Some franchises have been absolutely spoiled with their quarterbacks. Just think about the last time that Tom Brady wasn’t incredibly effective for the Patriots or Peyton Manning in his years with Indianapolis (and first few with Denver). It doesn’t seem fair for the rest of us that we have to watch a quarterback carousel each year, but it is what it is and it’s time to look at some of the worst quarterbacks from the past decade.
For this list, we are looking at single seasons that quarterbacks have had since 2006. We also aren’t including guys that came in for one game and stunk up the place, so we used a much larger sample size at the seasons where quarterbacks have started at least eight games. There are some surprising names on this list since there are some future (and current) Hall of Fame players involved, but that hasn’t stopped them from having terrible years. Even the first player on our list has a pair of Super Bowl rings to his name already.
We also only went with players that finished the season with more interceptions than touchdowns, which means there was a lot to pick from. So what have been the worst full seasons from quarterbacks in the past 10 years? Get ready to bring up some bad memories about when your favorite team couldn’t get the ball down the field for an entire season.
20 Eli Manning
One of just two players on our list to have started all 16 games in a season, Eli Manning’s 2013 season has gone down as his worst, by far. Manning was able to put together seven wins with the Giants, but it wasn’t because he was an effective thrower. With just 18 touchdowns on the season, Manning tossed an ugly 27 interceptions.
Manning’s quarterback rating on the season was just 69.4, which was 35th in the entire league, and it was because of a career high in interceptions and career low (in full seasons) in yards per attempt with 5.4. Thankfully for Manning, he would bounce back the next year and put up some solid stats, despite the team finishing just 6-10 and was even better in 2015.
19 Terrelle Pryor
Eli Manning was not the worst starting quarterback in 2013, however, as that “honor” belongs to Terrelle Pryor, who you may know better as the Browns’ best wide receiver in 2016. While with the Raiders in 2013, Pryor got his chance to play quarterback by starting in nine games (3-6 record) and playing in 11 as a passer. Pryor would toss for 1,798 yards for just 6.6 yards per pass attempt, with only seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Pryor would finish the season with the second lowest quarterback rating (the lowest comes later in the list) at a paltry 69.1. Even though Pryor did have 576 yards rushing, he was not effective as a passer, which is why he has since switched positions and it appears to be working for him.
18 Marc Bulger
2008 actually ended up being a solid year for quarterbacks (that started at least eight games), but that was not the case for Marc Bulger. Bulger was once a great asset for the Rams as he would throw for a ton of yards and collect some wins, but that would come to a screeching halt in 2008. Bulger posted a record of 2-13 over his 15 starts, collecting just 2,720 yards in that time with 11 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
You could argue that Bulger’s 2009 was worse, but 2008 left us with a larger sample size since he missed just one game. Bulger would have a decent quarterback rating (by this list’s standards) at 71.4, but his QBR was just 33.45. 2009 would end up being his last season in St. Louis...and his last in the league.
17 Derek Anderson
2010 was an awful season for quarterbacks outside of the usual suspects like Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers. There are several from the 2010 season on our list, starting with Derek Anderson when he was a member of the Arizona Cardinals. If you recall, it was the season where Anderson infamously said after a Monday Night Football loss that “Nothing’s funny to me.”
It wasn’t the only loss for Anderson, either, as he finished with a record of 2-7 in nine starts, throwing just seven touchdowns to 10 interceptions. He also had just a 65.9 quarterback rating, but somehow it wasn’t even his worst season. The year before, Anderson posted worst numbers across the board, but started just seven games or else he would be much higher on the list.
16 Mark Sanchez
Sometimes you feel really bad for Mark Sanchez as he has shown flashes of being a good quarterback in the NFL, but has mainly been remembered for the infamous “Butt Fumble” against the Patriots. That fumble was just an exclamation mark on what was the worst season for Sanchez as a starter in his NFL career.
The 2012 season for Sanchez (and his last as a Jet) was hard to watch as he posted a 6-9 record with 2,883 yards and just 13 touchdowns to 18 interceptions. The offense was dead in the water every time Sanchez was on the field and he posted a quarterback rating of 66.9, the second lowest in the league that season. Sadly, for Jets fans, the quarterback situation hasn’t gotten much better since that year.
15 Joey Harrington
Only a pair of quarterbacks from the first possible season, 2006, were able to find themselves on our list. After being a draft bust with the Detroit Lions, Harrington landed in Miami for one season, where he would start 11 games, going 5-6. The record wasn’t terrible, but his numbers were certainly not good enough to match.
Harrington would collect 2,236 yards through the air, which was an average of just 5.8 yards per attempt. Harrington’s knack for turning the ball over also carried over from his Detroit days, as he threw 15 interceptions compared to his 12 touchdowns. Harrington had just a 68.2 quarterback rating and would play just one more season in the league with Atlanta before never seeing the field again.
