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How good was John Elway really?

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NOT a troll attempt, I'm genuinely curious. l idolized him as a kid, but I'm just young enough that I never got to see him play as an adult who understands the game the way I do now. I know he was never considered a "stat guy",  but I actually took a good look at them today, and I'm not gonna lie. I was a bit surprised at HOW bad some of them actually are:

- Only completed 60% of his passes 3 times? Career completion percentage of 56.9?

- Career TD to INT ratio of 1.3

- Never threw for 30 TD's, and only threw more than 20 six times.

- Career passer rating of 79.9 and only posted better than 90 twice. Ironically, he seemed to be a much better QB in his final years (the years I can remember watching him play) than he ever was during the 80's when he was carving out his legend. 

If you blindly showed me these stats, and told me that this was a successful QB who even won a couple of Superbowl rings, my knee-jerk reaction would be one of two things. Either: 

A) This guy played with some of the best defenses of all time.

B) He must have been a sandlot type guy who benefited greatly from playing in an era when defenders were not nearly as big and fast as they are today. 

So my question is, if John Elway played in today's NFL do you think he would have been successful? Conversely, what if Tebow had played in the 80's when defenders were much smaller and offensive schemes were much more simple?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Elway was the same guy as Tebow. But I was legit surprised when I saw how similar their stat lines are to each other throughout most of Elway's career. 

Edited by 1234567

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The game was completely different. You’re  looking at his stats through the lens of today’s game. His completion % was comparable for the era. He retired with the most TDs.

Also you have to remember that Dan Reeves would handcuff him for three Q and then finally turn him loose in the 4th. There’s a reason he had so many 4Q comebacks! But it’s also a reason he had so many INTs, he HAD to force things at that point.

Elway was a shell of himself under Shanny those last 3 years and still had his best three seasons. I can only imagine what his stats would have been under an offensive coach with today’s rules. Honestly John was very similar to Mahomes.

As for Tebow, he would have struggled even more in the 80s. Coverage was a lot tighter as defenders could just hang on the WRs. The game was predicated in the run so there were more stacked boxes as well. 

Your comparison of their stat lines is an apt one when you consider the rest of the league and how passer friendly the league became but Timmy still couldn’t cut it. 

Edited by broncos_fan _from _uk

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12 minutes ago, broncos_fan _from _uk said:

The game was completely different. You’re  looking at his stats through the lens of today’s game. His completion % was comparable for the era. He retired with the most TDs.

Also you have to remember that Dan Reeves would handcuff him for three Q and then finally turn him loose in the 4th. There’s a reason he had so many 4Q comebacks! But it’s also a reason he had so many INTs, he HAD to force things at that point.

Elway was a shell of himself under Shanny those last 3 years and still had his best three seasons. I can only imagine what his stats would have been under an offensive coach with today’s rules. Honestly John was very similar to Mahomes.

As for Tebow, he would have struggled even more in the 80s. Coverage was a lot tighter as defenders could just hang on the WRs. The game was predicated in the run so there were more stacked boxes as well. 

Your comparison of their stat lines is an apt one when you consider the rest of the league and how passer friendly the league became but Timmy still couldn’t cut it. 

As a context - anything better than a 1:1 TD-INT ratio was good back then.   And before Dan Marino came along, 4000 yards was a top 2-3 season.  3000 was a good season.

And ppl forget the Dan Reeves era - run, run, pass...until the 4Q, then he let Elway loose for his comeback victories.  It was only until Mike Shanahan arrived that Elway was given the freedom to go full gunslinger.     If you didn't see the games, you have NO idea how frustrating having Dan Reeves as the HC in Elway's peak years was.  On the one hand, he was a huge reason why the team overall was successful - but he limited the O in a huge way.    Shanny changed all of that, so ppl forget that it was when Elway was actually past his prime, that he put up the gaudiest #'s.

Elway was a clear top 3-4 guy during his 3rd-final years.   In today's NFL, he'd have put up Mahomes like numbers.   

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8 minutes ago, broncos_fan _from _uk said:

The game was completely different. You’re  looking at his stats through the lens of today’s game. His completion % was comparable for the era. He retired with the most TDs.

Also you have to remember that Dan Reeves would handcuff him for three Q and then finally turn him loose in the 4th. There’s a reason he had so many 4Q comebacks! But it’s also a reason he had so many INTs, he HAD to force things at that point.

As for Tebow, he would have struggled even more in the 80s. Coverage was a lot tighter as defenders could just hang on the WRs. The game was predicated in the run so there were more stacked boxes as well. 

 

Interesting. I forgot about different pass interference rules back then. Not to mention the way safeties were allowed to destroy receivers coming across the middle. Haha I just looked up Dan Marino's stats, and aside from his freak 1984 and 1986 seasons, his are very similar. More TD's and yards, but roughly the same completion % and qb rating. 

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Taken in context of the era, if you never saw him play with your own eyes, the modern era comparisons for Elway would be Mahomes and Rodgers in his prime. Elway’s running ability is often forgotten as well, he’s like the 4th or 5th leading rusher in team history. 

In 1984 when Marino had 5,000+ yards and 48 TDs, the modern comparison would be like 7,500 yards and 70 TDs given how inflated offensive passing stats have become. 

