Can you believe we are almost at the halfway point of the season? I can’t. There are aspects of this season that leave one wanting, things like not being able to see Peyton Manning on the field. I never thought that I would miss him, but watching him pick apart a defense is a beautiful thing. It hasn’t been all bad, though, with Aaron Rodgers seeming to take up the slack. The accuracy of this guy is incredible, completing 71.5% of his passes. Please read that again. He is just fun to watch. Of course, there are the always dependable Drew Brees and Tom Brady. I still think the Saints are one of the most fun teams to watch. And I still hate the Patriots. These are obviously your top QBs in the league right now, the only argument is what order they will be in. So, for the sake of argument, here goes…
I will break the starting QBs (as of Week 7) into 3 groups. Obviously, Tier 1 will be first. It’s math. Also, I am ranking solely on this season’s performance. Thirdly, I am relying less on stats and more on leadership and ability to win. My “Elite QB ranking”, which may come later in the year, will be more stats-focused.
These “First Tier” guys are the players nobody will bet against. They can take over a game at any moment, and they make everyone around them look good:
1.) Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: The most accurate QB in the league. 13 straight wins. Best eyes (and not-beard) in the league.
2.) Tom Brady, New England Patriots: The ability to take over a game, pick apart defenses, and look really good while doing it. The most dominant NFL QB, based on rings, over the past decade.
3.) Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints: It’s really hard to cheer against the Saints and Drew Brees. After he was shafted by the Chargers, he made a new name for himself in Nola. He is probably the best thing to ever happen to that city. He can tear apart defenses just like the other 2 guys in this discussion. Good thing his parents never had that good luck mole removed.
4.) Phillip Rivers, San Diego Chargers: I hesitated placing him in this tier with the way he has played this season, but the Chargers are 4-2, and who else do they have but Rivers? Patrick Crayton? He gets the job done.
Second Tier: This will be the largest group of the 3. These QBs have a real chance to be franchise players. They have a great chance at making a deep playoff run, and maybe even winning a ring. But, they don’t have the ability to make those around them greater, and without outstanding weapons or a stout defense, they would be Third Tier.
5.) Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben is the best of the second tier, but only because he has 2 rings, and the Steelers are on a 3-game winning streak. He is a legitimate franchise QB, even though he isn’t the smartest or most accurate QB in the league.
6.) Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys: Sometimes it’s really easy to defend Romo, like when he leads the ‘Boys back, injured, to deliver the 49ers their only loss at this point. Sometimes, it’s really hard, like when he throws an interception at the end of a game which then led to a Lions score/win. If he can be more consistent, he could be top-tier.
7.) Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons: A lot like Romo, in that he sometimes plays really smart and you realize why he’s a starter, then a play later makes a stupid throw that costs the game.
8.) Matt Schaub, Houston Texans: Schaub doesn’t have all the weapons, namely a defense, to make a deep run in the playoffs, but he could be considered an elite QB.
9.) Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: He can’t stay healthy so far in his young career, but if he can build some strength and get past the injuries, he could be First Tier in a couple of years. Having Megatron doesn’t hurt.
10.) Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens: At times, Flacco looks like a First Tier QB, but he’s not consistent enough to stay there for any amount of time.
11.) Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills: Fitz is doing a lot in Buffalo with a little. Best QB beard in football.
12.) Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers: Last year, Smith would have been Third Tier, but this season he is winning.
13.) Eli Manning, New York Giants: The most frustrating QB in the NFL, mostly because he has a ring. What a roller coaster for Giants fans!
14.) Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers: At his pace, easy ROY winner. I knew Cam would be good, but give him a couple of years and he will be great.
15.) Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles: Vick had all the hype going into this season, and I bought in. If he had stayed healthy, he may have been ranked 5 or 6, but the injuries are depleting his effectiveness.
16.) Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Freeman is a great picture of a leader. His stats aren’t great, but he has his young team playing great football.
17.) Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears: Interceptions are keeping Cutler from being ranked much higher. The Bears will be in contention as long as he is their QB, but the probability of a pick ending their season is very high.
18.) Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams: Bradford knows the game very well, and the coaching staff in St. Louis is great at keeping things easy as he matures. He will continue climbing the charts if he can stay healthy.
19.) Colt McCoy, Cleveland Browns: Same as Bradford, knows the game and can help this team win as long as he can keep maturing with a good coaching staff.
20.) Mark Sanchez, New York Jets: The second most frustrating QB in the NFL. You never know what you’re gonna get from Sanchez. New York quarterbacks have it so rough.
21.) Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos: Everyone knows his passion and heart, and everyone knows his “bad mechanics” but the dude can win. I’m not saying he will be great, but in a few years, he could be very good.
22.) Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals: It’s hard to evaluate rookies, but even though Dalton is with a terrible organization, the team seems to be building with some great young talent. I hope he does well.
23.) Blaine Gabbart, Jacksonville Jaguars: Gabbart stepped in to a rough situation, but he stepped into it well and is showing promise.
24.) Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings: If Ponder could hand off to Adrian Peterson every down, the Vikings could win the Super Bowl.
25.) Curtis Painter, Indianapolis Colts: He’s better than Kerry Collins. A few more years under Peyton, and Painter will be great. If the Colts get Andrew Luck, I don’t know what’s going to happen to Painter.
Third Tier: This is the garbage list of NFL quarterbacks. The busts. These are the guys that make would you groan if your team were to pick them up, even as a backup. They will bounce around until they retire.
26.) Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders: Nobody wanted him, and we were all OK with that, but then the Raiders got him? I guess it wasn’t Al Davis who was responsible for all the Raiders bad decisions…
27.) Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals: A very expensive, very terrible quarterback.
28.) Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee Titans: Hasselbeck used to be good, and I feel bad for him, but he is terrible.
29.) Matt Cassell, Kansas City Chiefs: Not so good without Jamaal Charles, huh?
30.) Rex Grossman/John Beck, Washington Redskins: Even though we never know who is going to start, I think it is safe to say that the Redskins will throw 3+ interceptions a game.
31.) Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins: Chad Henne started over him. Whoa.
32.) Tarvaris Jackson, Seattle Seahawks: I wouldn’t pick Jackson for my flag football team.
Donovan McNabb- I feel bad for the guy, he used to be really good and seemed like a great guy, but he needs to retire.,
Peyton Manning- He will be back to First Tier next season, when he will be training his new mentor, Andrew Luck.
Jason Campbell- I’m glad the Raiders got Palmer, cuz I wasn’t sure where I was gonna rank Campbell. I guess he’s not the worst franchise QB.
Any guys you would rank higher? Lower?