The Dallas Cowboys have had some landmark quarterbacks. Troy Aikman. Roger Staubach. Don Meredith. But statistically, Tony Romo takes a backseat to none.
The New York football Giants have had some landmark quarterbacks. Phil Simms. Charlie Conerly. Y.A. Tittle. But Eli Manning stands above them all.
The Eli-Romo rivalry resumes Sunday in the Meadowlands, a great rivalry that is starting to grow whiskers. Eli is 8-5 against Romo (Romo missed two games against the Giants due to injury).
But the Romo-Eli rivalry made me think, a bunch of NFL teams have either the greatest quarterback in franchise history playing right now, or someone who is building towards that status. To be fair, some franchises have guys with no shot at franchise greatness.
But the offensive explosions, coupled with franchises clutching a good quarterback when they get one, has made for some franchise icons.
Saints at Falcons: New Orleans 33-17. Drew Brees has more than twice as many TD passes with the Saints than any other New Orleans quarterback, and he’s got Archie Manning beat by 15,000 yards. Matt Ryan soon will supplant Steve Bartkowski atop the Falcon lists — Ryan trails by nine TDs and 2,645 yards.
Buccaneers at Lions: Detroit 30-20. Matthew Stafford last week replaced Bobby Layne as the Lions’ career leader in passing yards and trails Layne by 17 TD passes. Tampa Bay has little quarterback history, but Mike Glennon has a long way to go before catching Vinny Testaverde in yards (14,820) or Josh Freeman in TDs (80). Glennon has only started seven games.
Jaguars at Texans: Houston 33-27. Case Keenum has quarterbacked just four games for the Texans, but he’s already up to fourth in TDs (eight) and fifth in yards (992). Matt Schaub, Keenum’s teammate, figures to have the records for awhile (22,618 yards, 122 TDs), but Keenum may be taking aim. Blaine Gabbert doesn’t figure to have the stamina to take a run at Mark Brunell’s Jacksonville records (25,698 yards; 144 TDs).
Vikings at Packers: Green Bay 23-20. Scott Tolzien will start again for the Packers. Aaron Rodgers can’t get back soon enough. And when he does, even if he keeps playing for another decade like the NFL’s best quarterback, he won’t catch Brett Favre. Rodgers trails by 290 TD passes and 36,937 yards. Christian Ponder will start for the Vikings, who have had some good quarterbacking over the years, but no one as consistently effective as Fran Tarkenton (33,098 yards, 239 TDs).
Chargers at Chiefs: Kansas City 19-17. Philip Rivers has caught John Hadl and now takes aim at Dan Fouts. Fouts leads in yards (43,040-30,880) and TDs (254-208). Alex Smith appears to have a bright future in KC, but he’s just getting started. Len Dawson (28,507 yards, 237 TDs) is a long way away.
Panthers at Dolphins: Carolina 17-3. Cam Newton (10,099 yards, 120 TDs) eventually will catch Jake Delhomme (19,258 yards, 120 TDs), sooner rather than later. Ryan Tannehill is a nice player, but he’s not going to catch Dan Marino (61,361 yards, 420 TDs) sooner or later.
Steelers at Browns: Pittsburgh 26-20. Ben Roethlisberger already has passed Terry Bradshaw in yards (32,745-27,989). Now Big Ben closes in on Bradshaw in TDs (212-208). Probably won’t pass him this week. I don’t count the new Browns with the old Browns. The old Browns are the Ravens. Sorry, you can’t change history just to make it more convenient. The new Cleveland records are held by Tim Couch (64 TDs, 11,131 yards), and it doesn’t seem likely that anyone on the current roster will challenge.
Bears at Rams: Chicago 23-17. You’re not going to believe this. The Bears’ career leader last played in 1950. Sid Luckman holds the Chicago records of 14,686 yards and 137 TDs. Jay Cutler will pass Luckman in yards (he trailed by 486) if he can get back this season from injury and will pass Luckman in TDs (he trails by 42) if he’s re-signed. But 1950? You’ve got to be kidding me. The Rams have one of the deepest quarterback traditions. No epic QBs, maybe, but a bunch of good ones. Norm Van Brocklin, Kurt Warner, Jim Everett, Marc Bulger, Roman Gabriel, Bob Waterfield. Gabriel holds the TD record (154) and Everett holds the yardage record (23,758). Sam Bradford has 59 TDs and 11,065 yards, so if Bradford remains a Ram, he’ll move up to No. 1.
Jetropolitans at Ravens: Baltimore 25-16. Joe Flacco holds the Raven records of 115 TDs and 20,102 yards, but like I said, this is the old Cleveland franchise. So the real records are held by Otto Graham (174 TDs, 23,584 yards) and Brian Sipe (154 TDs, 23,713 yards). I have no idea if Geno Smith can be the next Joe Namath. Broadway Joe had 27,057 yards and 170 TDs. I’m afraid the Jets don’t know, either.
Titans at Raiders: Oakland 32-24. Matt McGloin will start again at quarterback for the Raiders. Somehow, I don’t think he’s going to catch Kenny Stabler (150 TDs, 19,078 yards). Tennessee is using Ryan Fitzpatrick until Jake Locker heals. This franchise goes back to the Houston Oilers, remember, so good luck catching Warren Moon’s 196 TDs and 33,685 yards.
Colts at Cardinals: Arizona 21-19. Carson Palmer won’t be a Cardinal long enough to challenge one of the great old pros, Jim Hart, who threw for 209 TDs and 34,639 yards for the St. Louis version of the Cardinals. Andrew Luck is going to be an all-time great. But man, does he have a mountain to climb. Peyton Manning threw for 54,828 yards and 399 TDs as a Colt. Johnny Unitas threw for 39,768 yards and 287 TDs.
Cowboys at Giants: New York 31-30. Eli Manning has passed Phil Simms in yards (34,113-33,462) and TDs (223-199). Romo long ago passed Troy Aikman in TDs (198-165) and now takes aim in yards — he’s 4,524 yards behind Aikman’s 32,942.
Broncos at Patriots: New England 31-28. Speaking of quarterback rivalries, you can do worse than Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady. Brady is the greatest New England quarterback ever. Brady’s 348 TD passes are 182 more than Drew Bledsoe, and Brady’s 47,358 yards lead by almost 18,000. Peyton Manning absolutely can catch John Elway as the Denver leader, provided Manning plays this well until he’s about 46. Elway had 51,475 yards and 300 TDs.
49ers at Redskins: San Francisco 27-17. Remember when Sports Illustrated put Colin Kaepernick on the cover, with the headline “HOLY…” Get me excited when Kaepernick joins the 49er club of 100 TD passes. San Francisco has SIX of those — Joe Montana 244, Steve Young 221, John Brodie 214, Frankie Albert 115, Jeff Garcia 113 and Y.A. Tittle 108. Montana, with 35,124 yards, leads a pack of seven 10,000-yard passers. The 49ers have the best quarterback tradition in the NFL. Robert Griffin will have a chance to get to the top of the Redskin lists — Sammy Baugh leads the TD list with 187; Joe Theismann leads the yardage list with 25,206.
Last week: 9-6. Season: 92-56.