We’re almost to the end Ladies and Gentlemen. I’ve brought you 32-25 in The Bottom of the Barrel, touched on 24-15 in Middle of the Pack, and now give you my top 14-6 Quarterbacks’ from the 2012 season. These guys aren’t the upper echelon the NFL has to offer but aren’t quite far from being there.
14. Andrew Luck – Andrew had a good rookie year, leading his Colts back to the their old ways by getting them a Playoff berth in 2012. Some might feel he deserves to be higher. The fact remains that if Indianapolis had anyone else to put under center, other than Curtis Painter in 2011, the Colts wouldn’t have been bad enough to only win 2 games and receive the 1st Overall pick in the 2012 Draft. Luck is a rare young breed of size, speed and strength. Andrew almost reminds me of a Big Ben type of talent, as both are quick and a little harder to bring down than most. He has a powerful arm and can make reads that normal rookie quarterbacks have trouble with. Though he accounted for 28 touchdowns last season, he also turned the ball over 23 times and only completed 53% of his passes. Luck will more than likely be in the top 5 of this list in the near future, but as of right now, I think he’s right where he’s supposed to be.
13. Matt Schaub – After an impressive showing as a back-up in Atlanta, Schaub has lived up to just about what everyone has expected from him, which is that he is very good at what he does but isn’t exceptional. He consistently puts up over 4,000 yards passing when he plays 16 full games and often throws in the mid 60%’s in his completions. He is the perfect compliment to Arian Foster with how good he runs the play action game. December was a tough month for Matt last season, as he only threw 1 touchdown. As good as the Texans and he have been over the past few years, 2012 was the first time Schaub played in a Playoff game. Some argue that receiving wise, he could use more talent than just Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels. In the past draft, Houston picked up DeAndre Hopkins from Clemson to try and help give Schaub more of an array of weapons. The 2013 season is going to be make or break time for this quarterback. He’ll have to get his team to have a respectable run in the playoffs or Houston might start looking at his cap number (2014 – 14.5 million, 2015 – 17 million, 2016 – 19 million) as a liability.
12. Philip Rivers – Rivers has turned the ball over 64 times in the last 3 seasons. This is the same quarterback that former GM A.J. Smith thought to be more promising to the franchise than Drew Brees. It’s becoming put up or shut up time for Rivers, as this very talkative, loud-mouth player needs to start backing it up. Rivers has an exceptional arm but over the past few seasons, seems to be easily frustrated and taken out of a game mentally. The supporting cast around him isn’t what it once was either. His main target Antonio Gates isn’t the same ole player we’re used to seeing. With the departure of Vincent Jackson last season as well, the Chargers tried to get Philip another reliable target by selecting Keenan Allen in the draft. He needs to work on making better post-snap reads though if he is going to get over his slump. He has another poor season; I could see San Diego washing their hands of him and this 31 year old getting another shot somewhere else in 2014.
11. Tony Romo – Let me start with, I’m possibly one of his only supporters that is a non Dallas Cowboy fan. Heck, even his own fans don’t like him, which doesn’t make much sense to me. He’s a lot better than the other quarterbacks that came before him, such as Hutchinson/Carter/Bledsoe/Henson/Testaverde/Leaf/Wright. Tony doesn’t have the best of protection either while trying to throw the football. He does come up short at the wrong, most inopportune times of a football game though. I personally don’t think all that falls on his shoulders. Romo is very elusive and throws on the run just as well as anyone in the NFL. He also has a very quick release with nice pop on the ball. Last season was tougher on Romo than most due to the lack of talent the Cowboys have that surrounds him. He’ll definitely have to improve upon the 19 interceptions he threw in 2012, but the coaching staff could also do a better job of putting him in a position to succeed. Although a lot of fans might disagree with where he is placed on the list, and think he should probably be lower, the fact remains 90% of other GM’s across the league would take him on their team in a heartbeat.
