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Remembering Archie, Part 1: Archie Sets an NFL Passing Record

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Part 1 of a series in which we take a look at Archie Manning's career with the Saints. But, we're looking only at his career as a passer NOT as a martyr. Which seems like the most we ever get of out the majority of retrospectives about Manning.

A couple of days ago Archie Manning turned 66 years old. Goodness, has it been that long? It seems like only yesterday when he came outta Ole Miss as the second overall pick in the NFL draft behind Heisman winner Jim Plunkett to go play QB for the Saints. He, along with everyone else at the time, had such high hopes, dreams, and expectations. Poor fella.

And so began the odyssey of Elisha Archie Manning III. I'm not gonna rehash all that stuff here. It is well documented what Archie experienced as QB of the New Orleans Saints during the team's darkest periods (Well, the ones which didn't involve Mike Ditka). Hey man, it was the Mecom years. Nuff said. Anyway, because of his talent and potential along with the obstacles he faced quarterbacking a losing franchise which couldn't seem to get out of its own way for 18 seasons, Archie has gained a lot of respect, affection, and even sympathy from opposing players and fans who saw him play.

The problem I have is that people spend so much time talking about what he didn't do that no one has focused on what he was actually able to do in the NFL despite the circumstances which everyone keeps harping on. Hell, even Archie's biggest fans spend more time making excuses for him than talking about the plays he actually made as a QB. This is usually when some uninformed jackass normally chimes in and says "That's because he NEVER made any plays! HA!"

Well, okay, here ya go. A series of posts which focus on what Archie actually did as a QB in the NFL during his time with the New Orleans Saints. And we'll start with a little something that I'm quite sure some of you didn't know. Archie Manning was the first QB in NFL history to pass for 3000+ yards and have better than  60% completion rate in 3 consecutive seasons.

Year

Yards

Comp Pct

1978

3416

61.8

1979

3169

60.0

1980

3716

60.7

Doesn't seem like much, huh? That small table with a little known fact you probably never heard of before. But, guess what? Out of all the passers who played during the era in which Archie played; guys like Staubach, Griese, Tarkenton, Bradshaw, Stabler, Anderson, and Fouts, none of them accomplished this feat. Not even the guys who came before him like Unitas, Starr, Jurgensen, or Namath.

Also, you have to remember that this was back in the days before NFL offenses were micromanaged by offensive coordinators and the rules of the game were changed to give passers and receivers tremendous advantages on the field. Playing QB in the NFL was quite different than it is today. Defenders could kick the living crap out of QBs and mug receivers all the way down the field. Completing a pass was a lot tougher back then than it is now. And not to mention that the focus of passing was different. It was a much more vertical game in which passing was utilized to get big chunks of yardage downfield as opposed to the short passing game with high completion percentages that is so common today. It's part the reason why QBs of the past have lower passer ratings and completion percentages than signal callers of today, but yet, they had higher yards-per-attempt while WRs and TEs had much higher yards per catch than current receivers.

It was during this era that Manning played on the worst team in the NFL. And yet, still managed to set an NFL first in yardage and completion percentage. To give you even more perspective. Archie's record of 3 consecutive seasons with those numbers would not be broken until 1995 by Steve Young and Brett Favre. They each became the first QB in NFL history to have 3000+/60+ in four consecutive seasons.

Hold up. Think about that for a minute. We're talking about a period from 1981 to 1999 when QBs like Joe Montana, Dan Marino, John Elway, Jim Kelly, Troy Aikman, and Warren Moon all played in the NFL. Only Montana and Moon could even equal 3 consecutive seasons. They were the only 5 QBs who did it more than twice in a row.

4 - Steve Young, Brett Favre

3 - Archie Manning, Joe Montana, Warren Moon

That's it. That's the list. They were 11 other QBs during that period who managed to have two consecutive seasons of 3000/60 but never the trifecta. And that's any QB you can name from that period including HOFers.

And then, the 21st century rolled around and rules changed so fast over the past 15 seasons that 3000/60 is so commonplace it doesn't even register with today's fans. Hell, the 3 of top QBs in the game today have done it 10+ times (Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees). But, after these guys things start to get a little murky. Yeah, you have guys in there who are sitting at somewhere between 5 to 9 total seasons of 3000/60 but not many have done it 3 times in row. Not as many as you would think considering how much teams pass the ball these days. Especially, given the favorable passing rules.

You have QBs who played in the 2000s like Kurt Warner, Donovan McNabb, Rich Gannon, Daunte Culpepper, Brad Johnson, Steve McNair, Matt Schaub, and others who could only equal Archie's feat of three straight from 30+ years ago. Damn, you're a QB who played during the most advantageous era for passing in the history of the league and you can't do better than Archie friggin' Manning?

Geesh.

And to twist the knife in these little panzy 21st century QBs even more. Here is a very short list (it could have been much longer - TWSS) of QBs that played in the 2000's who never had 3 straight seasons of 3000/60 at any point in their entire career.

Joe Flacco

Cam Newton

Matt Stafford

Alex Smith

Kyle Orton

Chad Henne

Matt Hasselback**

Chad Pennington

Michael Vick

Aaron Brooks

Jake Delhomme

Jake Plummer

(Oh, gawd. Just Stop. I think they get the point)

So, let me get this straight. You play (or played) in the 21st century in which 3000/60 supposedly means absolutely nothing anymore because Brady, Brees, and Manning can do it in their sleep (well actually, Brees uses a step ladder, Manning does it in between choke jobs in the playoffs, and Brady can knock out 3000/60 while also impregnating supermodels two at a time) and you couldn't even equal Archie effin' Manning?

You suck.

Seriously, bruh.

Anyway, that was the first stop on our little tour of what Archie Manning was able to do while he was in the NFL. Next up, a comparison with his peers. Preview: Bradshaw sucked ass. Thank god for the Steel Curtain.