With Week 17 now officially in the books, the NFL's wild regular season has come to a close.
2013 saw record-breaking performances by newcomers bursting onto the scene ready to bring about a new era in NFL quarterbacking. However, several tried-and-true veterans proved they were not quite ready to relinquish their crown and give up superiority to the next generation.
In a passing league, only the teams with capable quarterbacks can survive. This is a comprehensive list of the best signal-callers in the NFL today.
Because it is the final ranking of the season, every quarterback who saw significant playing time in the NFL will be considered and valued through numerous categories, each weighted differently throughout the season.
I factor in several key attributes for the quarterback position, such as intelligence, arm strength, accuracy, athleticism and leadership.
Wins also give quarterbacks a slight boost in addition to their individual performances. The statistics used to help determine the ranking system are pulled from ESPN.com, NFL.com and Pro Football Focus (subscription required) unless stated otherwise. Personal observation and opinion will play a key role as well.
Also, Pro Football Focus grades every single play of the season to generate a cumulative point total, which weighs into the metric as well.
Other key statistics considered are passer rating, touchdown-to-interception ratio, yards per pass attempt, fumbles lost, rushing yards per game, completion percentage, etc.
Quarterback Blaine Gabbert has been nothing but disappointing through his first two seasons in the NFL. Those trends continued in 2013 with another abysmal season
If you have any doubt about whether or not Gabbert was the worst QB of the 2013 season, consider this—Gabbert played two of the three worst games of the year in terms of Total QBR. He also owns three of the worst 10 games this year. That already-interesting fact gets unspeakably worse when you consider Gabbert only played in three games all year.
It appears this disappointing young man is in danger of becoming one of the worst first-round busts of all time.
Freeman has continued to show little ability in the decision-making department despite his rocket arm and impressive frame. He looks the part of a franchise quarterback, but he failed to even receive enough votes from his teammates for a team captain spot, only to follow that up by missing the team photo because he overslept.
So far it looks like the Bucs made the right decision electing not to extend his contract and ultimately deciding to part ways with the disappointing QB.
Of all the quarterbacks to attempt at least 100 passes this season, none had a more pathetic completion percentage than did Freeman and his 42 percent.
It’s difficult to fathom such a degree of ineptitude displayed by Freeman, but much of that could be attributed to the lack of faith his coaching staff in Tampa had in him entering the season. This negative environment can cause a talented individual to sink into a slump that only snowballs over time.
Kirk Cousins was handed the starting job in Washington for the final few games for reasons we may never fully understand. However, whatever the reasons may be, they certainly weren’t ideal conditions.
Cousins struggled in 2013 in his opportunity to make a case for himself and demonstrate value to the rest of the NFL. Instead of increasing his trade value, Cousins went 0-3 while throwing just four touchdown passes to seven interceptions. In addition, he completed just 52 percent of his passes, leaving him with a horrendous passer rating of just 58.4.
At least playing Cousins proved that the problem in Washington was much bigger than RG3. Although anyone who actually believed that Griffin was the malfunction in D.C. needs to seriously reconsider how they watch football and digest information.
Brandon Weeden missed time this year with a thumb injury before getting benched for the remainder of the year after he returned.
There's literally no category in Weeden's output worthy of bragging about at this point. I can't even say he's a young guy who has time to learn the game. He is already 29 years old despite only being in his second year in the NFL.
The biggest problem with Weeden seems to be the way he panics when the pocket closes in on him. He only completed 52 percent of his passes in 2013 while finishing 0-5 as a starter.
Considering the limited talent on offense surrounding Smith in New York, we need to give the youngster credit for pulling out two victories in his first three starts as a pro.
With that said, he finished the year with some pretty underwhelming stats. He tossed 12 touchdown passes all year compared to 21 interceptions. His passer rating is 66.5 and he finished five games in which he completed less than half of the pass attempts.
With that said, Smith amazingly tied Tom Brady for the most game-winning drives in the NFL with five.
It’s uncertain whether or not the Jets can build around Smith, but they definitely need to give the poor guy some weapons.
Though Terrelle Pryor still has a long way to go, this young kid has the makings of a potential star in the NFL if he can figure out how to stand in the pocket and make plays with his arm downfield. He definitely seems determined based on effort alone.
