As the 2011 NFL season finishes up (and since we have two weeks until the Super Bowl), we’ve seen a few quarterbacks step up, others run out of gas, and some add to their legacy. I’ll attempt to rank the top 10 quarterbacks of the NFL. Thanks for reading, and enjoy!
Ranking system: Importance to team, fundamentals, winning, legacy, potential/ceiling.
If you don’t want to read it all, there is a TL;DR at the bottom of the page!
Honorable mentions: Cam Newton, Alex Smith, Tony Romo, Michael Vick, Peyton Manning. Newton showed why he was the #1 pick. Impressive arm, more accurate than most thought he would be. Without him, they get the first pick again. Alex Smith did a great job of managing the offense, yet I’m not sure how much of this was Harbaugh rather than Smith. The last three could easily be slid into the top 10 (Manning top 5 for sure), but an injury plagued season has left them off for now. Manning makes this simply for the fact the Colts go from a Super Bowl contender to first pick in the draft.
10B. Jay Cutler. Early on, the Bears were playoff contenders at 7-3; then Cutler got injured and handed the keys to Caleb Haine. Cutler had cut down on his turnovers (13:7 TD/INT), and had the offense rolling. For a team to finish 1-5, it goes to show how important Cutler is to this team.
10A. Joe Flacco. Flacco proved he has what it takes to put this team in position to win last week at New England. It seemed like he played with a vengeance. Where has that been all season? If not for a few miscues from fellow teammates, it could be the Ravens in the Super Bowl. I think Flacco finally took a step towards being able to carry the team on his back when needed, and not having to rely on Ray Rice and the defense as much. Ed Reed can feel a little more comfortable next season.
9. Phillip Rivers. To think that last year most people would put rivers in their top 5, maybe even top 3. However, Rivers seemed to struggle finding his groove until late in the season. Injuries could have played a role, not to mention an aging Antonio Gates, an inconsistent running game, and no Darren Sproles. I think Rivers bounces back in 2012.
8. Matt Schaub. Shaub helped the Texans get to their first playoff birth. If not for a late-season injury, who knows what could have happened behind a solid defense as well. Schaub usually puts up the big numbers, had right around a 97 QB Rating, and the team just wasn’t the same with T.J. Yates at QB. With the improved defense and Arian Foster in the backfield, the Texans should compete for a playoff spot again.
7. Ben Roethlisberger. It hurts me to put him this high, but the guy has proven his ability to win. A nice running game and strong defense helps, but being able to extend a play behind a shaky line is what makes him special. Doesn’t hurt that Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders are rising stars.
6. Matt Ryan. The funny thing is, I thought Ryan was having an off year. However, he finished with a 92.2 QB Rating (best of his career), 29:12 TD/INT ratio, and led his team to the playoffs. If the Falcons can find a compliment to Michael Turner, Ryan should continue to progress.
5. Matthew Stafford. Statistically, Stafford is a monster. 5000+ yards, 41:16 TD/INT ratio, and a 97 QB rating. He led the Lions to their first playoff appearance in over a decade. Just think about it. This was his first FULL season at QB. Last year, he played 3 games. The year before that, 10. The guy is still young and yet boasts the ability to change a franchise. If he can stay healthy, his strong arm allows him to get away with some throws other QBs just can’t make.
4. Eli Manning. Who would have thought that at some point people would be arguing over who was the best QB in the Manning family? Yet Eli has proven he is clutch, can make big throws in harsh conditions, and has a chance to win another Super Bowl. Sure he has the occasional multi-pick game, but as an Eagles fan, no one scares me more in the 4th quarter than Eli. Eli has proved he is durable, has trimmed down on the INTs, and once again, has a chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
3. Drew Brees. It’s hard to rank the top 3 guys in any specific order, however, I’ll put Brees at 3. Extremely accurate (71.2%), broke the passing yards record, and had a 46:14 TD/INT ratio, he makes a strong candidate for MVP. He also had a 110 QB rating. It helps that Darren Sproles is your check down option and Jimmy Graham is an athletic freak of a tight end. Brees can put points on the board in a hurry. The only reason I have him at three (and it’s a poor reason), is because the other two guys don’t play in a dome.
2. Aaron Rodgers. “Rodgers should be number 1 are you kidding me?!” 15-1 record, 68% completion, 45:6 TD/INT, and a 122.5 QB rating, he is the logical NFL MVP. He can scramble to extend a play, he’s calm, has a strong arm, and is the undisputed leader of his team. I guess putting him at 2 is really just a 1B, but the got at 1(A) has been doing these types of numbers for a longer period of time.
1. Tom Brady. It seems like if this guys wants it bad enough, he’ll get it. When Peyton Manning had the incredible season of breaking the TD passing record, Brady returned the favor. Then he got bored and decided that winning 13-14 games a year wasn’t good enough, and led the Patriots to an undefeated regular season. The guy is accurate, can throw the long ball, reads defenses very well, and is about as pure a pocket passer there has ever been. With his 5th Super Bowl appearance, he’s just adding to the resume that could put him as the best QB to ever play the game.
TL;DR 10. Cutler and Flacco, 9. Rivers, 8. Schaub, 7. Roethlisberger, 6. Ryan, 5. Stafford, 4. E. Manning, 3. Brees. 2. Rodgers, 1. Brady.