Big Ben's rookie year was 2004. O'Donnell took the Steelers to a Super Bowl in 1995. He's about as relevant to Big Ben's rookie year as Chris Chandler is to Ryan's. It was Kordell that had taken the Steelers within a game of the Super Bowl in 2001.
LOL, sorry about that - old timers like me should always look stuff up before posting
I was actually thinking of Tommy Maddox leading the Steelers to a 10-5-1 record in 2002.
Yes, they dipped down to 6-10 in 2003 but that was an outlier for the Cowher era. There
is no doubt they were a solid franchise loaded with talent and well coached when Ben arrived.
It's a bit harder to make that case about the Falcons team Ryan took over
So once you look beyond the surface, Marino had the better year, at least statistically.
From memory, I actually would have thought Marino was easily superior to Ryan statistically.
The argument in Ryan's favor is not particularly his statistics - it's that he has put up solid numbers
and had a huge impact on a really crappy team, dramatically improving his team's winning percentage.
Marino literally joined a Super Bowl team, under a Hall of Fame coach.
For old time NBA fans, you might compare Ryan's impact this year on the Falcons to when
Larry Bird joined the Celtics and turned them from a 50 loss team to a 50 win team as a rookie.
Other NFL QBs have helped turn teams around (Brees in NO) but not as rookies, and apparently
never as a rookie who started in week one.
Here's Mark Bradley's article where he makes the case that Ryan may be the best rookie QB ever.
(I'm not quite sure I'm ready to say he is, but it's a pretty decent argument)
http://www.ajc.com/services/content/pri ... adley.html
Tom Brady threw three passes his rookie season; Brett Favre threw four. Bart Starr and Joe Montana each started one game as rookies. Troy Aikman had to be benched midway through, having gone 0-11 as a starter. Peyton Manning threw 28 interceptions his first season. John Elway completed 47.5 percent of his rookie passes, Terry Bradshaw 38.1 percent.
Joe Namath was 3-5-1 as a lavishly salaried —- he was making $400,000 —- rookie. Fran Tarkenton was 2-8 as a first-year starter; Johnny Unitas was 4-3, Bob Griese 3-7. Ben Roethlisberger was 13-0 as a rookie quarterback on a loaded Pittsburgh team but didn’t start until Week 3. Sammy Baugh made All-Pro as a rookie but threw six more interceptions than touchdown passes. Bob Waterfield was league MVP as a rookie but started only four games. (Doubtless he got bonus points for being married to Jane Russell.)
Dan Marino is considered the gold standard of rookie quarterbacks, but his first start only came in Week 6, and he joined a team that had reached the Super Bowl the previous season.