Tandy Posted August 31, 2010 Share Posted August 31, 2010 QB Ranking by John ClaytonThe Golden Age of NFL Quarterbacks continues to evolve.Bubble screens make it easier for quarterbacks to continue drives through the air. More talent is moving into the slot in three-receiver sets, giving quarterbacks even more passing options. The increased use of shotgun formations and no-huddle offenses gives quarterbacks more control than ever and turns fourth quarters into thrilling roller coaster rides.For the past couple of years, I've preached how the league is divided into teams with elite quarterbacks and those without them. To win in this league, you must have an elite quarterback. Without one, the season can be long and frustrating.In ranking the league's starting quarterbacks, I have three categories. The first is the Elite level, which includes quarterbacks who can carry teams into the playoffs. An elite quarterback is one who can complete better than 60 percent of his passes, has the potential to throw for 4,000 yards and has fourth-quarter comeback ability. I am criticized for putting Baltimore's Joe Flacco in this category with Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees, but he absolutely belongs. In two seasons, Flacco has the numbers (6,584 passing yards, 61 percent completion percentage) and three road playoff victories to back up my ranking. You'll probably be more interested in who I don't have in this group.The next category is what I call the Chad Pennington Division. Pennington, a former starter who's now a backup with the Dolphins, doesn't have the strongest arm but he once was good enough to take a team to the playoffs with a good surrounding cast or a favorable schedule. The quarterbacks who fit this mold include Denver's Kyle Orton, who I think has a very small chance even now to end up in the elite group. The third category I call the Hit-Or-Miss Division. It is filled with young QBs -- hello, Mark Sanchez and Kevin Kolb -- who easily could climb my ladder or veterans who have reached their ceiling (Jake Delhomme) and have no chance of moving up.In the Pennington and Hit-Or-Miss divisions, I rate the chances those QBs have to reach elite status. Some have a greater chance than others because they have not reached their ceiling. Others (Alex Smith, Byron Leftwich) have hit their head on the ceiling and have no chance to reach elite status.You can rank the starters on your own here.So let the arguments begin. THE ELITE1. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis ColtsAnalysis: At 34, Manning doesn't show any signs of slowing. He sets the agenda for modern NFL quarterbacks with the no-huddle and three-receiver offenses and generates 12-win seasons as easily as he completes passes. Under Manning, the Colts have won 12 or more games for seven consecutive seasons.Arrow is pointing: Up2. Tom Brady, New England PatriotsAnalysis: I resisted the urge to put Drew Brees ahead of him, but Brady, with three Super Bowl rings, is still the master. The knee injury slowed him a little in 2009 (4,398 yards, 28 TD passes), but I expect his numbers to be much better this season. Arrow is pointing: Flat3. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints Analysis: The combination of Brees and Sean Payton is scary. Brees is a master at finding the open receiver, and Payton is one of the best playcallers in the business. Arrow is pointing: Up4. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh SteelersAnalysis: With two Super Bowl rings, Roethlisberger ranks with the elite of the elite quarterbacks in the league. His suspension is a wakeup call, but as a quarterback, he's almost impossible to stop when he rolls out of the pocket and when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter.Arrow is pointing: Flat5. Brett Favre, Minnesota VikingsAnalysis: It's amazing to think Favre had his best season at age 40. Even though he says this is his final year, Favre loves the game and can still play it at a high level. Arrow is pointing: Slightly down6. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay PackersAnalysis: This could be the season Rodgers passes Favre as the best quarterback in the NFC North. His arm is strong and he finally learned how to win games in the fourth quarter. Rodgers has had a scintillating preseason. (By the way, NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert and ESPN national columnist Gene Wojciechowski debate the merits of Rodgers and Favre here.) Arrow is pointing: Up7. Philip Rivers, San Diego ChargersAnalysis: He's the biggest reason the Chargers stay ahead of the other AFC West teams. A great leader, Rivers is fearless throwing to tight end Antonio Gates and other pass-catchers even when they appear to be covered. Arrow is pointing: Up8. Tony Romo, Dallas CowboysAnalysis: Now that Romo has won a playoff game, watch out. The only thing that could prevent him and the Cowboys from playing host to a Super Bowl an aging offensive line faltering. Arrow is pointing: Up9. Donovan McNabb, Washington RedskinsAnalysis: Mike Shanahan offers McNabb play-action options he didn't have with the Eagles' pass-heavy offense. With McNabb at the helm, the Redskins could be one of the surprise teams in the NFC. Arrow is pointing: Spinning as he adjusts to a new offense10. Carson Palmer, Cincinnati BengalsAnalysis: The additions of Terrell Owens, Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley could allow Palmer to relive his 4,000-yard days. Marvin Lewis prefers running the ball, but Palmer would love for the Bengals' offense to open up. Arrow is pointing: Up11. Eli Manning, New York GiantsAnalysis: Despite recording his first 4,000-yard passing season in 2009 and already owning a Super Bowl ring, Manning doesn't get the respect he is due. He lacks the fiery leadership of his brother, but he continues to improve each season. Arrow is pointing: Flat12. Joe Flacco, Baltimore RavensAnalysis: With the Ravens' problems in their secondary, Flacco may be asked to throw more, which is fine by him. Anquan Boldin will help him working from the slot and Donte' Stallworth could help to stretch the field on occasion when he returns from injury. Arrow is pointing: Up13. Matt Ryan, Atlanta FalconsAnalysis: Like Flacco, Ryan should have a breakthrough season. Most top quarterbacks come into their own in their third season, and Ryan has studied every top quarterback trying to improve his game. Arrow is pointing: Up14. Matt Schaub, Houston TexansAnalysis: Schaub finally moved into the elite group by staying healthy and throwing for a league-high 4,770 yards in 2009. (By the way, that was 270 yards more than Peyton Manning had last season.) The next step for Schaub and the Texans? Win in the AFC South and make the playoffs for the first time.Arrow is pointing: Up Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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