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Super Bowl-winning QBs top list of game’s best signal-callers

  • By Pat Kirwan NFL.com
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There has been a lot of discussion about the quarterbacks who made the Top 100 Players of 2011 and those who were left off.

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Lists are great for debate. With that in mind, I prefer to group players in segments of five with little debate about one player being better than the next in his particular group.

Here are the quarterback groupings in alphabetical order.

Group A (1-5)

1. Tom Brady, Patriots: Three Super Bowl rings and four appearances in the big game to go along with the most touchdown passes in 2010 (36).

2. Drew Brees, Saints: Tied for second in TD passes (33) and one of the great leaders in the NFL.

3. Peyton Manning, Colts: Tied for second in TD passes (33) and the guy who will probably break Brett Favre's passing records.

4. Philip Rivers, Chargers: Led the league in passing yards with 138 fewer throws than the next closest QB in passing yards.

5. Aaron Rodgers, Packers: The Super Bowl MVP and someone who made Packers fans forget Favre.

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Group B (6-10)

1. Eli Manning, Giants: Underrated with 4,000-plus passing yards and fourth in touchdown passes (31).

2. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: A two-time Super Bowl champion and three appearances on Super Sunday during his seven-year career. The essence of a winner.

3. Tony Romo, Cowboys: He has to stay healthy this year and improve on his 1-3 postseason record or he will fall from this group.

4. Matt Ryan, Falcons: A rising star with 66 touchdown passes and just 34 interceptions in his first three years.

5. Michael Vick, Eagles: Turned his life around, and not only recaptured his career but has improved as a quarterback.

Group C (11-15)

1. Sam Bradford, Rams: He averaged 39 pass plays a game as a rookie, completed 60 percent of his passes and threw more touchdowns (18) than interceptions (15) without a top wide receiver.

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2. Joe Flacco, Ravens: All he's done is lead his team to the playoffs in his first three seasons. He has 60 touchdown passes and just 34 interceptions to go along with a 4-3 postseason mark.

3. Josh Freeman, Buccaneers: A rising star who reminds me of a young Warren Moon. Cool under pressure with a big arm. He led his team to 10 wins in his first full season as a starter.

4. Carson Palmer, Bengals: He might retire, but he still threw for 3,970 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2010. If the Bengals ever change their mind about trading him, we will all see what the rest of the league thinks of his ability.

5. Matt Schaub, Texans: Probably belongs in Group B but winning has to be part of the equation to move up. He threw for 4,370 yards and 24 touchdowns last season.

Group D (16-20)

1. Matt Cassel, Chiefs: The trade for Cassel proved to be a great move by the Chiefs. Very efficient quarterback in 2010 with 27 touchdowns and just seven picks. He gets a new receiving weapon in Jonathan Baldwin this season and is probably headed to Group B or C next year.

2. Jay Cutler, Bears: He takes too much criticism for his "body language." The accusations after his knee injury in the NFC title game are just an example of his bad image. Another year under offensive coordinator Mike Martz and he's headed up from Group D.

3. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills: The Bills know what they have in Fitzpatrick and passed on adding a quarterback in the draft. Get him some more protection and targets, and he will improve on his stellar 2010 production.

4. Kyle Orton, Broncos: Played in 13 games and still threw for 3,653 yards. He might get traded when the lockout is over since a number of teams will want a QB with a 32-29 career record and 12,000-plus passing yards.

5. Mark Sanchez, Jets: Impressive start to career with a 23-14 record, including the playoffs, but needs to improve on his passing with only 29 touchdowns in 33 regular-season games.

Group E (21-25)

1. David Garrard, Jaguars: While he will probably be replaced sooner or later, he will not go down without a fight. He has a winning record in the NFL and has thrown 35 more touchdowns than interceptions.

2. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks: He had seven touchdowns to one interception in the playoffs and still has some tread left on the tires. He's a free agent and hopefully he stays in Seattle. His 11 postseason games, including a trip to the Super Bowl, is the kind of experience a team will need if the lockout goes deep into the summer.

3. Chad Henne, Dolphins: He is another quarterback in a long line trying to erase the memory of Dan Marino. This could be his last chance to keep a starting job and 27 touchdown passes in 27 starts isn't going to cut it.

4. Donovan McNabb, Redskins: His best years are behind him and the 2010 stop in Washington was a bad experience. He can still play, but needs another change of scenery.

5. Matthew Stafford, Lions: He has to stay healthy to move up a few groups. He looks like he's stronger and healthy, which means he could ascend next season.

Group F (26-30)

1. Jason Campbell, Raiders: He threw 13 touchdowns in 13 games last year and really needs a big season to step out of the obscurity he seems to be floating along in his five-year career. Let's see if a new coach, Hue Jackson, takes him to the next level.

2. Jon Kitna, Cowboys: Even though he might be a backup, did you notice how well he played last year when he had to start for Romo? Kitna's going back to the bench in Dallas, but he has a better chance of winning games in 2011 than a number of starters.

3. Kevin Kolb, Eagles: He'll be a hot item if we ever get to where trades can happen. The West Coast coaches believe he's the next Hasselbeck or Schaub. A backup with limited experience who can come in and be the face of the organization.

4. Colt McCoy, Browns: The West Coast system is perfect for McCoy. Between Pat Shurmur and Mike Holmgren, McCoy should be productive this year.

5. Vince Young, Titans: He is 30-17 as a starter and has to find a new place to play in 2011. If he cleans up his reputation as a worker, he still has a bright future.

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Group G (31-35)

1. Andy Dalton, Bengals: With Palmer probably retired or gone, Dalton will get a chance to play, and with A.J. Green at the end of his passes to go with a solid running game, he should have a promising rookie season.

2. Shaun Hill, Lions: Another backup who played better than some starters around the league a year ago. He led the Lions to two late wins.

3. Cam Newton, Panthers: If he doesn't get into camp soon and get some coaching, he will not have a chance to win as a rookie. He has the talent, but it will be a tough year with a weak supporting cast.

4. Tim Tebow, Broncos: He didn't play poorly when he got his chance last year. As one general manger said, "I should have known he would do a decent job on the field the way he competes." This is a deciding season for his future in Denver.

5. Alex Smith, 49ers: He was starting to come around when Norv Turner was his offensive coordinator back in 2006 and I'm hoping Jim Harbaugh can do the same thing for Smith now. His 19-31 record with more interceptions (53) than touchdowns (51) is a heavy burden to carry around.

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