Ranking All 32 Starting Quarterbacks Heading Into Week 5
Ranking All 32 Starting NFL QBs Going Into Week 5
It’s clear who the best quarterback has been in the NFL this season. It is the man pictured above, Peyton Manning. Manning is putting up some historic performances this season and through just four games, he is looking like the best he every has. That cannot be said for a lot of quarterbacks however, as some like Colin Kaepernick have struggled this season and find themselves relatively low in this ranking.
As with all rankings, there will be some disagreement. The way I have ranked the following players puts some emphasis on their actual skills and talents, but more on how they have performed this season. Kaepernick is a perfect example as he was playing like a top-10 quarterback last season and is one of the most dangerous dual-threat players in the league, but he has struggled so far this year, which is why his name is lower than it would have been coming into the season.
I also take into account how much they have done for their team this season, and Alex Smith is almost a perfect example for this. Smith is what many would call a “game-manager” or “system quarterback”, and he has been effective in his role so far this year even if that role has been fairly limited. The defense for the Kansas City Chiefs is one of the best in the league, therefore Smith hasn’t carried his team as much as someone like Philip Rivers, who has dealt with a relatively non-existent run game and below average defense.
There are also a few teams in the league who currently are between two quarterbacks, such as the Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings. For the Browns, I have named Brian Hoyer the starter because of his two impressive games, and the fact the Browns have actually won with him as well. For the Vikings however, I choose the less popular Christian Ponder. Head coach Leslie Frazier iterated after the game last Sunday that Ponder, and not Matt Cassel, is the team’s starting QB, which is the reason Ponder appears in this ranking instead of Cassel.
32. Blaine Gabbert
Blaine Gabbert is tied with Peyton Manning as the easiest player to place on this list. Gabbert has been the worst starting quarterback in the league since he was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars 10th overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. Gabbert has a career quarterback rating of 66.7, which places him well below average for NFL QBs. This is likely Gabbert's last season as a member of the Jaguars, as it is clear he doesn’t have what it takes to be even a serviceable quarterback.
31. Mike Glennon
Mike Glennon has just one start under his belt to evaluate, which is the main reason he is ranked as the second to worst quarterback. Glennon had a terrible rookie debut, throwing for less than 200 yards along with two key fourth-quarter interceptions. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will regret benching Josh Freeman if Glennon continues to perform like this, and it could also be the end of the road for head coach Greg Schiano, who benched Freeman in favor of Glennon.
30. Geno Smith
Geno Smith has struggled as a rookie this season, but he has also impressed as well. The shining moment for Smith came in Week 3 against the Buffalo Bills and fellow rookie QB E.J. Manuel, when he threw for 331 yards and two touchdowns. It was the only game that Smith was ranked above average by the guys at Pro Football Focus (PFF), as his other three starts have been filled with more struggles than success. On the year, Smith has thrown eight interceptions compared to his four touchdowns, which is why he ranks so low heading into Week 5.
29. Christian Ponder
As previously noted, I have designated Christian Ponder as the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings because of his head coach insisting he is still the long-term starter if he comes back from his rib injury after the team's bye week. Ponder has continued to make bad decisions throwing the ball as he has five interceptions through three games. His running ability has been his best attribute this season, but his passing is the reason he ranks as the second worst non-rookie quarterback.
28. E.J. Manuel
E.J. Manuel is currently the worst rated QB by PFF, but the impact he has had on the Bills’ offense is the reason he is no. 28 instead of 32. Manuel impressed in his first game of the season as he almost led an upset of the New England Patriots, but he has regressed in his passing accuracy since, and has yet to be a real threat running the ball. Manuel is completing just 57 percent of his passes and has been sacked 11 times, but he has played a crucial role in each of the two wins Buffalo, has which earns him a higher spot than his numbers suggest.
27. Sam Bradford
The former no. 1 overall pick has begun to fall off in his fourth NFL season and may no longer be the future in St. Louis. The St. Louis Rams decided to improve their offense by drafting Tavon Austin early in the 2013 NFL Draft, but Bradford has been unable to utilize his newest weapon on a consistent basis, which is partly why he has struggled. Through his first three games, Bradford has been relatively average; he simply got the job done. But in his fourth game against the San Francisco 49ers, he had his worst outing of the year, which dropped him considerably in the rankings.
26. Joe Flacco
It was just last season when the Baltimore Ravens were on their playoff run when many started to question if Joe Flacco was becoming an elite QB. Through four games in 2013, it appears the answer to that question is no. Flacco has undeniable talent and arm strength, but through four games this season, the Ravens are 2-2 and Flacco has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns and is only completing 57 percent of his passes. Yes, Flacco doesn’t have a run game this season or a solid receiving corps, but given the success of Tom Brady in the same situation, Flacco needs to drastically improve his performance if he wants to be taken seriously as an elite quarterback.
