It’s the most important position in all of sports. Victory brings glory and women. Defeat brings criticism, blame, alienation, and… still, women (because, you know, even if they suck, they’re still rich.) So who’s the quarterback I want under center in 2011? One final time, let’s review the candidates.
Editor’s Note: Here we are. The final part of my journey to determine the one player, at each position, I’d want over all the rest. This is bigger than the Harry Potter finale. Apologies to offensive linemen, special teamers, and fullbacks. It’s not that I don’t appreciate you, it just wouldn’t have been fun to write about you. Sorry.
As always, contract, age, fantasy value, and whether or not I despise the player will not influence my decision, nor will statistics and popularity. There’s no mathematic formula. Only my humble opinion.
I’m not ranking the best players at each position. I’m picking who I’d want on my team. Is Ndamukong Suh the best defensive lineman in the NFL? Not yet. Would I rather have him than anyone else? Yes, Yes I would. Comprende?
Obviously, there are some talented quarterbacks throughout the NFL. In order to preserve the integrity of my list, I implemented an Honorable Mention cap of three. (I’ve gotta sleep sometime.) If you feel I did your favorite QB a disservice, I’d love to hear about it.
Here we go. In reverse order.
5. Drew Brees
I know, right? Drew Brees, at five? You must be crazy. While that may be true, I couldn’t justify moving him ahead of the four yet to be named quarterbacks. Sue me.
It’s hard not to like Brees for his leadership and passion. Did he and the rest of the Saints begin the 2010 season a little distracted and maybe hung-over from their 2009 title? I think so. But Brees rallied the troops and had Nawlins poised for another Super Bowl run before they overlooked pesky Seattle. Add that embarrassing playoff defeat with Brees doubling his interceptions in 2010, and it’s hard to call me a complete moron for listing him at number five. Besides, I hate the Saints.
Uh, whoops. How’d that get in there?
4. Peyton Manning
Oh no he didn’t. I did. There’s a revolution at the quarterback position, folks. Better get on board now or get left behind. Is Manning really the 4th best QB in the NFL? Absolutely not. Nevertheless, I’m not picking Manning to run my offense because the neck injury makes me uncomfortable and, although he still was amazing in 2010, he didn’t look invincible like we’ve grown accustomed to. Sure, injuries, no running game, and the overall lack of talent on the Colts offense were major contributors to Manning’s lowest passer rating in eight seasons, but I watched all 16 Colts games last season and Manning looked off. Maybe uncomfortable is a better word. I don’t know. Was it a bad year, or is he fading?
I vote off year. With the exception of Reggie Wayne, Manning was throwing to backups and practice “squaders” for most of the second half of the season, and he STILL put up ridiculous numbers. I’m a believer in Manning. I’m rooting for him to get that second ring to catapult him into his rightful place among Montana, Brady, Young, and Elway. First things first, though, I need a healthy, successful 2011 campaign before I bump him back toward the top of the quarterback class.
3. Philip Rivers
So underrated, oh so vastly underrated. If Rivers could have contributed on special teams in 2010, the Chargers would have represented the AFC in the Super Bowl. Say what? Rivers led the NFL’s top offense. They could move the ball on anyone. As the Packers proved last February, Pittsburgh’s defense was soft in pass defense. Rivers would have shredded Pittsburgh to pieces. The Jets would have been San Diego’s greatest challenge, but I think the Chargers would have prevailed. (Mainly because it’s consistent with my argument, but still.)
Anyway, Rivers plays with that Brett Favre, gun-slinging mentality, only, without the horrific turnovers. In a league that is now dominated by how well you can throw the ball, Rivers is at the top of the class. His stats don’t lie. He’s thrown for more than 4,000 yards and 25 TDs in his last three seasons. His rating never dipped below 101. Best of all, boy has got some juice. Like Tom Brady, Rivers is feisty. He won’t hesitate to get in your face or stand in front of an opponent’s sideline and scream horrible things about their mothers. Everything you’d want in a quarterback, he’s got. If we could only get him some special teams help.
2. Tom Brady
Uh oh. I guess this means there’s a new sheriff in town. Dropping Brady wasn’t easy, especially after his jaw-dropping performance in 2010. Brady was insane: 65.9 completion percentage, nearly 4,000 yards, 36 TDs, and only 4 INTs. Let’s read that again; 36 TDs and 4 (4!!) INTs. If there were any ever doubt regarding who should be labeled the greatest quarterback of all time, Brady’s 2010 campaign solved it for me. So why is he number two instead of one? Because I’m picking the QB I’d want for 2011, nothing more.
You see, as amazing as Brady has been, he hasn’t won a big game since the AFC Championship game following the 2007 season. He even threw three interceptions in that game. Since that victory, Brady has gone 0-3 in the playoffs with a shocking upset to the Giants in the Super Bowl, and two embarrassing home losses to the Ravens and Jets in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Tom Brady is great. His career speaks for itself. At this point, there’s really nothing left to prove. With that said, his recent lackluster performances when it mattered most cannot be ignored. I need my 2011 quarterback to come through in big moments.
1. Aaron Rodgers
Enter Mr. Cool. At this point, you wonder how many Wisconsin-ers even remember Rodgers’ predecessor. (Obviously, that was a joke.) While Brady has struggled in the postseason of late, Rodgers has been Jordan-esque. How does a 4-1 record (all on the road) with 13 TDs, 3 INTs, and a Super Bowl title and MVP work for you? That’s what I thought.
Sure, stats are fun to look at, but they can be deceiving as well. Rodgers’ stats are not. He’s really that good. Furthermore, Rodgers gives off that aura that Joe Montana had. That “don’t even sweat it guys, I got this” – confidence that transcends greatness. Heading into the 2010 playoffs I knew my Eagles were toast. Even as the lowest seed, it was obvious Rodgers’ time had come. I picked Green Bay to beat my Eagles and win the Super Bowl. Rodgers is only 27, so there’s plenty more where 2010 came from. My feelings as an Eagles fan; “crap.”
Michael Vick – Sorry dog (whoops, too soon?), but until you prove that you can PASS your team to victory in a playoff game, you will be denied access to the VIP portion of this list. Has Vick improved as a quarterback? No doubt. But there’s still plenty of work to be done and he’ll need to get better to lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl.
Ben Roethlisberger – From a pure quarterback standpoint, Big Ben is probably the worst on this list. From a pure winning standpoint, he’s arguably the best. Roethlisberger’s ability to make plays and seemingly will his team to victory is impossible to explain.
Matt Ryan – Very easily could have been Schaub, Romo, or little Manning. I think Ryan’s the best of that group, though. We’ll know for sure this year as he deals with heightened expectations and a revamped receiving core. If he struggles, I won’t hesitate to give this spot to Tim Tebow.