Edited by AnAngryAmerican

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Ya, the different era makes such a difference. 

For example, Namath has nearly 50 more INT than TD, but he sure as hell was a great QB. 

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11 minutes ago, BroncosFan2010 said:

Ya, the different era makes such a difference. 

For example, Namath has nearly 50 more INT than TD, but he sure as hell was a great QB. 

See there I will disagree with you to a small extent. Namath wasn’t a scrub but his place in NFL lore and the HOF is a result of what he meant to the game of pro football from a marketing/PR perspective and later as an ambassador. He was the first football player to be a household name in an era where baseball reigned supreme. 

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19 minutes ago, AnAngryAmerican said:

See there I will disagree with you to a small extent. Namath wasn’t a scrub but his place in NFL lore and the HOF is a result of what he meant to the game of pro football from a marketing/PR perspective and later as an ambassador. He was the first football player to be a household name in an era where baseball reigned supreme. 

His prediction of a victory over the Colts, then backing it up, will always be his greatest claim to football immortality. 

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On 12/30/2019 at 1:04 PM, Broncofan said:

As a context - anything better than a 1:1 TD-INT ratio was good back then.   And before Dan Marino came along, 4000 yards was a top 2-3 season.  3000 was a good season.

And ppl forget the Dan Reeves era - run, run, pass...until the 4Q, then he let Elway loose for his comeback victories.  It was only until Mike Shanahan arrived that Elway was given the freedom to go full gunslinger.     If you didn't see the games, you have NO idea how frustrating having Dan Reeves as the HC in Elway's peak years was.  On the one hand, he was a huge reason why the team overall was successful - but he limited the O in a huge way.    Shanny changed all of that, so ppl forget that it was when Elway was actually past his prime, that he put up the gaudiest #'s.

Elway was a clear top 3-4 guy during his 3rd-final years.   In today's NFL, he'd have put up Mahomes like numbers.   

Actually, the offensive philosophy changed in 1993, two years before Shanahan went back to Denver. That's when Wade took over as HC, and Elway's college OC (Jim Fassel) took over the same position with Denver. Under Fassel, Elway had good stats at Stanford, throwing for over 60% completion twice.

Recently, though, I have taken another look at an article from the past about Elway that says he was the QB version of Butkus:

http://www.footballperspective.com/john-elway-the-quarterback-version-of-****-butkus/

In the comments section, there is a person named Brock who seems to have it out for Elway. He basically said that their late-80's defenses were juggernauts, and it was a myth that Elway had less support back then than Marino and Montana. I told him that juggernauts don't give up 55 and 42 points in the Super Bowl.

.

Edited by 7DnBrnc53

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On 12/31/2019 at 7:08 AM, jsthomp2007 said:

He drug three mediocre teams and an adequate coach to three Super Bowls.  That says a lot to me.  

Without Elway, Reeves may not have gotten two more HC jobs (NYG, ATL).

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I've seen many of the greats. Just my opinion but Elway physically was the best QB I've ever seen. Just imagine had he spent his career under Walsh with the 49ers. 

He was crazy accurate when he was on the move. He always reminds me of a scene from "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid". An old miner asks Redford to shoot a target, just aim and shoot. He can't hit it and the miners kinda disgusted. Redford says "I gotta move". Tries again with a holstered weapon and blows the hell out of the target.

That was Elway, kind of so-so in the pocket, but when he took off he was unbelievable. He had to move.

To this day I've never seen a QB make the throws Elway did on busted plays. It's too bad many of you guys just caught the end of his career.

 

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If People want to see what Elway was (before Shannahan )on the field they need to look at this 3 games

Superbowl XXII vs Redskins (lose 42-10)

Houston Oilers (PO) January 4th 1992 (win 24-23)

January 1988  Playoff Game (the fumble) versus Cleveland (win 38-33)

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, French Fan said:

If People want to see what Elway was (before Shannahan )on the field they need to look at this 3 games

Superbowl XXII vs Redskins (lose 42-10)

Houston Oilers (PO) January 4th 1992 (win 24-23)

January 1988  Playoff Game (the fumble) versus Cleveland (win 38-33)

If there's a mashup of all the comeback W's he authored, and his key plays in the 4Q, it would give an even better chronicle of just how special he was.

He was making Mahomes-like "OMG how did he do that on his own" plays at least 8-10x a year in his prime.   And his arm strength could fit balls in windows so tight he helped his WR's so much.  Pure wizardry.  If he had been unleashed in his prime without a Reeves-based O, we'd be thinking of him right there with Marino passing-wise. 

Edited by Broncofan

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On 1/2/2020 at 8:59 AM, Broncofan said:

If there's a mashup of all the comeback W's he authored, and his key plays in the 4Q, it would give an even better chronicle of just how special he was.

He was making Mahomes-like "OMG how did he do that on his own" plays at least 8-10x a year in his prime.   And his arm strength could fit balls in windows so tight he helped his WR's so much.  Pure wizardry.  If he had been unleashed in his prime without a Reeves-based O, we'd be thinking of him right there with Marino passing-wise. 

I used to own a VHS called,  "John Elway's greatest comebacks"...probably exists on the web...good stuff.

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