Ranking the 5 Best Quarterbacks in Kansas City Chiefs Historyby Liz Pendergraft June 30, 2020 1 comment
From the moment Lamar Hunt moved the Dallas Texans to Kansas City and rechristened them as the Chiefs, the franchise’s history with quarterbacks has been a strange dance. Many have not lived up to expectations, while others were good but had to endure not having a great team supporting them. For some quarterbacks, Kansas City tended to be one of the last stops in their NFL careers.
With fans everywhere wondering how the 2020-21 season might work out, it might be a good time to look at the quarterbacks who’ve been at the helm through good time and bad.
5. Bill Kenney (1980-1988)
Bill Kenney deserves to be mentioned, and not just because of his playing ability. He was able to perform well despite being on underperforming teams. The 1980s weren’t kind to the Chiefs but despite the problems, Kenney was able to still put up numbers.
In 1983, he was selected to the Pro Bowl despite his team being 6-10 that season. A few years later, he took the 10-6 Chiefs to the playoffs, only to lose 35-15 to the New York Jets in the Wild Card round. During his tenure as quarterback for the Chiefs, the team only had two seasons over .500.
Kenney has played the second-most games in franchise history and his 105 touchdowns make him third overall for the franchise. He has a 54.7 percent completion rate for 17,277 yards, making him fourth overall for most yards.
4. Joe Montana (1993-1994)
Despite only playing two seasons for the Chiefs before retiring, Joe Montana took the Chiefs to the playoffs both years he was under center. He was one of those quarterbacks brought to Kansas City after playing for another team, with the hope of getting them to the Super Bowl. Montana almost got them there in 1993, but they suffered a heartbreaking loss in the AFC Championship to the Buffalo Bills, 30-13.
His stats with the Chiefs don’t compare well to others on this list, but only because he was there for two seasons. In 25 games with the team, Montana had a completion rate of 60.7 percent for 5,427 yards and 29 touchdowns.
3. Alex Smith (2013-2017)
Alex Smith was acquired from the San Francisco 49ers in 2013, arriving at a time when Kansas City was coming off a 2-14 losing season in 2012. His arrival also coincided with the arrival of Andy Reid as head coach. Though not the best quarterback statistically, fans remember him for his hard work, dedication, and wins.
The Chiefs made the playoffs four seasons out of the five he was under center, which included their first back-to-back division titles in franchise history. He brought stability to the quarterback position, which had been lacking for many years. Combined with Reid’s coaching, he helped to lay the groundwork for a franchise rebuild.
In his 76 games with the Chiefs, Smith had a 65.1 percent completion rate, 17,608 yards, and 102 touchdowns. The success he achieved with the Chiefs makes him third in yards and fourth for touchdowns in franchise history.
2. Patrick Mahomes (2017-Present)
When the Chiefs drafted Patrick Mahomes out of Texas Tech, no one believed that he would be what he’s become. Many, including fans, weren’t sold on his ability and how he’d fit in as a Chief. Sitting out his first year as a backup to Alex Smith was a smart move, helping to develop the talent he has.
Mahomes led the Chiefs to the AFC Championship in 2018, but they lost to the New England Patriots in overtime. In 2019, despite the knee injury he faced during the season, Mahomes was able to come back and lead the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl win since 1969. They defeated the San Fransico 49ers after a fourth-quarter comeback, and Mahomes was named Super Bowl MVP.
Despite only have 31 games under his belt as the starting quarterback, we know at the end of his career, Mahomes will be the top Chiefs quarterback to have ever led the team. He’s been to the Pro Bowl twice as a starter, and he’s the first player in Chiefs history to throw for more than 300 yards in eight consecutive games. He currently has a 65.9 percent completion rate for 9,412 yards and 76 touchdowns.
1. Len Dawson (1962-1975)
Before the Chiefs, Len Dawson played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns, and his stats with those teams were not impressive. However, it wasn’t until he arrived with the Dallas Texans that something clicked. It seemed that the third team was the charm. Once they moved to Kansas City, Dawson became one of the Chiefs’ most revered players.
He was able to get the Chiefs into two Super Bowl appearances, with a 23-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV in which he was named MVP. The 1971 season would not only be the last time the Chiefs made the playoffs with Dawson under center but also the last time the team was involved in a playoff run until 1986.
Dawson’s career with the Chiefs has yet to be dimmed by time or by any other quarterback coming close to his stats. Not only was he selected to the Pro Bowl seven times but he has also played a record 183 games for the Chiefs. In addition to those honors, he holds the franchise record of 28,507 yards and 237 touchdowns with a 57.2 percent completion rate.