Yesterday on Comcast Sports Northwest, Jordan Kent, Anthony Newman and Joey Harrington were talking about Marcus Mariota. Is it a concern he hasn't played in a fourth quarter this year? Kent asked.
Harrington said it was, a little bit, but he went on to say that "I think that he's the greatest quarterback to ever suit up for the Oregon Ducks."
Quite a statement, considering that Harrington himself was 25-3 as an Oregon starter, 10-2 in fourth quarter comebacks. Two other Webfoot signal callers, Norm Van Brocklin and Dan Fouts, are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Another one, George Shaw, was an NFL #1 draft pick, first-team All-American in both football and baseball.
Harrington quarterbacked the Ducks to three bowl wins, the 1999 Sun Bowl, the 2000 Holiday Bowl over Texas, and the 2002 Fiesta Bowl over Colorado, their first BCS win. That team finished #2 in the country. Captain Comeback was a Heisman Trophy finalist as a senior.
Mariota's 17-1 as a starter, named offensive MVP of the Fiesta Bowl win versus Kansas State, a first team all-conference selection as a redshirt freshman.
Through the first 18 games of his career, The Flyin' Hawaiian has thrown for 4035 yards, completing 65.1% of his passes, with 46 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He's operated Oregon's spread offense with smooth efficiency, adding 12 tds and 1090 yards on the ground. His career passer rating is 167, 176.3 so far this year, which would be a school record.
The Bellotti-coached, Harrington-led Ducks ran a pro set. Harrington threw deep more and ran only occasionallly. In his college career he passed for 6,289 yards, 53 tds, 21 interceptions, 54.3%.
A crucial part of the argument is how you define "best ever." For one game or a career? To win a hypothetical matchup for championship of the free world, or based on his Oregon record and Oregon stats? The terms make a vital difference.
Few qbs in Oregon history have had a better single season statistically than Akili Smith did in 1998. Smith threw for 3,763 yards, 32 tds, with a passer rating of 167.3, the all-time UO record. He averaged an astounding 17.5 yards per completion. Bill Musgrave is the all-time Oregon passing leader for a career, with 8,343 yards, 60 tds in four seasons, 57.4% completions.
Dennis Dixon stands out to many people as Oregon's most talented quarterback. Before he got hurt against Arizona late in 2007 he led the Ducks to a #1 ranking, passing for 20 tds with just four interceptions, cooly mixing deft runs and passes with handoffs to Jonathan Stewart. In all that season he threw for 2136 yards and ran for 583.
People forget that DD was a mediocre quarterback before coming under the tutelage of Chip Kelly. As a sophomore and junior he threw 18 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions.
Van Brocklin and Fouts accomplished the most as pros. Fouts threw for over 43,000 yards in his career with the San Diego Chargers, 254 tds. At Oregon, though, playing on some also-ran teams with limited depth, he's the all-time career leader in interceptions with 54. The Flying Dutchman was 16-5 as a Duck, tieing for a conference title in 1948. He was a 9-time pro bowl selection and won an NFL Championship in 1960.
Bob Berry led the Ducks to three consecutive winning seasons in the 1960s, including a win in the 1963 Sun Bowl. Danny O'Neil is second all-time in yards with 8,301, second in career tds with 62.
The most underappreciated Oregon quarterback is probably Darron Thomas, the all-time leader in touchdowns with 66, a career 61.3% passer
Harrington said best ever to wear the uniform, which makes the terms of the argument fuzzy.
Let's say Mariota is the best ever if he completes this season with a national title.
LOL @ captain comeback...
Back handed praise towards Super Mariota. I agree we can't decide yet. Best start to a career? I believe so. Anything can happen though. I prefer the wait and see method in deciding how great someone is. When its all over and Mariota is getting drafted we can pursue this further.
btw Joey is the most over rated QB on the best ever list. He should be on the list but damn. How many NFL players were on that roster? 8 offensive players not including Clemens. And they had to come back how many times? I love Joey .. but not enough to ignore his faults.
