We’ve all seen terrible football no matter if it’s high school, college, or professional football; but with all the talent in the NFL, it’s pretty shocking how many bad quarterbacks we have seen in the 21st century.
In this article I have examined the worst National Football League starting quarterback every year since the beginning of the millennium. We all know some terrible teams from the last 16 years, but some of those teams might have had good quarterbacks like Robert Griffin III when he was with the Cleveland Browns or Tim Tebow when he was playing for the New York Jets. But the following players on this list have been absolutely terrible for one year, maybe even more than one year.
There are some quarterbacks from the Jets on this list, QBs from the Browns, QBs from the Raiders, and other teams on this list. And I’m pretty sure that some of these quarterbacks are players that some fans have never heard of before. However, every one of these entries was a primary starter for their teams like, for example, Ben Roethlisberger was the primary starter for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010. Some of these players might have been a part-time starter at some point in their career, but these players were the primary starter for one year or more.
All stats from these players were found on pro-football-reference.com for research. Now let's take a look at the worst NFL quarterback every year since the 2000-’01 season starting with a Cleveland Browns quarterback.
17 2000: Tim Couch (Cleveland Browns)
Shockingly, Couch is only one of two Browns players in the list, considering the number of quarterbacks that Cleveland has had since 2000.
Couch only started seven games in 2000 but only won two games. He may have had a completion percentage of 63.72% with 78 incompletions, but only had 7 touchdowns and 9 interceptions for a QB rating of 77.3. He was also sacked 10 times for a loss of 78 yards. Overall, Couch had 1,528 all-purpose yards with a 2-5 record as a starter. His stats led the Browns to a last place 3-13 finish in the AFC Central division, tied for second worst NFL record with NFC East Arizona Cardinals.
The only team worse than the Cardinals and Browns was the 1-15 San Diego Chargers.
16 2001: Chris Weinke (Carolina Panthers)
It’s unbelievable that Weinke played for 15 out of 16 games in the 2001 season with the Panthers. How does any NFL quarterback start 15 games and end up with a 1-14 record?
Fans really can’t ask for much for a rookie quarterback being drafted out of Florida State University, but only getting one win is ridiculous. Weinke did have almost 3,000 passing yards, but he also threw 11 touchdowns and 19 interceptions for a QB rating of 62. It also doesn’t help when he gets sacked 26 times, which raises questions about the offensive line.
In his lone win against the Minnesota Vikings in week one, Weinke went 13-22 for 223 passing yards with a passing and rushing touchdown. If Weinke played like that for the rest of the season, the Panthers could’ve been a lot better than 1-15.
15 2002: Jon Kitna (Cincinnati Bengals)
Two wins? Well at least it’s better than what Weinke did; however, 2002 was Kitna’s third season in the NFL.
Kitna’s stats actually weren’t that bad, but they weren’t good enough as he went 2-12 in 14 starts. He also had a passing rating of 79.1 and threw 16 interceptions, which was tied for fifth most in the league along with Drew Brees (San Diego), Brett Favre (Green Bay), Joey Harrington (Detroit), and Tommy Maddox (Pittsburgh). At least he didn’t throw 23 interceptions like Minnesota’s Daunte Culpepper did, which was the most in the league.
In the two wins against Houston and New Orleans, he went 42-67 for 453 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions. It’s almost amazing that Kitna remained in the NFL till 2011 after the dreadful 2002 season.
14 2003: Kordell Stewart (Chicago Bears)
Stewart only had seven starts out of nine games played in 2003, but for a good reason; he was bad and I mean bad quite literally. Just look at these stats: 50.2 completion percentage, seven touchdowns, 12 interceptions, and 25 sacks. The Bears did finish the year 7-9, but Stewart only had three of those wins.
The Bears might have been better if they started Stewart more often at home since he went 2-1 at home. He went 1-5 on the road, which shows that Stewart should’ve only been the starter at home and have someone else start on the road. His three wins were against Denver, Arizona, and Oakland respectively. Maybe Stewart would’ve been better with a team from the AFC west since he beat two teams in that division (Denver and Oakland).
13 2004: A.J. Feeley (Miami Dolphins)
Believe it or not, 2004 was actually the only year when Feeley was a primary starter as well as the only year with the Dolphins. He was a part-time starter for two years with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2002 and ’07 as well as a part-time starter for the Cardinals in 2011.
