Giants quarterback Eli Manning recently stirred up some “controversy” when he said that he was among the elite quarterbacks in the league. Is it really that crazy of an idea?
Completion percentage, touchdown to interception ratio and winning are the three main components of being a good quarterback in the NFL. The first two things help determine the quarterback’s QB rating. If a quarterback has a QB rating over 90 then they are among the best in the game. Ideally, you want your team’s quarterback to have above a 60% completion percentage, a touchdown to interception rate of 2 to 1 and to win football games.
So, is Eli Manning among the best quarterbacks in the game?
Here is my take on the top ten quarterbacks heading into the 2011 NFL season.
Josh Freeman: Freeman is coming off a fantastic sophomore campaign in which he threw 25 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions. He helped the young Buccaneers be one of the surprises in the NFL as they won 10 games. The biggest question is can he follow it up? If he does, he will be among the ten best.
Joe Flacco: Flacco continues to be on the cusp of being one of the best quarterbacks in the game. He has started every game since entering the league in 2008 but must start winning the big games and make less head-scratching plays. Losing two safety blankets in Derrick Mason and Todd Heap does hurt.
Tony Romo: Had Romo stayed healthy last season and played the full year, he probably would have been on the list. While he may never throw for 36 touchdowns like in 2007 again, Romo is good for 25-30 touchdowns and has a lot of weapons in Dallas. Like Flacco, it’s time for Romo to win the big games.
The Top Ten —
Number 10: Matt Ryan
After regressing in 2009, Ryan had his best year last season, leading the Falcons to an NFC-best 13-3 record. He, along with the rest of the team, played poorly in the NFC Divisional round, getting blown out by the Packers 48-21. Ryan sits at number ten because he has played poorly in his two postseason games and because he doesn’t play well in outdoor games (25 TDs, 16 INTs, 57.2 completion percentage, 78.5 QB rating in 18 outdoor games as compared to 41 TDs, 18 INTs, 63.5 completion percentage, 93.2 QB rating in 28 indoor games). This upcoming season is a big one for “Matty Ice.”
Number 9: Matt Schaub
Schaub has put up big seasons the last two years for the Houston Texans playing with arguably the NFL’s best wide receiver in Andre Johnson. He sits at number nine on the list because he has yet to lead the Texans to the playoffs. Winning is a major factor in how good of a quarterback you truly are and, thus far, Schaub has yet to do it. Schaub must lead the Texans to their first playoff appearance this season or else he will be surpassed by others.
Number 8: Eli Manning
Eli threw for a career-high in touchdowns with 31 last season but also led the league in interceptions with 25. Turnovers have been something that have plagued the Giants quarterback ever since he entered the league. Although there were a good amount of those interceptions that were either dropped or tipped by Giants receivers, Manning also tends to throw a high ball so these things happen. While Manning has never won a playoff game outside of the 2007 Super Bowl run, he has obviously shown that he can win the big games on the road. He has lost two big targets in Steve Smith and Kevin Boss to free agency but Manning still has Hakeem Nicks who is quickly becoming one of the more explosive players in the NFL. He may never be a top five quarterback in the league, but Eli is certainly a top ten one.
Number 7: Michael Vick
For all intents and purposes, Michael Vick came out of nowhere and had his best season last year, while also winning the Comeback Player of the Year award. Vick had a great touchdown to interception rate of 21 to 6, while also adding 9 rushing touchdowns, in 12 games. This offseason, the Eagles have upgraded the offense even more with the signings of Steve Smith and Ronnie Brown. Vick has now become a great dual threat quarterback but two question marks remain going into this season: Can he do it again? And can he stay healthy?
Number 6: Ben Roethlisberger
After being suspended for the first four games last season, Roethlisberger had one of his best years of his career. Over the last three seasons or so, Roethlisberger has been given more to do with the offense and he has shown he is capable of handling it. While he doesn’t always put up the gaudy stats of a Manning or Rivers, Roethlisberger is the perfect fit for the Steelers. The bottom line is that he gets the job done and wins.
Number 5: Drew Brees
After winning the Super Bowl in 2009, Brees had arguably his worst season with the Saints as he threw for a career-high 22 interceptions. While he may start declining in the next few seasons, he remains one of the best quarterbacks in the league as he spreads the ball around at a high completion rate to all of his targets on the Saints. Brees is still among the top five.
Number 4: Philip Rivers
Rivers, Brees’ successor in San Diego, has put up huge seasons since becoming the starter with the Chargers. In that time period, he has averaged 27 TDs and 11 INTs. He needs to win the Super Bowl in order to be number one or two, though. The odd thing, however, is that his best chance at a Super Bowl may have actually passed. In the end, he may be destined for the same career as Dan Marino, though.
Number 3: Peyton Manning
I certainly didn’t buy the hype that Manning wouldn’t be starting the season for the Colts until Kerry Collins was brought in. As Tony Dungy said on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, though, Peyton hates missing one play let alone a game. I do still expect him to be there for the opener in Houston. Without him, the Colts are a 3-13 team. Indianapolis may start running the ball a little more this season and for the remainder of Peyton’s career. With all of that said, a decline has to be on the horizon for the now-35 year old quarterback.
Number 2: Aaron Rodgers
I think Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy made the right decision going to Rodgers, huh? #12 has put up huge numbers in his three seasons with the Packers and with a Super Bowl victory under his belt, he will arguably be the best quarterback in the league over the next handful of seasons. Rodgers doesn’t turn the ball over a lot, is very accurate and is dangerous on the run which is what makes him a great quarterback.
Number 1: Tom Brady
Brady put up a ridiculous regular season last year with 36 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He also earned MVP honors for the second time of his career. If anything, he’s gotten better. As the team around him has gone through changes over the last several years, Brady remains the one constant for the Patriots. As long as he and Belichick are around, New England will always be dangerous.
Thanks for reading and be sure to sound off below!
Follow me on Twitter (@MPellegriniYCN) for more.