Pryor is a fantastic athlete who is just learning the basics of playing quarterback in the NFL. He did surprise early in the season making plays with his legs and showing why the late Al Davis could see promise in the former Buckeye.
Pryor finished the year completing 57 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and 11 picks. His best attribute to the offense was his athleticism, evidenced in his 52 rushing yards per game, most among QBs this year.
Chad Henne took over in Jacksonville for Blaine Gabbert first out of necessity and ultimately proved to be the better option.
Unfortunately for the Jaguars, Henne is not much of an option at all.
Henne finished the season with a passer rating of 76 and a Total QBR of just 31.86. He did manage to throw for 3,241 yards and complete 60 percent of his passes.
In 13 starts, the replacement QB went 4-9.
For a while, Texans fans were very clear about what they had with Matt Schaub as their quarterback. They understood he was never going to be the flashy gunslinger who put up 450 yards through the air while throwing five touchdown passes—nor did they need him to be. But what they liked about Schaub was his proven ability to manage a game effectively and play within the confines of his physical limitations. They could trust that Schaub would not make a habit of losing many games for them.
Apparently those days are over. Schaub had always been viewed as a smart, reliable quarterback who understood his limitations and knew how to play assignment football. This year, however, he took a huge step backward, making unwanted NFL history in 2013 by becoming the first quarterback ever to throw a pick-six in four straight games.
Sadly, he ranks 40th out of 47 QBs in the final power rankings.
Unfortunately for Schaub, he may never return to his Pro Bowl form again.
Case Keenum made his NFL debut during Week 7 and made people take notice throwing for 271 yards and a touchdown against the top-ranked Chiefs defense at the time.
In fact, Keenum started three complete NFL games before he threw his first interception of the year. After that, it was all downhill.
Even at the pinnacle of Keenum’s performances, the Houston Texans failed to win a single game with him under center. He would eventually finish 0-8 as a starter.
He finished the year with nine touchdowns, six interceptions, a 54 percent completion rate and a passer rating of 78.2.
Matt Flynn had one of the more fascinating and unique journeys in 2013. This quarterback started the season in Oakland, where he made his first start of the season. He was released in October and picked up by the Buffalo Bills. He was then released in November and signed back by the Green Bay Packers, where his career began.
Flynn then ended up taking over for Aaron Rodgers, who suffered a broken collarbone midseason.
The well-traveled QB struggled in 2013, as he was sacked at a higher rate of dropbacks than any other QB all year. He was sacked in one out of every 10 pass attempts. This clearly indicates he struggled to make decisions from the pocket while lacking the ability the escape the pressure.
He did, however, complete 62 percent of his passes with a passer rating of 85.7.
It should be interesting to see where Flynn lands in 2014.
Of all qualified quarterbacks in the NFL, Jason Campbell finished the season with the eighth-worst passer rating (76.9).
His accuracy was pretty poor for most of the season, as he only completed 56 percent of his passes.
His best game came against the Patriots in a loss when he managed to throw for 391 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Campbell finished the year 1-7 as a starter.
Very few undrafted rookie quarterbacks see action in the NFL. The fact that Matt McGloin managed to defy those odds speaks volumes already.
McGloin was handed the starting job for the first time in Week 8 against Houston. He showed up big in that game with three touchdown passes and zero picks.
As time went on, it became increasingly clear that McGloin could not make all the throws necessary of an NFL starting quarterback, but his ability to prepare and anticipate did help him survive on the big stage.
He finished the year completing just 55 percent of his passes while throwing eight picks and eight touchdowns. His passer rating was 76.1.
It seems clear that McGloin’s NFL career will extend beyond his rookie trial by fire.
With the intensity and passion of a rising young star combined with the poise and leadership of a savvy veteran, EJ Manuel has shown he may have all the proper intangibles needed to thrive in the NFL.
With that said, Manuel failed to be consistent with his accuracy and looked uncomfortable at times making quick decisions.
For a rookie, he did do a nice job throwing more touchdown passes (11) than interceptions (9) but just couldn’t stay healthy long enough to find his rhythm.