He went 3-5 in eight games as a starter with a 53.7 completion percentage for 1,893 yards but threw a career high 15 interceptions, which tied with Jake Delhomme (Carolina) and Matt Hasselbeck (Seattle) for 9th most in the league. Pretty much the only good stat that Feeley had in 2004 was having two comeback victories, including getting an upset victory over the 12-1 Patriots when the Dolphins were 2-11.
If Feeley played like that against the later Super Bowl champions, perhaps the Dolphins would’ve had a better shot of making the playoffs.
12 2005: J.P. Losman (Buffalo Bills)
Losman spent most of his career with the Bills, with his first start happening in 2005 and that year is not one to remember for a primary starter. He went 1-7 on eight starts with his only win coming against the Houston Texans in Week 1. After a solid debut performance, fans would think it would be a good season for Buffalo, but it was far from it as he lost his next seven starts. Altogether he threw 8 touchdowns and 8 interceptions and got sacked 26 times. His season completion percentage was 49.56, which was the worst of his career.
Despite having a better year going 7-9 in 2006, it was never good for the 24-year-old first-rounder except for one game in 2005.
11 2006: Andrew Walter (Oakland Raiders)
Walter was only in the NFL from 2006 to 2008; but his rookie year in 2006 was by far his worst starting in 8 out of 12 games played for the Raiders. He went 2-6 that year with victories over Arizona and Pittsburgh in back-to-back weeks. Overall he completed 53.26% of his passes but only threw three touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He was also sacked 46 times for a loss of 256 yards, including 9 total sacks in a 16-0 loss against the Seahawks at Seattle.
It’s also no wonder Walter was in the NFL for only three years considering he went 2-7 on 9 career starts with a 52.3 completion percentage with only 3 career touchdowns. Can you imagine if anyone put Walter on a fantasy team?
10 2007: Kellen Clemens (New York Jets)
There are four Jets starting quarterbacks on this list and Clemens is the first. He was the primary starter for two out of 11 seasons. In 2007, Clemens went 3-5 on eight starts with victories over Pittsburgh, Miami, and Kansas City. In all 10 games that he played that year, he had a completion percentage of 52 for 1,529 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He was also sacked 27 times for a loss of 138 yards. He was actually pretty decent running the ball, having 111 yards on 27 carries with a touchdown. Maybe he would’ve done better as a running back if he were in the NFL today.
All together, 2007 was a season that Clemens definitely wants to forget because of his passing stats.
9 2008: Derek Anderson (Cleveland Browns)
After being selected to the Pro Bowl in 2007, Anderson had a huge breakdown in 2008 going 3-6 on 9 starts. His completion percentage went down from 56.55 in 2007 to 50.18 in 2008 despite having more touchdowns (9) than interceptions (8). His passing rating also went down from 82.5 in 2007 to 66.5 in 2008. His three victories came against the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Giants, and Jacksonville Jaguars. His worst game of the year was at AFC North rival Baltimore when he threw three interceptions and completing 14 of 37 passes (37.84%).
Since Anderson currently plays for the Carolina Panthers, perhaps Cam Newton could share more playing time with Anderson since the Panthers are not doing so well this year despite having a small appearance against the New Orleans Saints in week three.
8 2009: JaMarcus Russell (Oakland Raiders)
Russell is another one of the NFL starting quarterbacks that didn’t have a long career. Like Andrew Walter earlier in the list, Russell only played in the NFL for three years (2007-’09), but came with much loftier expectations as the top pick in the 2007 draft. Russell was the primary starter for 2008 and 2009 with the Raiders and went 2-7 on nine starts in his last season of his career. He threw 3 touchdowns for the season along with 11 interceptions for a passing rate of 50. His worst game in 2009 was against the New York Jets when he threw two interceptions and completing 6 passes out of 11 attempts in a 38-0 defeat.
Overall, he went 7-18 in 25 starts for his career with 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions, which actually makes sense for having a short NFL career.
7 2010: Jimmy Clausen (Carolina Panthers)
Clausen was in the NFL for four years, but only had one starting year as a disappointing second-rounder picked in 2010. As the primary starter for Carolina, he had 10 starts out of 13 games played and went 1-9. The lone win against the Arizona Cardinals was actually the only win of his entire career, as he went 1-13 in his entire career. He had 3 touchdowns and 9 interceptions in his rookie season with a 52.5 completion percentage.
Overall, Clausen finished his short career with 7 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. It also doesn’t help that he was sacked 33 times in 2010 for a loss of 223 yards. This just goes to show that Clausen was actually a waste of an NFL starting quarterback.
Perhaps Clausen will return some day in the NFL considering he’s only 30 years old; the last game he played in was against the Kansas City Chiefs when he was the starter for Baltimore on December 20, 2015.
