Editor’s note: As part of NFL’s Greatest Quarterback, fans will decide the best quarterback in team, division, conference and league history.
We’ve narrowed the AFC South down to four quarterbacks: Matt Schaub, Mark Brunell, Warren Moon and Johnny Unitas. Each player was voted the best in his team’s history, and now the vote is on to determine the best in division history.
Schaub had an easy go of it as he took down T.J. Yates, Sage Rosenfels and David Carr with 69 percent of the vote. Moon had much tougher competition, but he still won with 65 percent over Steve McNair and George Blanda.
Brunell came out on top for the Jaguars over David Garrard and Byron Leftwich. Brunell was the biggest winner of the week with 85 percent. The toughest matchup came down to Unitas and Peyton Manning for the Colts. Unitas won with 57 percent over Manning’s 39.
We brought in some experts to discuss their team’s greatest quarterbacks. Vote below to determine the best in AFC South history.
“There is no getting around the fact that Matt Schaub has been an incredibly efficient quarterback in Gary Kubiak’s system. Since 2009, Schaub has thrown 90 touchdowns to 45 interceptions and has finished inside the top six in yards per attempt in four of his last five season. With a career quarterback rating of 91.9 and completion percentage of 64.3 percent, you can see why Gary Kubiak and Rick Smith gave up two second-round picks for Schaub back in 2007.
Despite lacking mobility, Schaub has had a good run in Kubiak’s “boot-action” offense. Schaub has a strong understanding of Kubiak’s pass scheme and is usually able to deliver accurately to the first or second option and doesn’t just rely on checking down to the easiest throw underneath. While Schaub doesn’t possess the arm strength to bomb away on the deep play-action game, he does excel on deep crossing routes and intermediate throws, which is why his yards per attempt are always so high. While Schaub has had Andre Johnson during his stint as starting quarterback, he has not had the same number of weapons at his disposal as most of the top quarterbacks who are considered ahead of him.”
— Lance Zierlein, Sports Talk 790, Houston Chronicle, TheSidelineView.com
“The face of the Jacksonville Jaguars: Mark Brunell.
That was the case in the Jaguars’ early years as Brunell led the overachieving expansion franchise to the AFC Championship in just their second year of existence in 1996. That year, Brunell led all quarterbacks in both passing and rushing yards as he helped the Jaguars turn a 3-6 start into an improbable playoff run that included wins over the heavily favored Buffalo Bills and Denver Broncos. Brunell’s Jaguars were among the best in the league over the next few years, including a 14-2 season in 1999 that topped the NFL.
Not many quarterbacks could boast the skill set that Brunell brought to the table. As mentioned, he was equally efficient as both a passer and a runner and he possessed the arm strength and accuracy to make any throw. He could drive the ball down the field, throw a pretty deep ball, run an efficient roll-out game, or simply scramble and pick up the first down at the right time. And to top it off, he did all of this with his left arm. In the pantheon of greatest quarterbacks to never win an MVP and never win a championship as a starter, but later win one as a holder, all the while being left-handed, Mark Brunell has to be at the top.
The face of great AFC South quarterbacks: Mark Brunell.”
— Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus, The Football Standard
Moon was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006. Moon started his career in the CFL after no NFL team would give him a chance, but when he moved on to the NFL in 1984, he made it count, staying in the league for 17 seasons before retiring at 44.
Moon made the Pro Bowl nine times, including eight seasons in a row, and was a three-time All-Pro selection. He made the playoffs seven times during his NFL career, but never made it past the second round. Moon’s best season came in 1990 when he threw for 4,689 yards, 33 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. His 49,325 career passing yards ranks fifth all-time despite starting his NFL career so late.
Unitas was to the 1960s in the NFL what Otto Graham was to the league in the decade before him. Unitas’ Baltimore Colts were dominant in his time with the squad, winning four championships. Unitas was a three-time MVP during his nineteen-year career and a 10-time Pro Bowl selection.
He was named to the 1960s All-Decade Team and the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team. Unitas passed for 40,239 yards during his career, with 290 touchdowns and 253 interceptions. Unitas was the first quarterback to throw for more than 40,000 career yards and was the first to pass the 30-touchdown plateau in a single season.