Top 10 NFL Quarterbacks in 2009
Lists. Rankings. Jaunts. Jives.
Any way you wish to spell it out, football is still man against man, brutal competition at its gory best. The best part? These iconic statues that we make our modern-day NFL quarterbacks into cannot crumble, and they truly do not ever retire.
Even the most recent great one to leave us (maybe), though he wasn't at the top of his game at the end of last season, still ranked where he did his entire career: Near the top.
Brett Favre has all the records, the victories, a Super Bowl, and a cult following that Wes Anderson would kill for. However, one thing he does not have is a place on this list, because as of today he is retired.
The following is a slideshow of the 10 best quarterbacks in the NFL today, whether it be by stature, physical prowess, stats, or their sheer will to win.
And with all the greats either in the Hall of Fame or getting ready to have their name called, Tom Brady stands in line atop the list, eagerly awaiting his chance at eternal glory. After he wins another Super Bowl or two, of course.
1. Tom Brady
He may be down, but he is certainly not out.
Even before his record breaking 50-touchdown season in 2007, Brady was the poster boy for consistency as well as plain old-fashioned winning.
With three Super Bowl victories in four appearances, Brady is the guy you want leading your team in the final two minutes. It's as simple as that.
2. Peyton Manning
If you want to go all "Brett Favre" on anyone, just wait a few years, because Manning is well within striking distance of every major passing record. Add his Super Bowl win, combined with a slew of 12-4 or 13-3 seasons, and you have yourself the best quarterback still playing.
Manning has the release of a young Dan Marino, is the most cerebral quarterback we have ever seen, and has an active start streak second only to Favre as a quarterback.
3. Tony Romo
He's got a fire in him that is reminiscent of a young Favre and an unorthodox release like we have never seen. The only true knock on Romo is his inability so far in his young career to win in big games (he's winless in the postseason. Recall Peyton Manning had a similar issue as well for a while).
Still, few other quarterbacks can challenge his old school "gunslinger" mentality, the same make-or-break style that made his idol Favre so famous.
4. Drew Brees
Brees has become one of the most prolific quarterbacks ever since his trade to the Saints. Since arriving in the "Big Easy," he's thrown for at least 24 touchdowns and 4,400 yards in three straight seasons.
Last season he threw for 34 touchdowns and fell just 15 yards shy of tying Dan Marino's single season yardage record.
Just like Romo, Brees' main issue has been with guiding his team. In seven seasons as a starter, Brees has won just one playoff game.
5. Jay Cutler
His confidence is often confused with cockiness, but Cutler is difficult to match on the field when it comes to passion and will to win.
In his first two seasons as a starter, Cutler tossed for more than 20 touchdowns and 3,000 yards, not to mention more than 4,500 in 2008. Cutler combines solid arm strength and accuracy with timely mobility to keep his team in every game.
He still has a lot of kinks to work out, but he has shown enough leadership and poise to match his already-elite abilities.
6. Donovan McNabb
Despite nagging injuries throughout his career, McNabb has thrown, scrambled, and ran his team through postseason after postseason, compiling five trips to the NFC Championship and one trip to the Super Bowl.
Even with all his supposed shortcomings, McNabb has been one of the most influential quarterbacks of his time for his race, his style of play, and his personality.
McNabb is no slouch statistically, either, as he has passed for nearly 200 touchdowns and has topped 3,000 yards in six seasons.
The media can bash McNabb all they want, but there's no denying that he wins games.
7. Ben Roethlisberger
Roethlisberger is evidence you can win two Super Bowls and not be considered great. Both seasons in his career that he attempted more than 400 passes, he threw for at least 15 interceptions, including 23 in 2006.
This goes to show that "Big Ben" can't always be trusted to carry his team.
However, his place in the Top Ten is cemented with his heroic drive in this year's Super Bowl, earning him his second ring as well as a place in history.
8. Philip Rivers
Rivers is on his way to being a Top Five quarterback.
Sure, the Chargers limped into the playoffs in 2008 as a so-called "lucky" 8-8 team, but they didn't blow out the Broncos by accident. And they didn't upset the Colts in the first round by mistake, either.
Rivers is the fire that does not go out, leading his team into the pit of the defense every game and never backing down. Rivers has evolved from a rookie-esque game manager, to a throw-first-ask-questions-later true gamer.
In LT's shadow the previous two seasons, Rivers put up solid numbers of over 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns in both years.
In 2008, he became the leader of the Chargers as he passed for over 4,000 yards and 34 touchdowns, tied for the league lead.
9. Eli Manning
Even though he's only one year removed from shocking America by leading the Giants over the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl, it's still hard to take him seriously.
He looks more like he's getting ready to do your taxes than the guy who's thrown for over 20 scores and 3,000 yards the past four years.
While that's impressive enough, it's also important to note that Manning finally took a statistical leap in 2008 by completing over 60 percent of his passes for the first time in his career, ensuring he is now a more consistent performer.
Still, despite his success in 2007, as well as his great leadership in 2008, I am still not convinced he has become a great quarterback.
10. Aaron Rodgers
Considering whose shoes he was filling, as well as all the attention his team was getting for the offseason "Favre saga", Rodgers fared quite nicely in 2008.
He matched Favre's magical 2007 season with nearly identical numbers of over 4,000 yards and 28 scores through the air.
The only problem with Rodgers, other than his "Can you call me Scott Stapp?" summer haircut: He was 0-8 when it mattered most.
Of course, since the defense was so goshdarn awful, he earns a mulligan, and I'll let him stick at the 10 spot for the start of 2009.
11. The Honorable Mentions
11. Carson Palmer slips because he missed most of 2008 with injuries and stunk it up even when he was playing. His 20 picks and poor consistency the year before don't help him any, either.
12. Matt Schaub is an elite passer waiting to happen. The trouble is, I feel even he needs a little convincing. Oh, and staying on the field wouldn't hurt, either.
13. Matt Cassel is either really good, or the Patriots' system is way better than we could ever imagine. He came on strong near the end, but do you really think this guy would look this good in a Lions uniform?
14. Jake Dehlomme led his Panthers to a 12-4 record, a division crown, and a first-round bye. What, no love? Oh, the five picks against the Cardinals. I almost forgot.
15. Chad Pennington narrowly beats out Jeff Garcia, Matt Ryan, and my very own favorite Tyler Thigpen for the final Honorable Mention spot. Pennington earned the chance to prove Jets' management wrong with the Dolphins this season, and while it only led to an embarrassing collapse against Baltimore in the playoffs, something tells me it was worth it. Can you say vindication?