6 2011: Blaine Gabbert (Jacksonville Jaguars)
I’m surprised there aren’t a lot of Jaguars quarterbacks on this list considering how they have been doing the last several years, but this is one of two rookie quarterbacks from Jacksonville that is on the list.
Gabbert's stats were not that bad but then again, this is the 2011 Jaguars we’re talking about here. His rookie season was one to forget but yet somehow the second-best of his career. He went 4-10 on 14 starts out of 15 games played with a passing rate of 65.4. The victories for Gabbert were against the Ravens, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Indianapolis Colts twice.
Perhaps Gabbert would’ve been better with Indianapolis because if he could beat them, they would’ve loved to have him as the starting QB over Andrew Luck.
5 2012: Mark Sanchez (New York Jets)
Anybody remember the butt fumble? Basically, the biggest reason why Mark Sanchez was the worst quarterback in 2012 even though it was hilarious for many people. Other than that he went 6-9 on 15 starts with 13 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, and one funny fumble. He also got sacked 34 times for a loss of 209 yards during his last season at New York before playing for the Eagles in 2013.
One of the worst performances for the 2012 “Sanchize” was against the Arizona Cardinals when he had a completion percentage of 47.62 with 0 touchdowns and 3 picks. Who would’ve though that Sanchez would have a terrible but memorable season for New York, especially after throwing for 3 touchdowns and 70.37 completion percentage against the Bills in week one?
4 2013: Geno Smith (New York Jets)
Things didn’t get much better after the Mark Sanchez era for the Jets after starting Geno Smith. Smith’s 8-8 record wasn’t that bad for the Jets but the stats didn’t live up to it. He threw 12 touchdowns but also a career-high 21 interceptions in 2013 with a career low 55.8 passing percentage. Smith was actually a lot better at home with a 6-2 record at MetLife Stadium; but he went 2-6 on the road with the only two road victories happening at Atlanta and Miami.
What’s actually funny is that Sanchez led the Eagles to a NFC East division championship in 2013, which makes me wonder why would the Jets didn’t get Sanchez back in 2013. Perhaps because the Jets could never get past the Patriots with Sanchez?
3 2014: Blake Bortles (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Once again here is a rookie quarterback that didn’t quite get the NFL stats that most teams look for in their spreadsheet. Bortles started in 13 games and went 3-10 in his rookie season. The three victories for Bortles were against Cleveland, New York Giants, and Tennessee Titans. He threw for 11 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, which isn’t really that bad for a rookie quarterback. He also completed 58.95% of his passes including going 14-for-24 (58.33%) in his NFL debut against the Colts in Week 3.
In his first starting role against the San Diego Chargers, he had a 78.38 completion percentage with one touchdown and two interceptions. His worst performance in 2014 was in the last game of the season against Houston when he had 14 completions on 33 attempts with zero touchdowns but also no interceptions.
Bortles can be a great quarterback, but he just needs more experience in the future.
2 2015: Nick Foles (St. Louis Rams)
2015 was the only year Foles spent with the St. Louis Rams. In his last year as a primary starter, he went 4-7 on 11 starts with only 7 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He completed 190 passes out of 337 attempts for a career worst 56.4 completion percentage. The four starting victories for Foles were against Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, and San Francisco 49ers. Foles’s worst game in 2015 was at Cincinnati when he threw three interceptions and zero touchdowns despite have a 65.22 completion percentage in a 31-7 loss to the Bengals.
Foles showed some signs of a good season, however, when he upset the Seahawks 34-31 in week one completing 18 of 27 passes with one touchdown, but later led the Rams to a 7-9 overall record in the franchise’s last season in St. Louis before relocating to Los Angeles.
1 2016: Ryan Fitzpatrick (New York Jets)
Fitzpatrick is a 12-year veteran in the NFL but last year was by far his worst as he went 3-8 on 11 starts with the Jets. This was actually surprising that he had a bad year after going 10-6 in 2015, which was his best season ever. In 2016 he had 12 touchdowns but also had 17 interceptions with completing 56.6% of his throws. That season earned him the derisive nickname "Pickspatrick," but least he didn’t have a butt fumble like Sanchez did.
Fitzpatrick's three victories in 2016 were against the Bills, Ravens, and Browns. His worst performance of the year was at Kansas City when he had a 45.45 completion percentage with zero touchdowns and six interceptions against the Chiefs in week three.
After a performance like that, how in the world did he keep the starting role, especially when it started a four-game losing streak for the Jets?