Manuel finished 4-6 as a starter while completing 58 percent of his passes.
If nothing else, Thaddeus Lewis has solidified himself a place in the NFL for years to come. The future appears to be bright for the kid who was a practice-squad player through the first quarter of the season.
His throws looked crisp, accurate and powerful, rivaling even those of the Bills' first-round pick, EJ Manuel. As a matter of fact, Lewis finished the season ranked one slot higher than Manuel. The reason for that was primarily the difference in their Pro Football Focus grades. Manuel finished the season with one of the worst grades in the NFL among QBs, ahead of only Chad Henne.
It should be interesting to see where Lewis ends up in 2014.
Christian Ponder’s saving grace last year was his ability to avoid turnovers and not give the game away. In 16 contests in 2012, he only threw 12 picks. This year, he threw nine in only nine games. Meanwhile, he struggled mightily to put the ball in the end zone, finishing the season with only seven touchdown passes.
In the nine games he played in, he only tossed multiple touchdown passes in one game and failed to eclipse the 300-yard passing mark a single time.
Ponder is proving to be a bona fide first-round bust and may end up finishing up his NFL career as a backup.
Eli Manning was once laughed at for calling himself an elite quarterback. He backed that claim up by winning two Super Bowls. Now he seems to have regressed back to the Manning of old, the one who would be laughed at yet again for any claim of elite status.
This was by far the worst season of Manning’s career.
His 27 interceptions were an NFL high, yet he somehow continued to believe he was not playing poorly.
In addition, the 18 touchdown passes were the lowest since his rookie year. He also finished with a passer rating of 69.4, the lowest score since his rookie year as well.
As Eli’s older brother Peyton had the greatest year a quarterback ever had, the younger brother was busy paving the way for the worst season of his career.
It was a bumpy and dramatic 2013 for quarterback Scott Tolzien. He started the preseason off as a 49er but played poorly in exhibition games. He was eventually released by the 49ers and signed with Green Bay.
Tolzien saw action in only two games for the Packers but did manage to rack up 90 pass attempts, during which he threw five interceptions. He did complete 61 percent of his passes, but his multiple interceptions would eventually cause Matt Flynn to take over as Rodgers’ replacement
Ever since Sam Bradford went down for the season with a knee injury, Kellen Clemens has assumed the role of the starter in St. Louis.
Clemens has actually done a fairly decent job as a backup for Rams by keeping them competitive and helping the young receiving corps along nicely.
His eight touchdowns on the year are actually a career high for this eight-year veteran. So are the 1,673 passing yards he put up.
The worst stat for Clemens is his Total QBR of 38.2.
Obviously the Rams were better off with Sam Bradford, although Clemens did guide the team to a 4-5 record as the starter.
After the first game of the season, I had this to say about Joe Flacco and the Ravens:
One of the big issues for Baltimore that should continue throughout the year is it has no receivers to throw the ball to. This should only cause Mr. Flacco to struggle more than ever. Don’t be shocked if he ends up with one of the least-productive seasons of his career.
Apparently that statement summed up the season for Mr. Flacco, who recently became one of the highest-paid football players in NFL history.
Whether or not Flacco is worthy of his contract is a topic for another time.
Believe it or not, only Eli Manning threw more interceptions this year. Flacco's 22 picks were a career high, as he easily had the worst season of his career.
Matt Cassel could be attempting to atone for a horrific 2012 season, as he stepped in permanently for the first-rounder, QB Christian Ponder.
Although Cassel did win over the starter job in Minnesota, he didn’t exactly set the world on fire week in and week out. But he did have some shockingly good performances.
In Week 14 against the Eagles, Cassel racked up 382 yards through the air while completing 74 percent of his passes in a 48-30 upset.
On the year, Cassel tallied 11 touchdowns compared to nine interceptions—nothing amazing there.
In Week 4 of the season, third-rounder Mike Glennon became the third rookie to start an NFL game this season.
For the season, Glennon became the only quarterback to throw the ball more than 400 times and not reach the 3,000-yard mark. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.
However, Glennon did manage to defy the odds and become the highest-ranked rookie QB of 2013 while helping to turn around a pathetic 0-8 team to finish 4-4.
