Dallas fans are torn over the arrival of Drew Bledsoe.
The optimists see the revival of the Bill Parcells/Bledsoe pairing – which enjoyed some success in the mid-1990s – and a significant upgrade over Vinny Testaverde, who took almost all the snaps for Dallas' moribund offense (18.3 PPG) last year.
The pessimists see a lumbering, old gunslinger in Bledsoe, who struggled his last two years in Buffalo and whose best days are behind him. They see, in other words, another Vinny Testaverde.
The Cold, Hard Football Facts have peered through our high-powered electron microscope at a twisted double-helix of gridiron DNA and made a remarkable discovery: not only are the pessimists in Dallas correct, but Bledsoe and Testaverde are veritable pigskin twins, players who resemble each other in every way imaginable – historically, physically and even statistically. In fact, we dare anyone to find two quarterbacks in NFL history who resemble each other so closely.
Both were No. 1 overall picks
Testaverde was tabbed by Tampa in 1987; Bledsoe was nabbed by New England in 1993.
Both had best their best years under Parcells
Bledsoe's career peaked in 1996, when he set then-personal bests with 4,086 passing yards and 27 touchdowns, and guided the Patriots to the AFC title.
Testaverde's career peaked in 1998, when he set then-personal bests with 3,256 passing yards and 29 touchdowns, and guided the Jets to the AFC title game.
Both are prototypical "pocket" quarterbacks
There was a time in the 1980s and 1990s when size and arm strength seemed the two most desired attributes in a quarterback. Bledsoe (6-5, 238 pounds) and Testaverde (6-5, 235 pounds) defined this type of player. But both taught us a valuable lesson: size and arm strength are NOT the most important attributes in a quarterback. Despite their high-powered arms, both were marred by a general lack of mobility (Bledsoe more so than so Testaverde) and frequent bouts of bad decision making in the pocket – both had multiple seasons of more than 20 interceptions. That big arm doesn't serve the prototypical "pocket" passer too well when he's tossing the ball into the hands of defenders all day long.
Both have put up remarkably similar career numbers
Over the course of his career, Testaverde threw touchdowns at a much higher clip than Bledsoe (4.2 percent to 3.7 percent). But the same can be said of his INTs (4.0 percent to 3.0 percent). At the end of the day, across careers that have each included more than 6,000 passing attempts, a mere 1.3 passer-rating points separate the two.
In 218 games, Testaverde posted this stat line:
3,631 for 6,420 (56.6%), 44,475 yards, 268 TDs, 255 INTs, 75.4 rating
In 172 games, Bledsoe posted this stat line:
3,449 for 6,049 (57.0%), 39,808 yards, 221 TDs, 181 INTs, 76.7 rating
Both names will stand surprisingly high on the all-time passing lists
Despite the belief among many, including the Cold, Hard Football Facts, that Bledsoe and Testaverde have had generally underachieving careers (at least for top overall draft picks), both will end up entrenched in the Top 10 of numerous all-time passing lists. In fact, they may end up side by side on many of them.
Testaverde is 6th on the all-time passing yardage list (44,475). Bledsoe (39,808) is next on the list among active quarterbacks and stands at 10th overall. With an average season (3,317 passing yards) in 2005, Bledsoe will jump past Johnny Unitas (40,239), Joe Montana (40,551) and Dan Fouts (43,040) and sit next to Testaverde as the 7th most productive passer in NFL history.
Testaverde is 7th on the all-time touchdown pass list (268). Bledsoe (221) is next on the list among active quarterbacks and 17th overall. With a pair of average seasons (18.4 TDs per season), Bledsoe will stand at 9th on the all-time touchdown pass list.
Testaverde is 6th on the all-time completions list (3,631). Bledsoe is next on the list among all quarterbacks (3,449). With an average season (287 completions), Bledsoe will surpass Testaverde and Fran Tarkenton (3,686) and move into 5th place on the all-time completions list.
Testavarde is 6th on the all-time attempts list (6,420). Bledsoe is next on the list among all quarterbacks (6,049). With an average season (504 attempts), Bledsoe will surpass Testaverde and Tarkenton (6,467) and move into 5th place on the all-time list.
So, should Dallas fans be excited about the arrival of Bledsoe? Well, it all depends upon your opinion of the Testavarde-led Cowboys. If history and biology are any indication, you'll have the same opinion of the Bledsoe-led Cowboys.