Ranking season is officially underway at GLS. Tomlinson and I had a recent conversation in which we discussed what we’ll do as the work stoppage continues to bruise and batter an already dead point on the NFL calendar. The discussion lasted mere moments, and now we’re here with the first installment of the GLS offseason positional power rankings.
This is an idea that stems from something our pal Scott Carefoot has been doing for The Basketball Jones for several months. Essentially, we want to rank the top 10 players at each position based mainly but not solely on recent events. If you were a good team without a quarterback and had the ability to choose from any signal caller in football to lead your squad in 2011, who would you go with?
This is our answer to that question, multiplied by 10.
1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
After losing 2008 to a serious knee injury, most observers believed Brady would never return to his historical 2007 form, but Brady had the second-best season of his career in 2010. With a 111.0 passer rating (six points short of his ’07 total), Tom Terrific jumped ahead of Peyton Manning and Drew Brees to become the undisputed king of quarterbacks. I still can’t get over Brady’s untouchable 36-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Rodgers hadn’t won a playoff game prior to the 2010 season, which killed him in these debates. Now, he’s a Super Bowl champion. En route to capturing Lombardi, Rodgers became the NFL’s career passer rating leader in both the regular season and the playoffs. During the regular season, he threw six fewer picks than Manning while averaging 8.3 yards per attempt (second to only Philip Rivers).
3. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts
If this were squarely based on 2010, Manning would be much further down the list. But give the guy credit for still managing to complete 66.3 percent of his throws while passing for a career-high 4,700 yards despite a glaring lack of support on offense and defense. Manning’s career numbers are too damn good for him to slide down this list due to one slightly off year.
4. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
It was a toss-up between Big Ben and Drew Brees, but Roethlisberger crushed Brees in a few too many statistical categories. His 8.2 average was the third highest in the league. That he was able to throw for over 3,000 yards despite missing the first month of the season is pretty remarkable. Roethlisberger also only tossed five interceptions, while Brees had a startling 22. And the icing on the cake: Big Ben got his team back to the Super Bowl.
5. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Make that five straight seasons with over 4,000 passing yards for Brees, who has become a model of consistency. Don’t let the aforementioned interception numbers fool you — Brees might be the most accurate passer in the game. In his last two seasons, he’s completed a league-high 69.2 percent of his throws (about two full percentage points up on Peyton Manning).
6. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Dating back to 2008, Rivers is the league’s highest-rated passer. He consistently completes 65 percent of his passes for over 4,000 yards and an average of above eight yards per attempt. The guy just doesn’t have many flaws. The only reason he’s behind Brady, Rodgers, Manning, Roethlisberger and Brees: He’s yet to succeed in January.
7. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
Vick might be more physically talented than the each of the six players ahead of him, but he’s yet to prove that he can consistently contribute as both a passer and a runner without having to miss time due to injury. He’s the only risk/reward signal caller on this list, and I’m not sure if that helps or hurts his case. Fact is, he was one of only four quarterbacks with a triple-digit passer rating in 2010, and he did that while rushing for 676 yards and nine touchdowns. If Brady didn’t exist, Vick was the MVP.
8. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
No one flew under the radar as low as Freeman in 2010. The dude threw 25 touchdown passes and only six interceptions. The 23-year-old could use a boost in completion percentage (61.4) and average (7.3) but those numbers aren’t too bad when you consider the lack of talent and experience in Tampa. Throw in Freeman’s reputation for coming up big in clutch situations and he owns the No. 8 spot on this list.
9. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Ryan got back on track in 2010 after suffering from a slight sophomore slump in 2009. His 28-to-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio was tremendous, and he’s become a proven winner. Still, he’ll have to improve on a dangerously low 6.5 average to become an elite quarterback. The presence of Julio Jones might give the 25-year-old a boost in his fourth season.
10. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans
This spot could have easily gone to Joe Flacco or Matt Cassel, but it’s hard to turn away from the 9,140 yards Schaub has thrown for in his last two seasons with the Texans. Houston hasn’t made the playoffs in the Schaub era, but the empirical evidence indicates that those failures have little to do with the league’s 2009 passing yards leader.