The NFL QB Power Rankings: August 2014 Edition
The 2014 NFL Season, remarkably, is coming right up! Rather than do a basic power rankings for the following season, I'm going to do something a bit different: quarterback rankings, ranking not just the quarterbacks themselves, but also each team's quarterback situations, taking into account:
- Whether the team has a surefire, starting QB for this season
- The quality that QB has shown or may show this season
- If they don't have an answer at QB this year, do they have plans in place for future seasons?
It seems simple, and it mostly is, so with that I'll rank each of the NFL's 32 teams based on how well off they are at the QB position both for this season and for the future.
If a QB wins MVP in 2014, which QB is the most likely to win it?
No Worries, You're All Set
1. Green Bay Packers (QB: Aaron Rodgers)
Not only is Rodgers one of the NFL's premiere QBs, he's not leaving Green Bay anytime soon. Having won a title for Green Bay already, as long as he can keep posting stats with an otherwise unimpressive set of skill position players, he'll be at or near this top spot for awhile.
2. New Orleans Saints (Drew Brees)
Its getting a little harder to leave Brees in this tier given he's 35 now, but he's been so automatic as Saints QB for so many years its hard to determine when that would NOT be the case. As long as he stays healthy, it may not be for several years still.
3. Carolina Panthers (Cam Newton)
Last season, Newton as well as the Panthers took big steps forward as they ended up winning their division and taking the NFC's #2 seed. With Newton being a big factor in both Carolina's passing AND running games, the only thing that could slow Cam down would be him being worn out from being such a focal point in the offense.
4. Seattle Seahawks (Russell Wilson)
In this "what have you done for me lately" era of NFL football, Wilson has certainly done a lot for the Seahawks despite not having the flash or attention of any other QB in this tier or the next tier. Some of that has to do with being in Seattle. Well, a lot of it is, but Wilson is one of the more consistent QBs in the league and there's no reason Seattle would want to replace him anytime soon.
5. Indianapolis Colts (Andrew Luck)
Luck is the face of modern Colts football and he's done moderately well, though the loss of Reggie Wayne for the latter half of last season suggests otherwise. Even so, the Colts are all aboard on Luck, and he's not losing his job anytime soon.
6. San Francisco 49ers (Colin Kaepernick)
Like Luck, Kaepernick has the full support of his coach and the team. Kaepernick is known for making big plays, especially on the ground, but he's wildly inconsistent. Still, he's not going anywhere for awhile.
No Worries, for Now
7. New England Patriots (Tom Brady)
Brady is two years older than Brees, at 37. While he's mostly been very durable (2008 being the obvious exception), his play has started to decline just a little bit. He's still an elite QB, but the time may be nearing for the Patriots to find someone to take up the reins within the next few years.
8. Denver Broncos (Peyton Manning)
Manning is even closer to reaching the end of his career, a neck injury away even. Manning is still one of the best QBs in the game, though as the last two postseasons have shown, he is beatable with the right plan.
9. Atlanta Falcons (Matt Ryan)
For some reason, I didn't feel right putting Ryan in the higher tier even though there's no reason to suspect he won't be Atlanta's QB for years to come. Maybe the cesspool that was the Falcons' 2013 season is a factor in that mindset, but before that season Ryan and the current Falcons core have been known as playoff chokers. If that trend continues, or worse yet another 2013 happens, Ryan might become a casualty of some kind of shake-up.
10. San Diego Chargers (Philip Rivers)
Rivers had a bit of a resurgence last season with a new offensive scheme, and while there isn't any indication that Rivers might not be part of the Chargers' future, I have the same feeling towards him as I do Ryan, except Rivers is a bit older and may be a bit more expendable if the Chargers seek a new direction.
Which QB drafted in the first round of the 2014 draft has the best chance to succeed?
