How do you rank the greatest quarterbacks in Washington Football Team history?
How do you value long-term consistency versus spectacular short-term success? How much weight do you place on wins? On championships? How can you measure intangibles, like guts and leadership? And what do you do with statistical comparisons between players who performed under very different conditions as the NFL has continued to emphasize passing?
Speaking of statistics – a cautionary tale. If you rely entirely on statistics, and do not allow for sample size bias, the greatest quarterback in Washington Football Team history is a no-brainer. Only one quarterback in franchise history has an undefeated record as a starter. He has a career passer rating over 100. A career yards-per-attempt over 10. A four-to-one touchdown-to-interception ratio. Those are all Hall-of-Fame numbers.
What’s more, Keanu Reaves played a character very loosely based on him in a major Hollywood movie. Yes, the real-life Shane Falco – Ed Rubbert – won all three of his starts for the Washington Football Team as the replacement quarterback during the 1987 player’s strike.
But Ed Rubbert isn’t on my list.
I’ll give you my top-ten, along with an unranked handful of honorable mentions, and I’ll tell you right up front, you won’t like some of them. Because it is highly subjective. I value some statistics more than you might. I think yards-per-attempt is important. I think touchdown percentage is more important than interception percentage.
I also value wins quite a bit, and yet, the starter with the highest winning percentage (apart from Rubbert, of course) in franchise history doesn’t crack my top ten.
I’m also only considering what these quarterbacks did for the Washington Football Team. So Stan Humphries and Charlie Conerly, quarterbacks who had much better careers after leaving Washington, are not here. Washington has also had plenty of quarterbacks who had meaningful careers elsewhere before coming to town. I’m only evaluating them based on what they did in DC.