QB Rankings for 2007

The quarterback position is the most debated amongst fans, media, and people around the NFL.  Who is the best now, Who is the best of all-time, Does the best quarterback win the Super Bowl, Can a quarterback get it done without a supporting cast, and other  questions.  I believe that the quarterback position is overly analyzed and scrutinized.  The quarterback of a team always seems to be either in the valley or at the peak each week of the season.  Too often they are blamed for losses and given credit for wins, when we all know football is the ultimate team game.  Remember it takes several individuals on a team including: 53 players on a roster, a great coaching staff, and 11 players on offense and defense to get to the ultimate prize of winning the Super Bowl. Unlike coffee swiller Peter King of SI.com, I am not going to base my quarterback rankings on trying to predict who will “be upright” at the end of the season.  I believe you have to look at a player’s entire body of work throughout their career to see where they stand.  The starting point of my rankings starts first and foremost with winning then leadership, intangibles, and passing ability (running is nice, but the NFL is a passing league first).

1) Tom Brady, New England Patriots:  Don’t give me the “what have you done for me lately routine”.  Brady is the coolest cucumber in the group and has been to 3 Pro Bowls.  He never gets too high or low during a game and has the accuracy (61 %) and leadership that you want.  He came into the league as an unheralded 6th Rd player in 2000 and now he truly is the man.  The scary part is he now has legitimate weapons at the WR position with Moss, Stallworth, Welker, and others giving the unit a much needed upgrade.  Oh by the way, he has 3 Super Bowl victories in 3 tries and only 2 playoff losses in his career.  ENOUGH SAID – See you in Canton. 
2006: 16 games, 61.8 Comp %, 3529 yds, 6.8 ypp, 24 TD’s, 12 Ints w/ 102 yards rushing & 0 TDs
Career: 96 games, 61.9 Comp %, 21,564 yards, 7.0 ypp, 147 TDs, 78 INTs, w/ 435 yards rushing & 3 TD’s

2) Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts:  Manning sure looks a whole lot better after he finally got the monkey off his back.  The first overall pick in the 1998 draft, he proved that he was a “winner” by finally beating the Pats in the playoffs on the way to winning Super Bowl XLI.  He is a 2 – time MVP, 7 – time Pro Bowler, holds the NFL mark for most touchdown passes in a season (49 in 2004), and is second to Brett Favre in consecutive starts (144).  A cerebral play caller, who understands the game as well as any offensive coordinator.  Look for him to challenge Brady for the top spot if the Colts continue their winning ways. – See you in Canton as well.
2006: 16 games, 65.0 Comp %, 4397 yds, 7.9 ypp, 31 TD’s, 9 INTs w/ 36 yards rushing & 4 TDs
Career: 144 games, 64.0 Comp %, 37,586 yds, 7.7 ypp, 275 TD’s, 139 Int’s w/701 yards rushing & 13 TD’s

3) Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals: This pick may surprise some, but I believe in only 3 short years as a starter that this 2 time Pro Bowler has establish himself as a franchise quarterback.  Palmer was the number #1 overall pick in the 2003 draft after leading USC to a National Championship and winning the Heisman.  He showed his toughness after hurting his knee (ACL) in the playoffs in 2005 and came back the following year with a Pro Bowl season without missing a game.  He is a pocket passer that utilizes all of his weapons and he has benefited from the emergence of Ocho Chinco (Chad Johnson), Rudi Johnson, TJ Houshmandzadeh, and a solid O-line.  Along with Marvin Lewis, he has led the resurgence of football in Cincinnati.  He now needs to show his mettle in the playoffs since he has only played in one playoff game.   That one game was a disaster where the Bengals lost at home to the Steelers and Palmer got hurt badly early.
2006: 16 games, 62.3 Comp %, 4035 yds, 7.8 ypp, 28 TD’s, 13 INTs w/ 37 yards rushing & 0 TDs
Career: 46 games, 63.8 Comp %, 10,768 yards, 7.4 ypp, 78 TDs, 43 INTs w/ 125 yards rushing & 2 TDs
 
4) Donovan McNabb, QB, Philadelphia Eagles: I should requse myself as a native Philadelphian, but I will not because “Big 5” deserves this spot.  He has done more with less than any quarterback on this list.  He has often kept plays and seasons alive almost single handedly (Can you say Todd Pinkston, FredEX and James Thrash).  He is a 5 time Pro Bowler, who has guided the Eagles into the playoffs in 5 out of his 8 years in the NFL including Super Bowl XXXVIIII.  He was the first quarterback in league history to throw for over 30 touchdowns and less than 10 interceptions in a single season (2004) and please don’t give me the lame accuracy excuses that many McNabb haters bring up (BTW: Holds the NFL Record for most consecutive passes completed with 24 in 2004 over two games). With his mobility and ability to make plays in and out the pocket, he is a force.  I know the critics will also say that he has been hurt 3 out of the last 5 years, ending two on I/R, but he is a winner and leader. I believe he will follow in Palmer’s footsteps (4,000 yard, Pro Bowl Season) and not Daunte Culpepper (4 bad games then I/R) in his return from knee surgery.  At 30 he is just scratching the surface and look for a rejuvenated McNabb in 2007 due to the Eagles new “Ground Marty” game plan.
2006: 10 games, 57 Comp %, 2647 yds, 8.4 ypp, 18 TD’s, 6 INTs w/ 212 rushing yards & 3 TD’s
Career: 104 games, 58.2 Comp %, 22,080 yards, 6.8 ypp, 152 TDs, 72 INTs w/ 2726 yards rushing & 24 TDs

5) Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks:  Who would have thought a smallish (6’1 range) quarterback with an average arm that was selected in the 6th Rd would be in the Top 5.  Hasselbeck is 2 – time Pro Bowler, who has been to the playoffs most of his career with the Seahawks (4 out of 6 years) including Super Bowl XL.  He has led by smarts and moxy on the way to rewarding Mike Holmgren for taking a chance on him by trading away a first round pick for him before the 2001 season.  He knows that he is not the first option on the team (RB Shaun Alexander), but he makes everyone of his throws count.  Hasselbeck has improved every season and he may be a future coach with his heady play.  He will need to watch injures as he is coming off shoulder surgery and a knee problem in 2006.
2006: 12 games, 56.6 Comp %, 2442 yards, 6.6 ypp, 18 TDs, 15 INTs w/ 110 yards rushing and 0 TDs
Career: 105 games, 60.2 Comp %, 18,366 yards, 7.1 ypp, 114 TDs, 72 INTs, w/ 802 yards rushing & 5 TD’s|

6) Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints: Another quarterback representing for the smaller quarterback (6’0 range).  Brees has always been an overachiever going back to his high school days in Texas and then onto his record setting days at Purdue.  Evaluators always say, “If he was just taller”, well to them I say “enough”.  He was last year’s MVP runner up and is a 2 time Pro Bowl player since entering the league in 2001 as a 2nd Rd pick. He passed for more than 3,000 yards in three of the four seasons he played for the Chargers and led them to a playoff appearance in 2004.  I love that he didn’t sulk after the Chargers let him walk and gave the job to Phillip Rivers.  Brees came back from whispers of a career threatening shoulder problem to lead the rejuvenation of the New Orleans Saints.  The Saints even won playoff game for the first time with Brees at the helm in 2006.  Armed with a new contract (6 years, $60 million), an offensive minded coach (Sean Peyton) and the electric Reggie Bush the sky is the limit for Brees.
2006: 16 games, 64.3 Comp %, 4418 yards, 8.0 ypp, 26 TDs, 11 INTs w/ 32 yards rushing & 0 TDs
Career: 75 games, 62.7 Comp %, 16,766 yards, 7.1 ypp, 106 TDs, 64 INTs w/ 398 yards rushing & 4 TDs

7) Marc Bulger, St. Louis Rams: Bulger is another player that came into the league unheralded (6th Rd pick in 2000 by Saints), but later became a star once he got into the right system on the right team.  The Rams system is tailor made for this 2 time Pro Bowler.  The “greatest show on turf” definitely has the right triggerman, who is proficient at looking over coverage and getting the ball out on timing routes to Tory Holt and Isaac Bruce.  Bulger has thrown for over 3800 yards three times in his career including a whopping 4301 yards in 2006.  He will need to prove that he is more than a Mike Martz creation in the next couple of years and win more in the playoffs (1-2) to move into the upper echelon of quarterbacks.
2006:  16 games, 62.9 Comp %, 4301 yards, 7.3 ypp, 24 TDs, 8 INTs, w/ 44 yards rushing & 0 TDs
Career: 60 games, 64.4 Comp %, 16,233 yards, 7.7 ypp, 95 TDs, 59 INTs, w/ 224 yards rushing  & 8 TDs

8) Steve McNair, Baltimore Ravens – The game’s ultimate warrior, who has survived various injuries including strains, fractures, and bruises to play every week.  He ain’t as flashy as his “Air McNair” Alcorn State (3rd in 1994 Heisman Balloting from 1AA school) or early Oiler days, but he is a consummate winner that always knows how to move the chains.  He has led his teams to the playoffs five times and has respectable 5-5 record in them and let’s not forget he and Eddie George led the Titans within 1 yard of possibly winning Super Bowl XXXIV.  I know it was business, but what was Tennessee thinking letting a 2 time Pro Bowl player and Co-MVP (2003) leave for almost nothing (traded for a 4th Rd Pick) and then watching him lead his team to 13 victories including one over them.  Has six 3,000 yards passing seasons on his resume and is one of the all time leaders in rushing as a quarterback with 3570 yards.  Borderline Canton candidate, who will need a couple more good years in Baltimore.
2006: 16 games, 63.0 Comp %, 3050 yards, 6.5 ypp, 16 TDs, 12 INTs w/ 119 yards rushing & 1 TDs
Career: 158 games, 59.9 Comp %, 30,191 yards, 7.0 ypp, 172 TDs, 114 INTs w/ 3570 yards rushing & 37 TDs