Make or Break
11. Detroit Lions (Matthew Stafford)
With a new regime, and new offensive schemes, many are calling this Stafford's "make or break" year. Stafford threw tons of passes in recent years, and perhaps as a result he's thrown his share of interceptions as well. I don't expect Stafford to be gone or replaced if he struggles again this season, though if it's a case of "he doesn't fit our system", he may just well be.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (Nick Foles)
Nick Foles definitely fits Chip Kelly's system in Philadelphia, or so he did last season as the Eagles made a surprise run into the playoffs. With Michael Vick no longer on the team, and Matt Barkley a non-factor, the job is Foles for sure, but not so sure that he couldn't lose it under prolonged periods of poor play.
13. Chicago Bears (Jay Cutler)
Cutler also has a new coaching regime in Chicago to deal with. Its basically been proven over the years the Bears are a playoff-quality team with Cutler healthy and a bottom-feeder without him. Even so, Cutler needs to make a strong impression, or he may find himself expendable.
14. Dallas Cowboys (Tony Romo)
Romo has been with the Cowboys for almost a decade now, and after years of playoff disappointments and, more recently, Week 17 disappointment, there remains only two constants between all of these sour ends: Romo and owner Jerry Jones who remains very smitten with Romo. Still, Romo is getting on in age, and you'd have to think he can't get too many more chances to prove he's a high calibur QB before throwing two key interceptions while up by multiple TDs (a coaching mistake, sure, but he could, you know, not throw those interceptions).
15. Washington Redskins (Robert Griffin III)
With all the controversy over the team's name, what's become a forgotten storyline for Washington is the ability - and health - of their starting QB, the nicknamed RG3. Griffin was not all that great last season, perhaps a result of a sophomore slump or perhaps still recovering from injuries he sustained in the previous season. Still, I think that if Griffin fails to show marked improvement this year, the Redskins will start to consider new options for QB.
16. Cincinnati Bengals (Andy Dalton)
Its kinda weird to rank him here now that he's been signed long-term, but of course "long-term" holds no meaning to NFL teams as they can cut anybody they please with relatively little financial impact. Dalton has not been impressive in his short time with the Bengals despite the team reaching the postseason three straight seasons. The new contract cools his seat, but if Dalton doesn't improve, its only going to get hot real quick.
17. New York Giants (Eli Manning)
It still seems weird that Eli Manning has won one more championship than his more "prestigious" brother Peyton, partly because Eli Manning hasn't been the same quarterback as he was even a few years ago, being rather interception-happy in 2013. Regardless, as long as Tom Coughlin is New York's coach, he should be safe unless he really starts falling apart.
18. Miami Dolphins (Ryan Tannehill)
Sometimes you kind of forget the Dolphins are there, and you wonder why and its because Tannehill hasn't particularly been remarkable in his short time in Miami. Tannehill did improve a lot last season, despite being sacked far more often, so there is hope Tannehill could take the next big step, but if he doesn't, he may not get another chance.
19. St. Louis Rams (Sam Bradford)
I'm slightly surprised the Rams still have Bradford as their starting QB. He hasn't been particularly poor, its just that I figured by now Jeff Fisher and company would've found a new QB that fits Fisher, which could still happen especially if Bradford regresses.
Worries, for Awhile
20. Baltimore Ravens (Joe Flacco)
The Ravens won Super Bowl XLVIII with a stout defense and a good running game. Despite that, it was Joe Flacco that was rewarded handsomely, getting a long-term, big-money contract for 'helping' the Ravens be so successful. Flacco has the arm, but despite that he just isn't that good of a QB, not that Baltimore has ever really had one.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers (Ben Roethlisberger)
Big Ben will probably be Steelers QB until either Mike Tomlin is no longer Steelers coach, or his body completely fails him, whichever happens first. Tomlin, who has helmed the Steelers to a Super Bowl win in his tenure, probably isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and the Steelers have always preferred shoring up their defense than focusing on any sort of QB quality, so Big Ben will just have to fall apart to stop being Steelers QB.
