The Great Franchise QB Debate!
Occasionally on Sportstalk something brought up during an interview turns into a great topic. Such was the case on Tuesday when former Sportstalk co-host Jeff Flynt joined us from frigid Titletown, U.S.A. Steve said if he were the g.m. of a franchise and could have any quarterback it would be Super Bowl m.v.p. Aaron Rodgers. Naturally, Jeff agreed. Steve said he would take Philip Rivers second and Jeff disagreed. Thus a debate was born. I decided to stretch it out to ten quarterbacks. Keep in mind these are quarterbacks for the next decade so Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are excluded. Brady and Manning may still be at the top of their games in 2011, but they will both be in their mid 40′s in 2021.
1. Aaron Rodgers- I know I will be accused of being a prisoner of the moment because he is the most recent Super Bowl winning quarterback, but I have been on the ARodg bandwagon for a long time. The Super Bowl win just validated three years of other worldly stats. The most underrated part about his game is his decision making. After seventeen years of the ‘gunslinger’ the Packers have a quarterback that won’t force a throw if it’s not there. At 27 he is just entering his athletic prime.
2. Philip Rivers- This guy has it all. Arm strength, moxy, leadership skills, and a great qb rating. He puts up Dan Marino numbers, and if things don’t improve in San Diego he might be this generations Dan Marino. He is 29, but still has some great years ahead of him.
3. Ben Roethlisberger- The stat nerds that love Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers don’t realize how good ‘Big Ben’ is. He doesn’t win pretty, but he WINS. A win in Super Bowl XLV would have cemented his place in Canton after seven seasons. He doesn’t always make the best decisions, but he is clutch and keeps plays alive with that massive body. At 28 he can be a franchise quarterback for another decade.
4. Matt Ryan- Matty Ice is progressing as well as the Falcons could have ever imagined. He is already one of the leagues best after just his third season. He is almost automatic at home, and has a great record in close games. If the Falcons can upgrade at some spots they will be perennial Super Bowl contenders. Seeing that he is only 25, he’s got a decade plus of top level football in him.
5. Sam Bradford- For the first time since the ‘greatest show on turf,’ Rams fans had something to be excited about. With a patchwork O-line and no good skill players outside of Steven Jackson, Slinging Sam had the miserable Rams one win away from the playoffs as a rookie who didn’t even play his senior year at Oklahoma. By the way, he is only 23!
6. Drew Brees- Brees’s age (just turned 32 in January) knocks him to six. I don’t think he was ever 100% in 2010 and injuries will add up as he ages. He still has a great rating, Touchdown-interception ratio, and plays at an extremely high level. You could do a lot worse than have Drew Brees as the face of your franchise.
7. Mark Sanchez- The Sanchize is the real deal. It’s hard to argue two conference championships in his first two seasons. Critics will say the Jets win despite Sanchez with their great defense, O-line, and running game. Yes, he can be inconsistent at times, but is a great leader and plays well in crunch time. At 24, he seems comfortable in the overwhelming New York spotlight, even if he dates seventeen year olds.
8. Tony Romo- Let’s face it, quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys is the most scrutinized position in sports. When Staubach and Aikman are your forefathers it’s a hard legacy to live up to. I don’t get why fans have so much disdain for Romo. Fans seem to believe he is not a winner or leader because he smiles a lot and has a laid back persona. Spare me, leaders don’t have to always be fiery like Philip Rivers or Peyton Manning. Statistically he is consistently in the top five of NFL quarterbacks and had to overcome Jerry Jones as gm and Wade Phillips as coach. I am predicting a huge year for Romo under Jason Garrett.
9. Josh Freeman- Freeman doesn’t get a lot of attention because Tampa Bay has been bad for a while and isn’t exactly the sexiest franchise. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a quarterback make a more dramatic improvement from his rookie to second year than Josh Freeman. As a rook, Freeman threw 10 td’s to 18 picks (a lot in the red zone). As a sophomore, Freeman threw 25 td’s to 6 picks. His rating went from 59.8 to 95.6. He also displays great confidence and leadership skills. The Bucs are one of my darkhorses to be in the Super Bowl in the next three years. He just turned 23 in January, so there is a lot of time.
10. Joe Flacco- A lot of people like to lump Flacco with Matty Ice because they were in the same draft class. There is a lot to love about Flacco on paper. He is a big, tall, prototypical pocket passer with a great arm. He is not as mobile as a lot of the other quarterbacks, but he doesn’t need to be. I still don’t like one thing about him. He has a tendency to go m.i.a. in big games. A lot of people will confuse that criticism with ‘he can’t win the big game.’ Before the Super Bowl the knock on Aaron Rodgers was he can’t win the big game. The difference is when Rodgers takes a big hit he has a tendency to speed up his reads and rush throws. Flacco is like the pitcher who implodes when his defense makes an error. Take the playoff game against the Steelers. Everything was going well in the first half and the Ravens built a 21-7 lead. Early in the third quarter Ray Rice fumbled, the Steelers scored a quick touchdown and Flacco was never the same. He then fumbled a snap, and threw a terrible interception that led to another Steeler touchdown and subsequent 31-24 win.