Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

NFL's top quarterbacks

A year ago this week, in this exact spot, I ranked the top 10 quarterbacks in the NFL. It was based on how they were playing at that time. In order, the list was: Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Josh Freeman, Matt Ryan, Michael Vick and Eli Manning. So today, the list is revisited and updated. Again, this isn't based on career achievements, but where they rank now.

1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers

Coming off, perhaps, the greatest individual season ever. He threw for 4,643 yards with 45 touchdowns and only six interceptions. His 122.5 passer rating was an NFL record. He led the Pack to a 15-1 record. Counting the playoffs, he is 20-2 over his past 22 starts. He is only 28.

2. Drew Brees, Saints

In the 2011 season, Brees broke Dan Marino's record for passing yards by throwing for 5,476. He also set NFL records for completions (468), completion percentage (71.2) and 300-yard passing games (13). With Brees, the Saints set NFL records for total yards (7,474) and first downs (416).

3. Eli Manning, Giants

Before the season, Manning answered a question by saying, yes, he considered himself an elite quarterback. Everyone either laughed or went crazy. After a brilliant regular season, Manning produced his second late winning drive in a Super Bowl. Eli was right. He is an elite quarterback.

4. Tom Brady, Patriots

Let's not let the Super Bowl loss cloud our judgment. Brady is getting along in age (35 in August). But he is coming off another outstanding season: 5,235 passing yards, 39 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He's 27-5 over the past two regular seasons despite a lousy defense and only marginally talented receivers.

5. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers

Hands down, the toughest. His gunslinger style leads to injuries and risks, but no quarterback is better at extending plays and turning catastrophes into huge gains. He turns 30 next month but already has three Super Bowl appearances and two rings. No longer a game manager, but a game-changer.

6. Cam Newton, Panthers

In an amazing rookie season, Newton, 22, joined a team that won two games in 2010 and led it to six by becoming the first player to throw for 4,000 yards (4,051) and rush for 500 (706). He set an NFL record with 14 rushing touchdowns and tossed 21. Just think how good he will be with more experience.

7. Matt Stafford, Lions

The league's comeback player of the year led the Lions to their first postseason appearance since 1999. He became the fifth player (and third in 2011) to throw for 5,000 yards (5,038). What's especially striking is the kid just turned 24 on Tuesday. If he stays healthy, he will find his name at the top of this list.

8. Tony Romo, Cowboys

It's hard to look past Romo's lack of success in big games. However, he has raw talent, and his 96.9 career passer rating is second all time to Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers (104.1). He turns 32 in April, so time is running out to show he can play big in big games.

9. Matt Ryan, Falcons

His nickname of "Matty Ice" should be sidelined until he does something in the postseason, where he is 0-3. He's only 26, so we cut him a little slack, especially because he is 43-19 as a starter during the regular season.

10. Joe Flacco, Ravens

A few quarterbacks could have slipped into this spot — Houston's Matt Schaub, St. Louis' Sam Bradford, San Francisco's Alex Smith and, if healthy, Peyton Manning. But for now, we'll go with Flacco because of his back-to-back 12-4 regular seasons. A name not under consideration? Josh Freeman.

Tom Jones' two cents

NFL's top quarterbacks 02/09/12 [Last modified: Thursday, February 9, 2012 8:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. After offseason of work hard, play hard, DeSean Jackson ready to produce for Bucs


    TAMPA — There's no telling what DeSean Jackson will do once he gets a football in his hands. Perhaps that's why a camera crew followed his every move Wednesday while the Bucs' new $30 million receiver stood on a step of the hot tub that empties into a spacious, azure pool at his new, sprawling five-bedroom home in …

    DeSean Jackson jokes around with girlfriend Kayla Phillips at their Tampa home as a crew from HBO’s Hard Knocks documents their day.
  2. Rays journal: Jake Odorizzi goes on 10-day DL with back strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jake Odorizzi is hoping his struggles this season can be tied directly to the lower-back strain he has tried to pitch through since spring training. Toward that end, the Rays placed Odorizzi on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday retroactive to Tuesday.

    Rays center fielder Mallex Smith smiles after hitting a single advancing runners in the third inning. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Playoff chase heats up for Rays with critical series at Yankees up first (w/ video)

    The Heater


    It was important that Evan Longoria crushed a two-run homer in the sixth inning Wednesday and Steven Souza Jr. blasted a solo shot off the farthest catwalk an inning later.

    Adeiny Hechavarria (11) and Tim Beckham (1) celebrate the double play to end the top of the sixth inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Thursday, New York

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Yankees

    7:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, July 22, 2017.
  5. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    It is going to get interesting tonight when the Rays begin a four-game series against the Yankees in New York. The Rays feel they are good enough to win the East Division. These next four games and the four that follow in Houston will be a good measuring stick.