The 2018 NFL quarterback carousel is already off to a rousing start, as Kansas City Chiefs signal-caller Alex Smith is headed to Washington, Jacksonville Jaguars veteran Blake Bortles is almost guaranteed to be back next season, and Redskins Pro Bowler Kirk Cousins will hit the open market. Oh, and people are suggesting Baker Mayfield could go no. 1 overall to the Cleveland Browns – wait, did they not learn anything from the Johnny Manziel experiment?
Rather than talk about today’s quarterbacks, let’s instead go back to a simpler time where we knew what a catch was and where 4,000 passing yards meant you were likely headed for the Hall of Fame. Instead of discussing today’s good, great, and Bortles-esque quarterbacks, let’s try to remember some really bad signal-callers from the 1990s.
Because ‘really bad’ is subjective, there are a few quick and easy ground rules.
– No Hall of Famers who limped into the 1990s and struggled to live up to past form.
– No memorable draft busts like Ryan Leaf. These are quarterbacks who you’ve almost certainly forgotten about.
– Quarterbacks on this list had to have started at least 16 games in the decade and attempted at least 500 passes from 1990-99.
Are you ready to travel into the past and see who was the ’90s version of Eli Manning? Come on, the joke couldn’t have been that bad…
15. Heath Shuler
Stats in the 90s: In 29 games (22 starts) from 1994-97, Shuler completed 292 of 593 passes (49.24 completion percentage) for 3,691 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 33 interceptions. After being the 3rd overall pick in the 1994 NFL Draft, Shuler went 8-14 in his 22 starts for the Washington Redskins and New Orleans Saints.
Thoughts: Shuler may be one of the more memorable names on this list if only because he’s part of the Redskins quarterback carousel that will continue with Alex Smith in 2018, but he’s a fine name to start us off. Selected one pick before Patriots legend Willie McGinest and four before 49ers defensive tackle Bryant Young, Shuler was out of the NFL within four years and never lived up to expectations. If the Redskins do draft a quarterback this spring (Mike White from Western Kentucky?), avoiding Shuler’s fate would be a wise choice.
14. Wade Wilson
Stats from the 90s: In 60 games (30 starts) from 1990-98, Wilson completed 616 of 1,031 passes (59.75 completion percentage) for 7,128 yards, 45 touchdowns and 45 interceptions. After being the 210th overall pick way back in the 1981 NFL Draft, Wilson was 12-18 as a starter in the 1990s with the Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, and Oakland Raiders.
Thoughts: No, this is not Deadpool. You may know Wilson more for his combined 13 seasons as the Cowboys quarterback coach (2000-02; 2007-17) than for his long playing career, and while the former East Texas State star did make the 1988 Pro Bowl, his stats in the 90s were far from impressive. Maybe the Vikings were onto something when they had him as their backup from 1981-87? At least Wilson won a Super Bowl with the Cowboys in 1996….
13. Jack Trudeau
Stats from the 90s: In 30 games (16 starts) from 1990-95, Trudeau completed 337 of 602 passes (55.98 completion percentage) for 3,956 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 29 interceptions.. The 47th overall pick in the 1986 NFL Draft, Trudeau was 7-9 in his 16 starts with the Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets while also seeing time with the Carolina Panthers.
Thoughts: If Colts fans think they have it bad now with Andrew Luck’s playing future uncertain, just think about how bad things were in the pre-Petyon Manning days. While Trudeau was never an atrocious quarterback, he was terrible enough to constantly keep himself out of playing time despite flashes of brilliance when he was younger. Seeing as Trudeau was made a career backup when the Colts traded for the rights to draft Jeff George first overall in the 1990 NFL Draft, maybe the calendar turning was a sign of things to come.
12. Mike Tomczak
Stats from the 90s: In 124 games (44 starts) from 1990-99, Mike Tomczak completed 833 passes in 1,526 attempts (54.59 completion percentage) for 11,826 yards, 58 touchdowns, and 64 interceptions. An undrafted rookie who made his NFL debut in 1985, Tomczak was 22-22 44 starts for the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns, and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Thoughts: The good news for Tomczak is that he actually won a Super Bowl ring with the 1985 Bears and was 10-5 as the Steelers’ starting quarterback in 1996. The bad news is the rest of Tomczak’s career was fairly mediocre, bad enough to where he ends up on this list and not even a Super Bowl ring can save him. But there’s some added good news: Tomczak isn’t the rest of these guys!
