The 10 best quarterbacks in the history of Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons have had two of the best quarterbacks in NFL history.
Green Bay Packers v Atlanta Falcons
Green Bay Packers v Atlanta Falcons / Tom Hauck/GettyImages

The importance of a quarterback cannot be understated. If you have watched the Atlanta Falcons, then you know that. Team success is commonly linked to how your quarterback performs, especially nowadays.

The Dirty Birds have a top-heavy list of the best passers in franchise history. It isn't hard to guess who is at the top, but past that, it becomes rough. This franchise has not had many great quarterbacks in its history, which means you are going to see names you wouldn't usually associate with a list like this.

One major issue the Falcons have had during their history is finding a long-term starter at the position. For example, three QBs with under 10 wins sit in the team's top-10 in wins. We are coming off of an era that saw that trend break, and now we are hopefully entering another consistent era with the likes of Kirk Cousins and Michael Penix Jr.

Criteria for selection

When creating this ranking, I first looked at the two main quarterback stats: passing yards and touchdowns. Getting the ball down the field and into the endzone is the goal of a quarterback.

Another goal of a QB is to get a win every week. Win-loss record has been a struggle for this franchise, so having a winning record was a big factor.

Beyond that, completion percentage and touchdown-to-interception ratio contributed. You can throw for all the yards you want, but if you cannot keep the ball in the offense's hands, you won't succeed.

The playoffs have often eluded this franchise, so there is a lack of players who have led this team to the postseason. However, those who did are going to dominate this list. The same can be said for how they performed in critical moments and their ability to stay on the field.

The top 10 quarterbacks in Atlanta Falcons history

10. Chris Redman

Originally signed after the Falcons traded Matt Schaub, Chris Redman fought his way up the depth chart during the Bobby Petrino era.

While he had a couple of rough games (including one in which he registered a zero passer rating), he scored touchdowns and orchestrated comebacks in limited starts. In his first action, he passed for nearly 200 yards and two TDs in the fourth quarter during a comeback win. He then went on to have two more two-touchdown and one four-touchdown performances.

9. Dave Archer

A name you likely recognize, Dave Archer was drafted by the Denver Gold in the USFL Draft but chose to sign a contract with the Atlanta Falcons instead.

Starting 38 games in the mid-'80s, Archer completed 331 passes for 18 touchdowns. He led his team to four fourth-quarter comebacks, two game-winning drives, and nine wins.

Many fans may recognize his voice rather than his name. He has spent the past two decades as the team's radio color analyst.

8. Bob Berry

Drafted in the mid-'60s, Berry played his first games with the Minnesota Vikings before joining the Falcons in 1968.

As the first Pro Bowl QB in team history, Berry is currently sixth in games started for the franchise at the position with 50. He won 19 games with three ties, completed 598 passes for 8,489 yards and 57 touchdowns, rushed for four touchdowns, and engineered four fourth-quarter comebacks and five game-winning drives.

Throw in a 5.4 touchdown percentage and you have the eighth best quarterback in Atlanta's history.

7. Bobby Hebert

After stints as an all-time USFL great and with the dreaded New Orleans Saints, Bobby Hebert switched to the good side in 1993 and immediately made a Pro Bowl.

However, his time starting was halted for a couple of years due to Jeff George's arrival. He would make 13 more starts in 1996 before retiring with seven wins and 637 completions for 7,053 yards and 50 touchdowns in Atlanta.

6. Jeff George

Speak of the devil. Jeff George was traded from the Indianapolis Colts to the Falcons following the 1993 season. He was a promising quarterback who ended a short playoff drought for the city of Atlanta.

In the 1995 playoff season, the 1990 first overall pick led his team to a 9-7 record, which was good enough to make the playoffs and face the Packers in the Wild Card Round. George put up a good fight, completing 30 passes for 366 yards and two touchdowns. However, the soon-to-be-named Dirty Birds would fall by a score of 37-20. While it may have been a loss, making the playoffs was a huge accomplishment for this franchise.

Things got heated between him, June Jones, and the team's management, and it ultimately led to him moving on to the Oakland Raiders after three seasons. George won 16 games, throwing for 8,575 yards and 50 touchdowns.

5. Chris Miller

As the 13th overall pick out of Oregon in 1987, Chris Miller came to the Atlanta Falcons with high hopes. Considering what the franchise had been through, Miller did a good job.

His most notable season came in 1991 when he led the Falcons to nine of their 10 wins and went up against the Saints in the Wild Card Round. Miller came up clutch by tossing a 61-yard game-winning touchdown to Michael Haynes with under three minutes left. He finished the contest completing 18 of his 30 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns. His team would, unfortunately, go on to lose to the eventual Super Bowl champions from Washington.

