The Dallas Cowboys are one of the premier and most well known sports franchises in the entire country, heck even the world. This is probably why they're nicknamed "America's Team" regardless of any random person across the U.S. liking them or not. The Cowboys have a rich tradition and long standing history which is topped off by some of the greatest quarterbacks the NFL has ever seen.
But, like many other franchises, they have a few that you may not even remember and they'd like to keep it that way. Ranging from NFL Hall of Fame down to third stringers with one career start, the Dallas Cowboys have had a wide net of talent grace us throughout their storied franchise.
Following Troy Aikman's early retirement, the Cowboys had difficulty finding their next franchise signal caller, but now they've managed to transition to two very good quarterbacks. After a decade with Tony Romo as their starter, they now have Dak Prescott firmly in place as their starter for the foreseeable future. However, it didn't always come easy for the Cowboys to find a capable quarterback under center.
With all that said, here are the best and the worst of the historic franchise.
15 Best: Steve Beuerlein
Beuerlein played in 24 games in two seasons with the Cowboys and went 4-0 in games started during the 1991 season and led two game winning drives in those four games. He had a respectable 5-3 touchdown to interception ratio during those two years and even led the Cowboys to a playoff win during that 1991 streak. The following year he earned a ring backing up Troy Aikman in Super Bowl XXVII.
Beuerlein ended up having a 14-year NFL career in which he was a Pro Bowler in 1999 as a starter for the Carolina Panthers. During that season he led the league in completions (343) and passing yards (4,436). Beuerlein went on to finish his career with a solid 147 touchdowns to 112 interceptions while throwing for over 24,000 yards and a 56.9% completion rate.
14 Worst: Kevin Sweeney
Sweeney only spent two seasons in the NFL, both with the Cowboys. He had a decent three game stretch his rookie season where he went 2-0 with four touchdowns to one interception. Up to that point he was only the third rookie to ever start for the Cowboys. His glory didn't last long however, the following year he went 0-2 in three games with a poor 42.3% completion rate and tallied five interceptions compared to only three touchdowns. In addition he tacked on three fumbles.
13 Best: Dak Prescott
12 Worst: Brad Johnson
Johnson won a Super Bowl, just not with the Cowboys. That's where his credit on this list ends. Sure, he had an overall successful career. He finished with a winning record (72-53), two Pro Bowl appearance and of course a Super Bowl ring. Johnson also threw for over 29,000 career yards. However, his two seasons in Dallas didn't live up to the rest of his career. The aging quarterback faltered and ultimately finished his career after his second season as a Cowboy.
11 Best: Craig Morton
Morton slides into the sixth spot perfectly. After all, he ranks sixth in Dallas quarterback history in yards (10,279), wins (32), and touchdowns (80). These statistics didn’t come easily or even all at once. Morton was drafted fifth overall in 1965, but spent the next four years backing up another Cowboys great Don Meredith. During these four years he played in spurts before getting a chance to start in 1969 after Meredith’s retirement. The following season Morton led the Cowboys to a 10-4 record and a Super Bowl appearance that resulted in a 16-13 loss to the Baltimore Colts.
10 Worst: Clint Stoerner
Stoerner played in a grand total of five games and started two of them in his brief NFL career. In his two starts he went 1-1 and had a final stat line of four career touchdowns to five interceptions. Stoerner was one of a few forgettable players who filled in between the long eras of Troy Aikman and Tony Romo. Stoerner’s stint isn’t as bad as it could have been or not quite as bad as some others we will see, but his atrocious second half performance highlights his play in Dallas.
9 Best: Danny White
This is another arguable ranking with who the next best in above him, but White slides into fifth best of all-time. He was the heir to the throne after Staubach, but unfortunately never won a Super Bowl. White threw for 21,959 yards during his career (4th in Cowboys history), 155 touchdowns (3rd), and won 62 games (4th). White did throw 132 interceptions in his career which ranks as second most in Cowboys history. Unfortunately for White he went 0-3 in three consecutive NFC Championship games and missed out on putting his stamp in Cowboys history.