22. Kansas City Chiefs (Alex Smith)
Smith, at this point in his career, can really be considered both underrated and overrated. His poor first few seasons in San Francisco has left him underrated, you see, but under Jim Harbaugh Smith did show signs of improvement until he was tossed aside for Kaepernick. He's found a new calling in Kansas City, but hasn't shown that same improvement, which could make his stay as Chiefs starting QB a short one.
23. Arizona Cardinals (Carson Palmer)
I'm still surprised Palmer remains the Cardinals' starting QB. Its a new coaching situation in Arizona, Palmer's age is starting to catch up to him, and he's never been the same QB since that fateful injury he suffered all those years ago in that one playoff game he was in. I can't expect the Cardinals to stick with Palmer for much longer regardless of how Palmer fares.
24. Oakland Raiders (Matt Schaub)
I don't know about this one, really. Schaub's last couple of years in Houston were pretty bad, though you could excuse last season as Houston being completely awful top to bottom. Still, the Oakland Raiders aren't the best team for a QB to spark a rejuvenation, or is Schaub the answer the Raiders are looking for at QB. I don't expect this to last even this entire season.
For the Future
25. Cleveland Browns (Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel)
Hoyer sparked the Browns last season until an injury cost him the year, so he's got the inside track to become the team's starter. If he falters or gets hurt, though, it could very well be Johnny Manziel's team. I'm of the opinion Manziel is "just a bit" overhyped just because his SEC-based team beat those supposedly unbeatable Alabama teams, but maybe I'm wrong and he won't be the next Tim Tebow.
26. Buffalo Bills (EJ Manuel)
Its kind of hard to remember the Bills used a first round pick on Manuel last season, whose rookie campaign was hindered by injuries. The Bills seem to be committed to him, though, so it seems like if he's going to develop it'll have to be on the fly for the team with the longest postseason drought.
27. Minnesota Vikings (Matt Cassel, Teddy Bridgewater, Christian Ponder)
Ponder is the ugly recent past of the Vikings. Cassel will likely be the ugly present of the Vikings. The team hopes Bridgewater won't be an ugly future for them, which is entirely possible, but again Cassel is the present, that's why the Vikings are this low.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars (Chad Henne, Blake Bortles)
You now recall that the Jaguars selected the UCF product with the #3 overall pick in the 2014 draft despite nobody coming close to predicting Bortles going that high. In the meantime, Chad Henne (who I always liked and am saddened to see fall to this point) will place-hold the starting QB position until Bortles tries to not become the next Blaine Gabbert.
No Plan, No Hope
29. New York Jets (Michael Vick, Geno Smith)
You might be wondering why I put the Jets here and not the "for the future" tier. Well, lets put it like this. The Bills had a rough year with Manuel, but they're sticking with him. The Jets had a rough year with Geno Smith, so they brought in Michael Vick to take his place. Sure, Geno will get another shot when Vick invariably gets hurt again, but that's not a promising sign.
30. Tennessee Titans (Jake Locker, Charlie Whitehurst)
Remember when Locker was projected to the #1 pick but stayed in college for another year? Boy, did that backfire. Not that going to the draft a year earlier would've made too much of a difference, who knows, perhaps Ken Whisenhunt can turn Locker's prospects around under the big assumption he doesn't get hurt. If not, Whitehurst is (somehow) still around to fill in his spot, I guess.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Josh McCown, Mike Glennon)
Never mind that Tampa Bay is battling with Jacksonville for "worst uniforms of all time" right now, but their QB battle boils down to "that guy who did okay as the Bears backup" and "that guy who was the choice QB of Greg Sciano". So, its no wonder the former currently has the spot but this year's Bucs aren't last year's Bears even.
32. Houston Texans (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum)
Houston didn't draft a QB early in the last draft (using the #1 pick on Jadaveon Clowney, who is also overhyped just because he laid one big hit against a player from Michigan of all schools). As a result, they don't have much going for them at the position. Its either the Harvard journeyman who could only previously find steady work with the Bills, or a fictitious detective from a 1940s comic book. Chances are, the Texans will draft a QB in next year's draft.