Everybody loves a good ranking. Before the NFL 2013 regular season kicks off, let’s rank the 32 guys who will be leading (or at least attempting to lead) their teams to victory each week this season.
32. Jeff Tuel – The Buffalo Bills plan to start Tuel for Week 1 while E.J. Manuel recovers from a minor procedure done on his knee and Kevin Kolb continues to undergo test to conclude whether or not he would ever be able to play again. Tuel rounds up the bottom of the list merely because he will become the first undrafted rookie quarterback to start the season for a team in the common draft era. Untested and possibly unprepared the Bills will hope that Tuel can stay upright long enough for Manuel’s knee to heal.
31. Blaine Gabbert – Gabbert beat out Chad Henne for the starting job in Jacksonville. If that doesn’t land you on the bottom of the list, I don’t know what does. I hear Tebow is available.
30. Mark Sanchez/Geno Smith – At this point the two Jets quarterbacks are interchangeable in my opinion. Smith is projected to get the start Week 1 because of Sanchez’s shoulder injury but the giant hole Sanchez’s contract is eating out of the Jets salary cap means that Rex Ryan will go back to him at some point. How can you top a butt fumble Mark?
29. Matt Flynn/Terrelle Pryor – The Raiders have been the only team willing to give Flynn the opportunity to start since the league was dazzled by his talents in a meaningless game he played for the Packers at the end of the 2011 season. Unfortunately for Matt and Raiders fans, he’s playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Many in Oakland are looking to Terrelle Pryor to quickly unseat Flynn for the job.
28. Jake Locker – Locker threw for just over a 50% completion rate last season with the Tennessee Titans. Locker could be one of those quarterbacks who needs more talent around him in order to be successful.
27. Brandon Weeden – The Cleveland Browns gave Weeden a gift this offseason. They hired Norv Turner as their offensive coordinator. Where can you go to return a gift like that? The problem with Weeden is that he folds under pressure and is very predictable in the pocket. The plus side for him is he’ll be able to apply for social security next year.
26. Josh Freeman – Freeman is entering a contract year for the Tampa Bay Bucs. Last season he threw 9 interceptions in his last 3 games. He turned the ball over a total of 19 times last season. Freeman is far too young to be regressing this badly in his career so it may just be that he’s not that great after all.
25. Christian Ponder – Ponder gets the benefits of having the league’s best running back on his team. Unfortunately, Ponder is the counterpoint for anyone trying to talk up the Vikings abilities.
24. Ryan Tannehill – Tannehill was drafted by the Dolphins because they needed a quarterback and didn’t have the abilities to draft any higher than their spot. He’s the after thought in a draft that included RGIII and Andrew Luck. Tough spot to be in. Tougher for Tannehill now that the team let their best running back and left tackle leave.
23. Carson Palmer – Why Carson Palmer refused to join a broadcasting booth somewhere and just call it a career I have no idea. But he basically has by joining the Arizona Cardinals.
22. Sam Bradford – Bradford might end up being more known for the last top draft pick to get a butt-load of guaranteed money before the rookie salary caps were instituted than being the quarterback to bring the Rams back into contention. He’s gone through multiple coaching and coordinator changes in his short career so far but still has a lot to prove for himself.
21. Alex Smith – You kind of want to feel bad for Alex Smith. Now that he’s in Kansas City with Andy Reid he won’t have to worry about losing his job while being injured. But he may have to worry about whether or not he has all the necessary parts around him to succeed.
20. Andy Dalton – AKA Ginger Spice. Is Dalton a really good quarterback or is he just good enough when his team has a good defense and A.J. Green can make ridiculous catches? The Cincinnati Bengals fans have seen the fall of the Soviet Union, the Gulf War, and three Popes since their last playoff victory.
19. Michael Vick – Vick could be perfect for Chip Kelly’s high-tempo offense for the Philadelphia Eagles. If he was about 7 years younger.
18. Philip Rivers – The San Diego Chargers quarterback says he isn’t broken and doesn’t need fixing. Of course he doesn’t. Remember when he was just automatically included into all those “elite” lists for no clear reason at all?
17. Jay Cutler – Cutler is also in a contract year for the Bears with new head coach Marc Trestman here to help jumpstart the offense.
16. Matthew Stafford – Stafford threw for almost 5,000 yards for the Detroit Lions last season but the team went 4-12.
15. Cam Newton – Newton didn’t get much credit for playing better in the last half of last season. Mostly because he plays for the Panthers. Newton needs to lead the team to wins more than he needs credit for his accomplishments in his position.
14. Russell Wilson – But he’s so tiny! There’s going to come a point where NFL fans are going to turn on Russell Wilson. The “he’s always been told he’s too small to play quarterback” story is starting to wear real thin.
13. Tony Romo – It’s real easy to bash Tony Romo. Sometimes it’s not about the stats, whether he’s completing over 65% of his passes or throwing for over 4,900 yards; the sub-par record over the past couple of years has overshadowed all of that.
12. Robert Griffin III – He could be a different quarterback coming back from a knee reconstruction within a year. He could also be pretty exciting to watch.
11. Andrew Luck – Luck could be the next generation of Bradys and Mannings. He does need some talent around him to achieve that. In his sophomore season his completion percentage should get better but he’ll also have to adjust to a new offensive coordinator.
10. Matt Schaub – Whether he’s elite or not, he’ll be getting an elite paycheck from the Texans this season. The last three seasons he’s thrown consistently over 4,000 and over 62% completion rate.
9. Colin Kaepernick – Kaepernick will be entering his third season but his first as the starting quarterback from the get-go.
8. Matt Ryan – Ryan had the Falcons so close to beating San Francisco and heading to the Super Bowl. He finally got that first playoff win monkey off of his back, but now he’ll be lugging around a giant contract and all the expectations that come with it.
7. Joe Flacco – No one can throw a rainbow up in the air and either get a pass interference call or be able to have the receiver capitalize off of blown coverage quite like Joe Flacco. He’s lost his most frequent touchdown targets and the nonsensical pep-talks that Ray Lewis used to give the team.
6. Eli Manning – Last season Eli missed the 4,000 passing mark by 52 yards. This could be a rough season for Eli as the Giants have racked up the injuries this preseason.
5. Ben Roethlisberger – No one can make a bad offensive line look good like Roethlisberger. This season he’ll have the Steelers’ youngest starting offensive line in over 50 years in front of him. He still has a shaky running game to work with until it’s known how well Le’Veon Bell can contribute in the regular season but there’s no quarterback quite like Roethlisberger in the league.
4. Drew Brees – No one can throw for eleventy billion yards a season quite like Drew Brees. The Saints’ defense is still quite a mess so thankfully that whole Bounty-Gate mess is behind them. Having Sean Payton back should provide more wins to go along with the incredible stats Brees will surely put up again this year.
3. Tom Brady – Feels a little obligatory to keep putting Brady at the top of these lists but he is Tom Brady. Could be a tough year for Brady though who has an undrafted rookie, a second round pick rookie, and Julian Edelman to throw to this year. Brady and the Patriots have been known for making no-name players into top receivers but how many times can Brady pull that off in his career?
2. Peyton Manning – Manning had roughly seventeen (estimating) back and neck surgeries and still took Denver to 13 regular season victories and the #1 overall seed in the playoffs. Only Manning could come back and do something like that. Unfortunately for Broncos fans, only Manning can win double-digit games in the regular season and exit the playoffs shockingly early as well.
1. Aaron Rodgers – Rodgers has it all, the biggest contract in the NFL, an improved running attack, and the number one ranking on just about everyone’s list. Rodgers is in his prime even if he doesn’t have the best offensive line or defense in the league.
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