The only quarterback in Falcons history to beat the Saints in the playoffs ended his tenure with 23 wins and 1,129 completions for 14,066 yards and 87 touchdowns. He also led eight fourth-quarter comebacks and 11 game-winning drives.

We do have to overlook the fact that he was the starter over Brett Favre, who was quickly traded.

4. Chris Chandler

Chris Chandler had a lengthy 18-year career playing for seven different cities, but, by far, his best years came with the Atlanta Falcons.

His first season in Atlanta was in 1997 when he was 32 years old. He led his team to seven wins by completing 202 passes for 2,692 yards and 20 touchdowns and became the fifth Falcons QB to make a Pro Bowl.

However, his most memorable season came in 1998 when he and Dan Reeves led the franchise to its first-ever Super Bowl appearance. The team had a historic 13-3 record thanks to its QB completing 190 passes for 3,154 yards and 25 touchdowns, which helped him make his second Pro Bowl. His performance against the vaunted Vikings in the NFC Championship Game was key to that season as he threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns.

The veteran passer won 34 games in Atlanta, completing 981 passes for 13,268 yards and 87 touchdowns over five seasons.

3. Steve Bartkowski

One of the four players the franchise has taken first overall, Steve Barkowski helped elevate many bad teams.

During an 11-year career in Atlanta, the former Cal Golden Bear did all he could to bring success to a fanbase that desperately wanted it. His first three seasons included only eight wins and 15 losses, but then the success trended upwards.

Bartkowski had his first 2,000-yard seasons in 1978 and started a four-year streak of breaking that threshold. He helped lead his team to its first-ever playoff game in 1978, which came against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles led 13-0 late in the fourth quarter, but Bartkowski willed his team to 14 unanswered points and the franchise's first postseason win. Unfortunately, it would lose to an overpowering Dallas Cowboys team in the Divisional Round.

'Peachtree Bart' was the first good quarterback the Atlanta Falcons ever had. He was the first to make back-to-back Pro Bowls, played in four postseason games, had two 30+ TD seasons, and led 18 fourth-quarter comebacks and 20 game-winning drives.

He won 55 games and completed 1,871 passes for 23,470 yards and 154 touchdowns in 11 seasons.

2. Michael Vick

As one of the most influential athletes in the history of sports, Michael Vick changed how the game of football was played. No one was more feared than the elusive quarterback during his time.

There is so much you can say about this dynamic athlete. He brought excitement to the city of Atlanta, made the Falcons must-watch TV, and, arguably, changed the sport more than anyone.

The most memorable moment in his career came in 2003 when he went to Lambeau Field and became the first visiting quarterback to win a postseason game. The historic field will always have Vick's name etched in its history.

In six seasons with the Falcons, Vick won 10 more games than he lost, nearly completed 1,000 passes, and had over 11,505 passing yards and 71 passing touchdowns. However, the real difference-makers were the 3,859 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns he compiled.

While his tenure did not end how anyone would have liked, you cannot deny the game-changing ability Michael Vick brought to the NFL. No team attracted viewers like Vick's Falcons did in the early 2000s.

1. Matt Ryan

The choice is easy. Matt Ryan is the greatest quarterback to ever wear an Atlanta Falcons jersey. And, quite frankly, he is the most underappreciated player in the history of the NFL.

As the third overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, Matt Ryan was expected to be the savior of the Falcons franchise, and that he was. Immediately he brought success to a city that was recovering from a bad few years, leading them to an 11-5 record as a rookie. In fact, the success started with his first NFL pass when he threw a long TD to Michael Jenkins.

The two most memorable seasons in his illustrious career came in 2012 and 2016. In 2012, Ryan and the Falcons were unstoppable, gathering 13 wins to just three losses. They reached the NFC Championship thanks to their Pro Bowl quarterback and were, unfortunately, robbed of a Super Bowl berth after a missed pass interference call on the 49ers.

In 2016, things were downright special.

Ryan lit up opposing defenses and the stat sheet on his way to becoming the MVP of the NFL. His offense tied for the eighth-most points scored in league history and propelled Atlanta to convincing playoff wins against the Seahawks and Packers. Ryan's precision and efficiency continued in the Super Bowl, but he, as we all so painfully know, was robbed of a ring thanks to a gassed defense and terrible situational play-calling.

As a four-time Pro Bowler (should have been more), Matt Ryan is the first face on the Falcons' Mount Rushmore. He was a model of consistency and leadership. He missed just three starts in his 14 years in Atlanta.

He also currently sits in the top 10 all-time in many different QB statistics, which should make him a first-ballot Hall of Famer when his time comes.

The 10 best quarterbacks in Atlanta Falcons history by wins



Years w/ Team



Matt Ryan




Steve Bartkowski




Michael Vick




Chris Chandler




Chris Miller




Bob Berry




Jeff George




Bob Lee




Dave Archer




Randy Johnson