2015 is going to be an interesting year for quarterbacks because we’ve seen a decline from the previous “big 3” in Peyton Manning, Tom Brady (who admittedly bounced back in 2014) and Drew Brees. With the exception of Rodgers we’ve yet to see the younger quarterbacks step up and really insert themselves into the discussion as “elite”. With the possible exception of Andrew Luck and maybe Russell Wilson, we’re still waiting for that new generation to produce consistent performers. Here’s the current top 10:
1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
He’s the best quarterback in football and it’s really not debatable. Injuries are the only thing that’s stunted his performance in the last two years. If the Packers can get anything out of their defense they will continue to be Super Bowl contenders with his play.
2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
As the reigning Super Bowl champ he deserves his place back up here. The return to health of Rob Gronkowksi has resurrected Brady from what was starting to look like a steep decline. But he’s shown he can still make every throw consistently and he can still do it in the playoffs when in matters most.
3. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
It may be a little early to put him up this high and he’s going to need to win bigger games, but Luck has clearly emerged as a best young quarterback in the league. There’s no reason why he can’t produce at Aaron Rodgers’s level, he’s already almost there. Hard to believe the Colts may have found one of the best young quaterbacks in NFL history to replace the best quarterback in NFL history.
4. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
If you look at the first half of 2014, Manning was still posting historically good numbers. He was on pace for another record breaking season before injuries derailed him. The quad tear severely hampered his play, though, and at 39 it’s fair to question if we’ve seen the last of his elite play. His play in the last four games and the playoffs show his body is breaking down. If he can stay healthy through 16 games, though, he can still lead his team to the playoffs or further.
5. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
There’s been much talk about Brees being on the decline, but the Saints really re-enforced their offensive line to make sure he will be protected in 2015. And if you look at how a superior running attack rejuvenated the careers of Tony Romo and Ben Roethlisberger, there’s reason to believe that can happen with Brees too. And if you look at Brees’s numbers in a “down year”, he was still #2 in completion percentage, #6 in rating, #1 in yards, and #5 in touchdowns. Don’t buy the hype, Brees is still performing at a highly efficient level and better play up front should yield better results.
6. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
The two time Super Bowl champion has really become the rock of his team in the second half of his career, after he leaned so much on the defense early on. At 33 he’s coming off arguably his best season as a pro and he’s currently playing his best football. If the Steelers can get their defense to play at a higher level, Big Ben could be looking for his third ring.
7. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
There’s no doubt Romo’s play last year was electrifying. His 113.2 QB rating was an NFL best and 6th best all time. After undergoing some scary health issues it’s nice to see his career revived. Missing DeMarco Murray is going to make a huge difference for that offense, though, and Romo continues to struggle winning the games that matter the most.
8. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
His career feels like Roethlisberger’s in a lot of ways. He’s been fortunate to lead a team that has such a good defense that he’s been able to taste success early despite average play. But despite his defense and running game being primarily responsible for the success of his team, Wilson has quietly gotten better and better. He may have started out as a product of his own environment, like Roethlisberger, but also like Big Ben he’s coming into his own as a top notch quarterback. The addition of Jimmy Graham will absolutely help him grow as a prolific passer.
9. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Rivers was on pace for an MVP type season early in 2015 after a monster year in 2013 before falling back down to earth a little bit. He’s still a top 10 quarterback and he can beat anyone almost by himself when he gets hot.
10. Eli Manning, New York Giants
Sometimes a quarterback is made by the weapons around him. Manning enjoyed a good statistical 2014 thanks to Odell Beckham Jr.’s crazy season. Manning quietly had one of his best seasons rebounding from a poor start. Manning will have Beckham, Victor Cruz, Larry Donnell and Rueben Randle to throw to in 2015. Not many if any quarterbacks in the league have a luxury like that. As a two time Super Bowl champion he could make people pay for forgetting about him this year.