The 5 Absolute Worst Quarterbacks To Win A Super Bowl

By Bobby Ronaghy
January 22, 2014 9:43 am
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brad johnson Most quarterbacks would be thrilled to be surrounded with championship-caliber talent. But in some cases, it limits their opportunities to shine individually and can result in giving them the dreaded 'game manager' label. 

This year's Super Bowl matchup features two quarterbacks at very different stages of their careers, and with very different responsibilities on the field. 

Peyton Manning is a coach on the field for the Denver Broncos, calling plays at the line of scrimmage based on the defensive looks he sees, and carving up defenses with his trademark precision and accuracy, as well as a receiving corps that is arguably the best in the NFL. 

He is a lock to win his fifth career MVP this year and set multiple single-season passing records in his fifteenth season. 

Russell Wilson, on the other hand, plays for a run-first offense in Seattle and his weapons at wide receiver are not nearly as talented. The Seahawks are known for their attacking defense and hard-hitting secondary.  

Many of their most important players were undrafted or late round selections, so they play with a collective chip on their shoulder that most teams cannot compete with. Even Wilson, a third round draft pick in 2012, plays with that underdog determination, but that should not be confused with a lack of talent or ability. 

Wilson is anything but a game manager, as his 100+ passer rating and 27-9 overall record as a starter will attest, both records for a player in his second year. But it is his escapability and improvisational skills as a quarterback that make him special, most evident in his numerous fourth quarter comebacks and highlight reel plays. It is clear after two seasons that he is a top ten quarterback in the NFL, and was merely overlooked in the draft due to his lack of height. 

Wilson's career has started in comparable fashion with Ben Roethlisberger, who previously held the record for best record for a starting quarterback in his first two seasons. Roethlisberger also made the Super Bowl in his second year, and played very poorly in a victory over the Seahawks. 

But he went on to have an outstanding career, while this list is more focused on quarterbacks who had no business ever starting in a Super Bowl, much less winning. Most of them were blessed to be on fantastic teams with spectacular defenses. 

Some obviously mediocre quarterbacks like Jeff Hostetler were left off the list, as he took over an injured starter late in the season, the respectable Phil Simms who had previously been a Super Bowl MVP.  But the rest just were not all that good.

Honorable Mention: Mark Rypien, Eli Manning, Earl Morrall. Rypien had the ultimate anomaly season in 1991 for the Washington Redskins, winning league MVP honors after throwing over 3,500 yards and 28 touchdowns and leading his team to a 14-2 record. He had never started a full season before that and never made the Pro Bowl after that, but he was brilliant in 1991 so not worthy of this list. 

Manning had a fantastic season in 2011, but when the Giants won their first Super Bowl in 2007, he had never made the Pro Bowl or even won a playoff game, and his Giants were the biggest underdog in the playoffs before they started. 

Morrall was a journeyman backup when he took over for an injured Bob Griese and led the 1972 Dolphins to their perfect 17-0 season. He also backed up Johnny Unitas in Baltimore, and even though his numbers were not impressive, he was a winner.

5. Brad Johnson, 2002 Tampa Bay Bucs - While he did start for several playoff teams prior to joining the Bucs in 2002, there is something spectacularly average about Johnson. Maybe his name or his passing style or the fact that he was a backup at Florida State for most of his college career. 

Johnson had one of his best seasons in 2002, putting up 3,049 yards and 22 touchdowns to just six interceptions in thirteen games. It was his first season under quarterback guru Jon Gruden and the team was defined by its defense. 

He was the perfect game manager for that team, able to move the ball downfield without making the big mistake. Their run in the playoffs was also remembered for the defensive touchdowns, but Johnson made a few plays when they needed too.

4. Jay Schroeder/Doug Williams, 1987 Washington Redskins - Schroeder is most responsible for this pair making the list. He was the starter for the Redskins for most of that season, for some reason, and had a horrendous 48 percent completion mark. 

It was a different era in football, with more running and less precision passing, but that was still an awful percentage. Williams took over late in the regular season for an ineffective Schroeder and led the Redskins on their playoff run, and while his numbers were not all that impressive either, his performance in the Super Bowl was one for the ages.

3. Jim Plunkett, 1980 Oakland Raiders - While it is hard to put a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback on this list, Plunkett was average at best in the 1980 season. It was his first full season starting for the Raiders and his completion percentage was a menial 51.6 percent. 