10. Russell Wilson – If you check my twitter handle, you’ll see a few saved tweets from plenty that I was putting out before the 2012 NFL Draft, saying that he could quite possibly be the steal. I felt if he went any later than the 2nd Round that he’d be a Tom Brady type of steal for someone. The only reason he wasn’t designated a 1st rounder was mainly due to his size. Russell is a natural born leader who is a duel threat every time he takes a snap. He can also fire the football, as he was a former Minor League Baseball player. Wilson is still learning mental aspects of the game but is very intelligent and doesn’t seem to be fazed by the speed of the game, as he learned on the run last season. The challenge for Russell in 2013 is going to be able to adapt to the non-conventional type defenses that coordinators have been drawing up to throw at him all offseason. I have a feeling though that after a few more seasoned years under his belt, Russell will be one of the best quarterbacks the NFL has to offer on Sundays.
9. Matt Ryan – To me, this quarterback has hit his ceiling already. Ryan will never be better than he is right now. Ryan had a career year passing last season with 4,719 yards, 32 touchdowns and a 68.6% completion percentage (tied for 1st with Peyton Manning). Ryan has a good arm but doesn’t put stellar zip on the ball. He needs to show the same consistency on the deep ball as he showed in 2012. Life was made easier on Matt when Atlanta added a strong set of weapons around him to keep defenses’ more honest, meaning they just cannot focus on doubling down on Roddy White. With 16 fourth quarter comebacks and 23 game winning drives in his career, Ryan might arguably be one of the most clutch quarterbacks the NFL has to offer. I believe there is more pressure than ever on him to perform flawlessly, as with White getting older and Gonzalez sure to be done with football soon, he might never have another offense as talented as he is with at this moment. That pretty much makes it Super Bowl or bust for Matt Ryan, who won his first game in the playoffs last season.
8. Joe Flacco – The MVP of Super Bowl 47 needs to have a full season playing like he did in the 2012 playoffs before I can rank him as an elite quarterback in the NFL. Flacco isn’t the most accurate (put up a 52% completion percentage or less in 6 games in 2012) but he quite possibly has a stronger arm than almost anyone in the NFL. He’s more like a statue in quicksand but stands tall in the pocket and doesn’t panic when things get hectic in there. Losing the type of weapon as he did in Anquan Boldin might be tough on Joe for the 2013 season, as he targeted Boldin over 100 times a season. With the type of money that Baltimore has sunk into him, Joe is going to have to improve on his career 60.5% completion percentage (57.6 in 2011, 59.7 in 2012). He’s also going to have to step up and play close to perfect so that he can lead this team by example. Losing Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, this Ravens team is going to be looking for a new leader and all eyes will be on Flacco. Joe Cool is going to have to walk the walk at all times so that his team continues to buy into him.
7. Ben Roethlisberger – Big Ben is one of the more big play types of quarterbacks in the NFL. He actually became the Steelers all-time leader in passing yards during the 2012 season. His knack to hold on to the football, avoid the rush, and still find a target deep down the field is amazing. This trait though also leads Ben to be one of the more sacked quarterbacks in the NFL, as he’s gone down 291 times since 2006. He seems to always be nicked up some also, though he usually plays through the pain unless it’s too unbearable. Roethlisberger always has a very nice touchdown to interception ratio. Last season in 13 games, he threw 26 touchdowns with only 8 interceptions. Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley’s offense helped Ben out last season, as it seemed to focus on less vertical plays than usual and more on getting the ball out of his hands quickly. Pittsburgh added a few weapons for him in the draft and as long as Ben stays healthy, the Steelers should be up to their old tricks of being a contender for the playoffs in the AFC.
6. Eli Manning – Eli’s game mentally has gotten to a level that I never thought it would. He’s not as intelligent as his brother, but can break a defense down pretty well from the line of scrimmage, which has elevated his game over the past years. Taking every snap for the Giants over the past 8 seasons, he’s racked up over 30,000 passing yards and over 200 touchdowns. He’s not the strongest armed or most accurate quarterback on this list, but his mental game helps him make up for those aspects. I personally feel Eli needs weapons though due to the fact that he’s not the type of quarterback to make mediocre talent look great. At one point in 2012, he had only thrown two touchdowns in a span of five games. Many feel he should be put in the Hall of Fame already. In my opinion though, I need to see more from Manning in putting his team on his shoulders for all 16 games like he did in the 2011 season.
So folks, there are my rankings for slots 14-6. We only have one more part left in this series and that is the Best of the Best. Make sure to check back in a few days for those QB’s, as I rank positions 5 to 1!
Written by: Chad Woodroof
Twitter handle: @CwickB