December 17th marks the date of death for two of pro football's greatest quarterbacks in history: Otto Graham and Sammy Baugh.
Graham died on this day in 2003 at the age of 82; Baugh died at age 94 this day in 2008.
Although they don't share the exact same date of death like two of the founding fathers of America, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, we can agree they're two of the founding fathers of the quarterback position.
Below is the Cold Hard Football Facts description for both Graham and Baugh from our definitive list of Top 10 quarterbacks in history, written in 2008.
4. OTTO GRAHAM (Cleveland 1946-55)
Best NFL season (1953): 167 for 258 (64.7%), 2,722 yards, 10.6 YPA, 11 TD, 9 INT, 99.7 passer rating
Career (includes AAFC career): 1,464 for 2,626 (55.8%), 23,584 yards, 9.0 YPA, 174 TD, 135 INT, 86.6 passer rating
Championships: AAFC 1946-49; NFL 1950, 1954, 1955
Overview: Otto Graham was Tom Brady before Tom Brady, putting up gaudy numbers for his time while winning games and championships at an unprecedented rate. He led the Browns to a championship in all four years of the AAFC's existence (1946-49).
But he and the Browns proved they belonged in the big leagues by capturing the NFL title in their first year in the league. In fact, they'd go on to set a record that still stands, appearing in six straight NFL championship games from 1950 to 1955, winning three of them.
Bottom line: Graham played in a pro football championship game every single season of his 10-year career, winning seven of them in two different leagues.
He also set passing marks that stood for decades. His 86.6 passer rating, for example, is the top mark of the pre-Live Ball Era. And his career 9.0 YPA is No. 1 by a sizable margin. So why, then, isn't Graham higher on the list?
His four years in the AAFC make for some awkward comparisons. There's every reason to believe the Browns would have been a dominant NFL team over those four years, but little reason to believe they would have won four straight championships.
Graham's numbers also declined pretty noticeably when he went to the NFL, from simply unbelievable to merely spectacular. His career 9.0 YPA average, for example, drops to 8.63 if we look only at his NFL numbers. Of course, that 8.63 YPA mark is the best in NFL history, too.
The full measure of Graham's impact is this: the organization has never recovered from his departure at the end of the 1955 season. Sure, they remained competitive through the Jim Brown years (1957-65), winning a championship in 1964. But that's the only championship the organization won since Graham last took a snap for the Browns.
3. SAMMY BAUGH (Washington, 1937-52)
Best season (1945): 128 for 182 (70.3%), 1,669 yards, 9.2 YPA, 11 TD, 4 INT, 109.9 passer rating
Career: 1,693 for 2,995 (56.5%), 21,886 yards, 7.3 YPA, 187 TD, 203 INT, 72.2 passer rating
Championships: 1937, 1942
Overview: Here's a little rule of thumb: if you ever see a list of greatest quarterbacks (or greatest players, period) that doesn't include the Pigskin Messiah, burn the author of said heresy at the stake.
Seriously. Public execution.
We paid Baugh the ultimate compliment two years ago when we named him the quarterback of our peerless All-Time 11. We even listed his 1945 campaign as one of the greatest Old School seasons in NFL history a couple weeks ago.
You could make an argument that he's the best athlete in NFL history (we're not making the argument here, but you could). He certainly can stake a claim as the most accomplished two-way player in the history of the game.
He was a devastating defensive back (31 career picks) and still stands as one of the most spectacular punters in the history of the game – as evidenced by his tremendous 45.1 career punting average, second only to Oakland's current punter Shane Lechler.
But we're talking quarterbacks here, and even at that position, few were as good as the man they called Slingin' Sammy.
He virtually invented the modern quarterbacking position, and put up performances that continue to stand the statistical test of time. (For the record, while researching the 1942 NFL championship game between the Redskins and Bears, Baugh was actually listed as a "left halfback" in the papers. But he's really one of the first players we'd identify as a passer, as the nickname Slingin' Sammy suggests).
His 70.3 completion percentage in 1945 has been surpassed just once (by Ken Anderson, in 1982 ... edit ... Drew Brees set the new standard in 2011 with 71.23 percent), and his 109.9 passer rating that season stood as the second-best in league history until Joe Montana surpassed it in 1989.
How impressive is that?
Consider that the league-wide passer rating in 1945 was just 47.4 – Baugh more than doubled the league-wide mark! We can only imagine what kind of numbers the Pigskin Messiah might have produced had he played only offense today, in an era that favored passers.
Baugh was also a two-time champion who led the greatest upset in NFL history.
In the 1942 title game, his Redskins toppled the undefeated Bears, 14-6. Keep in mind that the 1942 Bears are the only club in history more dominant over the course of an entire regular season than the 2007 Patriots.
On this date in 1979, Roger Staubach played his final game with the Dallas Cowboys. In our definitive list of the top 10 quarterbacks of all time, we rated Staubach No. 7.
The original Captain America is a far cry from the man under center in Big D today, Tony Romo.