He had 18 touchdowns compared to 16 interceptions and only 2,299 yards passing, but he was also 9-2 as a starter and led them to the playoffs, despite losing the division to the high-powered San Diego Chargers. But Plunkett played tremendously well in a road victory over the Chargers in the playoffs and led them to a Super Bowl, resurrecting his previously underachieving career.

 

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2 months ago
Could not agree more on the #1 worst QB to win a SB. Dilfer just plain sucked, he was just one of those very lucky being in the right place at the right time people. The defense carried that team to the Super Bowl. Dilfer was ineffective where ever he played. Doug Williams was another dick sucking QB
2 months ago
You know you suck when you win a super bowl as the QB and you're not brought back for the next season. Even more so when you're replaced by Elvis Grbac. When the Ravens say to you, "Hey, Elvis Grbac is better than you", you know you suck.
2 months ago
Jim Plunkett was a great QB and does not belong on this list! As a matter of fact, every QB listed had great seasons the year their team won it all. This list is FUBAR!!!
2 months ago

Great seasons? Are you kidding me? Name me two worse QBs that won Super Bowls...that's what I thought.
2 months ago

LOL, right? Dilfer threw only 3 TDs with the Ravens during their whole postseason run. 3 TDs in 4 games! So Lee and Alan, don't try saying he was the one putting up the points.
2 months ago

Brandon-you're not telling the whole story. Dilfer threw 3 TD's in only 73 attempts and 35 completions. Compare that to Marino (6 posts down from here) who had 3 TD's also but in 96 attempts and 64 completions. Dilfer threw 1 TD for every 12 completions while Marino threw 1 TD for every 21 completions. Advantage Dilfer again.
2 months ago

You're right about Trent only throwing 3 TD's, but you could also add that he only had 1 INT in those 4 games also, and that counts for something too in the playoffs. Dilfer never put his team in a position to lose.
2 months ago
One thing that I have to say is that although these teams had great defenses no doubt, someone had to help them put points up at some time during the season. I have a hard time calling any of these QB's "worse" when they somehow managed to get enough points up with the rest of the offense to win some games. More importantly the Super Bowl. If they were terrible they would not have made it that far.
2 months ago

Absolutely 100% correct! That's why this list is fubar! Doesn't make sense....you lead your team to a winning Super Bowl and your not a good QB!!!?? Puullleeezzzzee
2 months ago
Sorry, but this list is an absolute insult to the honor of the sport. That is why they play the games. I refuse to name a person for this list because it only encourages these types of articles. I could even live with "The Five Most Surprising Super Bowl Winning QBs."
2 months ago

The list is meant to be comparative and relative. I understand the goal of every player should be to win the Super Bowl. I could have made the title sound nicer, but it is meant to get people's attention.
2 months ago
Add me to the column with Lee, Alan, and Guy. Playing good enough to help your team win a S.B. is the main goal and the toughest thing to do for a QB. How tough is it-my guy (Marino) wasn't able to do it even once, even though he had 5 real good chances at it-'84, '85, and '92 he played bad enough to help us (the Dolphins) lose 3 championship games, and in '83 and '98 we had the No. 1 Defense in Least Points Allowed and he went 1-2.
2 months ago

Compare that to what Dilfer did when he had a No. 1 Defense. By the way-Trent even played better than Marino. Dilfer had 3 TD's in only 73 attempts and 35 completions, a Passer Rating of 85, and he led his O to an avg. of 17 p.p.g. Marino, on the other hand also had 3 TD's but 5 INT's, a Passer Rating of 76, and he led our O to an avg. of 16 p.p.g. Advantage Dilfer.
2 months ago

As for changing from Dilfer to Grbac-Trent really ouyplayed Elvis in the playoffs. In fact, Grbac had 3 INT's in his PO loss with the Ravens in '01. I think I had heard Coach Billeck? even admit that changing QB's was a terrible decision.
2 months ago
My bottom line for this subject-when a QB gets a good chance to have some success in the NFL they can either take advantage of it (Dilfer) or squander it away (Marino).
2 months ago

Well said Bob. You just said what I was thinking. Take it when you can. I have great respect for Dilfer even though he will never be Hall of Fame.
2 months ago

Yeah, and I don't know about you, but my Mission Statement for my franchise QB is this: Play good enough to help our Team win Championships (plural). Right now (and I doubt if this will ever change) it stands at Dilfer with 2 and my guy (Marino) with only 1. Again, advantage Dilfer.
2 months ago
How did Jeff Hostetler stay off your list? To be honest, none of the Super bowl winning QBs were terrible, some had nearly impossible circumstances after their championship years. Put Dan Marino on the right team and who knows? Eli won twice with key plays at critical times.
2 months ago

