Over the past week, Armchair’s NFL staff has come together, and decided the best player from each franchises history, and then ranked them. This is not the best players in NFL history ranked, just the best from each franchise ranked. Today, we release rank 32-25, with rankings coming out every Friday over the next couple weeks.
1. Jimmy Smith, Wide Receiver, Jacksonville Jaguars (#32)
The ‘Pride of Jacksonville’ is what some people know Jimmy Smith as. Smith is easily the top player in the young franchise’s history. He played in Jacksonville from 1995-2005 with the Jaguars. Smith also has 2 Super Bowl rings with the Dallas Cowboys, but rarely played or was targeted. But once he arrived in Florida, Smith was a star for the newly franchised Jacksonville team. In his 11 years with the organization, Smith recorded 862 receptions, 12,287 yards and 67 touchdowns. He also averaged 14.3 yards per catch.
Smith would help lead the team alongside QB Mark Brunell. That dynamic duo would help shock the Super Bowl favorite Denver Broncos in the 1996 season. The Jags would eventually fizzle off, but Smith was still attracting attention. In 1999, he lead the league with 116 receptions. Two years later he would record 112 receptions. Jimmy Smith was difficult to cover and would create the space he needed to create big plays. At the end of the day, many people can argue about other Jaguars’ players that were great, but Jimmy Smith helped shape the entire franchise.
Career Statistics: 12,287 Receiving yards, 862 Receptions, 67 TD
Honorable Mention: Fred Taylor, Running Back
– Milo Hay
2. Matt Ryan*, Quarterback, Atlanta Falcons (#31)
It is unorthodox to be picking the franchise’s current quarterback only halfway through his career to be that franchise’s all-time greatest player. But no player is more deserving than Matty Ice. Before his arrival, the Falcons had never put together back-to-back winning seasons. Yes, that’s right. From 1966 to 2008 they never had back-to-back winning seasons. They now have six in his eight years under center. The second most notable quarterback in Falcons’ history, Michael Vick, only had three winning seasons in his eight year tenure due to injuries and jail time. Vick only accomplished 11 wins once, Ryan has gotten 11 or more wins four times. Not to mention, Ryan is the centerpiece that Atlanta built around to dig itself out of the hole that Vick put the franchise in. But let’s not dog pile on Vick (yes, i just alley-ooped myself) for what he didn’t accomplish and focus on what Matt Ryan has accomplished.
Ryan owns all of the passing records in Atlanta while also adding an MVP trophy to his mantle. Sure, the Lombardi trophy that the Falcons were mere minutes away from collecting would have also been nice, but that’s still achievable with the players around Ryan and plenty more miles left in Ryan’s tank.
Career Statistics: 37,701 Passing Yards, 240 TD, 114 INT, 64.9 Comp. %
Falcons Honorable Mention: Jessie Tuggle, Linebacker
3. Steve McNair, Quarterback, Houston/Tennessee Oilers, Tennessee Titans (#30)
Long live “Mac 9.” For 11 seasons, McNair played for what Titans‘ fans know as the best years in franchise history. A great player, a great athlete, and a great leader. McNair was tough, physical and had a big arm, but he had wheels and used his legs more often than not to escape defenses. In 1999, McNair led the Titans to the franchise’s greatest season as they went 13-3, won the craziest Wild Card game ever and lost one of the greatest Super Bowl’s ever. McNair continued to have success as he won the 2003 NFL MVP along with Peyton Manning. The Titans and McNair parted ways following the 2005 season as McNair played only two more seasons with the Ravens. In what was such an exciting career, it ended all too soon. Titans’ fans will never forget what McNair did on the field, but they will also remember where they were when they found out he passed away. On July 4, 2009, McNair was pronounced dead in a murder-suicide with his mistress. Rest in Peace Mac 9.
Career Statistics: 31,304 Passing Yards, 174 TD 119 INT, 60.1 Comp %, 3,590 Rushing Yards, 37 Rushing TD
Oilers/Titans Honorable Mention: Chris Johnson*, Running Back
4. Andre Johnson, Wide Receiver, Houston Texans (#29)
Arguably one of the most dominant fantasy wide receivers for an entire generation, Andre Johnson has been the greatest player in Houston‘s short franchise history. The expansion team joined the NFL in the 2002 season and wound up taking Andre Johnson out of Miami with the 3rd overall pick in the 2003 draft. The rest for Johnson is history as he is the franchise leader in: games played (169), receptions (1,012,), receiving yards (13,595), touchdown receptions (64), yards from scrimmage (13,656), and the most 100+ yard receiving games (51). Andre accumulated those stats over 7 seasons with the Houston Texans and helped them emerge into relevancy in the NFL. Not only is Johnson a Houston Texan living legend, but his stats are up there amongst the best to ever play. He’s 11th all-time in NFL history in receptions and receiving yards, despite not having an elite quarterback throwing to him throughout his entire career. Maybe the most impressive aspect of Johnson’s career is that he accumulated arguably Hall of Fame type stats with David Carr, Matt Schaub, TJ Yates, Case Keenum, and Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing him the ball. Not many other receivers would put up those type of career numbers playing with those quarterbacks, hence his positioning in the Franchise Top 32.