9) Ben Roethleisberger  – Much like McNair above him, Roethleisberger is not flashy or pretty to watch some times, but he is a winner.  In three short years he has led his team to the playoffs (5-1 Record) including winning Super Bowl XL.  He has not been to the Pro Bowl yet, but it doesn’t matter when you have the hardware on your finger.  I like that he will scramble to get a first down, stick his nose in at the goalline and make a game saving tackle (Divisional Playoffs versus the Colts in 2005).  He is a big (6’5, 240) tough kid that personifies Steelers football.  He knows that running the ball, cutting down on turnovers and letting your defense handle their business is the key to winning.  He usually only gets about 20 throws a game, but his extremely accurate with his throws (Over 62 % for his career with a high of 66% in 2004).  Look for the Steelers to return to their power running game in 2007 and not put the ball in the air as much as in 2006, which led to Big Ben throwing an uncharacteristic 23 INTs.  Please stay off the motorcycle and you will be in this list for years to come.
2006: 15 games, 59.7 Comp %, 3513 yards, 7.5 ypp, 18 TDs, 23 INTs, w/ 98 yards rushing & 2 TDs
Career: 42 games, 62.4 Comp %, 8519 yards, 8.3 ypp, 52 TDs, 43 INTs w/ 311 yards rushing & 6 TDs|
 
10) Vince Young, Tennessee Titans:  I know he is not a finished product, but he has more potential as a career quarterback than Cutler, Romo, Rivers, or anyone else that some experts want to move up to this spot.  He has the intangibles and leadership that make him a winner (Go ask the mighty USC Trojans).  He became the first rookie quarterback to go to a Pro Bowl (injury replacement) after starting only 11 games for the Titans.  On his way to winning the Rookie of the Year, he almost led the Titans to the playoffs and  finished his great rookie year with an 8-3 record as a starter including victories over the Giants, Eagles, and Colts.  Ran for 552 yards w/ 7 TD’s, which was the first time a rookie quarterback in NFL history had exceed 500 rushing yards.  With Norm Chow and Jeff Fisher devising game plans around his mobility , look out in 2007.  He will need to bring up his completion percentage and stay in the pocket more as he matures.  Also look for the Titans to bring in a better receiving compliment in the next few years.
Career/2006: 15 games, 51.5 Comp %, 2199 yards,  6.2 ypp, 12 TD’s ,13 INTs w/ 552 yards rushing & 7 TDs
 
Best of the Rest:
P. Rivers, SD (I like his numbers in year 1 of starting, but how much does LT have to do with his success)
J. Cutler, DEN (Young quarterback on the rise, but last game scared me – 1 INT in a home loss to 49ers)
T. Romo, DAL (Was he the same QB from Thanksgiving or the guy who looked rattled vs. Phi, Det, and Sea)
M. Leinart, ARZ (Young QB, but can he break the Cardinals Curse)
B. Favre, GB (Tough old bird , but is he hanging on)
E. Manning, NYG (I bet the Giants wish they re-thought their 2004 draft decision)
J. Kitna, DET (Sure he threw for 4208 yards, but who couldn’t under Martz.  Journeyman QB)
C. Pennington, NYJ (Finally was healthy in 2006, but has a weak arm)
J. Delhomme, CAR (Quickly looking like journeyman flash in the pan)
M. Schaub, HOU (Traded in Offseason, but scares me with no career wins, 0-4)
J.P. Losman, BUF (Too inconsistent and has never led the Bills into the playoffs)
T. Green, GB (Traded recently, but how much is left in his 37 year old body coming off a concussion problem)
J. Garcia, TB (Looked good leading the Eagles into the playoffs, but he and the Bucs look like an aging team)
M. Vick, ATL (Runner first that needs to get better as a passer also may have a “ruff” season ahead)
R. Grossman, CHI (The Bears made the Super Bowl in spite of him. Too inconsistent and a turnover risk)
B. Leftwich, JAX (Good pocket passer, but injuries to his legs have become a problem)
A. Smith, SF (Young learning QB, but was he really the #1 player in 2005)
J. Campbell, WSH (Young QB trying to right a terrible ship.  Always will be known for two 1st Rd picks for him)
D. Huard, KC (Journeyman Trying to hold off Croyle, but coming off a career year)
J. McCown, Oak (Journeyman QB keeping the spot warm for JaMarcus)
T. Jackson, Min (Young learning QB from a small school, but was he a reach in the 2nd Rd)
C. Frye (17 Ints and only 4 wins – Keeping seat warm for Brady Quinn)

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