Guy-what do you mean by the right team for my guy (Marino). First off, Dan might be the only Top 20 QB of All-Time that inherited a Super Bowl caliber Team when he came into the league in '83 (my '82 Dolphins played in the '82 S.B. game). Then we added 2 Pro-Bowl receivers (Duper and Clayton) and allowed him to throw the ball more than anybody until lately, which allowed Dan to set all kinds of Reg. season Records (although he still holds NFL Career Records for Years Leading the League in Pass Attempts (5) and Completions (6).
2 months ago

Add to that the 2 League Best Defenses that he had to work with, and running backs that averaged around 125 yards per game throughout his career rushing and receiving combined. He had 5 very good chances for great success in the playoffs, and he played good enough to help our team win only 1 Championship out of those 5 great chances. The truth-Marino was playoff challenged and his stats will back that up.
2 months ago

Here are Marino's stats from his 3 Championship game losses: he had a Comp. % under 50%, 4 TD's but 6 INT's, a Passer Rating of 60, and he led our O to an avg. of only 12 p.p.g. How is a team going to win championships when their QB is playing like that ??
2 months ago

Or more to your point-how is a QB going to win championships when HE is playing like that ??
2 months ago

Are you seriously trying to compare Marino to the absolute worst QB to win a SB? I don't know where you get your stats, but Marino had ONE running back who went over 1000 yards in his entire 17 year career! He had no defense the vast majority of those years and and please don't sing the praises of those clowns Duper and Clayton. Those pedestrian receivers wouldn't have come close to making all-pro or even be known at all without Marino. Yoyuthink those two clowns will ever even smell the HOF? Marino didn't set season passing records because of his receivers and running game. He did it in SPITE of them. Get a clue, moron.
7 weeks ago

Duper and Clayton were never as good as Stanley Morgan.
2 months ago

I would never dis Hostetler myself. He was tough as nuts like Dave "Mudbone" Kreig (sp). Hos was big time tough. I miss the Bradshaws, Marinos, Staubachs, etc. They are some tuff QB's
2 months ago
Hey now. Don't be smack talking Mark Rypien and the 1991 Washington Redskins. Why not add Tom "Cry Baby" Brady to the list? He's also one of the most undeserving QBs to win a Superbowl!
2 months ago

I think your right Tad. Rypien was one of those old school QB's in my mind. I have been following the Hawks since their inception. I hope they put the pressure on Manning because he CAN be rattled. When messed up in the head he is mediocre at best.
7 weeks ago

I am really, really weary of the snide, sophomoric, extremely negative remarks towards Tom Brady. THERE IS NO "I" IN TEAM!!!!!! Get over yourself!
2 months ago
Don't agree that Plunkett or McMahon belong on this list at all. Very good QB's. McMahon's winning pct. speaks for itself. Plunkett was a very good QB. I don't think Dilfer was the worst either. I know there are many great QB's that have gone to Super Bowl so someone has to be at the bottom, but this list is not solid. I know people like to pile on and ridicule, but come on... With the exception of McMahon they won with a lot less than Payton Manning who only managed 1 Super Bowl win with all those great teams.
2 months ago

Great team. The efense he had on all hose teams was absolutely putrid. Even when he won the SB, his defense ranked only 15th, which was the best Indy's defense EVER ranked during his tenure. Get a clue before posting such mindless drivel.
And by the way, Plunkett was absolutely AVERAGE.
2 months ago

When someone has nothing to add they often tell the other person to get a clue. Seems to be a habit of yours.

Many Super Bowl teams have had average defenses. Payton Manning has had great offensive lines and receivers. And Jim Plunkett was a gamer. Not a great QB, but he had some very good years. Try to listen to opinions without being so childish.
2 months ago

Up until 6-7 years ago, there had been only 2 SB winners in history that did not have a top 10 defense. TWO!
So your comment that many SB teams have had average defenses is just garbage. It i only recently, with the rule changes giving a huge advantage to the offenses, that that stat has changed.
By the way, Dan Fouts had great receivers and offensive line. But absolutely no D. That's why he never won a SB.
Enuff of an addition for ya'?
2 months ago