Also on this date: the 1972 Miami Dolphins cap off their perfect regular season at 14-0.
And O.J. Simpson became the first player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season, on this date in 1973. Two decades later, he would become synonymous with white Broncos and murder.
NFL games in the snow are fun to watch for fans; just try telling these coaches how awesome it is.
Some coaches look natural in frigid conditions, while others look like they're modeling the NFL's heavy clothing line.
Get your hands on the Jason Garrett Undercover Op wardrobe, just $295!
If there's one person who looks at home in frigid, shriveling weather, it's Bill Belichick. You can get your hands on Satan's headset for $695 and a two-year contract with Motorola.
Not sure Land's End Catalogs still exist ... regardless, can you imagine the smell inside these Packers coats and trenches?
The Green Bay Dutch Oven will make you gag. Much more effective at smothering than the Packers defense.
Let's have a conference to see if we can understand what our frozen lips and mouths are saying to each other.
Tripping an opponent on the sideline has never looked so good ...
Purchase the Andy Reid Kool-Aid wadrobe and secure the power to break through brick walls and stop bank robbers!
Spend some time in the Frozen Tundra and you can wear the frozen Tom Coughlin look.
Mike Smith wearing it and wearing it well.
He'th tho cold and fwozen looking.
No word if Smith will thaw in time for Week 15 Sunday when the Falcons host the Redskins.
Respect for John Harbaugh ...
In which Chip Kelly lands a supporting role in Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas.
By Adam Dobrowolski
Cold, Hard Football Facts Chief Mathletics Advisor
With a torn ACL and MCL suffered by Rob Gronkowski in Sunday's game between the Patriots and Browns, the chances of a championship for a perennial power suddenly got a lot more cloudy. And we're not talking about "Manti Te'o a Tale," the fantasy team of Stat Pack host Adam Dobrowolski. In fact, many now believe that Gronk's injury could spell "the end" for the Patriots chances.
As much as Dobrowolski would like to say "not so fast" to the doom and gloom statement about his fantasy team (regular season champs) and the real team from New England, the Mathletics say that Sunday's outcome could be a death sentence for the 2013 Patriots.
After winning 27-26 against Cleveland, it marked the fifth one-possession win against a non-quality team for the Patriots. The other four came against the Bills (4-9), Jets (6-7), Falcons (3-10), Texans (2-11) and Browns (4-9). That's not a good sign for a team with legit Super Bowl hopes. While 11 Super Bowl teams have five one-possession wins against non-quality opponents, a good portion of those wins came against .500 teams. Here's the list:
- 2012 Ravens (five): two against .500 teams, two against divisional opponents
- 2006 Colts (five): three against .500 teams, two against divisional opponents
- 2003 Panthers (eight): two against .500 teams, four against divisional opponents
- 2000 Giants (seven): one against .500 teams, four against divisional opponents
- 1999 Titans (five): two against .500 teams, three against divisional opponents
- 1998 Falcons (six): none against .500 teams, two against divisional opponents
- 1987 Redskins (six): none against .500 teams, four against divisional opponents
- 1986 Giants (five): none against .500 teams, two against divisional opponents
- 1981 49ers (six): one against .500 teams, five against divisional opponents
- 1980 Raiders (five): three against .500 teams, five against divisional opponents
- 1970 Colts (six): zero against .500 teams, two against divisional opponents
As you'll see, only six Super Bowl teams had at least five one-possession wins against outright losing teams. One of those, the 1987 Redskins, had two such wins with replacement players and beat three 7-8 teams. Meanwhile, the Patriots don't have any heavier bad luck against divisional opponents. In theory, divisional opponents are more familiar, so the inferior teams can keep the games closer. That's not the case for New England.
Beyond that, Dobrowolski also looks the impact of the record-setting offensive play from Week 14. How did it impact the CHFF Big Board. Furthermore, Dobrowolski his six pack to top Wild Card games and his six pack of top games in Week 15.
Make sure to check out this week's six pack of topics on Stat Pack!
For those who are interested in checking out bits and pieces of this week's podcasts, every edition will include a "playlist" of sorts breaking down every segment from the podcast.
1:55 -- Mathletics: Patriots' Super Bowl hopes doomed?
11:20 -- Week 14 Big Board Highlights
16:15 -- King of Props Week 14 Review
18:20 -- The Stat Pack Week 15 Power Rankings: the Wild Card hopefuls
22:35 -- Week 15 Preview via the Intelligence Index
26:30 -- Six Pack of Top Games for Week 15
True to form, the RG3 Bench comes with plenty of questions.
Are the legs sturdy enough to function properly?
Is Dan Snyder willing to invest all the marbles in this?
Is the logo offensive?
Redskins Fever: catch it!
If you've been away from your television today and wonder what ESPN is up to, it goes like this:
- RG3 is benched.
- Kirk Cousins is replacing him.
- Mike Shanahan says he's doing it for RG3's own good
- Is Shanahan trying to get fired?
- Here's what RG3 had to say about it.
