Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 11/30/12
Every year, we are reminded how the NFL has become a passing league and if you don't have a franchise quarterback, you don't have a chance. Well, there is always a slim chance, but in recent years it has been the same names in the same game.With the passing boom of the 21st Century NFL, it feels as if defensive players appear to be at a slight disadvantage with all of the pass-happy rule changes. Could you picture guys like Dick "Night Train" Lane, or Ronnie Lott playing in today's NFL? They wouldn't stand a chance with the rule changes.It is a different game now than it used to be, and it will keep evolving as new research and data becomes available. It is a game where 5,000 yards passing in a season is possible. Not only is 5,000 yards now an attainable number, but multiple quarterbacks are hitting the once unreachable 5,000 yards.5,000 yards passing in perspectiveIt wasn't until a young quarterback from the University of Pittsburgh, Dan Marino, entered the league and then in his second season, the NFL had it's first ever 5,000 yard passing season. 5,084 yards to be exact. It was a feat that had never been accomplished before. Marino did it in his second season in the NFL in 1984. The closest he would come to 5,000 yards again would be 4,746 in 1986.Many great quarterbacks played this game before, during and after Marino and none of them were able to touch his record until Drew Brees challenged it during the 2008 season, finishing with 5,069 yards. 15 short of tying Marino's record.There wouldn't be another 5,000 yard passer until this past season, and then there were three. Matthew Stafford finished with 5,038 yards, Tom Brady 5,235 (151 yards more than Marino) and the new record-holder Drew Brees. Brees threw for a staggering 5,476 yards, shattering Marino's mark by 392 yards.This season, there are currently six quarterbacks that have a legitimate chance at hitting the once sacred 5,000 plateau. Which ones will actually show up during the remaining five games and challenge the mark.Coming up shortJoe Montana, maybe the greatest comeback guy ever and four-time Super Bowl champion could only manage a career-high of 3,944 yards in 1990. And he had Jerry Rice and John Taylor to throw to.Kurt Warner led the "Greatest Show on Turf" in St. Louis and he could only mange 4,830 yards in 2001, throwing to Torry Holt, Marshall Faulk and Isaac Bruce.Warren Moon came close two times in his career. In 1990, Moon threw for 4,689 yards and the following year he did one-yard better with 4,690 yards.Dan Fouts took the San Diego "Super" Chargers up and down the field in 1981 to the tune of 4,802 yards.Johnny Unitas played in even an earlier era than the other four guys above. His best single-season mark was 3,481 yards.
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