- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Quinn Gray didn’t make much of a mark, but Football Outsiders has embarked on a project ranking the top five quarterbacks of each franchise. And in this piece, they had no choice but to include him. He’ll quickly sink a spot once Blaine Gabbert does anything, but Gray would still be fifth.
More interesting is Mike Tanier’s list for an older franchise, the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, though it’s thin at the bottom too.
The most interesting thing in their piece, though, pertains to punting and was educational for me, though I do vaguely remember the Danny White element.
"[Dan] Pastorini punted full-time until 1976. Punting quarterbacks took a long time to go totally extinct. Danny White was still doing both jobs in the early 1980s, Randall Cunningham punted eight times for the Vikings in 1997, and Tom Tupa started 13 games for the Cardinals from 1989-91 and still took preseason snaps at quarterback for Bill Parcells' Jets. By Pastorini's time, it was becoming uncommon, and most teams employed either a full-time punter, a kicker-punter (already becoming rare), or a guy like Bob Parsons who was listed at tight end but made a career of punting. It is fascinating how long it took full-scale specialization to catch on, though, especially in 1970s football, when field position mattered so much. Punting was an incredibly important part of a quarterback's job in early football, and teams had no problem expecting a starting or backup quarterback to punt, even in a very modern era. (Blanda, or course, was expected to back up Ken Stabler while kicking, even when he was 45.)"
Just three decade later in a highly specialized league, it’s impossible to imagine a quarterback doing any sort of regular punting. I would love to see who's best at it out of Peyton Manning, Matt Schaub, David Garrard, Blaine Gabbert and Jake Locker.