The underappreciated Don Meredith

When people think of Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks, Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman are understandably the first two to come to mind.  I have always felt that Danny White has gotten kind of a raw deal because he was a great quarterback but the teams of his era never did quite make it to the Super Bowl.

But in most people’s minds (or at least in mine) those three are pretty much it when you think of the Cowboys’ quarterbacks.  You’ve got your Mortons, your Pelleuers, your Hogebooms, your Carters, your Bledsoes, and Romo shows some promise.

Despite being a die-hard Cowboys fan since the early 70s, I’ve never paid much attention to Don Meredith.  When I first started following the team it was at the time of the Craig Morton vs. Roger Staubach quarterback controversy.  Don Meredith was just a guy on Monday Night Football.  I was aware that he had played for the Cowboys but always figured he was just some guy, nothing special.

First I read a history of the Cowboys early days (I can’t remember the title now) that talked about how good those late 60s teams were and what a shocker it was when Meredith retired.  That was a bit of an eye opener for me.  Then another one came along today.  Over at Football Outsiders they have an analysis of the quarterback rating system.  Turns out that the way it was designed it has caps on the number of points you can earn in the various categories and that many individual game performances are artificially brought down by these totals.

The article includes tables of the top single games under the existing system, the top single games under the existing system with the point caps removed, and then with a modified system that the writer thinks is a better way to rate overall quarterback performance.  Under the existing system there are no performances b y any Cowboys quarterback.  Under the latter two categories there is only one quarterback.  Not Staubach, not Aikman, not even Danny White: Don Meredith.

Meredith has two of the top 20 single game performances in the ‘uncapped current system’ table, and he has 2 of the top 7 single game performances in their new ‘adjusted yards per attempt’ system.  He must have been a lot better quarterback than I had realized (and having Bob Hayes on your team is going to be a big boost for your yards per attempt).

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5 Responses to The underappreciated Don Meredith

  1. MIKE says:

    wonder what he thinks of the Cowboys today?

  2. MVP says:

    Dandy Don and Bob Hayes changed football forever…Bullet Bob split two Giant defenders with them having the angle on him and then caught a “Bomb” from Meredith at the 15 yard line and waltzed into the end zone while the two Giant defenders collided with one another and fell to the turf in a heap. That was when the word “Bomb” started being used!! It was Meredith to Hayes! He was awesome!

  3. joe says:

    He would leave the field after, by today’s standards, a tremendously brutal game with injuries ranging from a torn eyelash to a splattered nose to a punctured lung and any number of other pulls, sprains, breaks and concussions and still have a smile on his face and nothing but good things to say about his teammates and coaches. He was the consummate leader, a person who people believed in on and off the field. When he spoke his teammates listened, when he picked himself up off the ground his teammates rallied, and when retired his teammates cried. He had the size and arm strength that would have allowed him to play today. He had the heart that would have allowed him to win today.

  4. Mike W. says:

    Growing up and watching Don Meredith lead the cowboys to 4 straight playoff seasons despite his injuries was truly a remarkable experience. Dandy Don pioneered Landry’s 2 minute warning offense as well as the roll out a play that few of today’s quarterbacks would have the ability or courage to execute. Some people give Bob Hayes a lot of credit for Don’s career, but it was Dandy Don who delivered the ball there and at a time where there were a lot of long ball throwers with lousy percentage ratings, Meredith delivered time and time again. Remember against Green Bay in 1966 when Hayes was completely covered by the Packer secondary Dandy Don got off a 52 yarder for a TD to tight end veteran Frank Clarke. Meredith was both a mobile quarterback as well as great thrower. He holds the 4th all time passing yardage in a single game in NFL history (463 yards).
    The boob birds were both cruel and unappreciative of his great contribution to the Dallas Cowboys organization.

  5. Fred Goodwin says:

    Sorry I’m coming to this thread late, but I just found it. I’m an “old-school” Cowboy fan, so I want to second all the Meredith accolades.

    I also wanted to make one comment about Meredith’s four “playoff” seasons (’65-’68). It’s true that Dandy Don led the Cowboys to a 7-7 record and a second place finish in the NFL’s Eastern Conference in 1965, earning the Cowboys a spot in the “Playoff Bowl” in Miami in January, 1966. Yes, its also true that was the Cowboys first-ever “post-season” appearance. But the Playoff Bowl (despite its name) did not count as a playoff game.

    Playoff Bowl stats and appearances are not counted as post-season stats or appearances by the Cowboys or the NFL. The Cowboys appeared in the Playoff Bowl twice more: after the ’68 and ’69 seasons (after consecutive losses to the Browns for the Eastern Conference title). The NFL considers those games “exhibitions”.

    My comments aren’t intended to diminish in any way what the Cowboys accomplished in 1965. I just wanted to clarify Mike’s point.

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