While total touchdowns can’t ever tell the entire story about an NFL quarterback, it stands to reason that one of the best ways to tell a quality signal-calling career is by looking at the number of points that a player has been directly responsible for. It’s that number, rather than the number of yards thrown or the net effectiveness of each pass, that comes closest to the primal worth of a player that fans of the game know as well as anyone knows anything — the reason people buy jerseys, tickets, bumperstickers, and all sorts of cultural ephemera in order to support the guys who make the teams worth rooting for.
Points on the board matter, and the quarterback is the guy in charge of the team’s efforts to make each drive wind up with an impact on the final outcome of the game. It’s possible to posit that this is one of the reasons why, despite the fact that football is a team game which can be lost by almost any of the forty-six players that will see the field on any given night, the quarterback is still showered with the lion’s share of the credit, or the blame, that comes after the clock has expired.
The other best thing about this sort of measurement is that it’s endlessly close and contested in a way that really visibly matters. While the more effective ways of measuring QB efficiency and ability are just that — more effective and (probably) more accurate — you’d be hard pressed to really know the difference between, say, 8.71 ANY/A and 8.31 ANY/A (that’d be average net yards over average). But the difference between 300 and 400 passing touchdowns? That’s something that’s so tangible you can visualize it in your mind’s eye. So, without further delay, here are the five most score-friendly quarterbacks in NFL history, as well as why there’s so much chance for upheaval when the season actually starts next week. All data courtesy of Pro Football Reference.