Friday, July 22, 2011

Top Ten NFL Quarterbacks 2011 - #5 - #1

The lockout looks to be wrapping up here, so football coverage is about to start ramping up here at Big Derf Sports.  Reactions to all the news and player movement along with fantasy football draft strategies and rankings all coming fast and furious once the league starts moving again.

Until then, finishing off my top ten NFL quarterbacks list.  The notable players that missed the list are here, and numbers 10-6 are here.  This list takes into account past performance and what I expect from these guys this year.  This top five section took me longest to get around to writing because it's going to be a bit of a love fest that's going to have to be interrupted with nitpicking to separate them.  It's hard to talk bad about any of these top five guys...

#5 - Ben Roethlisberger - Pittsburgh Steelers

Off the field issues aside, with two Super Bowl rings on his hand and his strong performance in the playoffs this past year on his resume, you have to consider Roethlisberger an elite quarterback.  He makes it this high on the list because of what he puts on the table for your offense that a traditional quarterback doesn't.  He is a big strong guy who has no problem standing in the pocket for a long time and taking a hit.  He's also big enough to shrug off sacks and extend plays.  The Steelers receivers end up improvising more than almost any other team's receivers.

His strengths are also related to his main weaknesses.  His accuracy is good but not elite as some of the other guys on this list, which is why he sometimes needs to hold onto the ball to begin with.  While he's good at avoiding sacks, he sometimes gets overconfident that he can avoid the sack and that leads to him coughing up the ball.  The faults are minor though, and Ben is firmly a top five quarterback.

#4 - Drew Brees - New Orleans Saints

Breesus, as he's called by some Saints fans, is coming off a bit of a down year, but he's still in the top five.  Yeah, he threw the most interceptions of his career last year, but he still threw for 33 touchdowns to go with it.  It also wasn't entirely his fault.  The Saints spent half the year playing with running backs who weren't on the team when the season started.  All four running backs they went into camp with missed at least four games and they missed a combined total of 38 games.  That meant Brees had to throw more times last year than any other year of his career and Saints' opponents knew it.

Brees is still deadly accurate and great at reading defenses.  Sean Peyton is still one of the most creative offensive minds in the game, and they should have more running backs than they know what to do with back for next year.  He'll put in another elite season in 2011.

#3 - Aaron Rodgers - Green Bay Packers

The man with the championship belt has quickly reached the elite level of quarterbacks.  The Packers made a great draft pick when they grabbed Rodgers late in the first round even though they still had Brett Farve.  They knew that Farve needed to be replaced, and Rodgers got to learn and develop for a few years before being thrown into the fire, and the Packers did a good job of setting up the pieces around their young quarterback for him to be successful.

Now just three short years later, Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the league.  He threw for almost 4000 yards with a 101.2 QB rating during the regular season.  Then he threw for another 1000 yards in the playoffs with a 109.8 QB rating.  He was excellent all year long and the Packers MVP in the playoffs.  He was also, of course, the Super Bowl MVP as well.  He doesn't quite have the track record yet to be put into the Manning/Brady discussion (we made that mistake with Brees after he won the Super Bowl), but he is the third best quarterback in the league.

#2 - Tom Brady - New England Patriots
#1 - Peyton Manning - Indianapolis Colts

Speaking of Manning/Brady, here they are at two and one. Their career arcs have been so defined by each other and their regular season and playoff battles, that you can't talk about one without talking about the other at this point.  Both guys have a strong claim to being the best, and if you wanted to make an argument that Brady was your choice for number one then I wouldn't be able to argue with you.

Brady can point at his record setting 50 TD season as why he should be number one, and that is basically an inarguable point.  My choice is Manning because he is more important to his offense.  Both guys have elite accuracy and arm strength, and both guys are amazing at reading defenses.  Brady is hurt by the 2008 season he missed, because Matt Cassel came in and the offense was fairly successful without Brady.  Manning evaluates every play at the line of scrimmage.  The players on the offense aren't that amazing all around, but Manning's ability to read the defense allows their offense to still churn out yards every down.

Both guys are amazing though, and while personally I'm not a huge Brady/Patriots fan, I'm not going to sit here and talk bad about him.  These guys are the best two quarterbacks in the league.  That's simple.

-Fred "Big Derf" Tobin

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