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Comparing the Best Earlier-era NFL Postseason Quarterbacks

You millennials had your shot at my quiz about how contemporary NFL quarterbacks have fared in the postseason. Not it’s the old-timers’ chance to guess how several all-time great NFL QBs have done in the postseason. Geezers (and NFL historians), grab your pencils or fountain pens.

Your choices are: John Elway, Dan Fouts, Dan Marino, Joe Montana, Warren Moon, Bart Starr, Fran Tarkington, Johnny Unitas, Kurt Warner, and Steve Young. Sorry Terry Bradshaw, I see I left you out. ALL QUESTIONS RELATE ONLY TO POSTSEASON PLAY.

Question 1: Which two QBs were the only ones to have a cumulative passer rating over 100?

Question 2: Who has the worst cumulative passer rating?

Question 3: Who have the three best win-loss percentages?

Question 4: Who has the worst win-loss percentage?

Question 5: Which three QBs have played in the most games?

Question 6: Which four QBs have higher ratings in the postseason than in the regular season?

Question 7: Which two QBs have the biggest ratings drop-offs in the postseason?

Question 8: Who was the oldest to play in a postseason game?

Question 9: Who are the two youngest to start in a postseason game?

Answer 1: Bart Starr (104.5); Kurt Warner (102.8)

Answer 2: Fran Tarkington (58.6), followed by Johnny Unitas (68.9)

Answer 3: Bart Starr (.900), Joe Montana (.696), Kurt Warner (.692).

Answer 4: Warren Moon (3-7), followed by Dan Fouts (3-4) and Dan Marino (8-10).

Answer 5: Joe Montana (23), followed by John Elway and Steve Young (22).

Answer 6: Bart wins hands-down, with a postseason rating 24.3 points above his regular season rating. Kurt Warner is next at 9.1, followed by Warren Moon (3.6) and Joe Montana (3.3).

Answer 7: Fran Tarkington’s postseason rating was 21.8 points lower than in the regular season. Steve Young’s was 11 points lower, and Fout’s was 10.2 lower.

Answer 8: Seven-way tie at age 38: Elway, Marino, Montana, Moon, Tarkington, Unitas, and Warner

Answer 9: Dan Marino, who was 22 and in just his second year in the league in 1984; John Elway was the next youngest, at 23.

Here’s a summary of the postseason raw data: name – win-loss record – age at first and last postseason game – regular season rating – postseason rating.

John Elway – 14-8 – 23-38 – 79.9 – 79.7

Dan Fouts – 3-4 – 28-31 – 80.2 – 70.0

Dan Marino – 8-10 – 22-38 – 86.4 – 77.1

Joe Montana – 16-7 – 5-38 – 92.3 – 95.6

Warren Moon – 3-7 – 31-38 – 81.3 – 84.9

Bart Starr – 9-1 – 26-34 – 80.5 – 104.8

Fran Tarkington – 6-5 – 33-38 – 80.4 – 58.6

Johnny Unitas – 6-3 – 25-38 – 78.2 – 68.9

Kurt Warner – 9-4 – 28-38 – 93.7 – 102.8

Steve Young – 14-8 – 26-37 – 96.8 – 85.8


Without a doubt, the biggest shocker in the group is Bart Starr. In an age when passing was not so dominant, and passer ratings were much lower, Starr not only had the top rating in this group (104.8), but that rating betters all 13 of the contemporary QBs that I previously examined.

Starr also has by far the best postseason record of 9 and 1. Yes, Joe Montana has the distinction of going 4-0 in his Super Bowls, but he also had seven losses in his non-Super-Bowl playoff years. Finally, Starr stepped up his game in the postseason like no other: from an average rating of 80.5 to 104.8. I’d say Bart is the G.O.A.T of NFL playoff QBs!

None of these earlier stars, unlike Brady, Brees, and Favre, participated in a playoff game at age 40 or older. Seven, however, made the playoffs at age 38, which is two years older than Rodgers is presently. This doesn’t bode well for Rodgers – a quarterback excelling into the forties is a rare and recent phenomenon, confined to Brady, Brees, and Favre.