Career Statistics: 14,185 Receiving Yards, 1,062 Receptions, 70 TD
Texans Honorable Mention: Arian Foster, Running Back
5. Ken Anderson, Quarterback, Cincinnati Bengals (#28)
There’s three trains of thought when it comes to the greatest player in a team’s history. The first thought is that it’s the best player accolades wise regardless of position in team history. The second thought is that it’s the most important player to the team’s overall success as a franchise. Finally, the third thought is that it’s the best quarterback in a team’s history because the quarterback position is far and away the most important position in all of sports. Bengals Hall of Fame left tackle Anthony Munoz covers the first train of thought. He’s arguably the greatest left tackle of all-time and at worst he’s top five. Munoz made 11 straight Pro Bowl’s and nine All-Pro team’s as a Bengal while protecting the blindsides of the two best Bengal quarterbacks ever, Boomer Esiason and our greatest Bengal of all-time Ken Anderson. Anderson covers the second and third train of thought when it comes to the greatest player in a franchise’s history.
Anderson is the man that put the Bengals on the map in the 70s. He helped turn around a new NFL franchise that was down on their luck into a playoff team. The Bengals made their first Super Bowl in 1981 thanks to an MVP season from Anderson (he’s one of two Bengals to ever be named NFL MVP). Anderson made four Pro Bowl’s, three All-Pro’s, won NFL MVP, NFL Offensive Player of the Year, NFL Comeback Player of the Year, led the NFL in passer rating four times, and passing yards twice as a Bengal. Despite not being in the NFL Hall of Fame, Anderson holds over 30 Bengals’ passing records and at the time of his retirement, he was sixth all-time in passing yards. Anderson has more career passing yards than NFL Hall of Fame quarterbacks Terry Bradshaw, Kurt Warner, Ken Stabler, and Joe Namath. He also has more career touchdown passes than Hall of Fame quarterbacks such as Stabler, Namath, Troy Aikman, and Bob Griese. Anderson may not be in the hall, although he should be, and he may not have the most accolades, but he’s the most important player in Bengals’ history.
Career Statistics: 32,838 Passing Yards, 197 TD, 160 INT, 59.3 Comp. %
Bengals Honorable Mention: Anthony Muñoz, Offensive Tackle
– Rob Paul
6. Steve Smith Sr., Wide Receiver, Carolina Panthers (#27)
This isn’t even remotely close. Steve Smith dominated the wide receiver position for the Panthers, who first began play in the NFL during the 1995 season as an expansion team. He went to 5 Pro Bowls, and 1 Super Bowl in his 13 durable seasons with Carolina. Smith was the receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns leader all in the same year during that 2005 Super Bowl run. He also holds 20 Panther franchise records and 1 NFL record with the highest average punt return yards in a single game (51).
Career Statistics: 14,731 Receiving Yards, 1,031 Receptions, 81 TD
Panthers Honorable Mention: Cam Newton*, Quarterback
7. Darrell Green, Cornerback, Washington Redskins (#26)
One of the greatest cornerbacks to play the game, Darrell Green helped lead the Redskins to 2 Super Bowl victories (XXII, and XXVI) and holds multiple Redskin franchise and NFL records. He had at least 1 interception in each of his 19 seasons and was one of the fastest players in the league while he played. He won each of the 4 NFL’s Fastest Man Competitions he participated in, and it has been said that he ran a 4.09 second 40-yard dash at 1986 Redskins’ Training Camp. Green was well accomplished, being named a 7-time Pro Bowler, and was named to the NFL First-Team All-Pro 4 times.
Career Statistics: 1,159 Tackles, 54 Interceptions, 6 TD
Redskins Honorable Mention: John Riggins, Running Back
8. Joe Namath, Quarterback, New York Jets (#25)
Broadway Joe takes the top spot as the best player in New York Jets’ history for delivering the only Super Bowl in franchise history. The man who was famous for “the guarantee.” Guaranteeing a victory over the Baltimore Colts has made Joe the most famous Jet. Since Joe left the Jets, the team has struggled to find a franchise quarterback who can take them to Super Bowl Greatness. The knock on Joe Namath is his numbers are similar to a lot of quarterbacks that the Jets have had in regards to turnovers. Throwing for 173 touchdowns to 220 interceptions. Regardless of stats and numbers, Namath delivering a Super Bowl to the Jets shouldn’t go unforgotten, and that is why he is the best Jet in franchise history.
Carrer Statistics: 27,663 Passing Yards, 173 TD, 220 INT, 65.5 Comp. %
Jets Honorable Mention: Darrelle Revis*, Cornerback
Make sure to comeback next week, when we release #24-20.