A wise man once told me that people love lists. And through an extremely scientific study, I’ve found out that NFL fans love quarterbacks. With that, I’ve decided to double your pleasure, and I’ll rank the league’s top-20 signal callers over the next two days.
Just so you know, this was a fairly difficult task, as the above-averageness at this position is staggering. I factored in a number of elements while ranking the following quarterbacks: statistics, postseason success, intangibles with the game on the line, supporting cast and overall talent.
The following is the first part of the countdown. Check back Wednesday for the grand finale.
20. Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks. The Boston
College product had last season cut short due to injury. In seven games,
Hasselbeck threw five touchdowns and 10 interceptions, easily the worst
ratio of his 10-year career. Providing he can bounce back in 2009, the
three-time Pro Bowler should enjoy the Seahawks’ most significant
offseason addition, wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
19. Trent Edwards, Buffalo Bills. At some point, I
believe Edwards will become one of the league’s 10 best quarterbacks,
but he first needs some stability in Buffalo. He’s got his work cut out
for him this season, as the Terrell Owens experiment is almost
certainly going to fail and Buffalo’s offensive line has more holes
than a box of Cheerios. In the event that Owens can be a productive
receiver and doesn’t try to poison Edwards’ career, the quarterback
could double his touchdown output from a year ago (11).
18. Kerry Collins, Tennessee Titans. While it’s not set in stone that Collins will start over Vince Young,
I’ve got to believe that head coach Jeff Fisher won’t mess with a good
thing. Collins was efficient if not spectacular last season, boasting a
12-3 record with 2,676 yards, 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
This came after Collins won a total of 12 games from 2003-07. If the
Titans’ defense continues its dominance, Collins won’t give any games
away — he just can’t be relied upon to go out and steal any victories.
17. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens. Flacco has a golden arm and tons of potential, but he needs some serious help from offensive coordinator Cam Cameron,
whose play calling last season was far too complex. Rather than dialing
it down for the rookie quarterback and a group of wide receivers who
were mostly uninspiring, Cameron was too obsessed with sending his
wideouts on long, multifaceted patterns that weren’t conducive to
Flacco’s ability at this stage of his career.
16. Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs. Cassel might transform
Kansas City into New England West, as he’ll have a heap of
supporters following his post-Patriots career. Rookie head coach Todd Haley is an offensive mastermind, and that should bode well for Cassel, who should be higher on this list next year.
15. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans. The 28-year-old can light up
the scoreboard, but he’s been limited to 11 games in each of the last
two seasons because of injuries. The pressure will increase in 2009, as
the Texans have playoff aspirations.
14. Chad Pennington, Miami Dolphins. Pennington deserves all
the credit in the world for his performance in 2008, but isn’t it a
little obnoxious for a guy to earn the NFL’s Comeback Player of the
Year Award twice in the last three seasons? With expectations high
again in Miami, Pennington will try to post a winning record in
consecutive seasons for the first time in his career.
13. Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals. Palmer has the talent
and potential to regain his position as one of the five or six best
quarterbacks in the NFL, but his situation in Cincinnati is an outright
disaster. He’s been stuck babysitting Chad Ochocinco, who has quickly transformed from one of the game’s best wide receivers into a poor man’s Terrell Owens.
12. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys. This will be Romo’s fourth
season as the Cowboys’ starter, but it’s his first without Owens. In
the last three years, Romo has averaged 2.1 touchdowns and 1.2
interceptions per game. For much of that time, Owens was playing some
of the best football of his career, so Romo’s numbers will likely dip a
bit. However, Owens’ presence hurt Romo and the Cowboys late in the
regular season, when they struggled. So, what does all this mean? It’s
finally time for Romo to be his own man and create his own legacy in
11. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers. Stepping out of Brett
Favre’s shadow really couldn’t have been easier for Rodgers. While the
Packers won just six games last season, Rodgers had 4,038 yards, 28
touchdowns and 13 interceptions — all better numbers than Favre, who
has diverted attention from Green Bay with his comeback tour in New
York and (likely) Minnesota. Had Favre simply retired and strolled into
the sunset, Rodgers might have been crucified in Green Bay for a