Fran Tarkington somehow won six of eleven playoff games while averaging a passer rating of only 58.6. The “somehow” was due to the Vikings’ Purple Curtain defense, which in Fran’s first nine playoff games never gave up more than 24 points.

Tarkington also has the distinction of not playing in a postseason game until he was 33 years old. In contrast, all 13 of the contemporary QBs that I previously looked at had started a playoff game by the time they were 27.

Bart Starr at Lambeau in 2017

Oct 22, 2017; Green Bay, WI, USA; Former Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr waves to fans in the first quarter during the game against the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.



  1. Ferris February 4, 2020

    Let me know when the draft starts….until then..Adieu.

    1. Robster February 4, 2020

      April 23….bonne journée jusque là.

      1. PF4L February 12, 2020

        April 23rd might be the next article.

  2. Dave February 5, 2020

    Thanks for making it clear that no one was better then Bart Starr in the post-season. When you consider that many of his games were played in terrible weather conditions as well, his rating is even more impressive! Bart has never gotten his due having played for Lombardi and considered just a game manager but his record and passer rating are proof of his GOAT excellence.

    1. PF4L February 5, 2020

      A lot of those QB’s listed threw a lot. I don’t know if the Packers passed a lot back then with Starr. Maybe Rob has some input because he was still relatively young in his mid 30’s watching the games during the Glory Days :)
      Too many different intangibles from then to even the 90’s….the length of the season, the amount of teams in the league. I mean fuck, some guys smoked and ate hot dogs on the sidelines back in the 60’s. Then after the game was over some players had other jobs to go to.

  3. Deepsky February 5, 2020

    I think Marino was the greatest pure passing quarterback of all time. He had the most accurate arm I’ve ever seen and a lighting fast release which allowed him to have one of the lowest sack percentages of all time. Marino lead teams always beat the Packers and it was very frustrating because pass after pass was on target, lots of back shoulder throws impossible to defend. Marino beat the Bears during their Super Bowl year. The problem was, during his entire tenure with the Dolphins, he had no running game, and much like Rodgers, he had awful defenses that would give up 35, 40 points a game in the playoffs.

    1. PF4L February 6, 2020

      Can’t really argue with any of that…good post Deep.

  4. PF4L February 5, 2020

    A lot of teams beat the Packers in those two decades of failure.
    For the team itself….Winning was not a priority back then. They lived off the glory years and as long as the stadium was full, and the coffers were filled, winning was welcomed, but not expected. When you place a higher priority on hiring past Packer players for your head coach, over winning, you are doomed.
    This is why i always say…Championship teams are built from the top down.
    Back then, an 8-8 record was deemed successful. Getting in the playoffs?……euphoria.

  5. PF4L February 5, 2020

    Just heard a very interesting interview today with Bill Micheals on “105.7 The Fan”. Kevin Harlan was talking about the SB game, Garoppolo, Mahomes and Rodgers…with a competitive comparison based from reality and common sense.
    You can listen to it on demand (rewind it). Interview took place from about 12 – 12:20 PM.
    Give it a listen, it’s well worth the time. It’s never too late to learn something.

    1. Stiggy February 5, 2020

      I tried listening to that station as it is owned by the same outfit as 670 the score…but it is just fucking awful. The morning guys suck…and the afternoon guys arent much better.

      I’ll gladly put on bears radio to hear McNeil and parkins run circles around the local clowns.

      1. PF4L February 6, 2020

        As far as talk radio in the Milwaukee area covering the 3 major sports teams, they’re the only game in town. so that limits any choices. I listen because i’m a Wisconsin sports fan and that’s all there is.
        I don’t like everyone there either, but they get good interviews, and a couple of the guys working there will press the issue. Like when Sparky interviews someone like Murphy.
        They don’t like me because i write it in when their facts or viewpoints are wrong. Although a couple of them write me back with dialogue on a regular basis. Until i rubbed someone the wrong way after 3 years and they banned my IP about 2 months ago :) I couldn’t help myself writing in, i have a desk job and listen everyday so it was easy to comment back when i heard false facts and less than stellar viewpoints.

