One of my favorite debates heading into each and every NFL season aside from predicting each team’s chances at competing for a championship and over dissecting each and every interesting storyline is debating year to year who the best quarterbacks in the game are. Many times we tend to overbuy on some only to be let down and sometimes we get some surprises out of left field which ultimately influences the narrative for the next season’s list.
Once upon a time guys named Eli, Flacco and others were regulars on my list. This coming season while much may not have changed at the top, there are some new blood that have entered the conversation.
Here are my 10 best quarterbacks entering the 2014 season.
10. Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons) – Despite a dreadful 2013 campaign from the Falcons which led to an abysmal 4-12 record, Ryan did indeed hold his own and managed to sling the ball for over 4,500 yards with a 67% efficiency despite a injury depleted receiving core of Julio Jones and Roddy White.
9. Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks) – While he may not be the stat guy in the vein of a Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, this Super Bowl defending champion brings strong leadership and intangibles at a position for a guy about to enter his 3rd year in the league.
8. Tony Romo (Dallas Cowboys) – Say what you will about Tony Romo not being a big game quarterback but I will defend the fact that without Romo, the ‘Boys are a cellar dweller in an average NFC East. This will be a make or break year for Romo in Dallas. Of course I’ve said these very words the last few seasons.
7. Philip Rivers (San Diego Chargers) – A bounce back year for a guy that only a few seasons ago I considered one of the 6 best quarterbacks in the league. Rivers also led the Chargers to a postseason win as a wild card team in the AFC. Also worth noting Rivers threw for nearly 70% of his passes.
6. Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers) – A two time Super Bowl champion who dug the Steelers out of a 0-4 hole last season and nearly got Pittsburgh into the postseason in Week 17. Big Ben caught fire especially in the 2nd half of the season albeit anchoring a much older team devastated by injuries.
5. Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts) – Luck is on pace to become the best quarterback in the AFC as we near the end of the Peyton Manning – Tom Brady era. Last season he managed to cut down his turnover numbers in half in comparison to his rookie season by throwing only 9 interceptions. The 2013 Wild Card performance vs. the Chiefs was the stuff of legend and Luck continues to add to his growing legend entering his third season.
4. Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints) – While many will agree that Brees benefits from the genius of head coach Sean Payton, Brees threw for over 5,000 yards for the third consecutive season and continues to build his future Hall Of Fame resume.
3. Tom Brady (New England Patriots) – Brady has built a career doing more with less and last season was no different. Despite a slow start to 2013, Brady still was able to lead the Patriots to another AFC East title with a 12-4 record and continues to push father time to the side.
2. Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos) – Record season. Record numbers. Only soured by a team wide abysmal Super Bowl performance this past February. Easy to forget just two years earlier we were questioning whether his career would be over due to a series of neck surgeries. Only question remains of this legendary career is whether Manning can add more Lombardi trophies to his resume before he hangs it up.
1. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) - I know it sounds silly acknowledging Rodgers at the top of my list given how he missed nearly half of the 2013 campaign combined with the record setting season of Peyton Manning but to me when healthy Rodgers is probably the most dangerous football player in the league. He’s efficient, mobile and intelligent in the pocket even playing behind a average offensive line.