placed on Norwood's foot, as Kelly only garnered two touchdowns total in his Super Bowl appearances while throwing for seven interceptions.  His greatness as a quarterback, however, cannot be denied.

    The five-time Pro-Bowler and Hall-of-Fame quarterback played his entire NFL career with the Buffalo Bills and took them to the playoffs eight out of nine seasons covering the late 1980s thru the mid 1990s. 

    Jim Kelly ranks 16th all-time in career passing yardage (35,467), 19th in passing touchdowns (237), and 18th in total completions (2,874).  In 1991 he led the league in touchdown passes, was third in passing yards, and was also third in passer rating.

    One must wonder what those numbers would be like had he not played two seasons in the USFL.

1. Dan Marino

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    Take away the one Super Bowl appearance that Marino has and he's still, by far, the greatest quarterback to never win the Super Bowl.  Give Jim Kelly seven Super Bowl visits, and Kelly is still not better than Marino.  An argument could be made that he is one of the top five quarterbacks of all time, including those who have won a Super Bowl.  He's certainly better than Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, Jeff Hostettler, Doug Williams, and many other guys who have won a Super Bowl.

    It's difficult to fully fathom Marino's impact on the game.  During his second season in the NFL he broke records in passing yards and touchdowns in one season.  He was the only player to pass for over 5,000 yards in a season until Drew Brees did so in 2008 and is the only quarterback in the history of the NFL to throw for over 40 touchdowns in two different seasons.

    Marino is 2nd all-time in career completions, passing touchdowns, and passing yards behind Brett Favre, a man who played 60 more games in the NFL than Marino.  His 108 passer rating in 1984 is the 11th best season by a quarterback in the history of the NFL, with only two non-Super-Bowl-winning quarterbacks ahead of him, interestingly including Daunte Culpepper.

    The nine-time Pro-Bowler finished in the top three for passing yards during a season ten times and led the entire NFL five times.  He also finished in the top three for passing touchdowns during a season six times and led the league three times.  Marino finished in the top ten in passer rating 12 of his 17 seasons and finished in the top five in that category during five different seasons. 

    Only twelve guys in the history of the NFL have dropped back and attempted a pass over 600 times during a season.  Marino did it three times, but the astonishing accomplishment came in 1988, when he attempted 606 passes and was only sacked six times. Jay Cutler's 2008 season is the only one that comes close to that, when Cutler dropped back 616 times and got sacked on 11 of those attempts.  

    Marino took the Dolphins to the playoffs ten times and had an 8-10 record.  Although he wasn't able to ever say, "I'm going to Disneyland!", he is still one of the greatest quarterbacks who has ever played in the NFL.