Since the end of Super Bowl 47, there has been much talk about free agent to be Joe Flacco. A report surfaced last week from Flacco’s agent stating that his client deserves to be the highest paid quarterback in the league, calling Flacco one of the NFL’s elite. This instantly spawned a debate arguing if Flacco is elite or not. Let’s see where Flacco falls in the quarterback rankings .(Keep in mind; this will look at a lot of stats. Stats don’t only determine an elite QB, as leadership, smarts, confidence and more all contribute to an elite QB. Still, I feel pretty confident in my picks for elite QB’s)
1. Tom Brady- Brady is the definition of elite. As much as it pains me to sit here and give Brady props, it must be done. Brady had a phenomenal year in 2012. He threw for 4543 yards, 4th most in the NFL. On top of all those yards, Brady had 32 touchdowns to 8 interceptions, a 63.1 completion percentage and had over 300 yards in eight different games! With Brady behind center, the Patriots always have a chance to contend for a championship. Brady has helped elevate the careers of players such as Wes Welker, Randy Moss, Julian Edelman, Brandon Llyod etc. Despite getting older, look for Brady to be Brady in 2013 and lead the Patriots back to the division title
2. Peyton Manning- If you look back at Manning’s 2012 season, you can see why there were 31 NFL teams lining up to try and recruit the free agent back in March of 2012. Despite missing the entire 2011 season with a neck injury, it didn’t take long for Manning to get back to regular form with his new team in Denver. Manning threw for 4355 yards, 34 touchdowns to 11 interceptions and had 8 games with over 300 yards passing. Manning’s completion percentage was a cool 68.1% as well. Wide Receivers Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas must have been the happiest people in 2012, going from a QB who can’t throw in Tim Tebow to one of the all-time bests throwing them the ball. Manning may be getting up there in age, but he is still a machine and his football smarts has no rival. As long as Denver offensive line can keep up the great protection, Manning will still be lethal in 2013.
3. Aaron Rodgers- Mr. Discount Doublecheck had a great year in 2012. The Packers were right to kick icon Brett Favre to the curb a few years ago, showing their faith in the kid from California. Rodgers hasn’t disappointed since taking over, winning a Super Bowl title in 2010 and keeping the Packers among the NFL’s elite teams despite his team’s historically atrocious defense. In 2012, Rodgers threw for 3930 yards, had a completion percentage of 67% but only had five games passing for over 300 yards. Still, Rodgers put up 35 touchdowns to 8 interceptions, and every time he steps out onto the field, the opposing defense must play perfect and not allow Rodgers to beat them with his arm or even his running ability. Rodgers is the full package.
4. Drew Brees- A lot went wrong for the Saints in 2012, and it started with head coach Sean Payton being suspended the entire year due to “bounty gate”. The Saints needed Brees more than ever, and after a tiring contract negotiation with the team, Brees joined training camp looking to put the Saints on his back. Brees had a slightly “off” year in 2012. The numbers were still elite, as he threw for 4781 yards, the most in the league. Brees’ completion percentage was 62.7%, he had 9 games throwing for over 300 yards and he had 39 touchdowns compared to 18 interceptions. Keep in mind, without a good run game and stable coaching, Brees had to throw the ball a league high 627 times! With Payton back for 2013, look for the Saints to get back to being one of the best teams in football. Hopefully, the Saints are able to add a solid starting running back (Ahmad Bradshaw anyone) to help take some pressure off of Brees.
5. Matt Ryan- Matty Ice took the next step in 2012, showing that he is one of the next up and coming quarterbacks in the league. Ryan threw for 4,719 yards, had 6 games passing over 300 yards, had a 68.6 completion percentage and threw for 32 touchdowns versus 14 interceptions. Ryan helped lead the Atlanta Falcons to the best record in the NFL at 13-3, tied with the Broncos. Ryan was also able to win his first playoff game, and the Falcons could have been playing in the Superbowl had the defense not cave in the second half against the 49ers. Ryan is right there with the elites, and will put up great numbers as long as he has wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones running routes for him.
So there you have it, the top five quarterbacks in the NFL in my eyes. The top four players listed are pretty much no brainers, as I feel the number five spot is the one that changes every year (like last year, number five would have been ELi Manning probably). So while there is no Joe Flacco in the top five, where would he fall?
Joe Flacco- Joe is number six in my opinion as best qb. I feel like Flacco’s position can change on a year to year basis. He is this high because he just won Super Bowl 47, was named MVP, made the playoffs every year since he was drafted in 2008 and went through the 2012 playoffs throwing 11 touchdowns to 0 interceptions! Flacco has a great arm, and made some great plays to keep the Ravens playoff hopes alive (Jacoby Jones prayer in Denver anyone?). Look at Flacco’s numbers though…he threw for 3,783 yards, 22 touchdowns to 10 interceptions and a 59.8 completion percentage. I know it is the regular season and Flacco stepped up and played best when it mattered most, but Flacco is no better than the QB’s above him. Matt Ryan can be the only argument, but Flacco over the first four listed above? Not a chance.
Eli Manning- This time last year, everyone was calling Eli elite. Look, Eli is a great QB, he puts up great numbers, makes no name players better (Victor Cruz) and is usually clutch in the 4th quarter. He has two Super Bowl MVP’s to his name, and he has done well in one of the toughest markets to play in. Eli is a great QB, but to call him fully elite, I don’t think so.
Ben Roethlisberger- The Steelers QB has two Super Bowls, and is the engine that makes the Steelers go. Without Big Ben, the Steelers aren’t the same team. The team needs Ben’s play making abilities, as there is no QB better at scrambling and making second plays on the run better than him. He is so tough to take down, and when healthy creates matchup nightmares for opposing teams defenses.