With preseason NFL football starting in days, this is as good a time as any to evaluate the QB landscape in the National Football League in 2010. The names near the top are quite familiar to even the casual football fan. However, there are a lot of BAD quarterbacks in the NFL. Today, we examine the good the bad and the ugly.
1) Peyton Manning, Indianapolis
2) Drew Brees, New Orleans
3) Tom Brady, New England
4) Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings
Peyton Manning, when he retires, may be remembered as the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL, possibly the greatest player in the history of the NFL. In my opinion, going into 2010, Peyton Manning is the most valuable player in the game of football. The Indianapolis Colts will go as far as he goes, which is usually in or close to a Super Bowl.
Drew Brees has risen to the top among NFL quarterbacks over the last four seasons, putting himself at the forefront by leading the historically abysmal New Orleans Saints to their first World Championship in Super Bowl XLIV this past February. He will pose a challenge to Peyton Manning's reign at the top of the QB mountain.
Tom Brady is on the elite bubble. After missing the entire 2008 season with a knee injury, Brady gradually returned to form in 2009. Brady appeared to get off to a very slow start last season, but by mid-season, he was dissecting defenses and making opponents pay for mistakes as he always has, highlighted with a near 60 point shellacking of the Tennessee Titans. The swift (and punchless) exit from the 2009 Playoffs by the Patriots was attention-grabbing, as Brady had not made such a swift and unceremonious exit from the playoffs in his career, and the Patriots had not lost a home playoff game since the late 1970s! Is the Evil Empire that is the Bill Bellichick/Tom Brady era New England Patriots about to fall?
The Ol' Gunslinger, Brett Fave...I am working with the assumption that he will be back in Minnesota this season. When in doubt of whether or not the Gunslinger will call it quits, assume he will not. If Favre looks like a liar, then he will not retire! Assuming Favre plays, there is no indicator that he will not be the seemingly unstoppable force he was with the Vikings in 2009. Can we say, "Pants on the Ground,"?
5) Philip Rivers, San Diego
6) Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh
7) Donnovan McNabb, Washington
8) Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay
Philip Rivers appears to be getting better every year. And, for the moment, it appears as though the San Diego Chargers may have gotten the slightly better end of the 2004 draft day trade with the New York Giants for Eli Manning that enabled the Chargers to acquire Rivers. Rivers is developing more into an elite QB with each passing season and has already evolved into a strong, respected leader in the locker room.
If Ben Roethlisberger can stay out of trouble and get his life in order, the sky is the limit for Big Ben and the Pittsburgh Steelers. As it stands, even with Roethlisberger likely missing the first four games of the season, 12 games of Roethlisberger is more desirable than 16 games of most quarterbacks in the National Football League.Drink Like a Champion, Ben!
Donnovan McNabb may be in his mid-30s, but he still has a lot to offer the Washington Redskins and the team will be better off for him. Aaron Rodgers is a fast-rising star and if he can quicken his release and the Green Bay Packers' offensive line can help keep Rodgers from being sacked and out of the Eat Grass Club, the Packers are a legitimate Super Bowl contender under Rodgers' leadership. Having your quarterback's "pants on the ground" 50 times in any season is a recipe for having to buy a ticket to get to the Super Bowl.
9) Eli Manning, New York Giants
10) Carson Palmer, Cincinnati
Eli Manning and Carson Palmer are very good quarterbacks with the potential to lead their teams to Super Bowl XLV. They exhibit moments of elitism and if their respective supporting casts know and effectively execute their roles, both Manning and Palmer, especially with the addition of Terrell Owens alongside Chad Ochocinco at wide receiver, may take their teams deep into the playoffs.
11) Tony Romo, Dallas
12) Matt Ryan, Atlanta
13) Matt Schaub, Houston
14) Vince Young, Tennessee
Of these four, three have demonstrated that they possess the potential to have a breakthrough year in 2010 and one has demonstrated the potential to dump his girlfriend in an IHOP parking lot if she presses him with an ultimatum. Former Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Bill Parcells said it best, after Tony Romo's first career start in 2006: "Look fellas, let's not put him in (home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame) Canton (Ohio) just yet."
I hope she enjoyed that Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity, because it was her last as the future Mrs. RomoRomo can be an effective game manager capable of leading the Cowboys to victory over any NFL team, but he is not an elite quarterback. He is not the dominant force that can consistently single-handedly put his team on his back and take over a football game. Romo appeared to break out of his December/January slump in 2009 and it is not out of the realm of possibility for him to help the Cowboys reach the Super Bowl. But Romo will need to bring his best performance every week on every play, especially as the days grow shorter and the nights grow colder during the season.
Matt Ryan, Vince Young, and Matt Schaub all have the potential to have their best seasons ever. Their teams will go as far as they can take them. I believe that the odds are favorable that at least one of these guys will be playing in the post season.
15) Jay Cutler, Chicago
16) Chad Henne, Miami
17) Joe Flacco, Baltimore
18) Mark Sanchez, New York JetsThe bottom of this tier is on the way up and the top of this tier may be on the way down. Jay Cutler could not have been a bigger disappointment in his first year with the Chicago Bears. He showed signs of being the Jay Cutler that the Bears thought they were getting near the end of last season, as the Bears weren't who we thought they were and we watched them hang on a hook in 2009. Chad Henne, Joe Flacco, and Mark Sanchez all have the opportunity to help their teams make playoff runs. How great that opportunity is and how deep those playoff runs can be will depend entirely upon how much those players have developed during the offseason.
19) Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle
20) Jason Campbell, Oakland
21) Matt Leinart, Arizona
22) Matt Cassel, Kansas City
23) Kyle Orton, Denver
All of the teams of the Tier 6 quarterbacks, except for the two time defending NFC West Champion Arizona Cardinals, are playoff longshots. Based on past performances, there may be some upside for these quarterbacks, except for Matt Hasselback, who turns 35 next month, but that upside appears to be limited. None of these quarterbacks have demonstrated the ability to rise to the ranks of the elite NFL quarterbacks.
24) Alex Smith, San Francisco
25) Matt Stafford, Detroit
26) David Gerrard, Jacksonville
27) Kevin Kolb, Philadelphia
28) Sam Bradford, St. Louis
Matt Stafford and and Sam Bradford have enormous upside. They just need to develop and demonstrate their potential. Alex Smith may have escaped the jaws of the "bust" label with a respectable campaign in 2009, and he is capable of helping his team win in any given week, but I believe that Smith shooting for a Pro Bowl is like shooting for the stars. The San Francisco 49ers can win with Alex Smith under center, but the keys to victory will be running back Frank Gore, tight end Vernon Davis second year wide receiver Michael Crabtree, a defense anchored by superfreak linebacker Patrick Willis and Head Coach Mike Singletary. Smith is just a tool in the chest, not the centerpiece of the blueprint.
Tier 8 (A.K.A Tear Tier, A.K.A. Toilet Tier)
29) Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay
30) Matt Moore, Carolina
31) Jake Delhomme, Cleveland
32) Trent Edwards, Buffalo
Josh Freeman and Matt Moore may amount to something in the NFL. It could happen. Jake Delhomme and Trent Edwards should enjoy their 15 minutes, because they are almost up! They likely will not be worth watching, hence are not worth your time reading, and therefore not worth my time to write about them further.
ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL???