By Brian Kalchik @BrianKalchik on May 31, 2014
Ranking the best quarterbacks of all-time is something that many have done, but few agree upon. The criteria used by different people could include on-field achievements, statistical rankings, or even success in the postseason. When trying to evaluate the greatest Detroit Lions quarterbacks in team history, it is clear to see why the Lions have had such a bad history at the position, but here are my five greatest quarterbacks in Lions history.
As bad as Scott Mitchell was in the postseason, the lefty was good enough to get the Lions to the postseason twice. In both 1995 and 1997, Mitchell threw for over 3,000 yards and had more touchdowns than interceptions. Mitchell's 12,647 passing yards ranks third in team history, and his 79 passing touchdowns ranks fourth. Mitchell's postseason failures, however, did not make him one of the best in team history.
Despite only playing for three seasons in Detroit, Erik Kramer holds a claim that no other Lions QB has had in the past 50+ seasons. Kramer became the only quarterback to win a postseason game. Kramer ranks just 17th in yards and 16th in touchdowns, but his 341-yard, three-touchdown performance against Dallas in the 1991 NFC Divisional Playoffs was one of the best performances by any quarterback in team history.
From 1970-72, Greg Landry led the Lions to three consecutive winning seasons, and a postseason appearance in 1970. Known mostly as a scrambling quarterback, Landry ran for over 500 yards in both 1971 and 1972. In his 10 seasons in Detroit, Landry ranks fourth in passing yards (12,451) and third in touchdowns (80). Despite never having a 2,500-yard passing season, and never throwing for more than 20 touchdowns in a season, Landry was a great QB.
Matthew Stafford is destined to break, or has already broken, nearly every significant passing record that was set by Bobby Layne. Stafford broke Layne's career passing yards this past season, and now has 17,457 yards in his career. Stafford is ranked second in touchdowns with 109, but will break Layne's record next season, trailing him by only nine. If Stafford starts winning in the postseason, the conversation could somewhat change.
Bobby Layne is not just the greatest Lions quarterback of all-time, but he was one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. The Hall-of-Famer brought Detroit two NFL championships in 1952 and 1953, and had a playoff record of 3-1. Layne's 15,710 passing yards and 188 career touchdowns stood for well over 50 years. Despite the curse that is attached to his name, Layne is the greatest quarterback in Detroit Lions history.
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