And to the people that don't include Darron on that list. Seriously are you that dumb. So what if he isn't in the NFL. he was a GREAT college QB. A natty appearance with less NFL talent around him than Joey.
Duckbill you bring up good points but look at Mariota's body of work up to this point in his career and compare it to the rest of the QB's the Ducks have had the priveledge of showcasing through the years. Other than Darron Thomas, who is not in the conversation for best ever according to mostly everyone, Mariota is the winningest QB ever through his first 18 games. He has handled every hurdle save for one in his career. He isn't leading the race for the Hiesman because of his 'potential'. His year last year was spectacular and this year is shaping up to be only an improvement. He certainly has had the best start of any QB in Oregon history. He is the most fundementally sound, one of the most athletic, and smartest QB's the ducks have ever had. His motion is compact and lightning fast. He had great feet and his ability to escape sacks is second to none. Colorado highlight, Mariota spins out of a sack that you'd be hardpressed to escape in NCAA 14, rolls away from pressure and shovels the ball to Addison for a first down. Play making is another huge aspect of his game that puts him in the conversation for GOAT.
Sorry, but Harrington's comment was a backhanded compliment just so he could say Mariota hadn't done anything in a fourth quarter questioning his leadership skills, his clutch skills, etc. And, in so doing, elevating those same skills that Harrington believed he, himself, had. Well, Joey's ego is a little bit sensitive about his contribution to the rise of Oregon. Most fans go from "The Pick" to Chip Kelly discussing the rise of Oregon. And that probably pisses off Joey. Harrington had a part but not as big a part as he might think. Harrington managed to choke up a couple of interceptions, one of them late in the game, against a very mediocre Stanford in a losing effort that prevented the Ducks from being undefeated the year of the Fiesta Bowl victory. It prevented the Ducks from playing Miami. But, luckily for Harrington, the Ducks didn't play Miami as that would have been a disaster for Oregon.
My favorite Oregon qb is the oft forgotten Johnny Miller. The kid could sling it and also had good wheels. He was surrounded by zero talent in the early to mid eighties. He was an all pro one year before losing his NFL career to concussions. An amazing talent that would have been a joy to watch in Kelly's scheme and was a joy to watch in Brooks' scheme (such as it was).
I liked Dixon better. We had a great season until the knee went out. What I liked about Dixon is he sold hand offs better than Mariota. When Mariota hands the ball off, he stops and watches.
mariota is one of the best QB's i have ever watched, he can read the D, run , pass, fake the hand off, lot of the times he fools everyone even the camerman when he keeps the handoff. he is also a very humble person, and their in lies his greatnes. I wish him and the team all the best this saturday up in Washington. PS.I hope our D has learned to tackle this last week, they miss so many. goooooo duuuuucks
I'll reserve judgment until the end of his career. Joey and Akili rank right up there for me, but I'm a complete career guy. Show me the rings. Marota doesn't have to win a crystal football to impress me. None of the other Duck quarterbacks in this article have that distinction either...
The purist in mea says to win the Pac and go to the Rose Bowl. Anything beyond that is icing on the cake.
Small correction (I think). Should "with handoffs to Jonathan Smith" read "with handoffs to Jonathan Stewart"?
Another good write up Dale and agree that who is the greatest probably cannot be determined until a college career has ended or the performance is so "head-and-shoulders" above everyone else there can be no doubt. MM may well be that guy, but even if he isn't I wouldn't want anyone else until he moves on. When Joey was QB he was great and was the leader during the rise of Oregon to a top program. It's got to feel pretty good for MM to have someone of Joey's caliber and experience labeling you as "the greatest".
@BearsHazyDaze First things first.. When we are arguing Subjective topics, like this one, no one person is dumb for having an opinion so please try and stay away from calling someone dumb for believing something.
