Thursday, July 10, 2008

The NFL's best Quarterbacks circa Right Now

When I sat down to do this, I thought it would be pretty easy. It wasn't. I think the top 2 quarterbacks in the NFL are well above everyone else, but after that it gets a bit dicey. There really are only 2 great quarterbacks in the league. I don't even know that anyone else would qualify as "really good." Deciding on 3 through 5 was tough because no one seems to definitively separate themselves from anyone else. The quarterbacks from the draft class of 2004 - Rivers, Roethlisberger, and Eli Manning - is not as great as most people seem to think, but they all might be in the top 10 in the league. That's how weak quarterback play in the NFL is right now. So, without further delay, here is the stone cold top 5:

1.a. Payton Manning
1.b. Tom Brady
Now this is the real debate. Both of these guys are sure-fire Hall of Famers and top 10 of all-time. This is as close as it gets, but I give a slight edge to Manning. Most people would probably pick Brady here, but most people would be wrong. Brady has Payton beat in several categories: the ladies, Super Bowl rings, arm strength, pocket presence, and overall sex appeal (the picture shows just how gorgeous he is - look at his chest). I'd still take Manning if I were a coach/GM. Brady is often amazing in the clutch, but his legend as a clutch performer is slowly eroding. And as for last seasons statistics, let us not underestimate the Randy Moss factor. Brady put up huge numbers last year, but how many times was he bailed out by throwing some 50 yard alley-oop to Moss? Not that there's anything wrong with that - it's smart football. If I had Moss on my team that's what I would tell my QB to do. The argument then goes to the supporting cast. Whose is better? Manning has usually had better recievers and running backs, while Brady has generally had superior o-lines, defenses, and coaches. I would say Brady has generally had the better supporting cast, as evidenced by his 3 rings. And for the record, football is a team sport and championships should not necessarily be the tie-breaker (they can be, but shouldn't be the be-all end-all). Put Brady or Manning on the Raiders and neither would go to the big game, let alone the playoffs. Still, quarterback is the most important position in football, and maybe in all of sports.

Let's look at the stats: Manning has a higher career quarterback rating. As amazing as Brady's QB rating was last year (117.2), it wasn't as good as Payton's best season (121.1). Brady has had a quarterback rating over 93 one time in his career - last season. Manning has been over 93 six times. It's about consistency, folks, and Manning has it. Manning has won more league MVPs 2-1. Manning has a higher career completion percentage. Watch defenses scramble as Manning sets up the offense - he's more cerebral (I just wanted to find a way to get that word in here somewhere) than any other QB in football. His preparation is crazy. Belichek-like, even. Anyway, Manning is the pick here for me. He is also durable - he has started 160 consecutive games.

With all that said, the off the field argument is fun also. Brady is as boring as anyone (except when that lady asked him to marry her at the Super Bowl last year. That was awesome). Manning is a bit vanilla also, but can be surprisingly funny. His commercials are good (not the Oreo ones) and his guest-host appearance on Saturday Night Live was awesome. But he can't touch Brady when it comes to the ladies. Payton's wife is very pretty, but Brady is currently dating Gisele Bundchen. He has also been linked to Bridget Moynahan. Manning just can't compete with that.

3. Drew Brees - I went with Brees over Palmer at 3 for a few reasons. For one, Brees looks like a champ when he's working out. In addition, Brees has outplayed Palmer now for three straight years. Brees has less offensive talent around him and he does more with that talent. Last season he threw for more yards, more touchdowns, less interceptions, and had a higher passer rating than Palmer. Brees doesn't exactly have Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmanzendejas to throw to either. Brees doesn't have the physical tools or the supporting cast that Palmer has but Brees still puts up superior numbers. Brees also seems to be a better leader.

4. Carson Palmer - Palmer has all the physical tools to be in the upper echelon with Brady and Manning. He has some of the best and most insane receivers (see right) in the league to throw to. If only he got more help from the line. Carson has an amazingly strong arm but can put some nice touch on his throws too. It's kind of weird to think about, but seeing Palmer as my 4th rated QB in the NFL is a disappointment. He should be 3 and maybe in the discussion at number 1, but he hasn't put it all together. Palmer is developing impressive facial hair though, and that is becoming more and more important as I evaluate and discuss sports. (as a side note, Boyd has a pretty amazing beard)

5. Tony Romo - Now, I'm not a Romosexual mind you, but I am impressed with this guy. He seems to have the it factor. I reiterate - not a Romosexual. It's not something I can necessarily put my finger on, but he passes the eye-ball test. He has all the tools to be great in the NFL. He reads defenses well, is accurate, has a cannon, and has impressive pocket presence. He still throws too many interceptions, but I think he'll remedy that as he gets more experience. Maybe all the picks is why people compare him to Favre... If Romo had produced on the field for a longer period of time I might have him a little higher. Also, he has yet to win playoff game with a stacked team. If this list were about the women you date, he'd be number 2 behind Brady. My goodness, Jessica Simpson and Carrie Underwood? Um, nice work Tony. The fact that he'd be number 2 on the women dated list shows how amazing Tom Brady's bachelorhood is.

Underrated: Jason Campbell, Matt Hasselbeck, Matt Schaub.

Overrated: Vince Young, Vince Young, Vince Young. This guy is so overhyped it's crazy. I actually read an article in SI before last season that said he was the most feared offensive player in football. That is the most blasphemous thing I have ever heard. It still makes me sick.

Could break out: Alex Smith, Jay Cutler.

Will never live up to the hype: Michael Freaking Vick.