You are just squirming. Obviously a number of defenses have made the Super Bowl that were not that good. How many is debatable because stats don't always tell the story. A lot of real good defenses have mediocre stats, but keep the other teams out of the end zone when it counts. You know, the red zone and all that? The Patriots are an example of a team that is usually better than its defensive stats. Even a number 10 defense is not great since it would be in the top third. There are usually a half dozen defenses tops that might stake a legit claim as being at the top of the heap. By your logic Terry Bradshaw would not be that good of a QB because the Steeler defenses were the best. But regardless, some guys have won Super Bowls with only one try who you would mock. Others have choked repeatedly in Super Bowls and playoffs, such as Payton Manning. Maybe he can get one back this week, but it won't erase all of the chokes.
2 months ago
Eli Manning deserves to be on that list
2 months ago

You know,I might agree with you on that Joel, But Eli has managed to squeek by with 2 rings.I'm not a Manning fan since I live in the Seattle area, but Eli has won some rings. I hope Peyton doesn't get his 2nd one this year. I am so tired of hearing his name.
2 months ago

Joel-the story with Eli has to be the teams that he won with. His 2011 team was the worst ever statistically speaking to win a S.B., and his '07 team was the 4th worst ever. No QB has ever done more with less based on a Teams' Bad Rankings and he did it twice. I give him a lot of extra credit for that.
2 months ago
Thought I might have a problem with this list before I read it. But good article overall. Only complaint I have is with those readers who actually believe Trent Dilfer was a better quarterback than Dan Marino. C'mon, Man!
2 months ago

Jarrod-I never said Dilfer was a better QB than Marino. The topic was taking advantage of good chances for success. Dilfer only had 1, but he took full advantage of it and played good enough to help his Ravens win it all. Marino on the other hand had 5 good chances and never played good enough to win it all.
2 months ago

Great debate guys, appreciate all the insight. Dilfer also had some chances as the Bucs starter in the playoffs and failed. You also have to look at his competition that year in the playoffs. They beat a weak Giants team with Kerry Collins at QB in the Super Bowl. They did win three games in the AFC, including two on the road over the Titans and Raiders, but their defense carried them. Dilfer could never carry a team to the playoffs by himself like Marino and some other greats did.

Marino never had a defense close to the 2000 Ravens, or a running back that even made a Pro Bowl. Back then a good rushing attack was essential. The other QBs in his era were Montana, Elway, Aikman and Jim Kelly. They had Craig, Terrell Davis, Emmitt Smith and Thurman Thomas, all Hall of Famers or close to it. Marino made the best of what he had, his receivers Duper and Clayton were 5'9 shrimps who did nothing after they left Miami.

He did fail in the playoffs but his teams were never as good as someone like Manning. I thought his biggest failure was in '94 losing to the talentless Chargers, but he was coming off a major Achilles injury. Losing at Buffalo in '90 and '92 was more understandable. He had some bad fortune and didn't play great in his few other chances, but is still a top 10 all-time QB in my opinion. Manning needs this Super Bowl win to even be in the discussion as the all-time greatest. Otherwise he is another Favre/Marino stat collector/playoff choker. But between those three, Marino had the least talent around him over his career.
2 months ago

Bobby-I doubt whether there is a bigger Marino fan on this site than I am/was. But Dan's own numbers tell a different story. Do you know how many PO games he had with 2 or more INT's? Are you aware of the study that was done concerning PO QB's, their INT's, and their teams' chances of winning in the PO's? Are you aware of the study Chase Stuart did on P-F-R concerning a QB's relative Value that he was adding to his team in the PO's? I'll fill you in on any or all details if you want, and believe me, none of them do Marino any good.
2 months ago

I'm not aware of those studies, I am aware that Dilfer's career playoff stats include a 43.7% completion percentage and 66.0 passer rating, which would get most quarterbacks benched, or Dilfer's case, let go without a contract offer. I understand why you brought him up, but Marino does not belong in the same conversation with Dilfer. Maybe Plunkett or Brad Johnson as far as playoff numbers go.
2 months ago

OK, so here goes: If a QB throws 1 INT in a PO game his team stll has a 53% chance of winning the game, but if he throws 2 INT's, then his teams' chance of winning drops to only 31%. Marino holds the NFL Record for PO games with 2 or more INT's. Dan had 10 such games and we (the Dolphins) were 1-9 in those 10 games. The worst part-3 of them were championship games.
2 months ago

In Chase Stuart's study, he looked at various stats and facts that a QB produced in the PO's, and came up with a relative Value for each QB. Marino finished with a -170 (that's MINUS 170). The Top 10 or so all had Values around 500 to 1,000. The worst part-Dan had negative values for 10 of his 18 PO games, and 2 others in the single digits. The actual worst part for you-Dilfer's Value in this study was way more than Marino's-it was plus 150?? I apologize but I'm going to have to go back and dig this out and refresh my memory on the exact number.
2 months ago
Worst football article ever written on quarterbacks:

"The 5 Absolute Worst Quarterbacks To Win A Super Bowl" by Bobby (?) Ronaghy.