Secondly, I agree that Darron was great for us in Eugene. Do not underestimate the talent he was playing with though. The Maehl Man happens to be atop the Oregon Record books so he was no slouch. I think the reason nobody considers him as the best ever is because he wasn't the focal point of the offense. LMJ was THE guy for the ducks. You could argue that Mariota wasnt either with Kenjon at his side, but lets face the facts here, Running the same offensive system with almost equal talent all the way around, Mariota set a Pac 12 freshman record with 32 tds. Darron Thomas played in more 4th quarter games than Mariota has to be sure, and big time moments Thomas stepped up. I'd rank him in the top 7 or 8 I think. Could be as high as 4 or 5.
Also I have a hard time thinking of Joey as overrated.. The fact of the matter is he DID come back in those games and performed when it mattered. Then got thrown into a buzzsaw playing for the Lions. Yuck.
@BearsHazyDaze BHD--Strong takes. Harrington had a career passer rating of 131. You are right that was a loaded roster. Thomas operated Oregon's offense really well and had some big games in an Oregon uniform, very under appreciated, partly because he left early
@Mahunashizzle This is my favorite kind of take, because you cite specific evidence to back your claim and relevant details. It's refreshing. The shovel pass to Addison was a remarkable play, and 18 games is a significant number of starts in evaluating a quarterback.
@sozeduck Chris Miller was a great Duck quarterback on teams that didn't have a quarter of the talent Mariota is surrounded with, another factor in the discussion. You were deft in deciphering Joey's motives in steering the conversation that way, but he was answering a direct question about Mariota's lack of experience in the 4th quarter. Captain Comeback is beloved among Duck fans, the architect of a lot of great moments and big wins, but yes, he had a couple of clunker games also.
@RageRats The argument around Dixon gets tricky. For 8 games in his senior year, he was amazing.
@dsanders206 DS--Super Mario processes information cooly and doesn't make many mistakes. He has a great package of skills for the spread offense, and uses the weapons around him beautifully. His resume gains a major bullet point if he engineers a victory over Washington in Husky Stadium Saturday. a compelling head-to-head duel between him and Keith Price.
@zduckfan Okay, you've done a good job of defining your terms: complete career. Mariota's remains incomplete until he wins a Rose Bowl or better.
@DuckNV That's so weird--I have a mental block on that--I've made the same error 3 or four times over the years, confusing the name with an old Beaver quarterback of all things. Aaaarrrrgg. Thanks for the catch.
@Duckbill Mariota deserves to be included in the conversation of Oregon's best after a 17-1 start.
@Duckbill Not exactly sure what you're getting at here.. Considering he has the highest winning percentage.. Ever. He's lost fewer games than all of the other current High Profile QB's did in their first 18 games, not to mention the fact that his name is almost synonymous with "best QB in the nation" when asking a lot of experts. He has everything you want in a QB, not just physically but mentally, a humble guy who works hard, leads by example and has absolutely zero off the field issues.
I guess I have to ask you, what more can he do to 'earn' your appreciation? Short of winning a National Championship paired with a Bronze Statue of an old guy stiff arming, what else is there? You could very well be the only Duck fan that is Unappreciative of Marcus Mariota, and honestly whatever thats your prerogative. But I'm staying true to what most of Duck Nation believes, and that is that we have someone special under center for us.
lol duckbill you're unreal. unless he wins a natty he's got work to do right? I said he would throw 6 tds sat, I was wrong he threw 5 and ran for 2. Only 7 scores in 3 quarters god he sucks, we want lockie! M will have a big day this week vs an average defense. when Marcus eventually leaves I'm interested how you evaluate the next man up
I'm not he is a Hiesman winner weeks in advance. I'm talking about his production THIS FAR into his career. He has faced tough teams, he faced them last year, and decimated teams this year. His production as of right now, at this point in his career is the best of any Oregon QB at the same point of their careers. You keep forgetting that Mariota has played extremely well for his entire career, the numbers and the win loss record are proof of that.
