Since it is the off-season for the NFL, the “experts,” and bloggers like myself are coming up with items like lists, and power rankings. Even former NFL players who one would think would know something about the game make somewhat questionable statements, like former Giant receiver Amani Toomer did when he said that Dallas QB Tony Romo is a better quarterback than Giants QB Eli Manning.
I am guessing Mr.Toomer wants to be like former Giants teammate, the disgruntled RB Tiki Barber, and make controversial statements just to hear himself talk. Then again, I don’t remember Toomer getting a Super Bowl ring being on the same team as Tony Romo. I thought it was Eli Manning who led that magnificent 4th Quarter comeback in Super Bowl 42, and threw the winning touch down to Plaxico Burress. That team was the Giants, which Toomer was on, not the Cowboys. It is not nice to bit the hand that feeds you, Mr. Toomer.
In speaking of quarterbacks, and rankings and such, ESPN’s Ron Jaworski, or “Jaws,” as he is call, has been doing his “Top 30 QB Rankings.” He picked 30 QBs in the NFL, and ranked according to skill, talent, past performance, and how they perform, and future performance, etc. I don’t agree with some of his slotting, let’s say that. On NFL Network, they showed their “100 Top Players 2012,” as voted by the players. I realize other positions were involved, but some QBs were slotted in some odd positions, and I will leave it at that as that could be a blog in, and of itself.
What I will be doing in this blog is that I will mention the ranking number, the name of QB, the team, and a line or two about why I ranked the QB the way I did. I hope that sounds easy enough.
Ready for yet, ANOTHER list to fight over? Here we go:
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: The reason should be obvious, as Luck is a rookie. He was great at Stanford, but he is going to be playing in the pros.
Robert Griffith III, Washington Redskins: Griffith is in the same category as Luck.
My Top 30 NFL Quarterbacks Rankings are as follows:
30. Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars:
I understood he played for Jacksonville, and he was a rookie, but he was a total mess. I watched him on several occasions, and he looked like someone who didn’t know how to play football. He fumbled 14 times, which was the most in the league by a QB. He had the second worse completion percentage for a QB throwing 200 passes. This guy better get on the ball.
29. Tim Tebow, New York Jets:
If Tim Tebow’s biggest mark, ESPN First Take’s Skip Bayless reads this, I am sure he will have a cow, but I could care less. I nearly ranked Tebow last. Tebow just can not throw the football. He has terrible mechanics for the professional level. He got away with them in Florida, but this is the big time. He can’t read a defense to save his life. If things break down, he runs off. Anyway, he is now with the New York Jets. I don’t know what he is going to do in that circus, but perhaps he should sit, and learn from Sanchez. I do see him being used in some capacity, however. If he gets to play, and is patient, he can be a decent player.
28. Colt McCoy, Cleveland Browns: The Cleveland Browns QB was a mess. McCoy did not have all that much of a season, as the team had no offense. I mean, Josh Cribbs was really all they had. To beef up the QB position, the team drafted that 28 year old Brandon Weedon who will likely be the starter. I don’t think McCoy is going to be a top guy in the NFL anyway. He always seemed lost out on the field.
27. Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins:
Matt Moore was just passable in his play with the Dolphins. I didn’t see anything all that great with him when he took over for Chad Henne. The Dolphins brought in veteran QB David Garrad , formerly with the Jaguars, and drafted Ryan Tannehill in this year’s NFL Draft, so I don’t see how much of a future he has as a starter in the NFL.
26. Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs
Matt Cassel of the Kansas City Chiefs had a horrendous year. He had an awful year as a player, and wound up on the IR due to injury also. Honestly, I was never really sold on Cassel as a top level QB. He had the one good year in New England when Tom Brady got hurt, but that may have been due to the fact that he was handed the keys to the proverbial Mercedes, and was told not to wreck it. However, he did make a Pro Bowl, and the Chiefs did make the playoffs, so maybe last year was just a bad year. Just about all the heavy hitters on the Chiefs were on IR, so let’s see if Cassel can bounce back.
25. Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals:
Well, this is the guy who was supposed to replace McNabb when he was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2007, right? Well, from his play last year as starter for the Arizona Cardinals, I bet Eagle fans are kind of glad they are happy with Michael Vick. I know Kolb was out with concussions, and such, but when he got on the field, he was a mess. Even when he played for the Eagles as a starter, I didn’t see what was so great about him. He had a lot of fumbles, and was sacked quite a bit both in Arizona, and in Philadelphia. I hope that the coaches in Arizona work with him to eliminate that. I mean, he has one of the best wide receivers in the NFL on his team. He has to find some way to get that ball to Larry Fitzgerald.
24. Matt Flynn, Seattle Seahawks:
Yes, it is unusual to rank a QB who did play last year, but only played one game. I know that. However, Matt Flynn, who was then Green Bay Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers’ backup was sensational. The Packers had everything wrapped up, and rested Rodgers so they decided to let Flynn play against the Detroit Lions. Well, Flynn just beat the Lions like there was no tomorrow. Again, it was just one game, and it is going to be hard to tell if Flynn is gold, or “fool’s gold,” but I think Mike McCarthy, the Packers’ head coach had Flynn prepared, and Flynn should be capable to be a very good QB.
23. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams:
Sam Bradford had an injury filled season last year, mainly to his ankle. It looked like he had the “sophomore slump,” as his stats were down from his rookie year in 2010. I think that he is going to bounce back, as I think he is going to be an awesome QB. I liked him in Oklahoma, and I liked what I saw of him in his rookie year. I see a lot of potential for growth, and I think new head coach, Jeff Fisher will do a great job with him.
22. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
In 2010, Josh Freeman had a very productive year with the Buccaneers, leading them to a 10-6 record, and just missing the playoffs. However, last season, his production was off, and he didn’t show the promise he showed the previous year. He had mechanical issues, and his timing was off. I think with the new coach, Greg Schiano, he should be able to bounce back. I like Freeman as a QB. He has a strong arm, and is mobile, and physical, much like Steeler QB Ben Roethlisberger. I think Freeman can be a major player in this league.
21. Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders:
Well, after playing the “I’ll take my ball home.” game with Mike Brown, owner of the Cincinnati Bengals, Palmer got his way, and was traded to the Oakland Raiders, when their starting QB, Jason Campbell suffered a broken clavicle. Oakland, in my opinion, gave up too much, but as for Palmer, he showed flashes of the Palmer of old. I know Palmer has had some serious injuries, but I think he can still be an excellent QB.
20. Alex Smith, San Fransico 49ers:
Alex Smith is a bit of an enigma. After the 49ers drafted him in 2005, there was a lot of pressure on the guy. There were times, where Smith looked lost on the field. I was wondering if the guy knew how to play at one point. Smith went through several offensive coordinators also, which I don’t think helps a QB’s development. However, I think the light came on last year when new coach Jim Harbaugh came in, and he had not only Smith, but the whole team turned around. Smith became a smart, and very efficient passer, and showed a lot of promise of being a #1 overall pick in that 2005 draft. How he will do this year will be interesting. Harbaugh has to patch things up with Alex over the wooing of a one Peyton Manning, who Harbaugh said never happened. Sure, Coach Harbaugh.
19. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills:
Harvard graduate Ryan Fitzpatrick is a very interesting QB to me. There are times he shows he belongs with the top guys, but he also shows signs of ineptness. He is great in the beginning of the season, in particular, but as the season goes on, he gets worse. Last season, everyone from ESPN on down were putting the Bills in the Super Bowl because of their excellent start, and one of their wins was against the New England Patriots. A lot of it was due to Fitzpatrick, who got a 69 million dollar contract. I knew the Bills would crash and burn sooner or later, and they did. Well, now that the Bills have beefed up their defense, and worked on their offense, I am interested in seeing what Fitzpatrick does. He has potential, but potential only goes so far.
18. Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee Titans:
After a few injury filled seasons in his last years as a Seattle Seahawk, Hasselbeck left Seattle as a free agent, and joined the Tennessee Titans. Hasselbeck wanted to stay in Seattle, but he did not like the contract being offered. Anyway, he had a very good season, and played well. He led the Titans to a 9-7 season, just missing the playoffs. I am not a huge fan of his, but he always showed good mechanics, and has lead the Seahawks to the playoffs, and a Super Bowl in the past. I will give him that. He is at the tail end of his career, as he will be 37 in September. He will likely have maybe one or two good years left as a starter.
17. Mark Sanchez, New York Jets:
Sanchez befuddles me at times. There were times last year, and even throughout his NFL career when he can throw the ball “on a rope,” as the NFL experts say, and I am thinking he may be the second coming of Joe Namath. However, there are times he just looks lost out there, throwing interceptions, and fumbling, and I am just puzzled. I am thinking, “This is the guy who ESPN constantly touts as defeating Peyton Manning and Tom Brady back to back?” Sanchez has to get on the ball, and work his butt off. He has playoff wins, and has the talent to get to the next level. Many of those wins, including the playoff wins, were more due to the defense, in my opinion. However, Sanchez needs to step it up, or we will be hearing those sickening chants, and I am not talking about that goofball “Fireman” Ed either.
16. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans:
Matt Schaub is another QB I can’t figure out. He is a very good QB. I am not sure though that he is on the elite level, but he has pretty good mechanics, and plays on a team with elite players such as wide receiver Andre Johnson, and running back Arian Foster. However, it is his fragility that bothers me. He was on IR last year after playing 10 games, due to a foot injury. The team made the playoffs, and even won a playoff game without him. He has injuries throughout his career. If Schaub can stay healthy this year, and for years to come, I believe he can be one of the top guys.
15. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals:
Andy Dalton did a very good job with the Cincinnati Bengals. He has great accuracy, and a great ability to throw on the run. He lead the Bengals to the playoffs. Even though they lost to the Texans, it was obvious to me that Dalton is the franchise’s future.
14. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers:
As being the number one overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, I was one of the very few people who was a believer in Cam Newton. Many of the supposed “experts,” and snarky fans immediately thought Newton was going to be a bust. I find it interesting that this year, the same experts, and snarky fans are in love with Andrew Luck. I wonder why.
Anyway, I also saw that Mike Greenberg of ESPN’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning” also was a backer of Newton. I was thinking, “Oh dear, Newton is going to fall to the “Greeny curse.” Well, guess what? Greeny was right for a change. Not only did Newton, at least statistically have a great year, but he had statistically the best year by a rookie QB ever. He won Offensive Rookie of the year. Yes, the Panthers won only 6 games, but Newton was a sensation to watch. He had, for a rookie QB with a shortened off season due to the lockout, very good presence in the pocket, and had very, VERY good accuracy. He did not automatically run when things broke down. I see great things for Newton, as long as he keeps working, and keeps his focus.
13. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles:
As the QB of last year’s “Dream Team, ” as former backup Vince Young called them, Philadelphia Eagles’ Michael Vince had a bit of a roller coaster type of years. He suffered several injuries, and cried about how the referees weren’t making the calls to protect him. Vick missed several games as well. Overall, he has been an exciting athlete to watch, even though he has only played one, or two full 16 seasons due to his penchant for running. However, Andy Reid has done a good job with getting Vick to be more of a pocket passer, especially in his renaissance year of 2010. What will be interesting for Vick in the future will be to see if he can keep improving, and stay healthy.
12. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons:
Ever since Matt “Matty Ice” Ryan has come into the league, he has shown himself to be a very good QB. He threw a TD in his very first NFL game against the Detroit Lions on his very first pass. He has had his Atlanta Falcons in the playoffs three of the four years that he has been their QB. The guy has excellent mechanics, accuracy, and knows where to go with the football. He and top receiver Roddy White have great chemistry. He has excellent chemistry with tight end Tony Gonzalez.
