Who Were the Biggest Albatrosses?

The Jets stuck with Sanchez for too long, even giving him a puzzling contract extension. I feel for Jets fans, but in Baltimore Brian Billick stuck with Kyle Boller as the starter for over 4 years. I'm curious who the biggest team albatross is recent memory really is? Is it Joey Harrington? David Carr? JaMarcus Russel? Is Blaine Gabbert in the running?

So I'm throwing it out to the smartest readership in football. Who do you nominate for biggest albatross? I'll run the numbers. I'm looking for guys whose team stuck with them for far too long as they did unmentionable levels of damage to their team.

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16 Responses to “Who Were the Biggest Albatrosses?”

  1. David says:

    David Carr, and also Tim Couch, get major points for longevity. To calculate a 'winner', maybe first calculate the average amount by which each QB came in below the avg win probability per game, and then multiply that by the number of games started -- the idea is to index cumulative win probability below that of an average QB.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Rick Mirer managed to hang around for an impressively long time for a bad QB- over a full decade between his first game and his last. Going back further, I'd nominate Jim Zorn, who can get bonus points for his brief stint as an albatross coach, as well.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Tony Mandarich, given the picks immediately after and a rookie holdout.

    -Jero

  4. Steven says:

    Do we want to compare to the average, or to who else was available? It's quite plausible that the Packers would have done better by dumping Favre for Rodgers a season earlier.

  5. Jero says:

    Thinking back to that 2007 season, even by Favre's standard statistical performance it was a very good year. Plus a 13-3 Packer team that landed in the NFC Championship game. What was replacement value given a 2007 Aaron Rodgers?

  6. Rob says:

    Among non-QBs, Mark Ingram?

  7. Mike Weisel says:

    Trent Dilfer, I know he won a super bowl, but I'm talking the TB years

  8. SportsGuy says:

    The Lions didn't really "stick" with Joey all that long. They brought in other guys. They just couldn't get those other guys to work and so Mr Ballgame lasted longer than he should have.

    I still say that if Greg Olson had won the permanent OC job he might have gotten more out of Harrington. In his 2 temp stints at OC Olson got numbers out of Harrington that no one else had achieved. Short sample size - just 5 games over two season. But his YPA was quite respectable in that time. And Olson didn't like Harrington.

  9. Anonymous says:

    As a diehard, currently suffering Skins fan, I nominate Jason Campbell and Rex Grossman

  10. Xavier Weisenreder says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  11. Xavier Weisenreder says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  12. Anonymous says:

    AJ Smith for completely crapping over the Charger's roster the past few years before finally getting the axe.

  13. Eric Feczko says:

    Ouch this is a tough question. In recent history, I would vacillate between Joey Harrington and Kyle Boller, but arguments can be made for both.

    Joey Harrington is all sorts of bad from a statistical view. In 80 games over his career, he achieved a whopping -9.15 WPA. He cost his team(s) 0.11 WPA per game started. Unlike Boller, Harrington earned his bad status by starting 10+ games every year of his short career. Worse, the Detroit Lions used the 3rd pick in the draft on Harrington, costing them a lot of money in signing bonuses. However, he did play for the Lions, who had all sorts of problems with coaches, the front office, and talent at any other position. On the other hand, Joey was pretty awful for the dolphins and the falcons in 2007; Matt Ryan in 2008 well outperformed Harrington's 2007 year despite a similar personnel.

    Kyle Boller was lower pick, and played for a better team, but he was surprisingly awful himself. In only 63 games, he amassed about negative 160 expected points added, at a rate of -0.09 EPA per play (0.02 worse than Joey). On the other hand, he was injured for much of his career, so he really didn't get an opportunity to "shine" unlike Joey. Furthermore, as the 22nd pick, Baltimore spent a lot less on him than the LIons did on Joey. Although if Baltimore had a marginally competent QB, they would've been a far superior team during Boller's tenure.


    I'd pick Joey by a hair.

    In terms of presently active players, Blaine Gabbert is really the only choice right now. However, Brandon Weeden may become an albatross in the near future. He was drafted in first round by the browns despite being 28 years old. He has also amassed -0.89 WPA in 17 games so far and has been trending downward. I don't know how long he'll last as the browns QB...

  14. Jeff Clarke says:

    I'm trying to think of people that fit the Steve Young Corollary. They had bad teams give up on them with no real replacement way too early and ultimately rose to a much higher level. There aren't too many but there are a couple who like Young were USFLers. This is one of the areas where I wonder if the lack of any sort of minor league hinders the NFL.

    For the most part, you never get a second chance in football anymore. If you blow it the first time around, thats it. I understand thats the way it has to be, but I can't help but wonder how many potential hall of famers never got a realistic shot.

  15. Al Dimond says:

    @Jeff: At the same time, how many players have risen from the NBA's D-League to even short-term stardom, let alone HoF consideration? Even in baseball, with its robust minor-league system, it's rare for a player that fails badly enough in his first real big-league starting opportunity to truly set back his development schedule to re-emerge as a true star.

    Quarterback is one of the odd positions where it might be more possible. The criteria for success in the NFL are rather different than at lower levels, and contain relatively few strictly "young man" skills and lots of "old man" skills. A player could come out of college, be drafted by a team that needs a QB right away, struggle to learn a system that doesn't suit him, and be discarded -- if that player stays confident mentally, ages well physically, and finds his way to a team with a more suitable system or better supporting cast, he could come back smarter and more mature and have a good run starting in his late 20s. But he can't count on any game action as a backup. I suppose he could go the Flutie route through Canada, 'eh?

  16. Reilly Pinkelnwert says:

    @Al: While he isn't a QB, I think the Cameron Wake situation could suggest how closely a highly capable player can come to disappearing into obscurity. I would suspect that many undrafted players, like Victor Cruz perhaps, were only one small step away from disappearing. If the team doesn't believe in a player in the first place, they are unlikely to consider that they misjudged him. If a team selects a player with a high draft pick, they will keep trotting that player out onto the field, no matter how obvious a failure the player is.

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