        FYI…i would listen to 670 the score for a few minutes after bear games for amusement. Their host back then would absolutely lose their minds after losing. This was back in the Cutler days

        1. Stiggy February 6, 2020

          Danny parkins had a field day when the cowboys hired McCarthy. Hes also been sharing views from this site for a long time…ie:Rodgers succeeded in spite of mccarthy and Murphy….and totally raked the packers over the rumor they were gonna hire pat Fitzgerald… hes better packer coverage than the local guys despite covering the bears

          1. PF4L February 7, 2020

            Yea, i hear ya….the problem is i have less than zero interest in listening to anything Chicago. But i’m not close minded, i’ll give him a quick listen sometime soon, thanks Stig.

          2. PF4L February 7, 2020

            Still…give the Harlan interview a listen. He pours the kool aid down the drain and just nails it on his perception of Rodgers, Mahomes, Garopollo and their respective teams

  6. MJ February 8, 2020

    It’s going to be a long wait til September. In the meantime, what do you think about the XFL? I checked out their rules, and they have some unique quirks. Heck, there is even a team that wears green (light green, actually) and yellow. They are called the Tampa Bay Vipers.


    Besides (possibly) being interesting to watch, it gives fringe NFL players a chance to showcase their skills and maybe land a job back on an NFL team. And if it helps to make the wait feel shorter, I’m totally OK with it.

    1. PF4L February 8, 2020

      I turned it on twice, once at the beginning of the game when the announcers were trying to convince the audience of the talent on the field in the XFL. To me, that’s like back when the Pro Bowl announcers were trying to tell us how competitive the Pro Bowl was going to be played each year. I didn’t buy it then, and i’m not buying it now. Certain college teams would win in this new XFL league….handily.
      I tuned in a second time when the score was 6-3 between the Dragons and the Defenders. I watched long enough to discover that i wasn’t in any danger of spending any future time watching this new league….at all. During this second viewing, i saw Dillion Day dropping an F-bomb on a sideline reporter. https://awfulannouncing.com/nfl/seattle-dragons-center-dillon-day-drops-f-bomb-during-xfl-live-sideline-interview.html
      If anyone recalls, Dillion Day spent time on the Packers roster, complete with his 80’s bleached white hair.
      So yea, i watched a total of about 15 minutes, and discovered what i already knew.
      Things i did learn though….Marc Trestman is gainfully employed as a head coach once again. Also, Winston Moss must have caught someone’s eye with his radiant and pleasant personalty, as he is also a head coach in the XFL.

      1. MJ February 9, 2020

        Well, thanks for your impressions. I’ll give it its first shot later today to form my own. The XFL talent level should be clearly below NFL’s. Nevertheless, the rule changes may help making it dynamic. And heck, we may get to see some familiar faces. I may write a few words summarizing how I found it.

        1. PF4L February 9, 2020

          That’s all it was, my impression. But who knows, one mans garbage might be another mans treasure.

  7. Skinny February 9, 2020

    The bottom line is its still secondary athletes. That’s why this shit will never work long term. There isn’t another group of pro caliber football players just sitting around at home, ha. Those guys are in the NFL. Too be honest I wish the XFL was more like it was back in 2001. The “show” aspect might work in todays social media climate. I guess what im saying is I wish Vince McMahon would have walked out to the middle of the field and did a rousing speech and Stone Cold came out of a tunnel on a 4wheeler whipping shitties while McMahon stands there stunned. That’s what I want to see in the XFL.

    1. MJ February 9, 2020

      Well… Indeed they are second-tier athletes, closer to college level than to NFL level.

      The Vipers offense was hilarious to watch. Aside from a nice play here and there… The QB got two ints. A WR had a ball bounce off his chest. A TE caught a pass, turned around, only to be tackled from behind, fumbling the ball, which was returned for a TD. Trestman got to a point where he opted to sub in the 3rd string QB, a more run-oriented guy, who played better for a couple of series. Then the starter was sent back to the field.

      On the positive side, lower athletic quality could mean high-scoring games, since offenses can compensate a lack of athleticism with scheming, while defenses not so much.
      However, offenses need more time to gel up, and until they get to that point, they make mistakes and defenses will thrive.

      Running-QBs will feel rather comfortable in the XFL, where they’re facing less explosive defenders.


      I saw at least four youtube channels showing the Vipers’ game. My guess is they won’t crack down on streamers this early simply because they need the diffusion, so for us it’s rather easy to watch the games through streaming.

