By: Armando Perez
Last Year’s AFC and NFC Championship had Tom Brady, Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson as the starting quarterbacks. The days of “game managers” like Brad Johnson or Trent Dilfer, winning a Super Bowl, are a thing of the past. Over the past few years, The NFL has implemented rule changes to favor the offense. Plus, more teams are now running a “no-huddle” or “hurry-up” offense. Quarterbacks now have the ball more than ever and are expected to make plays. With the NFL Pre-Season up us… Here is my ranking of this Year’s Top 7 QB’s.
Phillip Rivers (San Diego Chargers) – Rivers has thrown for over 36,000 yards, has 252 touchdown passes and a career 64.7 completion percentage. Every year he seems to have 3-5 game span where he plays like an MVP. Unfortunately, for Chargers fans, he also has a lot of Brett Favre in him. He will throw a costly interception at the most inopportune times. Rivers will be in the Hall of Fame one day but he will never win a Super Bowl. He has had the misfortune of playing against… Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger and now Andrew Luck in the AFC.
Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints) – In 2011 Brees set the NFL record by completing 71% of his passes during the regular season. Brees will go down as one of the most accurate passes in the history of the NFL. A few years ago Darren Sproles left the Saints, All-Pro TE Jimmy Graham is now in Seattle. Those are two players who cannot be replaced. But, on any given Sunday, Brees can still be the best player on the field and carry his team to a victory.
Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos)- The book is out on Peyton Manning. He once had a decent fastball, now it is all off speed pitches. Peyton’s arm is one of the weakest in the NFL. Seattle exploited this in the Super Bowl and the Indianapolis Colts followed suit last year in the playoffs. In order to beat Denver with Manning as their quarterback, defenses are going to crowd the line of scrimmage and force Manning to throw over the top. Manning is one of the smartest players of all-time and he will be effective. Last year he threw 39 touchdowns passes and he should have at least that, this year. But, come playoff time he has struggled (He has 11 wins in 24 playoff games). I can’t see him carrying the Broncos to another Super Bowl. He will go down as one of the top 5 greatest quarterbacks of all-time.
#7) Eli Manning (New York Giants) – Seeing Eli on this list may come as a shock to some NFL fans but, Manning is coming off a great season. He threw for 30 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and completed a career high 63.1% of his passes. He did all this without his “go-to-guy” Victor Cruz. #80 only played in 6 games last year because of an injury. With Cruz healthy and rookie of the year Odell Beckham Jr. the Giants will have a potent offense. Big Blue acquired Shane Vereen in the off-season, he caught 52 passes last year with the New England Patriots. For the first time since Tiki Barber, the Giants have a legitimate dual threat out of the backfield. Look for Vareen, to once again, catch over 50 balls. The biggest factor for Manning’s success this year will be his familiarity with the offense. Last year the Giants struggled early under 1st year offense coordinator Ben McAdoo’s system. They started to click during their last 8 games. The team now understands the schemes of the offense and that does not bode well for the rest of the NFC East. Eli has played in all 16 games for 10 straight years.
#6) Tony Romo (Dallas Cowboys)- Last season the Dallas Cowboys had a break out year. After going 6-10, 8-8, 8-8 and 8-8, Dallas won the NFC east and finished with a 12-4 record. Romo battled some injuries but threw for 3,705 yards, 34 touchdowns, 9 interceptions and completed 69.9% of his passes. Over the past three years Romo is ranked in the top 3 for 4th quarter, come from behind victories. Early on in his career he was labeled with the “can’t win the big game” phrase. Any intelligent NFL fan, now knows, Romo is an elite quarterback. Losing running back DeMarco Murray will hurt the Cowboys. Murray led the NFL with 1,845 yards rushing. The Cowboys have the best offensive line in football. That should help Romo, who will have to pass more this season, put up some career high numbers.