14 Josh McCown
Poor Josh McCown was basically put into a no-win situation in 2014 while with Tampa for his only season there in his career. McCown was asked to start 11 games for the Buccaneers and posted just one win. McCown was second to last in the NFL that season with a quarterback rating of 70.5 and posted pedestrian statistics with 11 touchdowns compared to 14 interceptions, while passing for 2,206 yards.
What made it more interesting was the season that McCown had the year before, when he had 13 touchdowns to just one interception for the Chicago Bears. The Buccaneers were shellshocked from the production that they received from McCown, forcing them to change directions, look towards the future and draft Jameis Winston with the top overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
13 Blake Bortles
While Josh McCown was awful in 2014, he was still beat out by a rookie quarterback that was thrown to the dogs in Jacksonville. Blake Bortles was the third overall pick in the NFL Draft leading into the 2014 season and would end up starting 13 games for the Jags during his rookie campaign. He would post a weak 58.9% completion percentage, throwing for 2,908 yards (just 6.1 per attempt), 11 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
Bortles has posted some solid stats in the season and a half since his rookie campaign, but they have been mainly a result of garbage time. Still, the first season from Bortles was his worst, as he was dead last in the NFL in terms of quarterback rating at 69.5 and ESPN gave him a 25.22 QBR.
12 Matthew Stafford
In 2008, the Detroit Lions didn’t win a single game, locking down the number one pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. They would select Matthew Stafford out of Georgia, who was put into one of the worst situations of all-time. Stafford had Calvin Johnson to work with, but that was about it. In his 10 starts during his rookie season, Stafford would finish 2-8, which was at least an improvement for the Lions.
Stafford could not stop turning the ball over, throwing 20 interceptions in just 10 games, compared to 13 touchdowns. With just a 61.0 quarterback rating, he was not efficient at all and had 6.0 yards per attempt. Thankfully, Stafford would improve dramatically by 2011 when he threw 41 touchdowns and just one interception per game over 16 starts.
11 Brett Favre
There is only one current member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame on our list (for now) and it’s Brett Favre. Favre, in 2009, had a great season where he led the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship Game. With hopes for a Super Bowl in 2010, there was a lot of disappointment in Minnesota in what would be Favre’s final season.
Favre would start 13 games for the Vikings that final season, posting just a 5-8 record with 2,509 yards. He was a turnover machine that year with 19 interceptions (he had seven in 16 games the year before) and just 11 touchdowns compared to 2010’s 33 scores. His 69.9 quarterback rating was also the worst of his 20 seasons, bringing a sad end to a legendary career.
10 Matt Hasselbeck
2010 would also see a terrible season for the former Seahawks great that had a great overall career. Matt Hasselbeck was in his final season with the Seahawks in 2010 and was able to start 14 games, finishing with a record of 6-8. The yardage wasn’t terrible for Hasselbeck with 3,001 over those 14 games, but his efficiency was terrible as he threw for just 12 touchdowns and had 17 interceptions.
Hasselbeck’s quarterback rating was slightly ahead of Favre at 73.2, so it made it hard to distinguish which one to put ahead of the other, so call this one a coin toss. Hasselbeck would then play with Tennessee for two seasons before spending the twilight of his career with the Colts, where he was surprisingly effective in 2015 as a backup to Andrew Luck, despite being 40 years old.
9 Geno Smith
Our list started with two quarterbacks from the 2013 season and now we have the worst quarterback from that year in the form of Geno Smith. Out of 37 qualifying quarterbacks that year, the Jets quarterback had the worst quarterback rating at 66.5. His win-loss record was a saving grace for Smith as he started all 16 games and finished with a record of 8-8, but it was on the heels of a strong defense.
The numbers were not good for Smith, who finished with 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions to go along with 3,046 passing yards. Smith was just a rookie at the time, but had just a 55.8% completion percentage and hasn’t really improved since then. However, this was his worst season and there are no repeat players.
8 Peyton Manning
There is only one quarterback on our list from the 2015 season and it is the most bittersweet one on here. Peyton Manning was able to get his second Super Bowl ring in the 2015 season, but it wasn’t because of anything special that he did. Manning started nine regular season games with a 7-2 record, but also had a historically good defense on the other side of the ball. What makes this season so bad is that he also had great receivers to throw to in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
Manning had the lowest quarterback rating of quarterbacks with at least eight starts (just 67.9) and he threw for 17 interceptions in that time with just nine touchdowns. For Manning, he put up his lowest yards per attempt (6.8) and completion percentage (59.8%) since his rookie season.
