10 NFL Quarterbacks Who Were One-Hit Wonders
Sure, one could argue who is the best or worst quarterback ever. Was it Montana or Bradshaw? Was it Russell or Leaf? Some fans are even lucky enough to argue who was the greatest QB in their franchise's history. I am looking at you 49ers, Packers, and Colts fans.
The "Who is the best?" question starts many great debates, discussions, and in some cases, fist fights. What I wanted to take a look at was which QBs were the best "flash in the pans." These are QBs that for one season, playoff or moment, set the NFL on fire and then never saw the same performance again. These following 10 QBs, I feel, fit that mold.
When the Lions grabbed Scott Mitchell as a free agent in 1994, he was supposed to be the QB that was to lead an unstoppable Lions passing attack. He had shown a lot of talent and ability when he replaced Dan Marino in Miami the year before.
His career with Detroit did not follow suit. He was inaccurate and panicky in his first season that ended in injury. He returned in 1995 and lit up the NFL. He broke Lions records for passing yards (4,338) and TDs (32).
He would never return to that level in his career. The Detroit fans ran him out of town when it became evident that he would never repeat that season again. Stints with the Ravens and Bengals did not go any better.
In 2005, Derek Anderson was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens and then dropped before the season began. The next day the Browns claimed him. In 2007, he came in for an ineffective Charlie Frye in the 2007 season opener against the Steelers. Frye would never play for the Browns again.
That season Anderson threw for over 3,700 yards and 29 TDs. If not for some close and controversial losses, the Browns may have made the playoffs that year. Either way he was chosen as a Pro Bowl alternate and then made it after Tom Brady dropped out.
Derek Anderson got a nice bump in salary, but he never came close to those numbers again. He eventually went to the Cardinals to take over for Kurt Warner after he retired, but he was disappointing there as well. He was eventually released by the Cardinals and is now a backup in Carolina.
The Redskins have three quarterbacks that have won Super Bowls for them. Joe Theismann, Doug Williams, and Mark Rypien. Mark Rypien had languished in mediocrity and injuries until the 1991 season.
Up until that point he had sat on the IR, and behind Jay Schroeder and Doug Williams. With both of them gone due to trades and retirement, Rypien's chance had come.
In 1991 he led the Redskins a Super Bowl win. His stats were amazing. 3564 yards, 29 TDs with a 97.9 QB rating. He was the Super Bowl MVP and selected to the Pro Bowl. The following season Joe Gibbs retired and Rypien suffered a season-ending injury. He would never reach that level of play in the seven seasons he played after.
To say that Tommy Maddox bounced around in his first nine years in Pro Football would be an understatement to say the least. Four teams in the NFL, one Arena League team, and his stint in the one-year existence of the XFL, all led to the Steelers in 2001. In 2002, he would get his chance to shine.
He took over for Kordell Stewart in a game against the Browns and lead them to a come-from-behind win. In 13 games he would throw for over 2,800 yards and 20 TDs. The most impressive feat was a come-from-behind win in the Wild Card round when he threw for 397 yards and 3 TDs. That year he also won Comeback Player of the Year. A subpar year the next season and the drafting of Big Ben spelled doom for Maddox's career.
Rick Mirer came out of Notre Dame as the next Joe Montana and the guy who would turn things around in Seattle. Up to that point, Seattle had spent 16 of the previous 17 seasons with either Jim Zorn or Dave Krieg under center.
After an awful 1992 season that saw the Seahawks finish 2-14, with the second pick in the 1993 draft, Mirer became a Seahawk.
Mirer's first season with the Seahawks showed promise. He broke rookie records and gave the Seahawk faithful hope. Unfortunately, that is all it was....hope. He would only throw double digit TDs one more time in his career and only once throw more TDs than INTs.
He was traded to the Bears in 1997 for their first-round pick. He hardly played due to his poor performance. After that he languished as a third-string backup until 2004.
