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Monday, April 6, 2020

Ranking the best NFC East quarterbacks of all-time

Phil Simms

7. Phil Simms, Giants

Phil Simms’ career is a testament to perseverance. He battled injuries early in his career, missed the entire 1982 season with a knee injury, and then was benched for Scott Brunner by new head coach Bill Parcells for the 1983 season. When he did get a chance to play, he broke his thumb. Simms re-established himself as the starter in 1984, and two years later had a masterful season as the Giants won their first Super Bowl title. He finished top-five in passer rating three different times between 1987 and 1993.

Key Stats: 159 GS (95-64), 7.2 YPA, 22 of 25 for 268 yards and 3 touchdowns to win SB MVP after 1986 season

6. Joe Theismann, Redskins

Somewhat recently, I defended Joe Theismann when Peter King questioned his career standing. Here’s another note as we debate where Theismann stands: he is the last NFC East player to win the AP NFL MVP award. That has to be worth something.

Key Stats: 124 GS (77-47), 7.0 YPA, 1983 NFL MVP

5. Eli Manning, Giants

Based only on his regular season stats, Manning would be a little lower on this list, but his postseason performances, and the Giants winning twice over the Patriots, push him up a bit. The last few years have somewhat tainted the view of Manning, but from the end of the 2007 season through the 2012 season, he was a very good quarterback. In 2011, he led the NFL in comeback wins in the regular season while averaging 8.4 yards per attempt, and then continued that run in the postseason.

Key Stats: 230 GS (116-114 record), 7.0 YPA, 8-4 playoff record, 2 Super Bowl titles and SB MVP awards

4. Tony Romo, Cowboys

Tony Romo’s career is one of those that will be debated for a while. He received plenty of criticism, but you can make a pretty good argument that — without the playoff results — he is among the best NFC East quarterbacks ever. His yards per attempt blows everyone out of the water. He threw more than 30 touchdowns four different seasons and averaged nearly two TD passes per start. Nearly half of the Cowboys’ wins over his last four years as a starter were the result of a fourth quarter game-winning drive. He slots here because he never reached an NFC Championship Game, but he has shown himself as an announcer to be excellent, and maybe people will realize that is just an extension of what he did as a player.

Key Stats: 127 GS (78-49 record), 248 TD passes, 7.9 YPA, 2-4 playoff record

3. Donovan McNabb, Eagles

Yes, Donovan McNabb never won a Super Bowl ring, but he did just about everything else. In eleven seasons in Philadelphia, the Eagles reached the conference championship game five times. A dual threat running and passing, he largely did it with mediocre offensive units in the first half of his tenure, and put up elite numbers with Terrell Owens in 2004. He might have been having his best statistical season before a knee injury in 2006. Even his short stint in Washington cannot knock him down this list.

Key Stats: 155 GS (97-57-1 record), 6.9 YPA, 3,400 rushing yards, 5 conference championship game and one Super Bowl appearance

2. Troy Aikman, Cowboys

Aikman can be a bit underappreciated if you look at volume. When the Dallas Cowboys were at their best, he did not need to throw the ball a ton, and Emmitt Smith racked up rushing touchdowns. But from 1991 to 1995, Aikman made the Pro Bowl every year and was among the league leaders in efficiency. He was top-six in passer rating for five straight years and routinely among the most accurate quarterbacks in the league. He was named Super Bowl MVP in the first victory, and won three titles in four seasons.

Key Stats: 165 GS (94-71 record), 7.0 YPA, 11-4 in playoffs, 3 Super Bowl titles, 1992 SB MVP

1. Roger Staubach, Cowboys

Staubach missed out on starting earlier because of his Naval service and then sitting behind Craig Morton, but he was arguably the best quarterback of the 1970s. Dallas went 10-0 in 1971 once Staubach took over, then won their first title. A separated shoulder kept him sidelined most of the following season behind Morton, but from 1973 to 1979, Staubach was the man. He led the NFL in passer rating four different times in the 1970s, and Dallas went to four Super Bowls, winning two, under him.

Key Stats: 114 GS (85-29 record), 7.7 YPA, 11-6 in playoffs, 2 Super Bowl titles, 1971 SB MVP

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