Bledsoe was less than stellar in Buffalo.
This is a feature we hope to roll out every Sunday. We borrowed the name from SportsCenters Sunday feature, but we don’t care about ESPN because they’re a bunch of jerks.
Each Sunday, Alex and I will debate and/or converse about an athlete. In this post we discuss former quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Alex thinks that Bledsoe is a Hall of Fame caliber QB and I disagree. Our conversation is listed below. Please vote in the poll at the bottom. Thanks and enjoy.
Blake: I’ll handle posting the Sunday Conversation this week. Let’s talk Drew Bledsoe….
I think Bledsoe is probably best remembered for being the guy that got hurt and allowed Tom Brady to take over and dominate. That’s his long-lasting contribution to the NFL, losing his job. To be fair, he led the Patriots out of 15 years of losing to make it to the Super Bowl, so it hasn’t all been bad. Got a favorite Bledose moment or memory?
Alex: My favorite Drew Bledsoe memory is when I was in 4th grade my friend’s dad took us to a Patriots game. The guy sitting next to me was a drunk buffoon who kept yelling “Let’s go Bledsoe” all game long; it was terrifying. But my favorite Drew Bledsoe moment: Definitely has to be the four picks he threw in Super Bowl XXXI.
Drew Bledsoe is an unequivocal Hall of Famer in my book, bar-none. This guy was a powerhouse early in his career. At 6’5 and 240lbs, Bledsoe was your prototypical quarterback. He could throw the deep ball with Brett Favre-esque velocity and put up some big time numbers in the early nineties. If it wasn’t for his god-awful career completion percentage (57.2) we wouldn’t even need to debate his Hall of Fame candidacy. Even though the guy is the definition of a mediocre QB, he stuck around long enough to have earned a spot in the top 10 QBs for total yards thrown and TD passes. He’s like a poor man’s Dan Marino.
Blake: I don’t think Bledsoe is Hall worthy. You said he was a poor man’s Marino. I think he’s the homeless man’s Marino. When your team played against the Marino’s, Favre’s, and Manning’s of the last 30 years you were afraid. Those guys could win games almost all by themselves. I never got that vibe from Bledose. I just don’t recall people saying, “You know, if we can contain Bledsoe, we’ll have a shot.” I might be wrong, I just don’t think he was ever that dynamic of a star.
Along the same lines, he only made the Pro Bowl four times in 14 seasons. He was never named to the All-Pro team and was only named second-team All Conference on two occasions. He was just not the force you are trying to explain.
Alex: Alright, let me throw some raw numbers at you.
1) Bledsoe is 8th on the all-time passing yards list (44,611), ahead of Johnny Unitas, Dan Fouts, Joe Montana and Jim Kelly (all in the Hall of Fame).
2) 13th on the all-time TD passes list (251). That is more than Steve Young, Jim Kelly, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Namath and Troy Aikman (all in the hall of fame).
3) 6th on the all-time completions list, ahead of Fran Tarkenton, Dan Fouts, Joe Montana, Troy Aikman, Jim Kelly and Johnny Unitas.
4) His mediocre career passer rating of 77.1 is only a few points lower than Elway’s 79.9, Unitas’ 78.1, and Warren Moon 80.9 (all Hall of Fame QBs).
Given Bledsoe’s career numbers and rankings among some of the NFL’s most coveted qbs, by numbers alone he is Hall of Fame worthy. The number’s don’t lie. I agree that Bledsoe has some issues on his resume, like wins, completion percentage and playoff success. But then again, when you compare his playoff success to Marino or Kelly, he doesn’t look so bad. Both Marino and Kelly never won (in fact they lost a ton of playoff games) while Bledsoe has a quiet 3-3 record as a playoff qb. He is just as a much a “Super Bowl quarterback” as Jim Kelly and Marino. Bledsoe made 4 Pro-Bowls, but Kelly only made five. When comparing Bledsoe to Kelly, Bledsoe has the edge in most statistical categories and I am pretty sure that Jim Kelly was a first ballet Hall of Famer. Just because Bledsoe never won the big game or ever really struck fear into opposing defenses, he did manage to put up some big time numbers and lead some impressive teams into the playoffs behind his big time arm.