7 Josh Freeman
The 2009 fun continues with a quarterback that we were all waiting to break through and be a franchise player, but it just never happened. Josh Freeman had a solid second season with Tampa Bay, but it was the prime rib of a sandwich that had moldy bread. It was a tough call between Freeman’s 2011 and 2009 campaigns, but his 2009 season (his rookie year) gets the nod this time.
Freeman won three games in his nine starts and had a terrible completion percentage at just 54.5%. Freeman would also throw just 10 touchdowns while throwing the ball to opposing defenses 18 times. Freeman was among the worst in the league that season with a quarterback rating of 59.8, which would be the worst in a lot of years that weren’t 2009.
6 Jake Delhomme
Josh Freeman was only third from the bottom in quarterback rating and the first quarterback he can thank for not finishing last is Jake Delhomme. Delhomme, who was once a Pro Bowl quarterback that led the Panthers to the Super Bowl fell out of the fans’ good graces in 2009. Delhomme looked completely lost and willing to throw the ball into coverage, finishing with 18 interceptions in just 11 starts (compared to only eight touchdowns).
Delhomme’s Panthers would win just four of his 11 starts and his quarterback rating was slightly behind Freeman’s at 59.4, while ESPN gave him a QBR of 28.16. The Browns would pick up Delhomme for the next season, but he started just four more games in his career, calling it quits after the 2011 season.
5 Matt Cassel
Remember when Matt Cassel came in for an injured Tom Brady in 2008 and posted a 10-5 record as a starter? That seems like a lifetime ago, as Cassel would only have one more solid season afterward (in 2010 with Kansas City) before falling off of the map. 2012 was the worst season for Cassel with at least eight starts, as he finished with a 1-7 record.
Cassel could not move the ball down the field for the Chiefs, as he finished with just 1,796 yards and six touchdowns. A lot of his drives ended in disaster, as well, as he had 12 interceptions (4.3 interception percentage). Cassel also finished with a quarterback rating of 66.7, which was dead last in 2012 for those that qualified.
4 Curtis Painter
2011 had some bad quarterback seasons that just missed the cut (Rex Grossman and Blaine Gabbert), but the two were bailed out thanks to Curtis Painter. With Peyton Manning missing the 2011 season, the Colts turned to Kerry Collins before handing the reigns over to Curtis Painter for eight games. In those eight starts, Painter wouldn’t win a single one.
It was the only season where Painter would start one game, let alone eight, and we found out why he wasn’t a starter in the NFL. Painter had just 54.3% of his passes hit the mark, finishing with six touchdowns and nine interceptions. His 1,541 yards gave him an average of just 171.2 yards per game and Painter’s 66.6 quarterback rating was a sign for Colts fans that they sold their 2011 season’s soul for Andrew Luck.
3 Jimmy Clausen
We mentioned earlier that 2010 was a truly terrible season for some great quarterbacks, but the worst one that season was someone that has certainly not had a great career. Jimmy Clausen was terrible in every measurable statistic in 2010, as he finished with just one win in 10 starts for the Carolina Panthers. In that time, he threw for only 1,558 yards, three touchdowns and nine interceptions.
It gets even worse when you look at his efficiency, since he had a quarterback rating of 58.4, by far the worst in the league that year. What’s even worse is his QBR, which was listed at just 10.61. You almost have to actively try to be that bad as a quarterback who was once anointed as the best high school quarterback prospect in the past 25 years.
2 Andrew Walter
We have finally made it to the pinnacle and I think you know what’s coming for our two worst starting quarterbacks. In 2006, second year quarterback Andrew Walter was tabbed with eight starts and 12 overall games for the Raiders, and he would finish with a 2-6 record. His completion percentage of 53.3% was among the worst that we’ve seen from a starter, as was his quarterback rating of 55.8 (and 14.69 QBR).
The bad news didn’t end there, as Walter would collect just three touchdowns as a passer, while tossing a miserable 13 interceptions. Walter was clearly not the answer, and he would start just one more game in his career. So who would the Raiders turn to in hopes of replacing Walter? Take a wild guess.
1 JaMarcus Russell
If it weren’t for the fact that there were no repeat quarterbacks on the list, JaMarcus Russell might be on here three times (and he only played three seasons). Russell’s final season in the league was his worst and he somehow managed to beat out Delhomme and Freeman as the worst quarterback of 2009. The ultimate draft bust himself started nine games (playing in 12), finishing with a record of 2-7.
The numbers were historically bad for Russell as a passer, who finished with a completion percentage of 48.8%. He would also toss just three touchdowns compared to 11 interceptions and 5.2 yards per attempt (1,287 yards total). Russell’s quarterback rating was just 50.0 on the season and we haven’t seen him since, despite him saying he'd play for free.