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Debates are fun. Of course whenever you talk about quarterbacks in the NFL, you always have those great debates. I think for the most part, most people agree whether you like him or not Tom Brady is #1 in the NFL, playing at the top of his game, even at an “old” age. But then it gets murky after that, at least to me. So some of my views obviously don’t mix up with others, and that’s fine. I’m always up for a debate.
So for a spoiler alert: Andrew Luck is NOT on here given he’s missed a full season and for the previous two seasons haven’t been too hot (I should know given I wasted a first round pick on him in my fantasy football draft a few years ago). Anyway, let’s start.
1st: Tom Brady (Patriots): Obviously the first. He just has that ability to win in any way possible. He can trail teams late in games (Seahawks, Falcons, Steelers, Jaguars) and make great defenses look poor on top of it. He utilizes every weapon he has and with it has made careers out of guys who were always overlooked (Deion Branch? David Givens) or saved careers (Wes Welker, Randy Moss) The one thing I have always been impressed by with Brady is how he quickly gets the ball out. It has been his calling card as he isn’t mobile by any means (though he can get a yard or two when absolutely needed). But Brady has been the standard for nearly 17 years. And if you don’t think he should be at least considered for the greatest QB of all time, you haven’t been watching football. HICCUPS: Age? That is the only thing at this point, but even then he’s defying the age.
2nd: Drew Brees (Saints): Threw a curve here I know. You’ll see why I have Brees 2nd and the next guy third in a minute. Brees may go down as the best “gunslinging” QB of all-time (down to him or Marino), but his ability to lead the Saints cannot be overlooked. Much like Brady, Brees utilizes weapons nearly perfect and honestly this past season gave him another weapon he sorely missed since Darren Sproles left in a receiving back in Alvin Kamara. But Brees can still fling it, which was ironically many critics wondered if he could do early on in his career after San Diego. The other thing that I like about Brees is that he isn’t rattled. He can take hit after hit or throw a poor interception and he will still continue to do whatever he needs to do….and do it well. I feel like we are at that point now that with Brees we take him for granted on what he does. But to me, he is the 2nd best QB in the NFL. HICCUPS: Brees with the “never-say-die” attitude loves challenging defenses so he is a little more interception prone than others. But again, if there is one guy who can not be fazed by the INT’s it is him.
3rd: Aaron Rodgers (Packers): I’ll explain later in the hiccups part. Rodgers is probably the best all-around QB in the NFL from a physical standpoint. He can pass, run, pass on the run, and find ways of drawing defenses for penalties. He can do it all and much like the first two, utilizes his assortment of weapons while making receivers that were also overlooked by many to be of primary or secondary targets. Just look at what the Packers have with Randall Cobb and Davante Adams and had in Jordy Nelson. Rodgers also has that swag about him of he knows he can get it done. HICCUPS: Rodgers problem is really what’s between the ears. Yes, he’s done more than a few comebacks, but it seems like if a play goes south on him, he either sulks, points fingers at the referees, or even his own teammates and then he lets it eat at him for a good while. That is a key difference I see that Brady and Brees have over Rodgers. He is a great quarterback but to an extent, he needs to grow up a little more.
4th: Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers): Big Ben has enjoyed a great career in the NFL and one of the most storied careers. 2 Super Bowls, 3 Super Bowl appearances, numerous Pro Bowl appearances. I think similar to Brees, we somewhat take Roethlisberger for granted. He’s been a winner for the minute he stepped in the NFL to now (only Brady has won more) and only has one losing season on his record. What makes him up here and grouped into that group with Brees, Rodgers, and Brady is that he has gotten better especially in his 2nd half of his career. Adding on how big he is and just has all the tools and can run when needed. He is a sure lock for Canton. HICCUPS: A few things with Roethlisberger. He’s been playing the Brett Favre game of “maybe I will retire, maybe I won’t” bit for the last few seasons (though he didn’t think twice about it this off-season where he said he would return right after the playoff loss to the Jaguars). The other part is and somewhat linked to the first one is sometimes he has that “mind is elsewhere” during games and has sometimes disappear in games.
5th: Matt Ryan (Falcons): While Ryan took a step back from his MVP season in 2017, he still put up solid numbers and threw for 4,000 yards for a seventh straight season while still completing a high rate of passes. He doesn’t have the credentials of Brady, the gun-slinging mentality of Brees, the flashiness of Rodgers or the size of Roethlisberger, but year in and year out he’s putting up numbers that would make any team kill to have him. And he’s done that with a subpar offensive line for most of it (the year he had a great line, he won MVP and got to the Super Bowl. hmmmmm). HICCUPS: The one thing about Ryan is that sometimes when a play goes south on him (INT, fumble, etc.), he loses that aggressiveness and he plays not to make a mistake. At times he second guesses himself when he loses that edge.
