Quarterbacks who get it done in Week 1

This is a modified version of: If your life hinged on the outcome of one football game, who would you want as your quarterback?

Let’s word it this way: If you absolutely had to win an NFL season opener — or be sentenced to a lifetime of leaf raking with a salad fork — your QB (post-1960 only) would be . . .?

Joe Montana, you say? Surprisingly, he was only 7-5 in opening-day starts (and just 5-5 with the Niners). Johnny Unitas? A little better, but still “only” 9-5 (if you fudge a bit and count his first few years with the Colts in the ’50s). Peyton Manning? Getting warmer at 11-4, though his winning percentage (.733) isn’t as good as — gulp — Lynn Dickey’s (7-2, .778) or Craig Morton’s (6-2, .750).

OK, I’m going to stop torturing you. Here are the top QBs in terms of winning percentage (minimum: 6 starts):


Span Quarterback Team(s) W-L Pct
1969-79 Roger Staubach Cowboys 9-0 1.000
2002-13 Tom Brady Patriots 11-1 .917
2002-13 Michael Vick Falcons, Eagles 6-1 .857
2007-13 Jay Cutler Broncos, Bears 6-1 .857
1963-68 Frank Ryan Browns 5-1 .833
2008-13 Joe Flacco Ravens 5-1 .833

Quite a group, isn’t it? You’ve got a guy who served four years in the Navy, including a stint in Vietnam, before starting his NFL career (Staubach). You’ve got a guy who’s married to a supermodel (Brady). You’ve got a guy who did time in prison for running a dogfighting operation. And you’ve got a guy who titled his doctoral thesis in math: “Characterization of the Set of Asymptotic Values of a Function Holomorphic in the Unit Disc” (Ryan).

(The latter will always get a laugh at parties, by the way. Just say, preferably when one of your friends has a mouthful, “I’ll take ‘Characterization of the Set of Asymptotic Values of a Function Holomorphic in the Unit Disc’ for $1,000, Alex.”)

Anyway, would have expected to see Vick on this list? Or Cutler, for that matter? (Flacco I had a vague awareness of just because he plays up the road.) Some other factoids that might interest you:

● Dan Marino (10-6, .625) didn’t make the cut, but he did win his last eight openers (1992-99). Heck of a streak. Dan Fouts (9-3, .750) didn’t make the cut, either, but he won nine of 10 openers in one stretch (1976-86, an injury keeping him out in ’77). Another terrific streak.

● Brady has won his last 10 (2004-13), though he made only a cameo appearance in the ’08 game, when he blew out his knee against the Chiefs.

● Peyton Manning is almost as good in openers as his father Archie was bad (2-9, .182). Of course, his dad got stuck playing for the Saints in their Paper Bag Days. Brother Eli, meanwhile, is 4-5 Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 9.32.43 AM(.444).

● If you go by passer rating, the Top 5 in Week 1 starts (minimum: 6) are Tony Romo (110.2), Aaron Rodgers (101.4), Brady (100.1), Fouts (98.5) and Drew Brees (96.9), with Peyton (96.4) and Philip Rivers (96) close behind.

● Wins by Brady (vs. Miami) and Manning (vs. Indianapolis) on Sunday would give each of them 12 opening-game victories, as many as any QB has had in the modern era. That list currently looks like this:


Span Quarterback Team (s) W-L-T Pct
1983-98 John Elway Broncos 12-4-0 .750
1992-10 Brett Favre Packers, Jets, Vikings 12-6-0 .667
1961-78 Fran Tarkenton Vikings, Giants 11-6-1 .639
1998-13 Peyton Manning Colts, Broncos 11-4-0 .733
2002-13 Tom Brady Patriots 11-1-0 .917

So who did you choose?

Source: pro-football-reference.com