And what "guy" over 22 still calls himself "Bobby"? Seems feminine. Awfully feminine.
2 months ago
I'm 49er fan and I remeber when Dilfer was the QB there. They use to call "Trent-terception"(kind of clever I thought), so I couldn't agree more with him at #1. Very fitting for him.
2 months ago
WHY THE PIC OF BRADY ON THE STORY LINE, PRETTY SURE HE'S THE BEST EVER , NITWIT!
WHO'S THE IDIOT THAT WRITES THIE $HIT
2 months ago
"Dilfer was a bust first round draft pick from Tampa Bay". Really Bobby? Know another "bust first round draft pick from Tampa Bay"? Steve Young. Young's record as starter was 3–16. In his 19 games, he threw for only 11 touchdowns with 21 interceptions while completing fewer than 55% of his passes. Your Tampa Bay comment doesnt hold water either.
2 months ago

That's why I didn't mention Young. He had a career passer rating over 100 with the Niners, Dilfers career rating is 70, even worse in the playoffs. Are you trying to say he wasn't a bust? Young was traded to the Niners, Dilfer was released by the Bucs. Any other idiotic comparisons? Anyone? Bueller?
2 months ago
Why isn't Jeff hostetller on this list?
2 months ago

I didn't think he fit since he only started the last few games that season and replaced a solid starter unlike guys like Dilfer or Williams who either started more games or replaced other mediocre QBs, Hoss did get a mention earlier in the article though
2 months ago
You HAVE to be a championship qb to win a championship. The position is just too critical. McMahon, Plunkett, even Johnson all had stellar careers and long ones. Championship qbs are rare. Can't just hand the ball off. Ok. Dilfer. But that's the end of it.
2 months ago
PS And Schroeder was an absolutely phenomenal qb. No one has ever thrown long outs like Schroeder. They were like 40 yard bullets. The problem was in the midst of that season, teams started to drop their linebackers into the passing lanes, and Schroeder wasn't much on touch passes. That's why his percentage dropped so drastically. Then Williams came in and went absolutely on a no-holds-barred championship binge. "Worst" just does not belong to these guys. Championship says it all.
8 weeks ago
So wrong having Elie Manning as an Honorable Mention.
He very easily could be #4 or even #3 on this list.
8 weeks ago
dilfer to marino in the last year .with run happy jimmy johnson destoryed marino last 4 years no rec drop after drop get real .bob smith .give marino a d fence and a running game wins 3 to 5 .do u rember those last 4 years .jimmy could got moss . 1 year 1000 runner 16 years no 1000 yard runner he was hurt that year 1999 miss 6 games dropped pass dropped pass all the 4 years .johnson took marion play calling away .realy bob smith .u r a joke
8 weeks ago
and never had a defence better than 15th in 17 years bob smith
7 weeks ago
Plunkett was a much better QB than you think. Are you old enough to have seen him play? The Raiders traded to get him to put them over the top to win it. And they did.
I think there are a few you left off that on DESPITE the QB.
Hostetler for one. He was pretty bad, but the Giants won anyway, and HE got the win. He should be #2 on the list behind Dilfer.
7 weeks ago

Admittedly I never saw Plunkett play so I am going only on numbers, which are equally bad for other QBs until about the mid-80s. Guys like Namath and Bradshaw had terrible statistics compared to the players now.

I left Hostetler off because he only started the last two games of the regular season in 1990, and replaced a solid Simms. So it is slightly different than including Schroeder/Williams, who were both mediocre.
7 weeks ago
"I am really, really weary of the snide, sophomoric, extremely negative remarks towards Tom Brady. THERE IS NO "I" IN TEAM!!!!!! Get over yourself!" Then maybe people should STOP putting him on a pedestal and thinking he's God, when he clearly is not! He sure as hell got put in his place when he played MY Seahawks!
3 weeks ago
I'm not sure Doug Williams belongs on the list because, as you pointed out, when it counted he gave one of the greatest games ever. Your entire methodology is based on passing percentage, but its not always how many passes you complete but which ones in which situations.

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