History In-Season NFL

Is Nathan Peterman the Worst QB in NFL History?

With Nathan Peterman being cut from the Bills early this week, it is very possible that his NFL career has come to a close. Obviously, thing haven’t gone as planned for the Pitt product. His abysmal career stats have been floating around a lot recently, but in case you haven’t seen them:

Aaron Rodgers could throw 1240 interceptions in a row and still have a better TD:INT ratio than Peterman

Peterman’s career QBR is lower than if he had intentionally spiked the ball every single throw

Against the Bears this year Peterman threw three picks against the Bears and RAISED his career QBR by 10 points

9% of the passes Peterman has thrown ended up as interception (compare this to Brady’s 1.8%)

After seeing these, it got me thinking: Is Nathan Peterman the worst quarterback in NFL history.

Lets start by comparing him to players who are always brought up in the conversation, namely Ryan Leaf and JaMarcus Russell.

Russell’s stats weren’t nearly as miserable as these other QBs who are often considered to be the worst of the worst. With a TD to INT ratio of 18:23, Russell certainly goes down as a draft bust, but compared to Peterman’s 3:12, he looks like Tom Brady. The real reason why Russell is so hated is the lack of effort he put in. Russell’s coaches once suspected that he didn’t watch film, so they gave him a blank tape instead of the real one. Russell came into the next practice saying he had watched all the tape. He would constantly clock in over his weight limit, and just simply didn’t seem to care. So if the question was whether I would rather have Peterman or Russell as my quarterback, I would have to go with Peterman just because he’s clearly trying. However, Peterman’s stats will make him go down as historically worse than Russell.

Next up is Ryan Leaf, the near unanimous pick as the worst draft pick in the history of the league. Leaf has some impressively bad stats for someone who started as many games as he did. Worst of all, in my opinion, he posted a career passing rating under 50% (48.4%) and never posted a season with a completion percentage above 52%. Pair this with a TD to INT ratio of 14:36 and with his off-the-field issues of yelling at media and teammates, Leaf has certainly earned his place in this conversation. There are two areas though that make Peterman specially bad. One is his career passer rating of 30.7 (Leaf has a 50.0) and an ASTOUNDING amount of his passes going for pick sixes. 2.3% of passes Peterman has thrown have been taken to the house in the wrong direction. Remember the stat from earlier about Brady’s interception ratio is 1.8? Peterman throws pick sixes more often than Brady throws interceptions of any form. Leaf was abysmal in this too (.96%), but Peterman is more than twice as awful. When you’re scoring for the wrong team, it’s quite a statement on your own ability. So in Peterman vs. Leaf, Peterman gets the slight edge at being the worst.

The one man who can truly compete with Peterman is a dark horse candidate. Back before QB talent in the league exploded, there was one man who put up stats so unbelievably bad that his name has all but disappeared from the minds of the vast majority of NFL fans. That man is: Kim McQuilken.

McQuilken was a quarterback for the Redskins and the falcons during the mid to late seventies. One would think “oh he played for 6 years he couldn’t have been that bad”. Wrong. McQuilken threw for a total of 4 touchdowns as opposed to 29 interceptions. That is not a typo. 4:29!!! As if this weren’t bad enough, his career completion percentage was 39.7%. Against the Vikings in 1975 McQuilken threw five picks, no touchdowns, and completed 5 of his 26 pass attempts. He only threw for 17 more yards than he was sacked for (and he was only sacked three times).

Peterman is undoubtedly bad. One of the worst even. But is he the worst of all time? That honor has to go to Kim McQuilken.

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