I think its impossible to decisively say that Bledsoe isn’t a Hall of Famer when you put him next to some of the players mentioned above (namely: Jim Kelly, Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, Dan Fouts, etc). If these guys managed to earn a spot in Canton, Ohio then Drew Bledsoe belongs with them. You have to look at the man’s body of work to fully appreciate where he stands with the great NFL QBs.
Blake: Of course Bledsoe’s numbers look good compared to guys from the 60s and 70s when the NFL was much different. When you compare Bledsoe to guys from his own era, he just doesn’t look that good. Drew Bledsoe is basically Kerry Collins. Is he a Hall of Famer?
Did you know that since 1993 (Bledsoe’s rookie year), he ranks 60th amongst QBs in pass completion percentage for QBs with at least 1,000 attempts? He ranks behind the likes of Tommy Maddox, Kyle Orton and Erik Kramer.
Using that same criteria, Bledsoe is 54th in passer rating. This time he falls behind Charlie Batch, Stan Humphries and Jeff Hostetler. Again, not Hall of Fame company.
The only reason Bledsoe looks decent is because he was able to stick around for so long. He has amassed some impressive totals in yards and touchdowns. However, he never had any single season that was truly great. His top TD season was in 1995 (his third in the NFL) when he tossed for 28 scores. Those 28 TDs rank as the 47th best total since 1993. So there, we can throw the career TD total as evidence right out the window. He fairs a bit better in the passing yards category, but still doesn’t look like an all-time great. His top passing yardage season was in 1994 (his 2nd season) when he threw for over 4,500 yards, the 10th best total since 1993. It should be noted that in that season, Bledsoe threw more picks than touchdowns, leading the league in interceptions. His next best two rank 25th and 52nd respectibly. I’m sorry, he is just not Hall worthy.
You have made some sound arguments against Bledsoe’s HoF candidacy. But I am not convinced. There is no doubt that after being benched for future all-pro Tom Brady, Bledsoe lost his touch and was unable to really put the pieces back together. Maybe the Namath and Unitas comparisons were a bit loose, but Bledsoe still boasts a higher career completion percentage than John Elway (56.9) and Boomer Esiason (57.0). I feel confident that if Bledsoe had won a Super Bowl we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. But we also shouldn’t forget that if it weren’t for Bledsoe’s miracle performance in the 2001 AFC tittle game against the Steelers in which Bledsoe (replacing the injured Tom Brady) played like a god, the Pats would never have won their first Super Bowl thus altering the trajectory of that franchise for the rest of the decade. I cannot argue that Bledsoe was ever the best qb in the NFL at any point in his career. It is also hard to overlook his atrociously mediocre career passer-rating of 77.1. But if we are having a discussion on a man’s HoF candidacy, then the most important thing to focus on has to be the player’s body of work throughout his career. Sure, Blesdoe never really had a Payton Manning or Dan Marino type season, but as I’ve said before, the dude hung around long enough to accumulate some HoF numbers and even won 2 AFC title games (more than Marino). The only way to accurately judge a man’s HoF candidacy is to compare him with his peers. When you look at the numbers, Bledsoe’s name comes up with the likes ofHhall of Famers Dan Marino, Warren Moon, John Elway and Jim Kelly (all contemporaries of Bledsoe).
I’ve spoken to several people about this topic specifically. There are those who, like myself, are avid Bledsoe fans. There are others, such as yourself, who utterly despise the guy. These subjective sentiments weigh heavily in on one’s judgement when evaluating whether a guy belongs in the Hall of Fame. Hopefully, when Drew Bledsoe’s time comes, those who make these decisions will look back favorably on a career that was mediocre but respectable and ended all to soon.
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