6th: Russell Wilson (Seahawks): Wilson will go down as the best mobile quarterback in NFL history, with all apologies to Michael Vick. Large in part is that Wilson really bucks the trend of that group where most of the time when he is running, his head is still looking downfield to make a pass as opposed to the likes of Vick, Kaepernick, etc. where the minute a play crashes (or they think it crashes), they tucked and ran. It also has probably kept Wilson from major injury to this point. Last year was probably his best year in the NFL with nearly 4,000 yards (which would have been his 3rd straight year of 4,000 or more), 34 TD’s and probably got Seattle into contention for a playoff. HICCUPS: Wilson is probably the most dynamic quarterback on here. It can be taken as a positive but also a negative. Wilson, similar to other mobile quarterbacks, tries to do way too much at times, whether it is moving around in the pocket to keep things alive, but he would also take sacks that would knock the team back 15-20 yards or throw it into very tight windows and he is turnover prone with the number of hits he’s taken.
7th: Matthew Stafford (Lions): Had Stafford been sent in a time machine in Detroit back to the mid-90’s to have the likes of Barry Sanders, Herman Moore, Brett Perriman, etc. the Lions may have been the 90’s Dynasty as they desperately needed that QB when the run game was top notch. While nobody can come to Drew Brees’ gun-slinging ways, Stafford is up there as he has gained 4,000 or more yards since 2011 (when he had 5,000) and if the pace continues, he may be the all-time passing yards leader when all is said & done. Adding on, and what makes Stafford at the very worst respected by Lions fans is how tough he is. He has been hit often and hard while getting injured, but has not missed a game since his 2nd season in the NFL. Only Matt Ryan has started more consecutive games than Stafford has currently. The other thing is Stafford does have a knack of comebacks, as he has 20 game-winning drives since 2014, the most in the NFL. HICCUPS: Even at Georgia, Stafford has been plagued by the big game. He hasn’t won a road game against a playoff team yet (as well as being 0-3 in the playoffs) and when the spotlight is on him against a big team even at home, he’s struggled. At times he goes through phases of being streaky in games.
8th: Carson Wentz (Eagles): Had Wentz stayed healthy in 2017 I’d have him on here higher. He’s probably the closest thing to Aaron Rodgers on here in terms of the overall, all-around style of play. He was having an MVP season and could have had an outside shot at 40 TD passes and 4,000 yards last year. For a young guy he learned a lot from his second season and just was poised all throughout. HICCUPS: Well obviously it is too early to really say anything but of course the concerns may be injuries as Wentz does take a lot of hits and runs a good bit like Rodgers and Russell Wilson. It will be interesting to see if and how he adapts in 2018.
9th: Cam Newton (Panthers): Cam is probably the most dynamic quarterback in the NFL. When he is on, he is the toughest quarterback in the league. He can break a big run in part because of his size and when he is focused, his precision is laser sharp. He does things his way and it can be a huge psychological edge to Cam and the Panthers. HICCUPS: When he is off, oh boy. Cam will sulk and when Cam sulks he struggles to even be a top 30 NFL quarterback at times. And you do have to wonder if he puts himself first above the team at points where he wants that limelight and be noticed when the team is winning even if he isn’t doing great. He just wears his emotions too much at times to the point he can be a massive liability for Carolina.
10th: Jared Goff (Rams): Goff proved doubters wrong after the season he had in 2016 when he was already labeled a bust. However when Sean McVay came in, he transformed Goff into that pick everybody in Los Angeles had hoped he would become. He threw nearly for 4,000 yards last year with 28 TD’s and only 7 INT and was sacked only 25 times in 15 games (as opposed to 26 times in 7 games in 2016). He seems like he has the confidence now to do more things in the pocket and the upside is huge for him. HICCUPS: It is too early to tell what Goff can actually do. Los Angeles this off-season has really upped the expectation level for the Rams to make the Super Bowl next season in Atlanta. Which means more pressure on Goff. The one major question is can Goff win a big game? So far, the answer has been no. Yes, I know he beat the Jaguars and Saints, but looked meager against the Vikings, got outdueled by the Eagles, and had a sketchy game in the playoff loss against the Falcons. He can go higher if the Rams push further in the playoffs or he can go lower if the Rams don’t get to the playoffs. Time will tell.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Philip Rivers (Chargers), DeShaun Watson (Texans), Jimmy Garoppolo (49ers).
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat