|Dave Martin / Associated Press|
|Tom Brady's three Super Bowl triumphs help set him apart from the rest of the game's best quarterbacks.|
Five quarterbacks have been ranked among the first 50 players of the "Top 100 Players of 2011". There are 12 quarterbacks total on the list, so seven have yet to be announced. Assuming the remaining seven quarterbacks on the "Top 100" list are Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, and Michael Vick, how would those passers be ordered?
Manning just too valuable to Colts1. Manning. No quarterback shares his combination of passing skills and ability to run the offense with as much command as any coach. With Manning, the Colts have had an uninterrupted ride to annual Super Bowl contention. Without him, the Colts ... well, they don't want to think of what it's going to be like with another quarterback.
2. Brady. He is a close second behind Manning, and the Patriots aren't the same without him. But they did manage to have a strong season in 2008 with Matt Cassel at quarterback for most of the season.
3. Rodgers. Great pure passer. He showed that he not only is capable of carrying the the Packers' offense, and the entire team, on his highly talented throwing arm, but he also is able to withstand the enormous pressure of filling the legendary cleats of Brett Favre.
4. Brees. His enormous talent and game-breaking ability are obvious. He is slightly behind Rodgers because he isn't always as consistent as he needs to be. Also, there were too many times last season when the Saints' offense seemed predictable, and Brees is as accountable as Sean Payton to help prevent that.
5. Roethlisberger. He has a unique skill set, the ability to throw effectively and make a wide variety of big plays on the move, to go along with two Super Bowl rings. But the rough edges of his game are why he doesn't rank higher.
6. Rivers. Tremendous pure passer. Needs to demonstrate that he can consistently deliver in the clutch, especially in the postseason.
7. Vick. He has made considerable strides toward being a complete quarterback, and no one on this list can match what he can do on his feet. But he'll need to do some damage in the playoffs to move up.
Brady paces group in postseason successWho wins the most big games is the ultimate way to separate these great quarterbacks.
1. Brady. The accomplishments speak for themselves: Three Super Bowl rings and four Super Bowl appearances, as well as a 14-5 postseason record with seven touchdowns and one interception in four Super Bowls.
2. Roethlisberger. Say what you want, but he wins in the playoffs. Roethlisberger has a 10-3 postseason record, but his Super Bowl production falls short of Brady, with three touchdowns and five interceptions while going 2-1 in the big game.
3. Manning. He has played in 19 postseason games with a 9-10 record, but he has a higher postseason QB rating than Brady and Roethlisberger. Brady has 30 touchdowns in 19 postseason games, and Manning has 29. A 1-1 Super Bowl record puts him in third place.
4. Brees. He is 1-0 in the Super Bowl, and some would argue his postseason production in just seven postseason games should rank him higher than fourth. Brees has a 4-3 postseason record with 15 touchdown passes to just two interceptions, and his 102 QB rating is fantastic.
5. Rodgers. He is new on the scene but already has a Super Bowl win. Ask me a year or two from now, and he might be the top QB on the list. He already owns a 5-1 postseason record with 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions. His 112.6 postseason QB rating is 27 points higher than Brady's and 28 points higher than Roethlisberger.
6. Rivers. He has been knocking on the door of a Super Bowl but hasn't arrived, which puts him down near the bottom of this list. Rivers has a 3-4 postseason record with just eight touchdowns and nine interceptions.
7. Vick. He has a 2-4 postseason record with five touchdowns and four interceptions. He still has time in his career to move up this steep ladder.
Making the Colts a factor, year-in and year-outThis question is not for the faint of heart, is it? With EMTs standing by, here goes:
1. Manning. Every year he makes the Colts a factor no matter who's blocking, running or receiving.
2. Brady. See Manning. And, yes, he's won more Super Bowls.
3. Rodgers. One Super Bowl in his pocket, one long shadow cast aside.
4. Brees. Attention to detail ranks with all top QBs, and leadership is off the charts.
5. Rivers. I love his old-West style, and his production with unfamiliar targets last year at times exceeded Manning's.
6. Rothlisberger. Style is different than classic QBs, but results exceed individual recognition (two Super Bowl titles in three trips vs. one Pro Bowl selection).
7. Vick. Needs to do in 2011 what he did in 2010 ... I think he will.
Brady a hair above the rest1. Brady. Nothing seems to set him back, from the trade of Randy Moss and the change to a more tight-end based set to keeping his hair out of his eyes.
2. Manning. The game is almost too easy for him. Defenders will tell you he knows everything they're trying to do, and he's impossible to out-scheme.
3. Brees. The ultimate leader, and his accuracy is incredible.
4. Rodgers. His versatility and ruthlessness running an offense make him flat-out scary. He's gotten better every year, so the best is still yet to come.
5. Rivers. He spreads the ball around. He's tough, and he knows how to win.
6. Roethlisberger. Arguably the most clutch player in the game, and his toughness is unmatched.
7. Vick. With his accuracy vastly improved, game-planning to stop him has become far more difficult. His teammates also are totally behind him.
Advantage goes to the man with multiple titles1. Brady. As a three-time Super Bowl winner, Brady has repeatedly demonstrated that he is the ultimate clutch performer. Given his exceptional production and outstanding record in the post-season, it's hard to pick any quarterback over Brady.
2. Manning. He comes in a close second behind Brady, but Manning's postseason failures prevent him from being No. 1. Manning is the model of consistency at QB, and his iron man status will put him on the fast track to finish his career with nearly all of the league's passing records.
3. Roethlisberger. Few would rate Big Ben this high based on his pure talent as a passer, but he deserves recognition for his ability to thrive in the game's waning moments. Though he has taken significant steps to become a more polished pocket passer, Roethlisberger is at his best when improvising to generate big plays.
4. Brees. He has become one of the game's most feared passers by routinely picking apart opponents with a surgeon's precision. His ability to exploit the weak areas of the defense typically results in big plays and a ton of points for the Saints' offense.
5. Rodgers. He has emerged from the legendary shadows of Brett Favre to become the game's next big thing. His sensational two-year run as the Packers' starter has resulted in huge production for the offense and a Super Bowl victory.
6. Vick. Some might take umbrage with Vick's placement on the list, but his remarkable transformation from a run-first quarterback to a precision passer is deserving of high praise. While others might still possess better skills and fundamentals, his combination of speed, athleticism and arm strength gives the Eagles a chance to win every contest.
7. Rivers. If not for his postseason failures, Rivers would rival his counterparts as one of the top players at the position. He has proven that he can get maximum production out of the offense with or without his top pass catchers, which only enhances his reputation as one of the game's best young passers.
Brady has a certain ring1. Brady. Two of the greatest single-season performances and three rings are enough for me.
2. Manning. He still can singlehandedly take over a game and his team, unlike anyone in pro football.
3. Brees. This is a nod to productivity. How the guy stays healthy, dropping back to pass as much as he does, is a testament to his toughness ... a quality not often associated with the Saints quarterback.
T-4. Rodgers. While he had an unbelievable run last season, I'm not sure he's done it long enough to equal Brees. But he's been so effective in such a short window.
T-4. Roethlisberger. One thing that this guy can do that only Vick -- among those on this list -- can do, is pull plays out of his butt. He's as tough to take down as Josh Freeman, with the effectiveness of Brees. Clutch too. How about that bomb to Antonio Brown in the divisional playoffs last year?
6. Rivers. "Clutch" is the key word with Rivers, as his detractors feel he has let the Chargers down in the playoffs. I'm not sure that's fair. None of the quarterbacks on this list lead their offense to more points per game than Rivers over their career starts.
7. Vick. Dynamic player to be sure, but one season is not enough to vault him over the game's elite. If he matches his 2010 performance in 2011, then look out.