#5) Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks)- For the first few years of his career Wilson has been known as a game manger. This is a ridiculous description. In his first two years as a pro, Wilson had more touchdown passes than Andrew Luck (Wilson 52 touchdown passes… Luck 46 touchdown passes). Critics don’t give Wilson enough credit. The reoccurring theme has been, Wilson wins because he has a great running back (Marshawn Lynch) and a great defense. I don’t buy into this for one minute. Terry Bradshaw had Franco Harris, Lynn Swann and probably the greatest defenses of all-time when he won 4 Super Bowls with the Steelers. No one questions his accomplishments. Why are we questioning Wilsons? Last season Wilson threw for over 3,400 yards, completed 63.1 percent of his passes and rushed for over 800 yards. He did this without and elite wide receiver on his roster. The Seahawks acquired TE Jimmy Graham in the off-season. Graham is an elite TE and dominates the RedZone (Inside the opponents’ 20 yard line). Wilson will have his best season as a pro and the Seahawks offense should be pretty dynamic with Lynch and Graham sharing the load. Wilson is the ultimate dual threat.
#4) Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers)- “Big Ben” had his best season as a pro last year. He completed a career high 67.1 percent of his passes, had a career high in passing yards with 4,952 (tied for 1st in the NFL). He had 32 touchdown passes and only 9 interceptions. Antonio Brown led the league in receiving yards last year (1,689) and Le’Veon Bell finished second in the league in rushing with 1,361. It was a rough start at first but Todd Haley has turned this offense around in a few short years. The Steelers are one of the most productive and efficient offenses in the NFL since he has taken over as offensive coordinator. “Big Ben” should have an MVP like season in a weakening AFC North.
#3 Tom Brady (New England Patriots)- In 2007, Brady had an elite Wide Receiver…Randy Moss. That season, Brady threw for 4,806 yards, had 50 touchdowns passes and only 8 interceptions. Since that time, the Patriots have had running backs by committee and no legitimate deep threat. TE Rob Gronkowski caught 52 passes last year and had 12 touchdowns. “Gronk” is clearly New England’s #1 option on offense. Brady is facing a 4 game suspension for “Deflate Gate”. If anyone doesn’t think Brady will come back with a vengeance and a chip on his shoulder, they don’t know Tom. His competitiveness rivals Michael Jordan’s and he is going to look to score 40 points a game from the moment he steps on the field next year. I expect Brady to play in his 10th AFC Championship game in 2015.
#2) Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts) – How do you replace a legend like Peyton Manning at quarterback? You go to three straight playoff games in your first three years in the NFL. Luck has led the Colts to the post season 3x’s, despite not having a legitimate running game, an average offense line and mediocre defense. Last season he threw for over 4,700 yards, had 40 touchdown passes and had his highest completion rate of his career, 61.7%. He has carried the Colts from the minute he stepped onto the field. When Luck gets some legitimate offensive help around him, he will become an all-time great. I still think the Colts are a year or two away from being legitimate Super Bowl contenders but when your quarterback is only 25 and this good, the sky is the limit.
#1) Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) – Rodgers won the NFL’s MVP Award last season. He was absolutely sensational. He threw for over 4,300 yards, passed for 38 touchdowns and had only 5 interceptions. He continues to be one of the most accurate QB’s of all-time (Career completion percentage…65.8) The Packers, despite Rodgers playing on an injured leg, had Seattle up against the ropes in the NFC Championship Game. The Packers led 16-0 at halftime only to lose 28-22 in overtime. Head coach Mike McCarthy called a super conservative game in that second half and it came back to bite him. McCarthy has now given up the play calling duties and that should help Rodgers be even more effective. Rodgers is not only the best quarterback in the NFL, I would take him over Green Bay Packers legend Brett Favre every day of the week and twice on Sundays. Rodgers is a dual threat who not only has a great arm, but he is a cerebral player with a great football IQ. He is beyond accurate and rarely turns the ball over. The Packers should win their division again and compete against Seattle for the best record in the NFL.