I feel that Ryan needs to step up his game to not just make the playoffs, but win a playoff game, and go deep into the playoffs. Yes, it is a “team sport,” but the most important team member is the QB, and where he goes, the rest of the team goes. Ryan is awesome in the regular season, but when the playoffs come around, he just does not produce as well.
11. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Joe Flacco is just out of the top ten. As a QB, he does nothing for me. I mean, he has a very strong arm I admit that. However, so did Jeff George. I really don’t see what the fuss is about when the “experts” just go bonkers about him. He can be a very good QB at times, as he showed last year, in the AFC Championship game. However, there are times when he showed quite a bit of ineptness against teams he, and his Ravens should have beaten like a drum, like the Seattle Seahawks, and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Even in the playoffs against the Texans, Flacco looked like a rookie at times. Of course, when most of the offense is done by running back, Ray Rice, and the aging defense is doing a lot of the work, of course that will help Flacco win in the regular season, and in the playoffs. I would like to see more of the Raven’s offense put on Flacco’s shoulders, and less on Rice’s shoulders. That way, fans can see if Flacco is all that.
Enjoying this so far, my readers? I am sure that I have sparked some debate already. On to the start of the Top Ten:
10. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears:
Well, Cutler is definitely tough to judge. He has had an up, and down career. He’s on his second team since being drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 2006 Draft. I think he has a pretty strong arm. However, at first, he had some bad mechanics, and also had health issues where he discovered he had Type I Diabetes. I wondered if he would do much with his raw talent. I do think though that last year, he finally started to put everything together. He was starting to improve his mechanics, and make efforts to avoid sacks. The Chicago Bears were looking like a team to be reckoned with as Cutler was becoming a very good QB. However, it was that fateful game against San Diego where while attempting to stop a Pick Six, Cutler broke his thumb, and was put on IR, and the team pretty much went down the tubes. Back up Caleb Hanie was not very good. Cutler proved to be very valuable. I look forward to seeing him improve, as I think he has a lot of talent, even though his attitude is not everyone’s cup of tea.
9. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers:
Rivers is a very talented QB. He is pretty mechanically sound, with the exception of that somewhat sidearm delivery he has. He is a bit too mouthy for my taste as a QB, but he certainly does not lack confidence. He has gotten the Chargers into the playoffs, but the last couple of years, the team has started slow, and missed the playoffs. However, I put that more on Norv Turner, their head coach, than Rivers, but Rivers has to back up all the big talk that comes out of his mouth. When Rivers is on his game, he can play with the best of them. His accuracy, and such are awesome. However, I do question his leadership on the field when something goes wrong, as he tends to whine. I hope to see Rivers cut the complaining, and become more of a leader. He no longer has Vincent Jackson as his top target, so it is up to Rivers to make something of the new team members, and regain his 2006-2007 form.
8. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys:
To paraphrase the nuns in “The Sounds of Music,” the famous musical by Rogers and Hammerstein, “How do you solve a problem like Tony Romo?” I mean, whenever this guy’s name comes up, conversations become huge debates. Well, here is what I say about Mr. Romo. He is an excellent QB in spurts. What I mean is that there are games where it appears he is the second coming of Brett Farve, as many people compare him to, but there are those games where he plays well, but he will make that mistake where you just want to somehow jump through the television, and bang him on the head. I am talking about those boneheaded interceptions.
People debate whether Romo is “elite.” Well, I just don’t think so. The man has played in recent years on very talented teams that could have gone to the Super Bowl. I mean, any of the elite QBs, like the Manning brothers, Brady, Brees, etc could have won a Super Bowl with the team (s) Romo had. Romo has great numbers, but he has to do it in the playoffs. He has only won one playoff game. Yes, Romo has the 2nd highest passer rating in NFL history, but passer rating is an overrated stat. It doesn’t do much good, if he is not winning big games, especially in the playoffs. I would like to see Romo cut down on the crippling mistakes, and throw to someone else other than Jason Witten.
7. Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions:
Stafford had a few injury plagued years in his young NFL career. There was a lot of concerned that he would never get through a season due to his apparent fragility. However, he had a lot of promise with his strong arm, and accuracy. This year, he put it together. He had a fantastic season, passing for just over 5000 yards. His mechanics improved, and of course, he has Calvin “Megatron” Johnson as his top wide receiver. Despite what ESPN’s Chris Carter says, “Megatron” is one of the top five wideouts in the NFL, and has awesome chemistry with Stafford. Stafford’s long ball is amazing, and his short to mid range passes are also very good. Stafford has to stay healthy, and he has to keep improving to establish himself as one of the top QBs in the league.
6. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos:
Now, normally, I would not have ranked Peyton Manning on this list at all. One of the critieria I was using to judge these quarterbacks was their play last year. One of the reasons that I was annoyed by the NFL Players List 2012 was that they put Manning on the list. He did NOT play last year. However, I did have the player’s entire career as part of my criteria, so since Peyton is one of the best quarterbacks to ever strap on a helmet, at least in the REGULAR season, I think he deserves to be on this list. His 9-10 playoff record, including the 1-1 SB record keeps me from calling him the best ever, as so many of the “experts” say. I WILL say, the man is an awesome player.
This year will be very interesting to say the least. Most NFL fans know that Manning is coming off a fourth neck surgery. He had a one level fusion surgery in the Summer of 2011, and missed the entire 2011 Season, which wound up being the last year he would be with the Colts, the team that drafted him in 1998. After a sad, and rather petty public feud with Colts Owner Jim Irsay, Manning was released, and eventually signed with the Denver Broncos. The Broncos kicked Tim Tebow to the curb, and traded him to the Jets. The question is now, “How much does Peyton got left?” I have heard percentages from 65% to 90%. What is going to happen when the bullets fly? Sure, the surgery went well, but it is his fourth, and we are talking about his neck and he is now 36. He still played at a pretty high level in 2010, but showed a bit of decline, but I am not sure if that was his neck bugging him though. He is in this spot because of his awesome career. I really can not go any higher though due to my concerns about how his neck will affect his playing.
5. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers:
Ben Roethlisberger is an exciting QB. He is also an elite QB, and in my opinion, is deserving to be in my top 5. He is particularly awesome at shedding potential tacklers. Defensive players have said Ben is incredibly strong, which makes him hard to bring down when he goes out of the pocket. Ben makes excellent plays in the pocket as well. Yes, there are the dopey stat freaks that complain he “can’t read a defense.” Hmmm. How does ANY QB get to the NFL without the ability to read a defense? I mean, seriously? I could see if we are talking about a rookie, or someone with no talent at all like Tim Tebow who takes off immediately when the play breaks down, but Ben has made more plays in the pocket than on the outside. It is the so called “experts” like Steve Young who complain that Ben doesn’t play “pretty,” who give fans who play Madden all day the impression that Ben is not elite, when Ben sure as heck is. The one big improvement I would like to see from Ben is to not always go for the big play all the time. That is about the only thing. Ben likes to go for the home run everytime, and that is why, in my opinion, he holds the ball “too long,” not because he “can’t read a defense.”
As for the future, he is adjusting to a new offensive coordinator in the hot tempered Todd Haley. I know there was some tension, but once they get to know each other, and Ben learns the system, I do think they will have success. I see Ben as an elite QB for several years, provide that team fixes the offensive line, and Ben can stay healthy.
4. Eli Manning, New York Giants:
Eli Manning is awesome. I really enjoy his work. He has developed into a top 5 QB in my book. He has great touch on the ball. He is willing to take a beating, and keep on working through it, as seen in the NFC Championship game against the San Fransisco 49ers. He continues to improve on his flaws, particularly his interceptions. He is one of the best QBs at 4th Quarter comebacks in the NFL. He is awesome as far as the long ball, and has great command in the huddle. He has a lot of confidence in himself, and in his teammates. He shows great leadership as well. All this has culminated in 2 Super Bowl wins, and 2 SB MVPs.
Over his career, he has befuddled both fans, and the “experts.” There were times where Manning showed glimpses of greatness, and there were times where people wondered if he would be cut. There were constant comparisons to his older brother, Peyton, and people banging on his rather quiet, on the field personality, especially ESPN’s Mark Schlereth who compared him to Eeyore, the donkey from “Winnie the Pooh.” I honestly didn’t understand why Eli necessarily had to be demonstrative. I mean, just because he appeared to be quiet as a church mouse, didn’t mean he is not a good leader. Just because he doesn’t turn into Sammy Davis, Jr like his brother before every snap, and just because he doesn’t jump into his offensive lineman’s arms every time he throws a first down like Brett Farve did, doesn’t mean he has no passion. Eli is just a different kind of leader is all. However, Eli and the Giants kept working with each other despite the criticisms, and Eli developed into the elite QB he is now.
As far as his 2011 statistics went, Manning threw for 4933 yards, and 29 TDs this year.Yeah, it was a little low as far as the TD total, but Eli led the Giants through the latter part of their schedule, and won the games they had to win to get into the playoffs, and wound up with a second Lombardi in four years. I would like to see him lead a Giants team with a better record, against a different AFC team, and see what happens though. I definitely see a lot more from Manning as an elite quarterback.
3. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints:
The newest member of the “100,000,000 Dollar Club,” Drew Brees had a fantastic year by breaking Dan Marino’s record of most passing yards in a season, by throwing 5476 yards. Brees also threw 46 touchdowns also. Drew Brees has great accuracy, and terrific pocket awareness. He moves well enough to avoid the pass rush. Of course, he has great weapons like Marques Colston, and Robert Meacham on his team.
As every NFL fan knows, the Saints have been embroiled in the “Bounty Gate” scandal this offseason, so Brees’ signing this deal is very good news for a team that needs it. Brees is 32, and I definitely think he has a good 4-5 years left as an elite QB in the NFL.
2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers:
Aaron Rodgers had a heck of a year in 2011, and won the MVP of the NFL, coming off his Super Bowl win in Super Bowl 45 where he was voted SB MVP. I am not a Packer fan, but Aaron Rodgers just excells at the position. He throws one of the tightest spirals in the NFL, and has excellent mechanics. His mobility is awesome, and his ability to throw on the run is just about the best in the league. He has great chemistry with his top flight receivers such as Greg Jennings. He led the team to a nearly perfect regular season of 15-1. He will be giving virtuoso performances for years to come, provided he stays healthy, as he is a very exciting player to watch.
1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots:
At 34 years ago, in 2011, Tom Brady showed that he still has incredible accuracy, and still has awesome mechanics. Brady’s intangibles, such as heart, and the will to win are amazing. He is the best at manipulating the pocket. It is amazing to see how he still can play at an elite level. The only weakness, if you want to call it that, Tom has is that he is not mobile. To me, that’s a minor flaw. I mean, he can run if needed, but I usually like the QBs who step back and throw. He threw for 5235 yards, and 39 touchdowns in 2011. He is really the one that keeps that team going. Yeah, they lost the last two SBs they were in (#42 and #46). However, I think that fact enhances his legacy. Those teams don’t get there without him, especially this last one where everyone is trying to tear him down.
Aaron Rodgers had a defense that was statistically worst, but the dopey media concentrated on the on Tom had. The Packers’ defense was not that much worst, mind you, but it was worst. I didn’t see the mighty Rodgers, and his Packers in the Super Bowl. The fact that Brady led that team with that horrid defense to the big dance, win OR lose, means to me that he is still in the conversation of “Best QB Ever.” In fact, when Tom led the team to the Super Bowls that the team won, he has much less talent. As for his future in the NFL, Tom said he wants to play till 40. Well, barring injury, I think Tom has about a good 3 years or so as an elite player.
Well, that is my ranking of the best QBs in the NFL. I hope you enjoyed it. I am sure people are ready to debate. I welcome feedback.
Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/missedgehead