The final position group to rank is the most important one. Quarterback is a key player for any NFL team. Five of the teams in these divisions have a franchise QB and three teams (Bears, Tampa Bay and Vikings) think they have one. Let’s take a look how you should rank them.
Tied First: Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers has two MVPs and is typically over 100 in QB rating (6 of 8 seasons he played the majority of snaps). However, Rodgers had a down year for him in 2015 with a 92 rating which was his lowest rating. A 92 rating (15th) was average for 2015 for all QBs.
Rodgers faced a little adversity (35% pressure and no number 1 WR) and had some issues (highest bad pass percentage in league). Rodgers is a great QB and could have a great 2016 season but Stafford is just as good despite the QB rating difference. It is because of differences in adversity that they have different ratings.
Rodgers has to prove he can handle a little adversity for a change. The mid to high 20% pressure allowed and above average run game might not always be there for him. Jordy Nelson might not always bail him out if he loses his speed.
Rodgers can win them 10 games if he gets back to form (97 or above rating) but he’s not the greatest of all time or even best in division until he proves he can handle a little adversity and still be a top 10 QB.
Tied First: Drew Brees
Brees will be a Hall of Fame QB. Brees has had eight (8) QB rating seasons over 96 in the last 10 years for the Saints. He has changed their franchise for the better and has been very good the last three seasons despite his old age. He is playing in a contract year and has plenty of weapons and protection at his disposal.
Brees will have a season close to 100 QB rating yet again and the Saints will have a top 10 offense. They should hold on to Brees as long as he willing to play.
Tied First: Matt Stafford
I get it. You don’t like Stafford or the Lions so you underrate Stafford despite the game tape. His QB rating has been in the mid-80s for several seasons (2012-2014) which causes the media to bash him and ignore any good qualities or production (2013 TDs/PFF rating, 2014 11 wins, first downs despite no run game, leader of the offense that they rely with 650+ attempts). However, Stafford has been screwed in the past seasons at weapon (2012/2013), offensive line (2014/2015) and run game (2012-2015) or a combination of the three areas which hurt his ratings.
Stafford has sprinkled in two 97 QB rating seasons since 2011 (2011/2015). The most recent one was last season due to a 110 QB rating with Jim Bob Cooter in the second half of the season (after an 84 QB rating in first half with bumbling Joe Lombardi, no protection and no run game). The Lions play a similar schedule to the second half of the 2015 season during the 2016 season by the way.
Stafford finally has an OC that knows how to get the most out of him. He has plenty of weapons despite losing Calvin Johnson. Johnson wasn’t even the same player in 2014/2015 as he was previously. His offensive line should be fixed for 2016 after subpar 2014 and 2015 seasons with mid 30% pressure and 89 sacks (most allowed). His run game has been ranked 20th or below every season but one (2011 at 4.3 YPC which was 13th). Stafford faces more adversity than most QBs.
Despite the problems (many injuries and OC related issues on offense), Stafford still produces. He moves the chains and is asked to do more than most QBs in an offense. He’s the opposite of a game manger. He’s a franchise QB that has to carry an offense without a run game. Stafford has produced on a great pace compared to Brees and Manning concerning TDs and interceptions in his first 7 seasons. Stafford has done all this with subpar support for various reasons.
Stafford has to be the guy and he has done well for Detroit. He is a good franchise QB. Stafford is decisive and intelligent with a great arm. Based on the new talent we have discussed for Detroit, the new look Lions offense has plenty of talent to finally support Matthew Stafford properly. Every time they support him even with average play, Stafford looks like an elite QB. We’ll see if a great season is in store for Stafford for 2016 in his 8th season.
Fourth: Cam Newton
Newton had an MVP season in 2015. He had a 99 rating and he did it without his number 1 WR. He did have a good run game and defensive support. Newton is a beast runner himself so he can bail himself out if needs too.
Cam Newton, like Stafford, has 4 seasons with the mid to high 80s QB ratings. Newton’s dealt with some adversity but the Panthers won with defense in 2013 and 2014. Cam is a great weapon and can be an above average passer despite some accuracy issues. Newton can move up to the top rating with another great QB rating season in 2016 (Stafford has two since 2011).
Fifth: Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan is a pretty steady QB. In the last six seasons, he has an 89 QB rating or higher. However, Ryan only has one rating over 96 with a 99 rating in 2012 during that six year span. Ryan has been a good franchise QB but could be better. Ryan is a good decision maker and has a solid arm.
Matty Ice had to deal with some offensive line, run game and weapons adversity too but not to the degree of Stafford. The Falcons can win a Super Bowl with Matt Ryan with the proper support and low to mid 90s is all they may need. However, the run game and defense needs work in Atlanta for that to happen. We’ll see if Mohammed Sanu, Alex Mack, Keanu Neal and Deion Jones solve the issue. Ryan still has time to improve after 8 seasons. Upper 90s ratings could be in his wheelhouse with solid protection, run game and weapons for his 9th season.
Sixth: Jay Cutler
Cutler had a 92 rating in 2015 despite major weapon injuries. In Cutler’s 10 years, this was his highest rating ever. Cutler is a mid-80 QB. His problem is turnovers (high interception rate). Smokin Jay can move the ball for an offense but does require some support (defensive turnovers or some weapons). Cutler has a good arm and is athletic but is poor decision maker.
Cutler has dealt with some adversity with protection in Chicago but had plenty of weapons in some recent previous seasons (Jeffrey, Marshall, Olson, Bennett). The Bears could win with Cutler with a very good defense. I just don’t see that in Chicago this season and this could be his last year as a Bear.
Tied Seventh: Teddy Bridgewater
Bridgewater is a game manager so far in his career. He could prove to be a franchise QB that could lead an offense but he hasn’t yet. The Vikings haven’t needed him too. The Vikings have Adrian Peterson and a very good defense. Bridgewater tossed only 14 TDs and they won the division. He tossed 14 TDs in 2014 and they won 7 games.
Bridgewater just needs to show improvement and not rock the boat. He is accurate but lacks a deep ball. He is athletic and has shown leadership capability in spurts. However, you can’t rate him very high if he has low attempts and is only a game manager.
Bridgewater has faced a ton of pressure and lacks weapons at his disposal. That may be the reason the Vikings don’t pass as much. Bridgewater has notched 85 and 88 QB rating in his two seasons. That is pretty good considering the lack of weapons and protection (most pressured QB over 2 years). Minnesota fans should have some hope he could be a franchise QB. We’ll see what the new weapons and offensive line improvements do for Bridgewater.
Tied Seventh: Jameis Winston
Winston had an 84 QB rating rookie season which is pretty good for a rookie QB. He had great run support but the Bucs did lack weapons and protection. Winston proved he can be a leader but the Buccaneers may have the same protection and lack of weapon problems in 2016. We’ll see if Winston can overcome those issues and be a franchise QB. Inexperience and 15 interceptions with low attempts downgrade Winston. But as a rookie, Bucs fans should be excited about the future for Winston.
None of the teams have a good proven backup QB. Matt Schaub, Derek Anderson, Luke McCown, Mike Glennon, Brian Hoyer and Shaun Hill may be the best but are all still subpar in needing to play more than a handful of games. Brett Hundley and Jake Rudock (if he beats out Dan Orlovsky) are completely unproven in year 2 and year 1.
The Packers, Saints and Lions have the best QB situation. Cam Newton can bring the Panthers into the top ranking with another great season. Matt Ryan is a steady good QB. Cutler could be a good QB if he could ever fix his interception issues. Bridgewater is a game manager that doesn’t need to prove he is a franchise QB. Winston had a good season for a rookie QB but has some adversity with a lack of support.