Frank Reich instilled his NFL and Buffalo Bills legacy when he started the 1992 playoffs for an injured Jim Kelly. In the Wild Card round, they were down 35-3 against the Oilers in the third quarter. By the time the final minute had ticked in regulation, the Bills had tied it up 38-all, on their way to winning it in overtime. It was the greatest comeback ever in the history of the NFL Playoffs.
The next week, Reich led the Bills to a 24-3 win over the Steelers. Jim Kelly had recovered in time for the AFC Championship and Reich was back on the bench.
Frank Reich would do more filling in, but he never blossomed as a starter. Carolina picked him up in the expansion draft, but Kerry Collins was the future there. He proceeded to be backup in New York (Jets) and Detroit (where he infamously spiked the ball on fourth down).
Some QBs were meant to be starters and others meant to be backups.
Jay Fiedler's story starts like many of these. He had shown flashes of untapped talent when he filled in for a starter. In Jacksonville, he (like Rob Johnson) had filled in for an injured Mark Brunell. Both played well enough to convince other teams that they could lead their offenses. In 2000 the Dolphins signed Fiedler to take over the reins after Marino retired.
During his time there, they made the playoffs, had multiple 10-plus win seasons, and an AFC East title. His best season came in 2001 when he threw 20 TDs and for almost 3,300 yards.
But let's be honest. The real reason that team was good was because of a dominant defense. Fiedler never had those stats before and he would never come close to those stats again. Speaking of Rob Johnson...
Rob Johnson was the second-string backup behind both Mark Brunell and Steve Beuerlein. He got his start in 1997 and it was impressive. With Almost 300 yards passing, and 3 TDs (one rushing) he became the new "It" QB that was being wasted on the bench.
Johnson was injured in the next game but still had impressed before he had to leave and by the following week, Brunell was starting again. By 1998, The Jaguars were waving him as trade bait in front of teams and some were salivating.
Unfortunately, his career would be riddled with injuries, letdowns, and simply other QBs being more liked than he was. In Buffalo, the fans loved Doug Flutie, even though Johnson had the better completion percentage. The same happened in Tampa Bay.
He would always have that one game that made people say to themselves, "How is this guy not a Pro-Bowler?" Unfortunately, he could never stay healthy or well-liked wherever he went.
Steve Beuerlein was the quintessential journeyman quarterback. He played for six teams in his 17-year career. He was good enough to be needed, but not enough to be wanted. Backing up Troy Aikman in 1991, he helped the Cowboys beat the Bears in the playoffs.
He was the first QB to play for the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995. He would eventually be replaced by Mark Brunell and traded the following year to the Carolina Panthers. His career year, though, would come four years later in 1999.
In 1999, he was the starter for Carolina. That year he set numerous passing records for the Panthers, among them, the most passing yards in a season (4,436) and most TDs (36). That season he also was selected to the Pro Bowl. Shortly thereafter though, the Panthers would move to Jake Delhomme as their starting QB, and Beuerlein would never have another season like he had in 1999.
Coming out of Michigan with an impressive resume, Elvis Grbac was drafted by the 49ers in the eighth round of the 1993 Draft. He sat behind Steve Young for three years until he signed as a free agent with the Chiefs, where he was to replace the retiring Joe Montana.
He did not impress in Kansas City, prompting the fans to start chanting for then-backup Rich Gannon. He finally showed the ability he had at Michigan in 2000 when he passed for over 4,100 yards and 28 TDs. That same year he was selected to the Pro Bowl.
The following year he was picked up by the Ravens to replace Trent Dilfer, the QB of their Super Bowl team the year before. The Ravens felt they had the QB to make their offense as potent as their defense. That did not happen though, as Grbac reverted back to his mediocre play and did nothing to make Baltimore fans forget the much liked Trent Dilfer. He was cut the following year by the Ravens and retired.
Ten quarterbacks that, for at least a moment, were stars and had fantasy players drafting them high the following season.
All of these men simply never lived up to the expectations placed upon them. In some cases it wasn't their fault. Horrible front offices or nagging injuries played a part in keeping them from repeating their successes.
Some, though, simply got lucky for a moment or season. All the cards were dealt correctly and made them look like world-beaters.
I am sure they will not be the last.