Facebook Pixel

    Best New York Jets Quarterbacks of All Time From ‘Broadway’ Joe to Chad Pennington

    The New York Jets have a tortured history with starting quarterbacks. Who are the greatest quarterbacks of all time in franchise history?

    History has not been kind to the New York Jets when it comes to the quarterback position.

    Failed high draft picks, gruesome injuries, and bad decisions have culminated in the team not only currently searching for its first playoff win in 13 years but its first Super Bowl appearance since 1968.

    While the franchise’s list of top quarterbacks may not be full of longevity, the Jets do have a history of passers strong enough to build a top-five ranking. Today, we break down the group here.

    Greatest New York Jets QBs of All Time

    While the list of Jets quarterbacks who had won more games than they lost may be short, there are some legitimate names not on the list that are deserving of a shoutout.

    Despite his last-season collapse due to injury, Brett Favre put forth a successful season as a member of the Jets in 2008. Richard Todd, the Jets’ quarterback in the early 1980s, led the team to the AFC title game in 1982. Even Boomer Esiason, a quarterback on one of the worst teams in history, performed admirably under poor coaching.

    Those three names pale in comparison to the top five on the list though. To break it up, we judged the list based on playoff success, regular season, success, and overall consistency. Let’s break down who gets the top spot on the Jets quarterback hierarchy.

    5) Vinny Testaverde

    The NFL career of Vinny Testaverde is one of the crazier stories in league history. A former first-overall pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1987, Testaverde never truly lived up to the hype of his draft status. Sure, he helped Cleveland to the playoffs in 1994, but by the time he got to the Jets in 1998, Testaverde was seen as a mediocre starter.

    Then, his career in New York took off at age 35.

    Testaverde went 12-1 as a starter for the Jets in ’98 — leading them to the AFC title game by throwing 29 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. It’s still one of the best seasons ever had by a Jets quarterback.

    His career was never equal to his draft status, but Testaverde led the Jets to the playoffs twice, which has rarely been done at the position in New York.

    4) Mark Sanchez

    Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the “Sanchize” is worthy of being considered a top quarterback in Jets history. Mark Sanchez was drafted as the savior of New York in 2009 with the fifth overall pick. He went 33-29 as a starter for New York and threw 68 touchdowns during that span.

    The numbers may not jump off the page, but what Sanchez accomplished in the postseason has him deserving of this spot.

    MORE: Building the Ultimate NFL Quarterback

    Sanchez (and a dominant Jets defense) reached the AFC title game in two straight seasons in 2009 and 2010. On the way he defeated some legendary quarterbacks like Philip Rivers, Carson Palmer … and, oh yeah, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

    The fact that Sanchez delivered road victories in the playoffs against Brady and Manning in the same year is more than enough to get on this list.

    3) Ken O’Brien

    The draft selection of Ken O’Brien will be the biggest “What if?” in Jets history. Not that O’Brien had a bad career — far from it. In most passing categories, O’Brien is second on the all-time list, and he went to multiple Pro Bowls during his time in New York.

    What makes him a big “What if?” is that he is a part of the legendary 1983 quarterback draft class with John Elway, Jim Kelly, and — more consequentially — Dan Marino. Marino ended up in Miami, the Jets’ biggest rival in the 1980s, and helped them reach the Super Bowl a year later. O’Brien, taken three picks ahead of the Hall-of-Fame signal-caller, never had the type of career his counterpart had.

    Had the Jets drafted Marino, could their history in the ’80s and ’90s have changed? Would Marino have a Super Bowl ring while playing with the vaunted “New York Sack Exchange?”

    This is why O’Brien’s career is good compared to the rest of the Jets’ quarterback circus but a massive “What if?” in terms of NFL history.

    2) Chad Pennington

    If O’Brien’s draft choice is the biggest “What if?” in Jets history, then the entire career of Chad Pennington is a close second.

    A first-round pick by the team in 2000, Pennington was the only quarterback to win the AFC East during the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady run with the New England Patriots. Sure, one of those years came when he was a Dolphin, but that’s not why we are here.

    Statistically speaking, Pennington was the most efficiently accomplished quarterback in the Jets history. He led the team to the playoffs three times, won Comeback Player of the Year, and owns the team’s records for completion percentage and touchdown-to-interception ratio.

    Injuries derailed his career, but Pennington was a very good quarterback and worthy of the second spot on this list.

    1) Joe Namath

    There’s really no debate on who is deserving of the top spot. Joe Namath holds the franchise record for most passing statistics despite playing over 40 years ago, and he was the MVP of the franchise’s lone Super Bowl.

    How much does it say about a team’s all-time quarterback list when the top guy has an all-time losing record as a starter and more recorded interceptions than touchdowns?

    Namath’s aura is one of the greatest in league history. “Broadway Joe” was the face of the AFL for many years and a superstar in his own right. He was the league’s MVP in 1968 and went to the Pro Bowl five times.

    KEEP READING: Ranking the Best New York Jets RBs of All Time

    On the game’s brightest stage, though, Namath threw for 208 yards and didn’t turn the ball over as the Jets upset the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl 3. To this day, it is one of the greatest upsets in sports history.

    Until another Jet quarterback joins Namath on that Lombardi pedestal, “Broadway Joe” will reign supreme in the eyes of Gang Green.

    Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

    Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

    Related Articles