Sunday, September 26, 2010

Canon Review List-A-Mania: The Ten Worst Quarterbacks in Atlanta Falcons History

Last week, I put together a list of the Top Ten Quarterbacks in Atlanta Falcons history, which you can read right here. So after that, Canon Review reader Ben W. asked for a companion list naming the ten worst quarterbacks in Falcons history. Well, with so many fine candidates to choose from, I have decided to do just that. So, without further adieu, here are the worst ten quarterbacks to ever play for the Atlanta Falcons.

10. Dick Shiner (Falcons Career: 1971-1973) - Maybe if his name was Rick Shiner or Dick Snyder, I would have chosen someone else. But Shiner, while he had his moments, just wasn't that good in Atlanta, as he threw four more interceptions than touchdowns (9-8) and put up a quarterback rating of 67.0 during his Falcons career. Plus, how am I supposed to ignore a man with the name of Dick Shiner. I suppose there are men with more unfortunate names, but I mean, come on. Can you imagine if Dick Shiner played today? We'd be getting bad joke after bad joke about the man's moniker.

9. Brett Favre (1991) - Favre made the best quarterbacks list at this spot because of what he went on to do elsewhere, but in his one year in Atlanta, Favre threw exactly four passes, two of which were intercepted. When Favre was picked by the Falcons in the 1991 NFL Draft, coach Jerry Glanville was not happy, and at one point Glanville said that it would "take a plane crash" for Favre to get in the game. Not to mention that Favre took rather kindly to the Atlanta nightlife during his short stay there. So, in 1992, the Falcons traded Favre to Green Bay, and the rest is history. Now, in hindsight, the Falcons should have kept Favre, but at the time, I guess the deal made sense. Although even if Falcons' brass had no idea what Favre would become, it does seem awfully quick to give up on a high second round pick, but I digress.

8. Tony Graziani (1997-1999) - Graziani was a seventh round pick from the University of Oregon that the Falcons hoped would develop into a solid backup for Chris Chandler, or something. Instead, when Graziani got his chance, the Falcons were so disenchanted they had to turn to a 43 year-old Steve DeBerg to relieve him. In three seasons, Graziani completed less than 50 percent of his passes and threw eight interceptions against two touchdowns. After leaving the Falcons, Graziani had some success as an Arena League quarterback, once throwing 99 touchdowns in a single season. Also, he was quite impressive in relief of an injured Chris Chandler in my Madden 2000 franchise done so many years ago. I remember he threw for something like 18 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, and was so impressive I considered trading Chandler in spite of Graziani's low rating on the game. I'm sure nobody else wants to hear about my video game accomplishments, but honestly, that's my strongest memory of Graziani other than watching him hold a clipboard behind Dan Reeves.

7. June Jones (1977-1981) - The only Falcons quarterback to later become the team's head coach, Jones was actually named the team's starting quarterback over Steve Bartkowski to begin the 1978 season. That lasted three games, as Jones completed 9 out of 28 passes in the last two games he started and Bartkowski was back at the helm. Jones, quite frankly, never played well when given his shot, as his completion percentage of 45.2 was unacceptable and he put up a QB rating of 51.4. Later, Jones would coach the Falcons to a playoff berth in 1995, and coached the University of Hawaii to the Sugar Bowl in 2007. I guess the old saying is true, those who can do, and those who can't teach.

6. Mike Moroski (1979-1984) - Moroski was a 6th round pick out of Cal-Davis and was primarily a backup for Steve Bartkowski during his tenure with the club. Moroski did have a 303 yard, two touchdown performance in a 1983 win against the Green Bay Packers, but other than that, Moroski was rather mediocre. Moroski got an extended look in 1984 when Bartkowski went down to injury, and the results (2 tds, 9 ints, 56.8 qb rating) were not pretty. But, at least he did have a moment in the sun.

5. Randy Johnson (1966-1970) - Johnson was a first round pick in the 1966 NFL Draft, and since the expansion Falcons had no one else better, Johnson was thrown into the fray right away. That probably wasn't the best move for everyone involved, as Johnson had to adjust to the NFL playing with an expansion team and running for his life behind a patchwork line. The results were not pretty, as Johnson threw nearly twice as many interceptions than touchdowns (65-34), completed less than 50 percent of his passes (48.1), and went 8-28-1 as a starter during his five year stay in Atlanta. Unfortunately, life wasn't very kind to Johnson after leaving Atlanta, as he battled for years with substance abuse and passed away in 2009 as a recluse with few friends and little money.

4. Doug Johnson (2000-2003) - Doug Johnson may have better statistics than a lot of other men on this list, but he ranks this high because he was the most frustrating quarterback I ever remember watching playing for the Falcons. Yes, his completion percentage (57.0) was decent, but Johnson seemed to have a tendency to overthrow his receivers by at least ten yards. Whether it was a deep pass to Peerless Price or a screen to Warrick Dunn, Johnson would wind up and fire the ball as hard as he could. The man threw some of the prettiest overthrown passes that you will ever see. In fact, he did this so often that it became an inside joke between my brother and I as whenever we toss the football around and one of us overthrows a pass, we say we 'Doug Johnson'd' the throw. Johnson got most of his playing time in 2003, as Michael Vick broke his leg in the presason and Johnson was pressed into action. The first game, a win against the Dallas Cowboys, was a victory, but Johnson lost his next eight starts with a 6-11 touchdown to interception ratio. Of course, without Vick, Johnson was the best option the Falcons had, and when he went down due to injury, the next man that stepped in was ...

3. Kurt Kittner (2002-2003) - Transitioning from Johnson to Kittner was like going from being repeatedly  punched in the jaw to being repeatedly punched in the groin. Kittner may have led Illinois to the 2002 Sugar Bowl, but as a pro, he wasn't so good. Of all the quarterbacks that threw 100 or more passes in a single season in the past decade, Kittner was the only quarterback to complete less than 40 percent of his passes (38.6). Kittner's 32.5 QB Rating is also the lowest of any quarterback with over 100 throws in a single season since 1981. Yes, worse than any season put up by Ryan Leaf, Jarmarcus Russell, Heath Shuler, and every other bad quarterback you can think of over the past 25 years.

2. Pat Sullivan (1972-1975) - After winning the Heisman Trophy in 1971, the Falcons picked Sullivan in the second round of the 1972 Draft, hoping that he would be the quarterback of the future. Things didn't quite work out that way, as Sullivan started five games in his four seasons with the club, and lost them all. In 220 career passes, Sullivan threw 16 interceptions against five touchdowns, and put up a QB rating of 36.5. Sullivan may have been a college legend, but like so many others, his game just didn't translate to the next level.

1. Kim McQuilken (1974-1977) - McQuilken is not only the worst quarterback in Falcons' history, he may be the most inept quarterback in the history of football. Put it this way, if you throw one incomplete pass, your QB Rating is 39.6. In his four years with the Falcons, McQuilken's QB Rating was 18.2. During his Falcons' career, McQuilken threw four touchdown passes and 29 interceptions in a mere 268 attempts. His completion percentage was 39.7. For his career, McQuilken's QB Rating of 17.9 is the lowest among players with at least 100 pass attempts in the last 60 years. With the Falcons' having a history full of failure, it's only fitting that the game's worst quarterback spent four seasons in a Falcons uniform.

Well, that was fun. The truth is, there were a few bad quarterbacks that didn't crack the top ten, like Joey Harrington, Byron Leftwich, David Archer, and others, but I think 10 was enough. Thanks for reading, and remember, if you have any ideas for future reviews, or comments about this or previous reviews, then send them to me either by e-mail at or by leaving a comment on the blog.

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