25. Brian Hoyer
Brian Hoyer has done everything to solidify himself as the starting quarterback for the Browns for the remainder of the season. Hoyer started the year as the third-string QB, but after an injury to Brandon Weeden Hoyer was given the start against the Vikings where he engineered a late-game drive to get the Browns their first win of the season. He then did the same in his second start by throwing for 269 yards and two touchdowns in an upset win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
24. Andy Dalton
Andy Dalton burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2011 by throwing for over 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns, but since then he has failed to live up to the hype he garnered. While Dalton has improved each year he has been in the league, his inconsistency this season has hurt him in the rankings. Dalton has put up a respectable stat line through four games but with only five touchdowns, he hasn’t taken advantage of the numerous weapons around him. Dalton has a solid run game and defense around him, but the Bengals are at 2-2 right now and should be better with Dalton under center.
23. Carson Palmer
The Arizona Cardinals have arguably their best quarterback since Kurt Warner. However, Carson Palmer hasn’t been all smiles this season. Palmer has made the Cardinals somewhat of an aerial threat through four games, but considering it is his first season with the team, things could easily start getting better. Palmer has shown off his big arm on his way to throwing for over 1,000 yards, which has made Larry Fitzgerald a serious threat on the football field again, but the six interceptions to four touchdowns are what is holding him back right now.
22. Terrelle Pryor
Terrelle Pryor has been a very efficient quarterback while on the field, and when he comes back from his concussion, hopefully he will keep rolling. The reason Pryor has been so dynamic is because of the running ability he posses and relies on every game. Pryor’s passing statistics aren’t anything special as he has just a pair of touchdown passes and is a shade over 600 passing yards. Pryor could very well be the future in Oakland, but in order for the team to stick with him, he must become a threat while in the pocket.
21. Cam Newton
Cam Newton showed tons of promise his rookie season, but the problem is that he hasn’t shown much improvement. Newton got off to an especially slow start this season, throwing for just 577 yards and running the ball just five times through four games. It is understandable to want Cam to be a pass-first quarterback, but for as physical as he is, his body is a weapon that should be utilized. The bottom line is that Newton hasn’t been utilized at all this season, which has caused plenty of offensive problems for the Carolina Panthers.
20. Eli Manning
Eli Manning has been plagued by terrible offensive line play this season, but nonetheless he continues to have a questionable gunslinger mentality which leads to plenty of interceptions. Through four games this season Eli leads the league with nine interceptions. Whether your getting blocking or not, bad decision making will hurt your rating and that is the bottom line for Eli.
19. Matt Schaub
Matt Schaub has always been seen as a guy who could put up pretty good stats, but with the acquisition of DeAndre Hopkins through the draft, the Texans should be one of the best offensive, if not overall, teams in the league. The problem is that Schaub has failed to come up big in key moments, which is a big reason why the Texans are a disappointing 2-2. Their schedule has been tough however, and maybe the grading on Schaub is harsh, but I expect much more out of him with the weapons he is surrounded with.
18. Robert Griffin III
Robert Griffin III was one of the harder players to rank simply because he is coming off such a brutal injury. Griffin tore his ACL last season and because of the way Adrian Peterson responded for the Vikings last season, Griffin likely had unrealistic expectations thrust upon him. His trend this season has been promising however, as he usually gets more effective as the game goes on, and this past week was his best performance yet, meaning his stock is rising.
17. Alex Smith
Alex Smith, as previously stated, is the perfect example of a guy who has succeeded so far, but hasn’t been asked to do much either. The Chiefs have a rejuvenated defense with Andy Reid in town which means Smith must simply be an effective game manager. According to PFF Smith ranks as a slightly below average quarterback, which is exactly how I see him talent wise, hence him being ranked 17th.
16. Michael Vick
After watching just the first series the Philadelphia Eagles had this season, you would think Michael Vick would be running one of the most electrifying and exciting offenses in the league by now. That hasn’t been the case, however, as Chip Kelly’s offense has hit some snags, which is why the Eagles stand at 1-3 after a thrashing in Denver. Vick has really shown off his arm strength this season, but just imagine how much more of a threat their deep game would be with a healthy Jeremy Maclin. The bottom line is that Vick has thrown for over 1,000 yards, but because of plenty of incompletions, his running ability is what makes him most effective.
15. Ryan Tannehill
Ryan Tannehill has been quite effective at passing the ball this season; the problem is that he currently is coming off a terrible performance against the New Orleans Saints. In that game, Tannehill was clearly outperformed by Drew Brees, and the Miami Dolphins lost their first game of the year because of it. Tannehill threw three of his five interceptions against the Saints, and he will need to bounce back strong against the Ravens this weekend.
14. Jay Cutler
I will admit, I had very high expectations for Jay Cutler this season with Marc Tresteman stepping in as the new head coach. Cutler is finally completing a high percentage of his passes, and he has been racking up the yards as well as he is just a tad over 1,000 through four games. His decision-making has been spotty at times, and his eight to six touchdown to interception ratio could have hurt the Bears more than it did, but so far he has lived up to some expectations.
13. Jake Locker
Jake Locker won’t be playing football for at least a month, but considering how well he has played, I simply couldn’t leave him off this list. Locker was beginning to look like the future signal-caller for the Tennessee Titans before his injury, and hopefully he returns better than ever. Locker wasn’t asked to do much in his first four games, but what he was asked to do, he did very well. Locker completed just over 62 percent of his passes, but he made a game-winning throw to rookie Justin Hunter a couple of weeks ago, and more importantly has yet to throw an interception.
12. Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick has been rated as one of the worst passers through four games by PFF, and I will admit it is easy to be disappointed by his 856 passing yards and completion rate of 58 percent. Kaepernick has been limited in the zone-option run game as well, but he may have turned things around this past week against the Rams when he completed 15 of his 23 passes and threw for two touchdowns in a convincing win. Kaepernick looked like a top-10 quarterback last season, but this year he is starting to fall down the board.
11. Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger has been doing his best in Pittsburgh given the talent surrounding him. Despite losing Mike Wallace in the offseason, Roethlisberger has already thrown for over 1,200 yards and is completing passes with a rate of nearly 64 percent. Roethlisberger, however, has struggled to score after driving down the field and has just as many touchdowns as interceptions with five. Roethlisberger has been asked to do a lot, and so far he hasn’t disappointed, but there is still some room for improvement.
10. Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson has done his job this season as the Seattle Seahawks are undefeated, and in first place in the highly competitive NFC West. Wilson hasn’t dazzled like he did last season, and there is still plenty of room for improvement, especially in ball security. The biggest knock on Wilson this season has been his four fumbles, but take those away and you have a quarterback with a 95.3 rating who is also a threat running the ball, which seems to be a new trend in the NFL.
9. Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford has been helped tremendously by the emergence of Reggie Bush this season. Stafford has always had Calvin Johnson as a legitimate threat, but with Bush as the new check-down option, the Detroit Lions have one of the better offenses in the league, evident by the 40 points they just scored against the Bears. The Lions have started the year 3-1, and Stafford has been a huge reason why, which is the reason he finds himself in the top-10.
8. Tony Romo
Yes, this is the same Tony Romo that throws terribly timed interceptions that is being ranked as the eighth best quarterback. Romo is completing an astounding 72% of his passes and has over 1,000 yards as well. Dez Bryant has helped pad on the stats for Romo, but the one interception he has thrown is the reason he has been a great quarterback this season.
7. Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers has surprised many with his solid start to the season and almost singlehandedly has made the San Diego Chargers a viable playoff team again. Rivers has the second-highest quarterback rating, second only to Peyton Manning, and his 1,200 passing yards with a limited run game is quite impressive. Danny Woodhead has recently emerged as a solid receiving threat out of the backfield, and with rookie Keenan Allen still getting limited snaps, this offense could get better as the year goes on.
6. Andrew Luck
Andrew Luck is quickly becoming one of the most spoiled quarterbacks in the NFL. The Indianapolis Colts just traded for Trent Richardson, and with a future Hall-of-Famer in Reggie Wayne, his vertical options aren’t too shabby either. T.Y. Hilton is possibly emerging as a solid slot option, and Luck has taken advantage of it by throwing for nearly 1,000 yards in four games while completing 64 percent of his passes. What has really put Luck over the top however has been his running ability, which has added two touchdowns and another 126 yards to his resume.
5. Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons have gotten off to a disappointing 1-3 start, but I guarantee the team is still happy they signed their sixth-year quarterback to a long-term deal. Ryan has kept the Falcons competitive by throwing for 1,330 yards and eight touchdowns. Aside from a Week 3 loss to the Dolphins, Ryan has consistently thrown for over 300 yards and even engineered a late-game comeback against the Patriots last week that fell just yards short.
4. Tom Brady
Tom Brady has been magnificent given the wide receivers he has had to work with. To also factor in the 4-0 record of the Patriots makes it clear that Brady is still a top-five quarterback. Despite the 11 drops his receivers have had this season, Brady has thrown for over 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns. The receiving corps for the Patriots is still young, but if they start improving this season, Brady could start creeping towards the no. 1 spot.
3. Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers has been all smiles this season as he continues to head one of the best offenses in the league that is currently averaging 32 points per contest. Rodgers has played just three games this season, yet has already thrown for over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns. His quarterback rating of 105 is among the top in the league and with an inconsistent backfield, his production has been needed for the Green Bay Packers to stay afloat. The real test for the Packers will be this week against the Lions, as Rodgers must have another great game considering the Packers could quickly fall behind in the division race if they leave with a loss.
2. Drew Brees
Drew Brees showed on Monday night against a stout Dolphins defense that he is still an elite quarterback. Brees threw for over 400 yards and four touchdowns in the win and kept the New Orleans Saints undefeated and a legitimate threat to contend for the Super Bowl. Brees has continued to sling the ball 40-plus times a game and because of that, he is second in the league with 1,434 passing yards. There is not much to criticize about Brees except his four interceptions, which are understandable given how many times he is forced to throw the ball.
1. Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning has clearly been the best quarterback in the NFL this season, and it really isn’t even that close. Not only did he throw for seven touchdowns in his first game of the year, but since then he has added another nine, and has yet to throw his first interception. Manning has made the Denver Broncos the favorite to win the Super Bowl, and if he continues playing this near-perfect football like he has, there will be numerous records that will fall this season as well.
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