Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Abundance of Good Quarterbacks

I was thinking about Flacco the other day and trying to figure out where I'd rate him in terms of best QBs in the league. And it led me to the general thought that while I don't know where I'd rank him, there are simply a lot of really good QBs in the NFL right now. Probably more than have ever been in the league before.

Rather than trying to rank them specifically, I'll just throw them out in tiers...

Best in the league
Drew Brees, and I don't think it's close.

Great old vets, possibly on the down-side or close to it
Tom Brady
Peyton Manning
Carson Palmer
Donovan McNabb
Kurt Warner
Chad Pennington

Established young players
Ben Roethlisberger
Philip Rivers
Eli Manning
Jay Cutler (??? controversial)
Matt Schaub
Tony Romo

Next-gen great ones
Matt Ryan
Joe Flacco
Aaron Rodgers
Matt Cassel
Mark Sanchez (??? looks like he can play, but it's two games)

More than half the league has good to great quarterbacks. This doesn't include guys like Favre, Garrard, Trent Edwards and Orton who may deserve to be on this list somewhere as well.

Not sure what the reason is for this. My guess is part of it has to do with colleges running a more pro-style of game and therefore preparing these QBs better than they've been in the past. Part may be that WRs these days are getting out of hand how good some of them are. Part may be all the variations of the west coast offenses out there which may be making it easier for the quarterbacks.

Not sure there's anywhere to go with this, just thought it's pretty interesting.


  1. Edwards certainly should be included. He is one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the NFL. Matt Cassel, OTOH should not. Not yet. He had a difficult time winning the job in training camp over Croyle and has done nothing so far to indicate that he was the deserving winner.

    It is very very early to be sticking a fork in Peyton Manning. I'd still take him over anyone. Brees benefits from the best offensive line and complementary weapons in the league. Brees is outstanding but Manning would do everything he does in that system.

  2. I was thinking a lot about Edwards and Cassel. It's interesting because in general I think Edwards is more likely to have a good to great career than Cassel, but if you asked Joe FootballFan on the street, "Who's the better QB?" probably 90% would say Cassel if not ask if it were a rhetorical question.

    I'm not ready to write Cassel off yet. He struggled, but I wonder how much of that was learning a new offense and/or injury related. For right now, last year buys him a spot on this list, though I'm not unwilling to quickly rethink that if after eight weeks he is looking quite like a QB inserted into an awesome machine of an offense in '08 but otherwise hasn't played a game since high school. Same with Edwards - the other way - if he continues to do what he's done through two games so far.

    I'm also not sticking a fork in Peyton. I said "or close to [the down-side]," which frankly I think is accurate. Peyton's 33 now. Very few QBs have maintained such a high level of performance past around age 34 or 35. Guys like Favre, Steve Young and Warner are exceptions, playing well into their late 30s. Guys like Marino, Montana, Aikman, Cunningham...all declined significantly in their early to mid 30s. You can say the same about almost all the mediocre to just good QBs as well, though with a guy like Manning I don't know that you can compare him against guys like that.

    Now, it's possible that with how we've advanced medicine and the understanding of how to care for the human body that we'll start seeing that trend bucked. But we haven't seen it too much yet.

    And I'm not saying he's gonna fall off a cliff either. But for how many more seasons can he continue dominating the league? One? Two? Then his completion percentage starts falling into the low 60s from the mid-high 60s, and his passer rating falls into the 85-95 range rather than the 95-105 range for a few years. I think he's got another five good to great years where he'll decline a bit along the way. Then we start getting into Favre territory... "Okay buddy, it's about time to hang 'em up."

    I do think an interesting question would be along the lines of "If you were starting a franchise right now, would you rather have Peyton Manning or Joe Flacco (or insert other young guy's name here)?" Manning's clearly better than almost everyone else. But would you rather take a slight downgrade for a guy who's gonna likely play 10+ more years, and within two or three years may well be playing better than Manning?

    Personally, I think I take that younger guy.


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