Mar 132009
 

There is no doubt about it: Lifelong Dallas Cowboys fans are pretty spoiled when it comes to the man occupying the most important position on the field. Few franchises can boast a richer tradition of Quarterbacking excellence. From Dandy Don, the greatest athlete ever to hail from Mount Vernon, Texas, to Troy Aikman, the pride of Henryetta, we have been privileged to watch America’s team flourish under the guidance of great field generals. One of them, the great Roger Staubach, was such a transcendent figure in his day many took to calling him Captain America.

All of this richness lends itself to a healthy debate over just which of these men was the all-time greatest. It is doubtful that numbers alone could possibly answer that question, what with the vast difference in the way the game was played from era to era, the quality of the talent around each man, and the philosophy of the offense at the time.

Certainly, Staubach, Danny White, and Troy benefited from playing on outstanding teams. Staubach’s Cowboys appeared in five Super Bowls in a ten-year span, won two of them, and played classics in the three losses. Aikman’s ‘Boys became the first team in history to win three Super Bowls in four years. And, while Danny White never won a Super Bowl while at the helm, he did make three straight trips to the NFC championship game.

Contrast all that success with the dismal mess Don Meredith stepped into – a new franchise without so much as the benefit of an initial college draft – and you can see where we might want to give that man some leniency. Under his guidance, the Cowboys quickly rose from the League Whipping Post to legitimate contenders. By the end of the 60’s, they were making enough noise and knocking on the door frequently enough that some labeled them “Next Year’s Champions.”

Meredith never won the Big One. Neither did White. But they distinguished themselves as elite quarterbacks. They led powerful surges that stopped just short of ultimate glory. Staubach and Aikman did climb that mountain and raise their arms in triumph at the apex of NFL achievement.

But which of them was the best? Subjectively, we can argue that ’til Jesus comes. I was born in the ’60’s and came to full football cognizance in the 70’s, so you can pretty well guess which Staubach, um quarterback I favor. But I love them all. I love that they are part of the tradition of the team I have called mine for more than four decades.

Objectively, I developed a formula for grading and ranking the Cowboys QBs. I only included Meredith, Staubach, White and Aikman in the formula, because they are the only ones who rank real consideration.

Without further adieu, I present for your consideration The Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Grade Book:

Meredith Staubach White Aikman
QB Rating 74.8 83.4 81.7 81.6
Completion % 50.7 57 59.7 61.5
Yards x.01 171.99 227 219.59 329.42
TDs 135 153 155 165
Rushing Yards x.01 12.16 22.64 4.82 10.16
Rushing TDs 15 20 8 9
Winning % 56 74 67 56
Playoff QB Rating 50.4 76.5 71.8 89
Playoff Wins 1 12 8 11
Playoff Win % 33 63 61 68
Playoff TDs 2 24 15 24
SB Appearances 0 5 0 3
Super Bowl Wins 0 2 0 3
Super Bowl TDs 0 8 0 5
Pro Bowls 3 6 1 6
Pro Bowl/Yrs Played 33 54 7 50
All-Pro 0 0 0 0
Awards # 1 3 0 2
Hall of Fame x10 0 10 0 10
TOTAL POINTS 639.05 900.54 759.61 983.68
points x 0.1 = grade
GRADE 63.9 90.05 75.96 98.37

As you can see, the grade book gives us a clear winner, a valedictorian. Troy Aikman, with his 98% edges Roger, who scored 90%. As we would expect, both are “A” students. White and Meredith turned in respectable scores, but each was handicapped by less playoff success and by not being selected for the Hall of Fame.

I was surprised to see that, with this history of outstanding play at the position, none of the Cowboys greats were ever named to the All-Pro team. The balanced nature of the offense’s attack, I am sure, played a big role there. The Cowboys have never been like the Marino Dolphins or the Fouts Chargers, slinging the ball all over the field. There were always guys named Perkins, Thomas, Hill, Dorsett, and Smith to pound the rock.

The leader in each category is highlighted in red and bolded. Staubach won or tied 10 categories. Aikman won or tied 8. Meredith and White did not win a single category.

By the way, Tony Romo isn’t in the mix because any grade he might receive would have to be an incomplete. However, here is a peek at how he is doing so far. In a couple categories, he could end up with the lead. Here is how he stacks up. His first -place categories are in blue.

Romo
QB Rating 94.7
Completion % 63.6
Yards 105.62
TDs 81
Rushing Yards 2.7
Rushing TDs 2
Winning % 73
Playoff QB Rating 75.8
Playoff Wins 0
Playoff Win % 0
Playoff TDs 2
SB Appearances 0
Super Bowl Wins 0
Super Bowl TDs 0
Pro Bowls 2
Pro Bowl/Yrs Played 40
All-Pro 0
Awards # 0
Hall of Fame 0
TOTAL POINTS 542.42
points x 0.1 = grade
GRADE incomplete

All in all, I think the grade book gets it about right, though if certain intangibles, such as leadership and the ability to will a win all by oneself, were included, I think Staubach would at least pull into a dead heat with Aikman.

That’s just numbers, though. The question remains…

What Do YOU Think?

Who is the greatest Dallas Cowboys' Quarterback ever? (Sorry, No Quincy)

  • Roger Staubach (54%, 32 Votes)
  • Troy Aikman (32%, 19 Votes)
  • Tony Romo (7%, 4 Votes)
  • Don Meredith (3%, 2 Votes)
  • Danny White (4%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 59

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Link to a prettier version of the gradebook and graph here.

Gene Strother (375 Posts)

Gene has been an avid Dallas Cowboys fan for nearly five decades, which amounts to just about his entire life. The only time he was not a Cowboys fan was that brief period at the beginning of his life, when he didn't have all his baby teeth and could not yet say "Cowboys." As soon as quit slobbering, he started hollering, "Go Cowboys!"


3 comments
Paul M. Franzese
Paul M. Franzese

One Thing Football experts always forget or don't want to mention because of their love or loyalty to modern day Quarterback like Montana & Aikman is that Roger Staubach lost 2 Super Bowls to at least one of the 3 best Defenses of All Time, the Steelers. Who have 4 Hall of Famers on Defense & 5 Hall of Famers on Offense.Staubach's passing Stats are hurt because of the great Steeler teams. They are also hurt by the passing rules favoring the defense during Roger's hey-day. Who did the 49ers play the Bengals, Dolphins & Broncos & Aikman's Cowboys beat the Bills & the 1996 version of the Steelers.

So as far AS I AM CONCERNED Stats don't tell the real story about Staubach. Not to mention that Montana had Jerry Rice & as good as Drew Pearson was he isn't as good as Rice or Michael Irvin.

Roger would be considered the best if the measuring stick was the same for all the Quarterbacks.

G-Daddy
G-Daddy

Good thoughts, Paul. Along with Landry, Roger is the greatest icon in team history and one of the greatest in the history of the city of Dallas. He will always be the face of the Cowboys of my youth: a great quarterback, a fearless leader, and an even better man.