In this week’s edition of cover32’s Top 10, we are going to rank the Top 10 quarterbacks entering the 2017 season. If you read our Top 10 QB/WR Combinations, then you may be able to surmise who will be number one on this list. As always, use #cover32Top10 on Twitter to give us your own Top 10!
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Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan took home MVP honors last year in the NFL, the first of his career. He and the Falcons rode that momentum all the way to Super Bowl LI where they ultimately fell short of their goal. However, that does not diminish the season Matt Ryan had, ranking as one of the top quarterbacks in just about every statistical category last year. Does that sort of season catapult Ryan to the top of this list?
And so begins the time-honored tradition of ranking NFL quarterbacks.
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10. Russell Wilson – Seattle Seahawks
Wilson actually had one of his worst seasons in 2016. He threw just 21 touchdowns and a career-high 11 interceptions. It’s not hard to fathom why when you account for the porous offensive line in front of Wilson. It’s the sacrifice the Seahawks made to keep that defensive corps intact.
With that being said, Wilson did help the Seahawks to a 10-5-1 record. And despite being under constant pressure every season (40-plus sacks in four seasons) has never missed a game. In 2015, Wilson proved that he can be an elite passer, throwing 34 touchdowns and just eight interceptions while posting a league-leading 110.1 quarterback rating. Expect Wilson’s play to closer resemble 2015 than it did last season moving forward.
9. Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh Steelers
Big Ben didn’t make it through a full season for the ninth time in his career. However, when the two-time Super Bowl champion is on the field he is still a difficult foe for any defensive coordinator. Especially with the weapons surrounding him. In 14 games in 2016, Roethlisberger tossed 29 touchdowns, the second-highest total of his career.
With the return of wide receiver Martavus Bryant, the Steelers offense should be fully intact come Week 1. It seems like a rarity lately as one of the three ‘B’s’ always seems to be out of the lineup. Last year ended abruptly in the AFC Championship game as the Patriots cruised to a 36-17 victory. Roethlisberger pondered retirement in the offseason, raising questions as to how much longer he wants to play. For now, he is still one of the best signal callers in the game and has the talent around him to make a run at the Patriots.
8. Matthew Stafford – Detroit Lions
Although his touchdown total dropped from 32 in 2015 to 24 in 2016, Stafford threw a career-low 10 interceptions. Continuing a three-year trend of limiting turnovers. Stafford also showed his flair for the dramatic and his ability to handle pressure as he tallied eight fourth quarter comebacks.
Many thought that the retirement of Calvin Johnson would have a huge impact on Stafford’s game, however, his 4,327 yards were his highest since 2013. With an evolving Stafford at the helm for the Lions, they are not far off from being serious contenders in the NFC.
7. Derek Carr – Oakland Raiders
The new $125 million man built off his breakout 2015 season and was in the running for the MVP in 2016 until a late-season injury derailed his season. Carr threw 28 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. Before he was knocked out with a broken leg, Carr was nursing a hand injury for a couple weeks that hindered his play.
Despite leading the Raiders to a 12-3 record and eventually a division crown, Carr struggled mightily against division foes. He had two bad starts against the Chiefs, something he will have to overcome next season, on top of recovering from injury. However, Carr is poised to join the next tier of quarterbacks in the near future.
6. Andrew Luck – Indianapolis Colts
Luck rebounded in 2016 after an injury-shortened 2015 campaign. In just 15 games he threw for 4,240 yards, 31 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. His 96.4 quarterback rating was the second highest of his career as he led the Colts to an 8-7 record.
According to Pro Football Focus Luck owns the fifth-lowest percentage of turnover worthy throws this season. In seasons past he has ranked in the bottom half of the league in that category. However, this did not result in the playoffs for the Colts for the second consecutive season. With General Manager Ryan Grigson gone, there is hope that the Colts can finally give Luck the chance to take them to the next level.
5. Kirk Cousins – Washington Redskins
Mr. Franchise Tag enjoyed another stellar season, throwing a career-best 4,917 yards. However, the Redskins failed to make it back to playoffs after winning the division in 2015. The Redskins are reluctant to sign Cousins long-term despite proving time and time again that he is a franchise quarterback.
Having to prove himself again in 2017, Cousins will have to do it without his top two receivers from the year before. Desean Jackson and Pierre Garcon both left in free agency. However, Terrelle Pryor came aboard via free agency and Jordan Reed still remains on the roster. Cousins should continue to sling the ball around as he tries to earn the long-term deal.
4. Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints
Through the 2016 season, there have been nine seasons where a quarterback has thrown at least 5,000 yards. Brees is responsible for five of those seasons, and he is 178 yards shy of doing it two other times. Brees has been and will continue to be a stat machine in the New Orleans’ offense.
The problem for the Saints is that they do not have the defense to match Brees’ offensive output. This has kept them on the outside looking in when it comes to playoff time. Brees is certainly capable of carrying a team on offense, but if they want to win another title with Brees, the Saints will have to improve on defense.
3. Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons
As mentioned in the intro, Ryan enjoyed a remarkable 2016 campaign that led to MVP honors and a Super Bowl Appearance. Ryan led the league with an 117.1 quarterback rating en route to an 11-5 record and an NFC South division championship. His 38 touchdowns were second only to Aaron Rodgers 40 for the Green Bay Packers.
Ryan had a career year across the board, setting new highs in completion percentage (69.9), yards (4,944), and touchdowns (38). His seven interceptions were also a career-low, down from 16 the year before. All this added up to an appearance in Super Bowl LI where he fell short of ultimate glory to a quarterback slightly higher on this list.
2. Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers
Rodgers 40 touchdown passes were tops in the NFL last year, the first time he has led the league in touchdown passes. A four-game losing streak in the middle of the season dropped the Packers to 4-7 on the season, with the playoffs very much in doubt. From there, Rodgers and the Packers went on a tear to finish the season, 10-6, and an NFC North crown.
The Packers’ quarterback finished the year with only seven interceptions, the sixth consecutive year with single-digit interceptions. His 104.2 passer rating was right on par with his career passer rating of 104.1, good for fourth in the league. A loss to the Falcons in the NFC Championship Game halted an eight-game winning streak and ended the Packers season. However, as long as Rodgers is at the helm, the Packers will always be contenders for the Super Bowl.
1. Tom Brady – New England Patriots
Lets be clear, this is not a case of 1A and 1B. Tom Brady is the best quarterback in the NFL and he has been for quite some time. At age 39 during the 2016 season, Brady defied logic and had perhaps his best season since the record-setting 2007 season. Brady threw 28 touchdowns to only two interceptions and his 112.2 rating was second to only Matt Ryan.
All this was done in 12 games, due to a four-game suspension to start the season. Missing the four games likely cost Brady his third MVP as his numbers would project to a 37 touchdown, and three interception season. But alas, he didn’t play those four games, but he did lead the Patriots to a 14-1 record and another Lombardi Trophy. Pro Football Focus gave Brady the highest overall grade of 99.3. Going on age 40, it doesn’t seem like he is slowing down.
— Ian Glendon (@iglen31) June 28, 2017