Two of the most important attributes that a coach or fans look for in a quarterback are their ability and their durability. Everyone wants a great quarterback, but if they’re never healthy it doesn’t help much. Similarly, everyone wants a long lasting quarterback, but if he isn’t any good then why hold onto him?
There is an interesting, some might find it amusing, effect though that having long lasting good quarterbacks can have on a team’s record book.
We’ll use the Miami Dolphins as an example. All these stats are through the end of the 2009 NFL season. The Dolphins have been around for fifty seasons through 2009 and two of their best quarterbacks were Bob Griese and Dan Marino. Bob Griese was the quarterback of the team during some of its dominant 1970’s years, including being a part of that 1972 team that went undefeated and won the Super Bowl. Dan Marino was statistically best quarterbacks the National Football League has ever seen, and though he never was able to win a Super Bowl, he was incredibly successful.
Marino played 17 seasons at quarterback for the Dolphins, from 1983 to 1999. Griese played 14 seasons at quarterback for the team, from 1967 to 1980. That means that those two great quarterbacks were playing for 31 of the team’s 50 total years in the league. They both should dominate the passing record books for the team, and they do. But it also means that because of their longevity, other quarterbacks who played significantly less may rank surprisingly high in a number of team passing categories.
-In third place on the all time passing yards list for the Miami Dolphins is Jay Fiedler.
-Don Strock, who was almost exclusively a backup quarterback throughout his long career in Miami, is ranked third in team history for quarterbacks in games played, fourth in touchdown passes, and fifth in completions. All this despite the fact that he only started 20 games.
-Chad Pennington has only played two seasons with the Dolphins but is less than 500 yards away from breaking into the top five in all time passing yards for the team.
-Gus Frerotte played just one season in Miami, threw for just less than 3,000 yards, and is ranked 7th all time in team history in career passing yards.
-Other Dolphins quarterbacks in the all time top ten for passing yards for the team include David Woodley, Chad Henne, Joey Harrington, and Cleo Lemon.
Nothing against any of these players, it just shows that when a team has been blessed with a couple of very good long lasting quarterbacks, it logically doesn’t take too much for the other QBs that come along to break into the leader board in some of those categories.