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How the Cowboys rank in terms of quarterback play in the Super Bowl era

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As you might expect, the Cowboys have had some of the best QB play.

NFL: OCT 27 Redskins at Cowboys

ESPN recently took a shot at ranking the quarterback play of all 32 NFL teams in the Super Bowl era. Obviously this has somewhat of a subjective flavor to it, but they did try to use some mathematical formulation to get there. They used three overarching categories. One was overall performance, which was the summation of the AV value of the quarterbacks fort he team in the Super Bowl era. They also used peak performance which rewarded stretches of elite play calculated by the number of Pro Bowl caliber seasons measured by AV. Finally, they used continuity which is just the number of quarterbacks used as starters by the team.

As you might guess, the Dallas Cowboys should rank pretty high on this list. They have two Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman. They have some really good quarterbacks for long stretches with Tony Romo and Danny White. Plus their current quarterback, Dak Prescott, is racking up some healthy AV numbers in his four seasons. Early in the Super Bowl era they had Don Meredith and Craig Morton. Given those names, you would expect the Cowboys to be near the top, and they are.

3. Dallas Cowboys

Roger Staubach is second only to Tom Brady in winning percentage in the Super Bowl era.

Best QB: Roger Staubach. Dallas has a handful of star quarterbacks to choose from, namely the trio of Staubach, Troy Aikman and Tony Romo. Romo didn’t do enough in the postseason to be considered the best Cowboys quarterback, and Staubach edges out Aikman on our list. Staubach, who played for the Cowboys from 1969-79, had the highest passer rating and best Approximate Value of any QB in the 1970s, and only Fran Tarkenton had more touchdown passes over that span. Aikman didn’t rank in the top three in any of those categories in the 1990s, and he never threw more than 23 touchdown passes in a season. Staubach actually had more touchdown passes in each of his last two seasons (25 in 1978, 27 in 1979), when he was in his mid-to-late 30s. Another feather in Staubach’s cap: He has the second-best win percentage (.746) of any QB in the Super Bowl era, behind Tom Brady (.774).

Of course, the Cowboys have also had their share of duds. The stretch between Aikman and Romo is the prime example, but the experiments with other starters during Danny White’s final seasons, and the disastrous 2015 season, also produced some low-quality starters for the Cowboys.

Worst QB: Quincy Carter. Carter was drafted 53rd overall in 2001, less than two weeks after Aikman retired. He started Week 1 as a rookie and 31 games over three seasons before he was cut just before the 2004 season because of a failed drug test. He finished his Cowboys tenure with more interceptions (36) than touchdown passes (29) while completing just 56.2% of his passes.

The Cowboys ranked second in Overall QB Production thanks to a string of quality QBs that started with Meredith and continues with Prescott. They also ranked first in Pro Bowl-caliber seasons, owing to the extraordinary long stretches of quality play from Staubach, Aikman and Romo, plus what Prescott is doing currently. They only ranked 13th in continuity, done in by that stretch between Aikman and Romo, plus all the mess in White’s final seasons, the 2015 season, and injuries that had guys like Babe Laufenberg, Wade Wilson, and Jason Garrett getting starts.

Here are the guys who make up the Cowboys top-ranked Pro Bowl-caliber seasons.

Did you know? The Cowboys have the most Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback seasons (24) by any franchise in the Super Bowl era. The group? Staubach (8), Romo (4), Dak Prescott (4), Aikman (3), Danny White (3) and Don Meredith (2). Their peak performance helped top the Colts and 49ers in the rankings.

The Cowboys were ranked behind the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers on the list. Of course Tom Brady dominates the Patriots ranking, with Drew Bledsoe adding a solid second and Steve Grogan helping out. But it’s Brady’s longevity and excellence that carries the day. The Packers have the trio of Bart Starr, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. They managed to get the Packers past the Cowboys in these rankings.

As for our NFC East friends, New York ranks ninth, Philadelphia ranks 13th, and Washington ranks 17th.