AJ McCarron trying to change Alabama's poor NFL QB track record
Former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron ended a dubious streak for Crimson Tide quarterbacks when he started an NFL game last Sunday for the Cincinnati Bengals and won, beating San Francisco 24-14.
It had been more than 28 years since an Alabama QB had started and won a game in the NFL. Considering that the Crimson Tide have won four national championships since then and are widely considered to be the most talent-laden program in the country, that’s one shocking statistic.
The last win came from Jeff Rutledge. He won in Week 9 of the 1987 season, a 20-17 victory by Rutledge’s New York Giants over the Philadelphia Eagles. Rutledge, who started for the injured Hall of Famer Phil Simms, passed for 298 yards that day. He would start two more games in his career, but both were losses.
And a dubious streak began.
Last Alabama QB to win an NFL game before McCarron today? This guy against the Eagles in 1987 pic.twitter.com/JuD3vJkZVx
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) December 21, 2015
Rutledge was quick to point out how much talent has been at Alabama through all these years, to be able to win at a high clip without stud NFL-quality quarterbacks.
Rutledge, who quarterbacked Alabama to the 1978 national championship, is currently a high school football coach in Chandler, Ariz.
— Jeff Rutledge (@JeffRutledge11) December 15, 2015
Since Rutledge’s win, the only QBs drafted out of Alabama were Mike Shula, Jay Barker, Brodie Croyle and Greg McElroy. Shula and Barker never played a down in the NFL, although Shula is doing quite well winning games these days as the offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers, who are 14-1.
Croyle quarterbacked some bad Kansas City Chiefs teams from 2006 to 2010 and he lost all 10 of his starts. He’s on a list no one wants to be on – the worst starting QB for every NFL franchise.
Poor Brodie Croyle started 10 games in the NFL and lost them all. https://t.co/N4qvEWvRtN
— Christian Schneider (@Schneider_CM) December 21, 2015
How bad does it sound that Croyle has started 10 NFL games and never won one? Well, it’s really bad. No NFL quarterback in history has ever started that many games and not won.
But much like McCarron ended one bad streak for Croyle and his fellow alums, he’s looking to get off that worst-ever list too. Former LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, now playing for the Tennessee Titans after starter Marcus Mariota was injured, is 0-9 all-time as a starter. He can tie Croyle if he loses the final game of the season Sunday at Indianapolis.
— Weston Demonbreun (@OnDemonbreunSt) December 28, 2015
McElroy got thrown into the fire with the New York Jets in 2012 and lost his only start as well. His loss took Alabama QBs to 0-13 since the Rutledge win. McElroy retired in 2014 and now works for the SEC Network, among other things.
McCarron has ended those three decades of losing and he’ll like get a few more starts for the Bengals as starter Andy Dalton recovers from a broken thumb.
People shouldn’t be too surprised that McCarron knows how to win. After all, McCarron finished his time in Tuscaloosa with a record of 36-4 as a starter and led his teams to back-to-back national championships in 2011 and 2012.
“He represented himself well,” Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said after last week’s win by McCarron. “He represented the coaching staff well and he represented the offense well. He didn’t have to go win the game, but I didn’t think he would do anything to put us in a position to lose the game.
“That’s important, and some people might want to call it a ‘game manager.’ People can call it what they want. I don’t care. He did what we asked him to do within the nature of our offense to help us win.”