Every NFL fan has watched their quarterback struggle and probably said that they can’t hit the broadside of a barn. It hurts even more when it is a big game. What makes it even worse is when it just looks like they can’t even get the ball near a wide-open receiver. When they can’t hit the broadside of a barn the backup quarterback better start warming up or pray your running back can get hot. Just don’t throw your remote through the TV screen!
For today’s game which revolves around the passing game we can think of players like Derek Anderson, Mike Vick or Mark Sanchez that have become the butt of jokes (pun intentional at least for Sanchez). Looking at the greats of yesteryear even some Hall of Famers had a little trouble finding the open man. George Blanda (47%), Bobby Layne (49% completions), Joe Namath (50%), Bob Waterfield (50%), Sid Luckman (51%) and for you Steeler fans out there Terry Bradshaw (51%) are all enshrined in Canton. Of course they all have one thing in common, they played a long time ago when the game revolved around the running game but even Dan Marino had his struggles at a 59% clip. So for everyone of the elites like Drew Brees, Kurt Warner or Aaron Rodgers that can find the open man there are plenty who can’t. It just goes to show that playing quarterback in the NFL is one of the hardest jobs in sports!
Even the greats though can have a bad game. In 2015 Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning completed 5 of his 20 passes for 35 yards with 4 interceptions against division rival Kansas City. He had an excuse, he was injured and would return to help lead the Broncos to a Super Bowl victory that season. In 1975 New York Jets Joe Namath completed 8 of his 24 passes for 96 yards against Miami. He completed nearly as many passes to Dolphin defenders (6) as he did to his own teammates. Dan Pastorini of the Houston Oilers in 1977 only managed to complete 5 of his 15 passes against the Pittsburgh Steelers and did manage to have as many of his passes caught by Steeler defenders (5) as his own teammates. This was deja vu for Pastorini. In 1972 while with the Oakland Raiders he completed 3 of 23 passes with four interceptions in a game against the Oilers. The record for the most interceptions in a game? Jim Hardy of the 1950 Chicago Cardinals had 8 of his passes get picked off by Philadelphia Eagle defenders. 6 players have thrown 7 in a game and it may be surprising that one quarterback who has accomplished this ignominious feat is enshrined in Canton, Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler.
Kickers also can have their troubles. Perhaps the least accurate kicker of all time is Bob Timberlake of the New York Giants who missed 14 field goal attempts in the 1965 season and went 1-15 for the season (he actually hit his first attempt). He lost his job when the AFL and NFL merged and entered the ministry. Longtime Detroit Lion Wayne Walker has the lowest career mark at 40.5%. A far cry from today’s kickers where 80% is considered bad. Perhaps this explains why only two kickers are enshrined in Canton, Jan Stenerud (66.9%) and Morten Andersen (79.7%).