Historically Bad Moments in Some First 16 Games

QB Rankings

Terry Bradshaw’s Rough First 16

Terry Bradshaw, who went on to win 4 Super Bowls in his career, had one of the roughest first 16 games in the NFL as quarterback for the Steelers. In a few of his worst outings he went 3/20 for 110 yards and 4 interceptions in a Loss, and also went 3/12 for 30 yards and 2 interceptions in a Loss during his first 16.
He finished with a completion % of 42.7%, 10 passing TD, 2 rushing TD, an amazing 30 INT, a 6-10 record, and an incredibly low QBR of 36.25.
Bradshaw went on to become one of the leagues best quarterbacks, and the first quarterback to win three and then four Super Bowls. He led the Steelers to eight AFC Central championships and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989, his first year of eligibility.

GM   Comp/Att   Yds   Int TD Pass/Rush
1      4/16          70       1          0/0           L
2      13/26       211      1          0/0           L
3      13/29       207      3          0/1           L
4      3/12          24       0          0/0           W
5      8/17         208      3          1/0           W
6      12/27       138      4          1/0           L
7      4/12          40       0          0/0           W
9      8/19          74       3          1/0           L
10     8/19        101      3          0/0            L
11     4/9          197      0          2/0           W
12     3/20        110      4          1/0           L
13     3/12          30      2          0/0           L
1      10/24       129      4          0/0           L
2      18/30       249      1          2/0           W
3      15/24       175      0          0/1           W
4      12/27       126      1          2/0           L
138/323 42% 2089 INT-30 TD-12(10/2) 6-10

Bob Griese’s Rough First 16

Bob Griese, quarterback for the Miami Dolphins, is best known for leading the 1972 Dolphins to the only undefeated season in NFL history. He led Miami to 3 Super Bowls winning 2.

During his First 16 games Griese had by far his worst game when he went 2/17 for 24 yards and 2 interceptions in a Loss. That results in an 11.7% Completion % with a QB Rating of 0.0.

His finished his First 16 Games going 209/448 and a Completion% of 46.6%, 19 passing TD, 1 rushing TD, an incredible 28 INT, 13.46 yards per completion, a 5-10-1 record and a QBR of 55.22.

Although he struggled in his First 16 games, Griese went on to be one of the great quarterbacks in the NFL having a Hall of Fame career.

Eli Manning’s Rough First 16

Eli Manning who led the New York Giants to 2 Super Bowl wins, one of which was to beat the undeafeted New England Patriots and ruin their chance at a perfect season, had a few rough games of his own in his First 16.

He went 6/21 for 148 and 2 INTs in an early game, and then went 4/18 for 27 yards and 2 interceptions in a loss near the end of his first 16.

John Elway’s Rough First 16

Interesting Facts, Quotes and News from 1983

Here is a compilation of some of the news articles and quotes from Elway, Head Coach Dan Reeves, teammates, and coaches, as Elway made his way through a very rough first year.

In his first regular season game as a pro, Elway, the most heralded rookie quarterback since Pittsburgh’s Terry Bradshaw arrived in 1970, completed only 1 of 8 passes for 14 yards, was sacked four times for -26 yards, threw an interception and lost one fumble.

Elway did not seem particularly discouraged by his regular season debut.
"If I play bad every game and we win, that’s fine with me." He said. "I’d have loved to throw for 500 yards and be 35 of 35-but all I wanted was a win up there."
"I’m sure anybody reading those numbers would think I had a bad game, but I did everything I could have done."

Elway was replaced after completing just 9 of 21 passes for 106 yards. He consistently overthrew wide open receivers and was flagged 3 times for delay of game.

The honeymoon is over for John Elway, the wunderkind rookie quarterback for the Denver Broncos. He is being benched in favor of veteran Steve DeBerg.

In five games, Elway completed just 38 of 83 passes for 420 yards, with one touchdown and five interceptions. His passer efficiency rating was a meager 40.3, worst in the league.

Rookie admits to being a "little bewildered right now"
"Denver Deberg Keeps Rescuing $5 Million Man"
"Disappointed Coach Benches John Elway"
"Denver concedes that Elway is only human"
"Denver Benches Its $5 Million Man"
"Elway May Never Meet Expectations"
"Experiment is Over, Broncos Bench Elway"

Quotes "I’m not going to quit on him now, I’m not even going to entertain that thought." Dan Reeves on if he would bench Elway for DeBerg after Elway struggled to grasp the offense.

"For five weeks our offense has been last in the National Football League, and I felt we had to make a change." said Denver Coach Dan Reeves. "The offense has not gotten the job done."

"I feel we have to go back to our multiple offense concept to move the ball, and Steve can do the things we need done," Head Coach Dan Reeves.

"I don’t look at what people expect of me," Elway said. "I’ve done all I can do. I don’t think it is fair to point the finger at one person when football is a team sport, I don’t pay any attention to what sports writers write anyway."

"Based on statistics I was terrible, but based on my decisions I made I was pleased with my performance." John Elway

"Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway will never be able to play as well as his contract would have him perform." Cleveland Browns Coach Sam Rutigliano.

"John has an awful lot to learn." Denver wide receiver Steve Watson on John Elway.

"When I told you last summer there didnít seem to be an awful lot of difference between college and professional football, I was wrong. I didn’t know what to expect. My mind was cluttered." John Elway

"They were calling me the $5 Million Mistake." John Elway

Excerpts from News Articles He has been chewed out by his coach on the sidelines. He’s had to face the question of whether he was a $5-million mistake. He once lined up to take the snap from the guard instead of the center. He’s had his brainpower questioned even though he has a degree from Stanford University.

Elway, the Broncos $5 Million rookie quarterback, has just been overwhelmed by the complexities of NFL defenses.

The Colts ultimately traded Elway to the Broncos, who signed him to a $5 million contract. But in Denver, the can’t-miss rookie couldn’t learn his coach’s complex offense or read opponents’ defenses and went 123 for 259. That stat would have been great in a batter’s box, but it placed him last among NFL passers.
Sports Illustrated Feb 8 1984

John Elway, the rookie quarterback for the Denver Broncos, lost his starting job yesterday.
Coach Dan Reeves said he was also reinstituting the complex multiple offense that he had simplified for Elway.
Elway, the former Stanford quarterback who was the first player selected in the National Football League draft, had trouble reading defenses and completed only 38 of 83 passes for 420 yards, with 1 touchdown and 5 interceptions through 5 games.
NY Times Oct 6 1983

The switch to DeBerg promises a more wide-open offense after it had been stripped to the extreme basics for rookie John Elway.

At times he appeared confused, and was often rattled by the blitz.

In an effort to speed Elway’s learning process, Reeves endeavored to simplify Denver’s offense, but the former Stanford star still struggled.

Elway found the system and the playbook overwhelming. As the weeks wore on, Reeves simplified matters by decreasing the number of plays the Broncos would use in a game.

Against San Diego he was little better than mediocre. He not only threw a season high three interceptions, but repeatedly was short with deep passes, eight of his 14 completions were to running backs.

When John Elway was wallowing near the bottom of the passing statistics and the Denver Broncos’ season appeared headed for oblivion, Coach Dan Reeves chose to toss out a life preserver: Steve DeBerg. Elway has the lowest quarterback rating among all NFL starters and ranks 17th in the 14 team AFC. Elway has thrown nine interceptions, two touchdowns and is the only one in 31 quarterbacks ranked throughout the league to complete fewer than 50% of his passes. He is 71 for 157 or 45%. Elway even lined up under the wrong player and tried to take the snap from a surprised guard instead of center.

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