- Let's go to the press conference introducing backup quarterback Kirk Cousins as starter.
- Coming up next, Mike Shanahan press conference.
- But first, lets take you back to what RG3 said.
Rinse and repeat on loop.
For my money, the photo below - not benching the franchise quarterback - is damning evidence that Mike Shanahan wants out of Dan Snyder's pigskin Hell.
There's more to the story here, though.
The statistical reality is that RGIII is the Fall Guy for Shanahan's poor coaching and for the misperformance of one of the worst defenses in football this year.
Sure, RGIII took a big step back after his brilliant rookie season, in which he led the NFL in many measures of passing efficiency -- a unique achievement by a rookie. But even with his regression from the lofty standards of 2012, RGIII has passed the ball at a level this year similar to what we've seen out of Indy's beloved Andrew Luck.
Griffin's 2013 passer rating (82.2) is just a shade behind Luck's 2013 performance of 85.4, and still better than Luck's career rating of 80.3.
Griffin this year has also been more accurate than Luck (60.1% vs. 58.6%) and boasts a better average per attempt (7.0 vs. 6.7).
In other words, RGIII has played fairly well by the standards of a young quarterback. Washington's defense, however, has been a dismal failure by any measure.
Here's a look at where Shanahan's Redskins rank in several key categories, including our Quality Stats:
- No. 31 in Bendability (defensive efficiency)
- No. 31 in Defensive Passer Rating (101.2)
- No. 32 in Defensive Real Passing YPA (7.47)
- No. 32 in scoring (31.3 PPG)
In fact, Washington is on pace to give up 501 points, easily the most in Redskins history. the current record is 432 by the 1954 Redskins (in a 12-game season); the franchise record for defensive futility in the 16-game era was set by the 1998 Redskins (421).
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady couldn't win with that defense.
But let's blame the young QB RGIII. After all, it's good for ESPN's ratings.
If the NFL actually sent a letter to fans about tailgating at Super Bowl XLVIII, it would go like this ...
I'm not sure what took the Bears until Dec. 2013 to retire Ditka's jersey but here were are.
If you missed the ceremony at halftime of the Bears' clobbering of the Cowboys, go here.
It is 100 percent proof that Ditka > Cold.
That's 11 penalties for 90 yards. First down. Time out.
SEVEN FROM SUNDAY – WEEK 14
from NFL Media Services
A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. ET and 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 8, the 14th week of the 2013 season.
- The DENVER BRONCOS and INDIANAPOLIS COLTS each clinched a playoff berth today. The Broncos, who defeated Tennessee 51-28, secured a playoff spot. With the Titans’ loss, the Colts clinched the AFC South division title.
- The Baltimore Ravens defeated the Minnesota Vikings 29-26 in a game that featured six different lead changes in the fourth quarter. That is the most fourth-quarter lead changes in a single game in NFL history.
- The DENVER BRONCOS became the first team in NFL history to have four players score at least 10 touchdowns in the same season. The four Broncos with at least 10 touchdowns this season are KNOWSHON MORENO (12), DEMARYIUS THOMAS (11), JULIUS THOMAS (11) and WES WELKER (10). All four scored a touchdown today.
Quarterback PEYTON MANNING threw four touchdown passes, his seventh game this season with at least four touchdown passes. That is the most such games in a single season in NFL history.
Kicker MATT PRATER converted a 64-yard field goal, the longest field goal in NFL history.
- The NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS overcame a 16-point deficit in today’s 27-26 win over Cleveland. The Patriots, who have erased deficits of 10 and 24 points in their previous two games, are thefirst team since the 2000 Kansas City Chiefs to win three in a row by overcoming a 10+ point deficit in each game.
- Philadelphia running back LE SEAN MC COY rushed for 217 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ 34-20 win over Detroit. McCoy set the single-game franchise record with 217 rushing yards, surpassing the previous mark of 205 yards by Pro Football Hall of Famer STEVE VAN BUREN on November 27, 1949.
McCoy leads the NFL this season with 1,305 rushing yards and can become the first Eagle to lead the league in rushing since Van Buren in 1949.
- Arizona Cardinals wide receiver LARRY FITZGERALD had 12 catches for 96 yards and one touchdown in the Cardinals’ 30-10 win over St. Louis. Fitzgerald, who has 10 touchdowns this year, is the ninth player in NFL history to record at least five seasons with 10 or more touchdown receptions. He joins JERRY RICE (nine), RANDY MOSS (nine), MARVIN HARRISON (eight),TERRELL OWENS (eight), CRIS CARTER (six), LANCE ALWORTH (five), BOB HAYES (five) and ART POWELL (five).
- Cleveland wide receiver JOSH GORDON had seven catches for 151 yards and a touchdown in the Browns’ 27-26 loss at New England. Gordon has 774 receiving yards in his past four games, the most in any four-game span in a single season in NFL history. The previous mark was 746 yards by Detroit’s CALVIN JOHNSON set earlier this season.
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