Simon’s Top Ten Quarterbacks going into the 2015 Season

Dylan and Dan have both shared their Top 10 QB lists for the coming season so, when Dan threw down the gauntlet of compiling mine, who was I to say no?

Any chance to play GM has to be grasped with both hands, right? Grasped like Mark Sanchez grasps the ball on a broken play QB keeper behind Brandon Moore. OK, maybe not quite like that, but you get the idea.

You can compile lists like these in a number of ways. Follow the stats (they never lie remember) and build it based on numbers, or go with the names, and pick out the career guys who everyone knows. Best highlight reels, or number of rings.

Personally, I’m going on gut feel. Who, coming in to the 2015 season, do I think will be most likely to have a better year than their peers? Sure, numbers are part of that process but, like all good “don’t blame us if you lose all your money” disclaimers, past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results!

So, without further ado, here are my Top 10 QBs for 2015:

10. Alex Smith

A slew of quarterbacks could have squeaked in at number 10 to be honest – Flacco, Newton, Romo, Manning – but Alex Smith claims the spot for me. He’s not going to set the world on fire, but he isn’t going to burn down the house, either.

The archetypal “Game manager”, Smith is solid if unspectacular. With some weapons at wideout for a change and a little more protection up front, might we see the Chiefs extending their season in 2015?

9. Ryan Tannehill

Something of a surprise picking Tannehill here for some I’m sure, but I genuinely believe he could take the next step this season.

Coming off the back of a career year in 2014, throwing for 4,000+ yards and 27 TDs, he’s shown he has the arm and touch to make all the throws. His improved accuracy last year was a sign of his growth and I see that continuing through this season with some fresh new talent at his disposal.

Having just signed a new deal through 2020, the pressure will certainly be on for him to step up, but coming off the back of that career year, I think he continues the upward trajectory.

8. Drew Brees

Brees only just ahead of Tannehill? Any other time, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking I’d been drinking, but I don’t think 2015 is going to be a great year for Brees, or the Saints.

After a consistently inconsistent 2014 campaign, the Saints have suffered badly with trying to get under the salary cap ahead of next year. The departure of Jimmy Graham was just one of many casualties in an effort to make the numbers add up.

Max Unger did come the other way as a result of that Graham trade, and CJ Spiller will give them a little more presence in the back field, but I think Brees’ season will be hampered by him having to work with what he has as the Saints continue to rebuild.

7. Eli Manning

Learning yet another offensive system last year, Eli’s season blew hot and cold at times, but a strong finish showed signs of him getting to grips with Ben McAdoo’s playbook.

OBJ will likely be his number one target again in 2015 but, with Victor Cruz set to return, and the addition of Shane Vereen in the backfield in the off season, Eli will have plenty of weapons at his disposal. With more reps under his belt learning McAdoo’s system as well, I think Eli will continue next season where he left off this.

6. Philip Rivers

Philip Rivers is a tough quarterback. Goodness knows last season he had to be! As Dylan rightly stated in his analysis, Rivers was on course for a standout year after the first 6 weeks of the season – before it all started to fall apart.

Rivers will have an exciting prospect lining up behind him in the backfield this year in the shape of Melvin Gordon, which will undoubtedly ease some pressure, although perhaps not to the same level that Romo enjoyed with the Cowboys last year courtesy of DeMarco Murray.

If Rivers and, more importantly, his offensive line can stay healthy next year, the Chargers will certainly win more than they lose as the talent quotient increases on the roster.

5. Russell Wilson

I honestly can’t make my mind up about Russell Wilson. Sometimes I’ll watch him play and he’ll be a mobile, accurate quarterback making smart decisions and moving the sticks consistently. Other times, I see a quarterback who flees the pocket too quickly and makes risky throws (I still maintain the pick that ultimately ended their season was more down to a poor throw from Wilson than a great play by Butler).

So how does he make the top half of my list? Simple – he does the former a lot more than the latter.

There can be no denying that Wilson offers threats on multiple levels, with a strong arm yet able to make the touch throws, the ability to evade the tackle, and speed to back it up when he escapes, but I can’t help but feel he’s been at least a little elevated in his stature by virtue of landing with the right team at the right time.

That said, the Seahawks don’t look like falling off the curve just yet and, with the addition of Jimmy Graham, there will be even more for opposing defenses to worry about. As such, I can’t see Wilson having a poor year next year.

4. Andrew Luck

It was a tough call between positions 3 and 4 on the list for me, but I can’t put Luck any higher due to his tendency to turn the ball over. Luck gave the ball away 24 times last season, and that’s too many times in my book to be sitting at the top table.

I know this is a list of how I think 2015 will pan out but, with even more toys at his disposal, I can see Luck throwing at least as much as he did in 2014, and probably turning the ball over just as much.

The Colts should at least have a slightly more dependable running game this year with the addition of Frank Gore, but I think the (relative) lack of attention to shoring up the defense means they’ll still need to air it out to stay in games.

I can realistically see Luck topping the TD count again next year with all those weapons, but his talent will still be hampered by his inaccuracy for me, so he stalls at 4 in my list.

3. Ben Roethlisberger

“Big Ben” threw for as many yards as any quarterback last year (4,952) and finished the season with a rating of 103.3. That alone might have been enough to elevate him from 4 to 3 over Andrew Luck, but he did whilst throwing just 9 interceptions. And he’s 33.

At a time when you might expect a quarterback to start tailing off in his performances, especially when he’s playing in the Pittburgh climate, Roethlisberger seems to be getting better.

He’ll start 2015 without Le’Veon Bell for three games, but I don’t see that slowing him down. I think we have another great year from Big Ben to look forward to.

2. Tom Brady

I don’t care how firm Tom Brady’s balls are or aren’t. He’s a great quarterback, and possibly the greatest of all time (I say possibly – I’m a Niners fan and can’t bring myself to crown him GoAT over Sir Montana, but that’s another story).

Whichever way you measure Brady, he’s up there. The numbers, the wins, the rings, etc. etc. etc. all tell you you are dealing with an elite quarterback. Sure, he’s had talent around him for a lot of his career and has played for one of the all time great Head Coaches, but Brady has an unquestionable ability to make it happen.

Possibly at his best when it really matters (his second half of SuperBowl XLIX was outstanding) even the biggest stage doesn’t phase him.

I don’t see the Patriots returning to the big dance in 2015, but I do expect that Brady will turn in another great season as he moves in to the twilight of his career.

1. Andy Dalton

No, not really…

Real 1. Aaron Rodgers

If you got this far and thought you’d see someone else listed here, then I’d guess you’re either a Patriots fan, or fresh off the latest tea boat from China. Without doubt the current cream of the crop, there isn’t anyone who can get close to Rodgers in my opinion.

I know I said in my opening gambit that past performance etc. etc., but lets just take a moment to look at his numbers for 2014.

Rodgers threw for 4,381 yards and 38 touchdowns. He was picked off 5 times. 5! That’s fewer than 1% of his pass attempts in 2014 ending in enemy hands. At home, he hasn’t thrown a pick in over two years.

He will return next season healthy, and with the same array of weapons available to him. I suggested earlier in the year that the Packers would be the first to secure a Play-Off spot in 2015 and I’ve seen nothing since to dissuade me from that opinion.

Even the hardiest Packers-hater has to doff their cap to Rodgers and his mastering of the craft of quarterbacking. I think we all get to enjoy it again in 2015.

So there you have it. The ten who I think will have a strong 2015. I’m sure not everyone agrees…

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