For years now, quarterbacks have owned the NFL. The game opened up and made franchise signal callers the cash cow every team hopes to acquire. Defenders have never had it harder in terms of contact and pass interference. Running backs shred defenses through committee more often now than as a single, unstoppable force.
The air is king instead. Rule changes and scheme alterations have resulted in an explosion of yardage and passing touchdowns while current players continue their decimation of all-time passing records. Seven of the top ten quarterbacks with the most touchdowns in NFL history are either current players or retired in the 2010’s. Aaron Rodgers is only three passing touchdowns away from making that eight.
Still, tossing 30 touchdowns is and should be considered an impressive feat. Following the 11-player explosion last season, only five quarterbacks exceeded the number this year. That is not to say that recent throwers are the only one to light up the scoreboard. The great Johnny Unitas became the first to throw for over 30 touchdowns (32) in 1959. Y.A. Tittle set an NFL record 36 touchdowns in 1963, which wasn’t touched until Dan Marino shattered it with 48 during the 1984 season.
The question remains, whom among the 30+ club is the worst? It’s not a simple answer. The 30-touchdown mark has been eclipsed 110 times in league history. The selection pool grows smaller when you consider that 45 quarterbacks have accounted for those 110 statistical achievements. Essentially, this is your disclaimer. You will be angry at several inclusions. Feel free to comment with why another 30+ clubber deserves the distinction instead.
15 Jim Everett
14 Babe Parilli
13 Carson Palmer
12 Steve Bartkowski
11 Brian Sipe
10 Daunte Culpepper
Daunte Culpepper threw for 3,937 yards, 33 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in his second year in the NFL. The Vikings looked set for a decade of possible NFC North dominance following 2000’s 11-5 campaign. It didn’t pan out. Culpepper struggled for two seasons before regaining a groove in 2003 and eventually leading them back to the playoffs in 2004 with 4,717 yards, 39 touchdowns and 11 picks. His abysmal 2-5 start to 2005, which included 12 interceptions, got worse after he suffered an injury to his ACL, PCL and MCL. The fallen star suited up for Detroit, Oakland and Miami from 2006 to 2009. He didn’t throw more than 5 touchdowns in any of those seasons. Some may believe Culpepper shouldn’t be on this list due to an injury-shortened career. I counter with a Matt Schaub comparison. It’s a nearly identical performance.
Culpepper: 3,199 attempts, 149 touchdowns, 106 interceptions and 24,153 yards.
9 Vinny Testaverde
8 Jeff Garcia
7 Lynn Dickey
6 Steve Beuerlein
5 Andy Dalton
4 Scott Mitchell
3 Vince Ferragamo
2 Blake Bortles
1 Ryan Fitzpatrick
Only one man could save Bortles from the number one spot. When Geno Smith missed the beginning of the 2015 season after a teammate sucker punched him, it seemed to be a classic Jets story. Remarkably, they suddenly started winning with journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. He put up the best numbers of his career (3,905 yards, 31 touchdowns and 15 interceptions), and the team just barely missed the playoffs at 10-6. Fitzpatrick strong-armed the New York into a $12 million contract before proceeding to lay an egg for the entire 2016 season. His low point came during a six-interception game against Kansas City. In case you were wondering, it takes a massive display of ineptitude to throw to the wrong jersey that many times. Tyrod Taylor, Derek Carr, Dak Prescott and Tom Brady all threw six or less the entire season. The sad thing is that no one should be surprised. There’s literally a drawn chart you can google known as The Fitzpatrick Cycle: Fitzpatrick gets signed as a backup, the starter gets hurt, he plays well, gets paid and then bombs. Lather, rinse, repeat. He’s done it to six different teams. Who will be next?
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