The Steelers have had two of the more versatile offensive weapons in the NFL over the past two decades in Kordell Stewart and Antwaan Randle El. Slash players. Guys that can be utilized in different roles and be called on to pull out the gadget plays. It’s debatable as to how much of an impact that has on winning or losing football games, but it’s certainly entertaining to watch. Hell, Stewart’s peak in popularity was during his years as “slash.”
Randle El’s success as a passer on trick plays is well documented, and we were able to see it a couple of times during the 2010 season, but he’s not the only non-quarterback that’s been called on to throw passes for the Steelers over the years with surprising levels of success. Here’s a quick rundown of the best non-quarterback passers in Steelers history (What’s that? No. I wouldn’t say we’re running out of things to talk about) …
1) Antwaan Randle El: 22-for-27, 323 yards, 6 touchdowns, 0 interceptions
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Randle El has had some level of success throwing the football. He was, after all, a reasonably successful quarterback during his college days at Indiana and only made the shift to wide receiver once he was picked by the Steelers in the second round of the 2002 draft. From day one we knew the possibilities and instantly looked back at the Kordell Stewart “slash” days to get some sort of idea as to what to expect.
During his NFL career he’s been the most efficient — and dominant — non-quarterback passer in the NFL history. How dominant? Consider this: Of the non-quarterbacks that have attempted at least 10 passes in NFL history, Randle El’s passer rating of 156.1 is by far the best mark. Here’s a look at the top-10:
- Antwaan Randle El (27 attempts): 156.1
- Ladanian Tomlinson (12 attempts): 141.1
- Tom Moore (19 attempts): 128.8
- Gene Foster (19 attempts): 120.0
- Dave Smith (12 attempts): 119.1
- Marty Booker (10 attempts): 118.7
- Donny Anderson (13 attempts): 115.7
- Mike Montgomery (10 attempts): 115.0
- Jim Brown (12 attempts): 110.1
- Keith Lincoln (17 attempts): 108.5
Randle El is pretty much on a level by himself. Looking at the counting stats he’s 11th in passing yards and fourth in touchdowns, while he’s still yet to throw an interception, which is also impressive given the number of attempts he’s had. Of the 67 non-quarterbacks in NFL history to throw at least 10 passes, Randle El is one of only 16 to never throw an interception, and the only one with at least 20 passes to never throw an interception.
2) Dick Hoak: 20-for-40, 427 yards, 4 touchdowns, 3 interceptions
One of the things I loved about digging through the old Frank Gifford 1968 Football annual a couple of months ago was the fact that Dick Hoak’s fullback option pass wasn’t just an occasional trick play, it was a regular part of the Steelers offense in the 1960′s. Hoak attempted 40 passes for his career, with 30 of them coming between 1966 and 1968. His four touchdown passes were from 13, 20, 27 and 42 yards out. He’s fifth on the all-time list for passing yards by non-quarterbacks.
3) Tom Tracy: 24-for-67, 854 yards, 6 touchdown 5 interception
No non-quarterback has thrown for more yards in NFL history than Tom Tracy. Of course, he’s also third on that list in terms of attempts with 67, and if you thought fullback option passes were a regular part of the offense in the late 60′s with Dick Hoak, it was an even bigger part of the offense in the late 50′s and early 60′s with Tracy. In each of the four seasons from 1958 to 1961 Tracy attempted at least 12 passes, including a career-high 22 during the 1960 season. He completed nine of them, with four going for touchdowns and only one interception. Outside of the ’60 season, however, he wasn’t all that productive in terms of accuracy or scoring, despite throwing a ton of passes for a lot of yards.