8 Worst: Anthony Wright
There wasn’t much good that came out of Wright’s time as a Cowboy. While in Dallas he accumulated a 1-4 record throwing five touchdowns and eight interceptions while completing only 58.1% of his passes. In his rookie season of 2000 he put up an atrocious QB rating of 31.7 before nearly doubling it in his second season, to a better, but still poor 61.1 in 2001. Wright’s two year stint in Dallas didn’t do much for his career as he stuck around until 2007 where he finished with an overall 8-11 record. His worst highlight came in his start against the Tennessee Titans in the last week of the 2000 season.
7 Best: Don Meredith
Meredith easily has the best nickname out of anybody on this list, Dandy, and he deserves it. His statistics aren’t quite what the next few or even a couple behind him put up but Meredith was able to compile 17,199 yards and throw for 135 touchdowns and win 47 games, all of which rank fifth in Cowboys history. Meredith was there on the first Dallas team ever in 1960, and became the starter from 1963 until 1968. During his final three seasons as a Cowboy he led the team to a 27-9-1 record, three consecutive playoff appearances and earned three Pro Bowl selections along the way.
6 Worst: Ryan Leaf
Who else forgot Ryan Leaf played for the Cowboys? Widely considered the biggest bust in NFL draft history, Leaf didn't do much in San Diego and managed to do even less while in Dallas. He didn't have a lot of time to make a run for the worst in Cowboys history, however, due to his lofty draft selection he finds himself on this list and his final failed attempt to stay in the league.
While in Dallas he went 0-3 in four games where he only threw a single touchdown, but threw three interceptions during that time span. Not only does his poor performance factor into this ranking, but the fact that he was released in September of 2001 from the Cowboys for failing a physical only to be re-signed again just to put up those numbers factors in on this.
5 Best: Tony Romo
The only thing missing his a ring or two and now that Dak Prescott has arrived, Romo may not have that opportunity anymore. Well, at least not in Dallas. The thing that separates him and makes a clear distinction between the top two guys and everyone else is the lack of rings. In all of Tony Romo's glory there isn't a Lombardi Trophy. Romo will forever be etched into Cowboys history. As it stands now, he leads the franchise in yards (34,183), touchdowns (248) and game winning drives (30). This is all while throwing only 117 interceptions and having a 97.1 quarterback rating with a career completion percentage of 65.3%.
4 Worst: John Roach
Talk about disappointment. Don't get me wrong, more power to him for being able to back up Bart Starr and play for Vince Lombardi and get a couple Super Bowl rings in 1961 and 1962. He even played well going 3-1 in a short stint during the 1963 season, even though he threw eight interceptions to four touchdowns during that stretch, but no matter what he did elsewhere, his time in Dallas is forgettable.
3 Best: Troy Aikman
This was the toughest choice and yes Aikman has the most Super Bowl rings out of any quarterback in Cowboys history. Unfortunately that wasn't quite enough to launch him into the greatest in franchise history. Aikman is one of the greatest of all-time. He is a Hall of Fame quarterback with three Super Bowl rings and threw for 32,942 yards. He added on 165 touchdowns but threw 141 picks (most in franchise history). Aikman did help the great Cowboys of the 90s take shape and give us the most recent memory of Dallas success.
2 Worst: Babe Laufenberg
The worst quarterback in Dallas Cowboys history. As great as some have been Babe Laufenberg was equally as bad. He played in seven games during his brief two seasons in Dallas and managed to get a start in 1990. That would be the last one of his career. In his final stat line as a Cowboy he finished with one touchdown and six interceptions, all of which came in the final two games of his career. Considering he didn't throw a pass in the previous season he was able to quit after getting a chance even though it resulted in a miserable 16.9 rating.
1 Roger Staubach
The greatest Cowboys quarterback of all-time. This may be controversial due to his numbers not quite being the same as Aikman and having less rings but Staubach is the reason the Cowboys became America's Team. He appeared in five Super Bowls, won two of them and was also a Super Bowl MVP (like Aikman). Staubach is a Hall of Famer and ranks in the top 5 of almost every statistical category. He was able to rack up 22,700 passing yards (3rd), 153 touchdowns (4th), 23 game winning drives (2nd) and all while only throwing 109 interceptions, significantly less than Aikman.
What stands out the most is Staubach's winning percentage. He finished with the second most Cowboys wins at quarterback (85) but lost only 29 games during his significant career. Although the argument can be made that Aikman is the greatest Cowboy of all time my vote is for Staubach due to his winning percentage and place in history for making the Cowboys be known as America's Team.
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