Dan’s Top Ten Quarterbacks heading into the 2015 Season

With Dylan’s list of quarterbacks going up earlier this week and with us covering it on the upcoming podcast, we thought it would be fun to add a different perspective. Much like Dylan I’ve taken into account stats but don’t believe you can tell how good a QB is just by looking at the numbers. This list is based primarily on what I’ve seen, with stats to help emphasise my points. Once again it’s worth stressing that this is just my personal opinion and we’d love to hear yours, so hit us up on twitter. If you haven’t already, go look at Dylan’s list here. Let’s get into it.

10) Philip Rivers

Numbers 10, 9, 8 could all have not made the list in favour of another 3 players who could make me look rather foolish. Maybe, I’ve got Rivers a little low, especially after a start to the Season that had at least 3 of the Gentlemen proclaiming that he was easily a favourite for the league MVP. As little attention as I tend to pay to passer ratings, in this instance it is a good measure of how well he was playing in his first 6 games compared to his final 10, with an average passer rating of 118.4 in his first 6 and a rating of 78.9 in the last 10, although this is greatly affected by 1 game where he had a rating of 31. This doesn’t tell the whole story though. Rivers has been playing with less than brilliant receivers, a beaten up running back corps and a sub-par offensive line, really the fact that they won even 4 games after his initial run needs to be commended. I’m not as high on Rivers as Dylan, but there is no denying that he could move up this list as far as no. 5 if he has a good season.

9) Peyton Manning

When you listen to this week’s podcast, you’ll hear that Peyton Manning’s poor run towards the end of the season is something that both me and Dylan look at in completely different ways and both are a bit of a gamble. My faith in Manning is based entirely around the belief that he was battling an injury towards the end of last season. That being said, it is thought that he suffered a thigh injury against San Diego mid-December, by that time he was in full on slump that had already seen him play a game against Buffalo where he threw 2 interceptions for 0 TDs and only 173 yards. So maybe my faith in Manning is based around what I’ve seen him do in the past and that up until his questionable 5 game stretch at the end, he was on for 34 TD’s for 8 Interceptions. I’m taking a risk putting Peyton on this list, but I still believe he can prove people wrong.

8) Matt Ryan

Matt Ryan, in my opinion is the most underrated QB in the league. I’m going to get a little side-tracked here, so bear with me, I promise it all works out relevant in the end. I work with someone who, like me loves Matty ‘Ice’, probably our favourite topic of conversation is how criminally overlooked Matt Ryan is, it’s this love that has prompted him to look in depth at some of accomplishments, so with his permission I’m going to steal some of his workings out (thanks James). In an average Matt Ryan season he racks up 4023 yards, 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. That’s crazy. The timing of me writing this is incredibly lucky, his NFL top 100 entry mentioned that over a 7 year period, no-one has had more completions than Ryan…ever. What’s crazy is when you look at the line he’s been doing this behind, for at least 2 seasons. Yes he’s had some weapons, to play with but there have been chunks when he’s had Harry Douglas as a no. 1 target, no run game and a woeful line. Last season’s offensive line issues were down to having 5 players at the position on IR, which is incredibly unlucky (anyone remember tight end Toilolo playing tackle?) and yet he is a consistent performer. So hopefully we’ll see him take a step forward this year, especially with a stronger defence. Either way me and James will be starting our “Matt Ryan fan club”.

7) Russell Wilson

I could put my recent weight gain down to a change in diet, or how I’ve stopped running. But it could also be down to the vast amount of humble pie I’ve had to eat of late. My opinion of Russell Wilson has changed a great deal. I now see Wilson like this. Wilson is the perfect dual threat QB. Not because I believe he is the best physically to run it, but because he’s smart. When Kaepernick is having a bad game, he starts relying on his physical ability to gain yards, he tends to tuck and run more. Wilson doesn’t tend to do that unless there’s really no option. I also think he’s the best mid-range passer in the league. No one else seems to be able to hit receivers in stride quite like he can, which is demonstrated by his receivers all having decent yards after catch, despite not really being players that would walk into a no. 1 slot on another team. Wilson has been helped by having a running back like Lynch on his team, but in the addition of Jimmy Graham, Wilson now has one of the top targets in the league, something he’s never really had before. I think the Seahawks might struggle to make it back to the Super bowl, but I don’t think it will be because Wilson suffers a drop off this season.

6) Drew Brees

Down year? Well yeah I suppose it was, but he still managed to rack up nearly 5000 yards. It is possible I have him a little high, what with the expectation being that this is an offence that is moving to more of a run based mentality and that he’s lost both Stills and Graham, but his offensive line has improved and I think no matter who he’s throwing to, he’ll be productive. Also in Spiller they picked up a player who can catch the ball out of the backfield and make plays. As much as this team wants to run the ball, I think their defence might see them being behind an awful lot and relying on the many talents of Brees to try and get them back into it.