@RageRats Mariota's improving on the handoffs. He had two deft keeps for tds in the Colorado game.
@Mahunashizzle @Duckbill It is amazing to me the plethora of content that now hits the internetwaves about the Ducks team, chinks in armor, Mariotta has no fourth quarter statistics to compare to other current Quarterbacks that perform well at the end of games, Colt Lyerla says he is leaving and the unison comment of NEXT MAN UP goes out. It is called an embarrassment of riches that we at Oregon now. Either relax and enjoy it and please don't get greedy or we will all really miss out on history in the making. If Mariotta had played all the snaps possible so far this season he would have already accounted for 46.72 touchdowns at the rate of production he has displayed projected out over four quarters of playing time per contest. PLAYSTATION NUMBERS people, mark my word we will roll UW and ESPNowsaboutzilch will keep playing this Oregon hasn't been tested in the fourth quarter tune all night long until we slay Alabama. This is our year and for this week, what do Huskies do? As for Ducks we just FLYYYYY!!!
@lexusduck Dwight Jaynes took a stab at this topic today and his premise is a lot like Duckbill's. Dennis Dixon, Jeremiah Masoli and Darron Thomas have all looked great running the Oregon offense, so the system is at least partially responsible for the success Mariota and the others have had.
@lexusduck Average D? They're better than that. But not deep. Average by the 2nd half, hopefully.
@Duckbill @Mahunashizzle Good comments DB, and I said much the same in the "3 questions" article. There is a difference between talented and accomplished. Marcus is talented. He is not yet accomplished.
None of the accolades this team garners are worth 2 cents until they have fulfilled their mission, one game at a time. Let the pundits write their stories then, of a team that played to their potential and went as far as hard work, talent, preparation, and skill would take them.
@Duckbill @Mahunashizzle MM led the Ducks to an even better Fiesta Bowl win last January, not Rose Bowl. But I totally agree it's too early to say he's the best ever. Ever is a long time. But that's glass-half-full Joey, always optimistic. I think/hope he meant potentially based on performance to date. Hard to argue with that.
@Duckbill The Furd is offense is good, powerful? I don't know yet. Gaffney is a nice back but you cannot replace Taylor he was a workhorse. He racked 1,600 yards of tough, brutal running and scored 15 times. In comparison Gaffney has 450 yds. so far. Stanford had SEVEN guys gain at least 100 yards receiving last year, led by Ertz with 900 and 6 scores. Not to mention the jumbo package of Hewitt, Ertz (Philly), Levine (Falcons) cracking skulls. Montgomery is good but this is not as balanced of an offense as 2012 that gave us fits. We matchup much better with this years 'quick' version of the Tree. Of which we will smoke.
@Dale Newton Agree that kickoffs played a part in the final score it's the 3rd aspect of the game. An aspect where Addison will punish them. Holding Stanford to 290 is nice but they still managed 31 pts. which is A LOT for a team that's not that explosive. I'm looking at the pups schedule and I'm scratching my head looking for the big win to garner a ranking of 16. They lost their Bowl game. This team is being hyped by the powers that be because of its history and the Seattle market. I think we will see who the Huskies really are this weekend, and they will lose 1 or 2 more this year. Yea they gave Furd a game but in the end they lost. Either way it helps us when we are victorious because the win looks bigger nationally.
@lexusduck They held Stanford to 289 yards. Breakdowns in kick coverage and an interception at the goal line kept them from winning. This game will be within 10-11 points, and if the Ducks don't match Washington's intensity with a better start and more consistent execution, they could lose.
They gave up 31 pts to Stanford, that doesn't say defensive stopper. Who's their big win this year an unranked Boise? Idaho st, Illinois, zona where's the quality win for this 16th ranked squad? please! A good offense that they copied from us, and once again an average defense that we will massacre.