Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Top Ten NFL Quarterbacks 2011 - The Not Quite Top Ten Edition

With the lockout on the verge of ending, It's time to start discussing the NFL more.  Unfortunately, it's hard to evaluate how teams are going to look this season until after the lockout ends.  However, I can discuss players.  I'm a man of my own opinions here at Big Derf Sports, and I don't want people to be too surprised when we get into the season and I've got a low opinion on a guy like Michael Vick.  Everyone should know what they are getting into.  It's also important to note that these are my opinions of the real world talents of these quarterbacks and should no way be confused with my fantasy football rankings, which will come after the free agency period.

Also, rather than blowing my whole load at once, I realized as I was writing the list that I have quite a bit to say about each player.  So, I'm going to release this list in three different posts over next few days.  The first post here is about the biggest name players to not make my top ten list.  Then I'll release the #10-#6 segment of my list, and then #5-#1 after that.

For now, onto to big name omissions...

Not Top Ten Anymore - Carson Palmer - Cincinnati Bengals

Palmer used to be a top ten quarterback and has the potential to get back there when he gets out of the black hole that is Cincinnati.  The attitude there is horrible, and the owner has no interest in putting any extra money into the team or it's poor facilities in an attempt to turn around the whole situation.  While he did put up a good amount of his stats in garbage time, Palmer put up the sixth most passing yards in the league last year.  The Bengals really weren't that competitive offensively most of the year though, and some of the blame for that has to fall on Palmer.  A top-10 quarterback would have been able to make the proverbial chicken salad out of chicken shit, but Palmer just polished the turd that was the awful season and didn't actually help make the team competitive.

Not Even Close - Mark Sanchez - New York Jets

Sanchez is only ever discussed as a top quarterback because he plays in New York for a team that has made the playoffs in both of his seasons in the league.  What isn't discussed is the fact that the Jets might have won a Super Bowl in the last two years if they had gotten even average play at the quarterback position.  Think about the amazing scenario Sanchez is in.  They have one of the best offensive coordinators in the game in Brian Schottenheimer, had very good skill position player mismatches in 2010 in Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller and had the number four rushing offense in the league statistically.  And that's just their offensive advantages, not even mentioning they had the third ranked defense statistically (and best defense in the league if you ask me) supplying him with great field position.

Even with all of that going in his favor, Sanchez managed to have just the sixteenth most yards at the QB position and more importantly was ranked 27th of the 31 qualifying quarterbacks in QB Rating.  His 75.3 rating was just pitiful, behind players like Alex Smith and Kerry Collins, and was only slightly better than his god awful 63.0 QB rating he had as a rookie in 2009.  If you really think Sanchez is a top ten QB, then just close the browser window now and go read at some other blog catered to your Jet fan delusions.

Overrated - Michael Vick - Philadelphia Eagles

I know that those who think Vick is good are just going to point to his insane stats at times last year and his insane Monday Night Football game, but those stats weren't just because the former running back at quarterback has suddenly evolved, they were because of the Eagles Offense.  Teams were struggling to contain the well designed Eagles offense as always and didn't know how to do that and stop Vick.  However, by the end of the season teams seemed to realize that the addition of Vick to the offense would actually help the slow it down.  The Eagles' offense was awful against the Giants until their defense took the fourth quarter off, and was equally bad against the Vikings in Week 16 and then against the Packers in the playoffs.

How did they stop Vick and the Eagles?  Simple, they just added speed to the field on defense.  Instead of linebackers getting smoked around corners chasing Vick, teams started adding defensive backs to the field to spy Vick.  Teams couldn't do this against Vick back in Atlanta, because if they did Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett would just run over the defensive backs added to the field.  In Philadelphia, Andy Reid hasn't had any sort of power running game the whole time he has been there and as good as LeSean McCoy is, he's not a power back.  This year, Vick is going to see nickel and dime sets all year, and he's going to look much more like the quarterback we had written off as a QB back in 2005, not at all like the mirage we saw last year.  I'm sure to hear criticism right now for keeping him off my top ten, but come the end of the season it will be clear how right I was.

Maybe Next Year - Joe Flacco

The toughest cut from my top ten was Flacco.   He has many of the qualities that you would desire from a top ten quarterback, but just hasn't put it all together yet.  An overall look at his passing yards along with his completion percentage and his TD-INT ratio all pass the eye test, but a deeper look into the numbers reveals a quarterback who still has flaws.  Flacco has a solid 62.3 completion percentage, but that number is influenced by a 69.1% in first quarters and falls off to just 56.3% in late close games (4th quarter within 7 points) and 58.3% in overtimes.  He threw just 10 picks on the year, but eight of those ten came on the road, indicating a quarterback who isn't quite comfortable in hostile environments.  The good news for Flacco is that all of these flaws are correctable, and he should be able to rise into the top ten with a strong season next year.

The Future Number One - Sam Bradford

Bradford's rookie season was amazing.  He joined a team that had Mark Clayton as it's number one receiver until he got hurt after five weeks, leaving Bradford with slot receiver Danny Amendola as his number one guy.  Despite no help at receiver and having no receiver to stretch the field, Bradford still threw for 3512 yards and led his team to within a win of making the postseason...Finishing with a 7-9 record.  Those numbers are plain amazing when you consider that he joined a team that had drafted either #1 or #2 in each of the three years prior to his arrival.  Bradford doesn't have the track record yet to make this list as a rookie, but he's a lock to be on the list next year and has a great chance to top the list one day assuming he doesn't get hurt.

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