5) Tony Romo

It took 10 years for Romo to have his career defining year, but last year he finally did it, whilst only playing 15 games. We’ve discussed how the passer rating doesn’t really tell us a great deal, but it is worth mentioning that at 113.2 his was top of the league. Romo excelled in an offence that took the pressure off him, with one of the best offensive lines in the league as well as the most productive run game. I’m not sure Romo has the same passer rating next year, but I do think they may struggle to run the ball as well, with Darren McFadden being their top running back. As a result it could be a complete disaster, but I’m taking my chances on Romo finding similar form behind ‘that’ offensive line and with decent weapons to throw to. There is however every chance that this time next year, he doesn’t even make the top 10 and we’re back to unfairly blaming Romo for the woes of a team that refused to draft a running back.

4) Ben Roethlisberger

I’ve always liked big Ben, I mean you don’t win 2 super bowls without being good (I am aware Eli isn’t on this list), but last year it seemed it all fell in place, in particular over 2 games, where he threw for a combined 12 touchdowns. There is no doubting that Roethlisberger is on an offence teeming with talent, but that doesn’t always mean success (I’m looking in your direction Stafford), Roethlisberger took full advantage of his situation. What hit’s me is, when you look at what Roethlisberger did and what Le’Veon Bell did (my favourite running back in the league, but we’ll get to that another time), you have to think, how bad was that defence? Whether the defence improves this year doesn’t really matter to this list. Big Ben will almost certainly have another great season.

3) Tom Brady

This could be considered controversial I suppose. Putting Brady at 3 is not remotely about having less faith in him, but more about the ability of the 2 players above him. I could reel off an endless list of stats as to why Tom Brady deserves to be considered as one of the top QBs in the league, but really the one that matters is this. 2014, 1 Super bowl. I know there is the argument that just by going to a Super bowl doesn’t make a great QB. But to that I say, what helps make a great QB is being able to perform when it really matters. Brady has that (see the 2nd half of the Super bowl). I do think it goes under the radar that Brady has never really been behind a bad offensive line, thanks to exceptional coaching and that Gronkowski is really the big difference maker on that offence, but let’s be honest, QBs have been given better situations to win and done nothing with it (still looking your way Stafford). Let’s just finish this with the potential suspensions that could arise from deflategate, to which I say they are somewhat irrelevant. Historically the Patriots have struggled with the early season games and really I think this is no different, except they’ll have no Brady. Instead we get to watch what a fully fit Brady does coming into week 6 after several weeks to prepare for the Colts.

2) Andrew Luck

I am very aware that I am potentially a little high on Andrew Luck and to be honest I’m taking a little bit of a risk putting him this high. His stats are good, but have some red flags. 40 TDs, 16 interceptions, 8 fumbles. But I have a great deal of faith in Andrew Luck. For starters he’s never been in a great situation. His run game has been woeful, his receivers have been good, but not great (yes it’s Reggie Wayne, but it’s really end of career Reggie Wayne) and his offensive line has been atrocious, not to mention the reservations I have with Chuck Pagano as a coach and how bad I think Ryan Grigson is at his job, who really has only ever made one great move, which was drafting Andrew Luck, a move I believe my grandmother could have made, who has no interest in American Football. Luck is in a slightly better position this season, although not adding any talent to a line that regularly had to bring an extra player into protection is a concern, but he does have a great group of weapons that he can probably do some damage with. My main reason comes from just watching him. I think it will all just click in place at some point. I think the fumbles will stop and the interceptions will slow down. Whether it will happen this season though remains to be seen, but I do think he will take another step towards being truly elite.

1) Aaron Rodgers

Surprised? No me neither. There is no competition here really. I think in a few years we’ll probably be looking at 2 names that will split opinions, between whether you’re a ‘Luck guy’ or a ‘Rodgers guy’, but I don’t think we’re even close to that yet. I could spout a number off his yards per catch which are exceptional or his insane interceptions stats which are far and away the best in the league, but really that pales in comparison to just watching him play. Rodgers is a rare talent that I believe anyone could tell how good they are, just by seeing them on the field. Is there some poor performances? Yes, there is but they are heavily outweighed by the sheer amount of breath-taking plays he makes. Rodgers would have to completely fall off a cliff (in playing terms obviously), for him not to be in the conversation as one of the greatest of all time. This, all from a Bears fan.

Top 10 QBs done. Let us know what you think on twitter: @gridirongents