Thursday, June 30, 2011

Top Ten NFL Quarterbacks 2011 - #10 - #6

With the lockout still going, I can't give my opinion on the NFL teams at this point, but it's getting to be that time of year where football writing should be going on. So I've decided to start evaluating the NFL players.  I'm starting naturally with the most important position in the league, quarterback, and will move on to the other positions as necessary until this lockout is over.

I have plenty to say about the quarterbacks, so I've broken down the list into multiple parts rather than wait and release just one large list.  I started with the notable omissions earlier in the week, and am moving on to numbers 10 through 6 here....

#10 - Josh Freeman - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Freeman will probably be the biggest surprise on this list, but he won't be for long.  Freeman showed his talent in 2010.  He threw for 3451 yards with 25 touchdown to just 6 interceptions while throwing to a pair of rookie starting wide receivers in Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams.  He had better numbers as a passer than Michael Vick without nearly as strong a supporting cast.  As the young supporting cast around him gets better as well as Freeman himself getting better in his third season, he should make another big leap as a passer this year.  He is also a great talent athletically for the quarterback position.  He's built like Ben Roethlisberger, which allows him to fight his way out of sacks and extend plays.  He's also faster than Ben and a better runner overall, which allowed him to extend drives and pick up 29 first downs with his legs last season.  By the end of the year there is no doubt in my mind that Freeman will be on everyone's top ten list.  Remember you saw him on the list here first.

#9 - Matt Schaub - Houston Texans

The Texans would have made the playoffs this year if they had anything resembling a pass defense down in Houston.  Schaub was fourth in the league in passing yards and ninth in quarterback rating, but was barely noticed because of the Texans' poor record. They still managed to get to six wins despite allowing the fourth most points per game of any team in the league, and that was because of Schaub's ability to throw the ball and turn what should have been one sided games into shoot outs.  The Texans defense managed to hold the other team under twenty points just twice in the sixteen game season, forcing Schaub to lead comeback after comeback.  The Texans had four games in the 2010 season where they came back in the second half to tie the game or take the lead but lost the game anyway, an NFL record.  Schaub isn't quite in the elite yet because he hasn't lead his team to the playoffs yet in his career, but he is definitely a top ten NFL quarterback.

#8 - Matt Ryan - Atlanta Falcons

Over his his first three NFL seasons, Matty Ice has been as good as he was advertised coming out of Boston College.  Ryan was the obvious best quarterback to come out of the 2008 draft, but he somehow slipped past shaky quarterback situations in Miami and St. Louis to fall to the Falcons at the third overall pick.  He's been in the league for three years and has passed for over 3000 yards made the playoffs in two of the three years.  He would have eclipsed the 3000 yard mark and possibly made the playoffs a third time but Ryan ended up missing two late season games due to turf toe during the 2009 season, leaving him 84 yards short of 3000 and his team a win away from the postseason.

Ryan ranks higher on the list than Schaub because of his team's success.  A simple look at the stats over the last three years would show Schaub with better numbers overall, but a look at the records shows that Ryan's teams have finished with a better record every year.  It's also important to note that Ryan's likely future growth as a quarterback is higher than anyone else who made this top ten.  There is no reason to believe that Ryan will get anything but better as he spends more time in the league, especially with the Falcons trading up to draft Julio Jones to pair with franchise receiver Roddy White.  The Falcons have one of the best offensive skill position groups in the game right now, and Ryan will take full advantage of that moving forwards.

#7 - Philip Rivers - San Diego Chargers

Rivers lead the league in passing yards and was second in quarterback rating, so his presence on this list should come as no surprise to anyone.  His placement on the list might surprise some people though.  He has passed for over four thousand yards in each of the last three years and is a three time Pro Bowl quarterback, so why did I only rank him at number seven?  Simple, his 3-5 postseason record and lack of any post season jewelry.

It's not enough to be a successful regular season quarterback.  Unless you win a Super Bowl, history will always remember that you as great, but not as the best.  People love Dan Marino, but the first thing that always comes up is the fact that he never won a ring.  Unless he wins a ring, the same will happen to Philip Rivers.  That's why he's ranked here at #7, below all of the current NFL quarterbacks who have won Super Bowls.  Until he wins one, this is where he'll stay in peoples minds.

#6 - Eli Manning - New York Giants

People love to pile on with Eli, but they don't have any really good reasons for doing it.  Eli does more for his team at the line of scrimmage than nearly any other quarterback in the league save big brother Peyton Manning.  He has thrown for more than 3000 yards in each of his six full seasons as a starter, including over 4000 in each of the last two seasons.  In the six full seasons he has been a starter, the worst record that the Giants' have had is 8-8, and they've made playoffs in four of the six seasons.  He has also won a Super Bowl and was the Super Bowl MVP.  He even starred in the awesome Football Cops short with his brother, which is worth something even if I don't know what.  With that service record, it's amazing he is only sixth on the list, and obvious that anyone who leaves him off their top ten is more concerned about his "Manning Face" than his obvious talents.

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