11. Rick Mirer
Stats from the 90s: In 70 games (60 starts) from 1993-99, Mirer completed 962 of 1,802 passes (53.39 completion percentage) for 10,576 yards, 46 touchdowns, and 71 interceptions. The second overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks, Mirer was 26-30 in his 56 starts for the Seahawks, Chicago Bears, and New York Jets during this time period.
Thoughts: Would you believe Mirer managed to start eight games in 2003 for the Oakland Raiders after not starting any since 1999? Some Seahawks fans still find themselves feeling bad for Mirer because he was on teams with no talent around him, but all it takes is one game from that time period to see his horrendous mistakes and reads. Mirer Mirer on the wall, is this draft bust the worst of them all?
10. Rodney Peete
Stats from the 90s: In 79 games (64 starts) from 1990-99, Rodney Peete completed 1,013 passes in 1,759 attempts (57.59 completion percentage) for 12,207 yards, 56 touchdowns, and 69 interceptions. The 141st overall pick of the Detroit Lions in the 1989 NFL Draft, Peete was 34-30 in his 64 starts with the Lions and Philadelphia Eagles while also seeing time with the Washington Redskins during this time period.
Thoughts: Rodney Peete, the man who could win games! Peete is one of the few players on this list with anything close to a winning record and enjoyed a strong 2002 season with the Carolina Panthers (2,630 passing yards with 15 touchdowns and a 7-7 record), but his mediocre performance in the decade before lands him a spot here. There’s no question that Peete had talent, though most of his wins in Detroit came from having Barry Sanders as his running back.
9. Don Majkowski
Stats from the 90s: In 54 games (27 starts) from 1990-96, Don Majkowski completed 470 passes in 843 attempts (55.75 completion percentage) for 5,251 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 33 interceptions. The 255th pick (10th round) of the 1987 NFL Draft, Majkowski was 11-16 in his 27 starts with the Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, and Detroit Lions.
Thoughts: Don Majkowski definitely has a quarterback name, but his on-field numbers in the 90s were far from spectacular. After being named to the 1989 Pro Bowl for a massive age 25 season (4,318 passing yards and 27 touchdowns, although he did throw 20 interceptions), Majowski never hit double-digit touchdowns in a season after 1990 and was out of the league by 1996. Then again, Green Bay landing Brett Favre in 1992 may have had something to do with that…
8. Steve Walsh
Stats from the 90s: In 72 games (33 starts) from 1990-99, Steve Walsh completed 603 passes in 1,098 attempts (54.92 completion percentage) for 6,504 passing yards, 35 touchdowns, and 41 interceptions. The No. 1 overall pick in the 1989 NFL Supplemental Draft, Walsh was 19-14 in his 33 starts during the 1990s for the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bear, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Indianapolis Colts.
Thoughts: Walsh’s career got off to an interesting start when the Cowboys took him with their top pick in the supplemental draft despite using their first overall pick in the main NFL Draft on Troy Aikman, leading to the ex-Miami Hurricanes gunslinger being dealt to New Orleans. From there, Walsh’s only real saving grace was an 8-3 campaign with the Bears in 1994 when he threw for ten touchdowns to eight interceptions. Meh.
7. Billy Joe Tolliver
Stats from the 90s: In 74 games (42 starts) from 1990-99, Billy Joe Tolliver completed 802 passes in 1,522 attempts (52.69 completion percentage) for 9,663 yards, 54 touchdowns, and 56 interceptions. The 51st overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers, Tolliver was 13-29 in his 42 starts with the Chargers, Atlanta Falcons, Houston Oilers, Kansas City Chiefs, and New Orleans Saints during this time period.
Thoughts: While Tolliver does have one of the more creative names on this list, his play on the field was usually cringeworthy. After going 6-8 as the Chargers’ starter in 1990 and being traded to the Atlanta Falcons, Tolliver was mainly kept on the bench until something went wrong and wouldn’t start a large portion of the season until 1994, when he was 0-7 with the Oilers. Woof.
6. Hugh Millen
Stats from the 90s: In 31 games (24 starts) from 1990-95, Hugh Millen completed 511 passes in 846 attempts (60.40 completion percentage) for 5,793 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 31 interceptions. The 71st overall pick of the Los Angeles Rams in the 1986 NFL Draft, Millen was 7-17 in his 24 starts during the 1990s for the Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, and Denver Broncos.