      1. MJ February 9, 2020

        BTW… Should we acquire the “totalvipers” domain just in case?

  8. PF4L February 10, 2020

    I was reading the comics this morning and came across this nuggett…..
    “Christian Ponder is an American quarterback who played college football at Florida State University. He played for different teams, including the Minnesota Vikings and San Fransisco 49ers, before stepping into retirement. Today, the football superstar has a net worth of $10 million.”
    “stepping into retirement” (as opposed to no team is willing to give you a job)
    “Today, the football superstar…..”
    Really?….football superstar?
    When this writer states he played for the 49ers, what that actually means is…..he never took a snap.
    Putting that degree in communications to work….WOW.

  9. Ferris February 10, 2020


    1. MJ February 11, 2020

      Now they will switch to that prevent defense to piss away any lead they can possibly accumulate.

      1. Howard February 11, 2020

        MJ, I think the Capers hire by the Vikings is more to assist the Vikings offense than cause damage to the Vikings (prevent) defense. :-).
        The Vikings play in a division that includes 3 teams that predominantly run 3-4 defenses or hybrid versions of the same. The Vikings offense did not perform well against two of those teams last year resulting in four division losses.
        I really think the Vikings hired Capers to help prepare the Vikings offense on how to attack the weaknesses of a 3-4 defense , and what to avoid running against a 3-4 defense in general and in situational offenses. In addition Capers will probably provide input in how the Vikings scout team operates when running a 3-4 defense against the Vikings first team offense.

  10. PF4L February 11, 2020

    Speaking of old corpse, are the Green Bay Packers going to be paying Thompson for a 3rd year in a row, after he moved back home to Texas?
    This Murphy is a real piece of work….first he gives Mike Sherman a 2 year extension in 2006, then fires him after the 2006 season. Then before the TT “re-assignment” (he’s a scout now). He secretly….gave McCarthy a one year extension, then fires him months after said extension.
    Then we wonder why the team barely made any money.
    I can’t help but think if these are the moves Murphy speaks of when he says everything he does, he does in the best interest of the Packers.
    Haven’t we had enough of Mark Murphy?

    1. PF4L February 11, 2020

      * after the TT re-assignment

  11. Savage57 February 14, 2020

    10 days, no new articles.

    Maybe the checks aren’t clearing.

    1. Mitch Anthony February 14, 2020

      Yeah, I keep checking everyday. Were only about two weeks away from the Underwear Olympics so there should be a little buzz out there to discuss. The Combine is what it is and I’m sure the best scouts are deep in film study and not just enamored with who gets the president’s physical fitness award for jumping highest and farthest and runs the fastest. But it is something to talk about.

      Are we resolved to the fact that the Packers will take a receiver at #30? You’ll probably be looking at the 5th thru 7th highest rated receiver at that point.

      Is there a good argument to drop a few spots out of the 1st and find a trade partner in the early 2nd? You might still get your guy and maybe gain a mid round pick. A hypothetical example of this would be a trade with Indy (if willing) to give up #30 for #34 and gain their #119 (4th rd). That 5th -7th receiver might still be there and you gain a decent level pick in return.

      Do you forsake the receiver pick with the first pick and grab an offensive lineman? You might be looking at the 3rd – 5th highest rated o-line player (or highest rated center) at that point and with so much WR talent in the draft you may still get a quality WR pick in the 2nd.

      Same to be said maybe for a run stuffing D-lineman.

      I’m not welded to any of these ideas, just throwing this stuff out for discussion. It’s cold out…

      1. Kato February 23, 2020

        Well, I think Jordy Nelson was picked in a similar manner

  12. MJ February 15, 2020

    Hibernating till the draft-prospect analysis begins. 💤

  13. Kato February 16, 2020
    1. PF4L February 17, 2020

      So does that mean he will lose his one bull rush move?

      1. Kato February 23, 2020

        Hopefully he is developing more moves, or this pick is a monumental bust

  14. PF4L February 17, 2020

    So….what’s the next step? Do we have a eulogy? Do we have a double eulogy (to save time)?

    IMO……I think both totalpackers.com and The Lonely Boy both deserve to have a few words said cuz…..Day boat ded.