Thoughts: What is it with Falcons quarterbacks appearing on this list? If we ever do one of these about the 2000s, Falcons fans can at least take pride knowing that none of their quarterbacks from that decade – not even Joey Harrington – would be on there. Anyway, Millen’s one real season at starting saw him throw nine touchdowns to 18 interceptions at 28-years-old in 1991 and he was out of the league by the time he was 32. That’s really all there is to say.
5. Dave Brown
Stats from the 90s: In 66 games (52 starts) from 1992-1999, Dave Brown completed 852 passes in 1,565 attempts (54.44 completion percentage) for 9,781 yards, 42 touchdowns, and 55 interceptions. The No. 1 overall pick in the 1992 NFL Supplemental Draft, Brown was 26-32 in his 58 starts for the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals during this time.
Thoughts: There are a lot of Giants fans out there who actually enjoy and respect Brown for what he did in the post-Parcells era days, but the stats don’t lie. On his best days, Brown was mediocre or good enough to keep you in the game. On his worst days, Brown would doom you with a late mistake. Was Dave Brown just an early version of Eli Manning?
4. David Klingler
Stats from the 90s: In 33 games (24 starts) from 1992-97, David Klinger completed 389 passes in 718 attempts (54.18 completion percentage) for 3,994 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 22 interceptions. The sixth overall pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1992, Klinger was 4-20 in his 24 starts with the Bengals from 1992-94 before becoming a permanent backup with the Bengals and Oakland Raiders.
Thoughts: How many times did we need to say Bengals there? Klinger was part of a large string of draft busts in Cincinnati, a list that includes Ki-Jana Carter and Akili Smith and was a full-time backup by his fourth season after major shoulder surgery. For all of the hate that Bengals fans give Marvin Lewis, the guy at least deserves some credit for turning around the quarterback play between Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton.
3. Stan Humphries
Stats from the 90s: In 86 games (81 starts) from 1990-97, Stan Humphries completed 1,426 passes in 2,506 attempts (56.90 completion percentage) for 17,100 yards, 88 touchdowns, and 83 interceptions. The 159th overall pick of the Washington Redskins in 1989, Humphries was 50-31 in his 81 starts with the Redskins and San Diego Chargers.
Thoughts: Humphries is probably the only quarterback on this list that wasn’t quite terrible, but he was vastly overrated and only had success because of his surrounding cast. With a consistently low completion percentage and a career 3.3 interception percentage, Humphries escapes lists like this only because of his record as a starting quarterback. All the guy could do was win, sure, but his on-field play didn’t always help the Redskins or Chargers come close to escaping with a W.
2. Kent Graham
Stats from the 90s: In 66 games (33 starts) from 1992-99, Kent Graham completed 615 passes in 1,172 attempts (52.47 completion percentage) for 6,792 yards, 36 touchdowns, and 32 interceptions. The 211th overall pick (eighth round) of the 1992 NFL Draft by the New York Giants, Graham was 15-18 in his 33 starts for the Giants and Arizona Cardinals during that time. Graham later saw action with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2000) and Washington Redskins (2001).
Thoughts: Not unlike Dave Brown, some Giants fans still seem to really like Kent Graham for at least trying to help the team win in those post-Parcells, pre-Kerry Collins dark ages. Graham was never anything special and showed flashes, but he was bad enough to continuously prevent himself from getting a full-time starting job. It’s a sad fate many quarterbacks see themselves going through,,,
1. Tony Banks
Stats from the 90s: In 56 games (53 starts) from 1996-99, Tony Banks completed 854 passes in 1,583 attempts (53.9 completion percentage) for 10,469 passing yards, 53 touchdowns, and 50 interceptions. The 42nd overall pick of the 1996 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams, Banks was 20-33 as a starter in thse 53 games for the Rams and Baltimore Ravens.
Thoughts: This pick will likely upset some people, especially because Banks had arguably his best season (52.8 completion percentage with 17 touchdowns to 8 interceptions in 10 starts) in 1999. But in those three seasons beforehand, Tony Banks was an atrocious quarterback and we cannot forget that because he won a Super Bowl with the Ravens in 2000 or because he was competent in Madden. Tony Banks was not a good quarterback in the 1990s!
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