His 19 touchdowns with only nine picks are extremely impressive for a rookie quarterback.
It appears the Buccaneers finally have a quarterback they can build around.
Brian Hoyer led the Browns to their first two wins of the season before an injury and had clearly outperformed Brandon Weeden, but his future in Cleveland is now up in the air.
Interestingly enough, Hoyer is the only quarterback in the NFL this season to start at least three games and finish the season undefeated. That’s even more impressive when you consider the Browns as a whole only won four games all season. Perhaps Hoyer has the long-awaited magic touch for the Dawg Pound.
His passer rating of 82 was solid and he did throw more touchdowns (5) than interceptions (3).
Chip Kelly’s offense did seem to be perfectly suited for Mike Vick heading into the season.
Through six games, the veteran QB ended up with a 2-4 record while only completing 54 percent of his passes.
Vick did show off his usual skill of running with the ball, which, as many predicted, led to injuries, and he was ultimately replaced for good by Nick Foles. Not even Vick himself could deny the fact that Foles had outplayed him and deserved to be the starter moving forward. Such a concession by a starting QB to his backup is a rare thing indeed.
Vick finished the year with 1,215 yards passing and a passer rating of 86.5. Basically, he played decently in Kelly’s highly anticipated offense, but at the end of the day, he failed to generate wins.
2013 was an interesting exploration into the pocket-passing potential of one of the most physically gifted quarterbacks in the league. So far, the experiment has yielded mixed results.
To be fair, Robert Griffin III has not yet learned how to trust his reconstructed knee, which is evident in the way he’s refused to plant on his back foot when passing all year. Griffin clearly lacked the same burst and escapability for which he’s become famous.
Griffin threw for 3,203 yards with 16 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions. One telling stat is his 40.12 Total QBR on the season, which ranks in the lower half of the NFL.
Some credit should go to Titans offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains for finally figuring out the proper way to utilize Locker’s strengths as an athletic quarterback. He’s clearly at his best when rolling out and making simplified reads rather than being a statue in the pocket forced to scan the entire field. Even if he does happen to make the proper read, there’s still a good chance he’ll miss his target with the throw if the pass is beyond 10 yards.
Locker was a questionable first-round draft pick coming out of Washington for the very accuracy concerns mentioned earlier.
When it boils down to it, the Titans were not adversely affected by Locker’s injury considering the way Ryan Fitzpatrick was performing.
Will the Titans look to draft a QB in 2014?
Backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has played well in replacing the injured Jake Locker for Tennessee. He completed 62 percent of his passes and had a passer rating of 82 on the season. Those are solid numbers for a backup.
Of all the quarterbacks starting because of injuries to the real starter, Ryan Fitzpatrick has had the best season. He has at least guaranteed himself a backup role in 2014 for some team, if not the Titans.
It was not long ago when the Bills signed Fitz to a big contract hoping he could be a guy to build around. That plan has since failed, and now he must prove his worth one game at a time.
This was supposed to be the year of atonement for the fourth-year quarterback, but the trouble with Sam Bradford is that he has fallen egregiously short of performing like a franchise quarterback so far in his career.
No. 8 for the Rams had a passer rating over 93 after two games. He also did a great job of finding the end zone much more than opposite-color jerseys.
Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated said this about Sam Bradford and his future:
Bradford seemed to finally become the player the Rams had hoped for before he suffered a torn ACL in the team’s Week 7 loss to the Panthers. He’d thrown 14 touchdown passes to just four picks, and one wonders what a Bradford-Tavon Austin combo would look like now that the Rams have figured out how to use Austin in their offense on a regular basis. The Rams could move on from Bradford, and they will have a very high pick courtesy of the Washington Redskins, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they looked to re-structure his contract and see what he can do with one full season in a functional offense.
Bradford did finish the season with a passer rating of 90.9, but the concern here is his 3-4 record as a starter in 2013 and continuous health issues.
There was a time, not long ago, when I myself was a believer in the perceived potential of this golden-armed youngster. Now, after numerous excuses, it has become increasingly difficult to vouch for a quarterback who seems unable to show signs of significant progress.
Time is running out for Sam Bradford to show the Rams organization that its loyalty and faith in him are not unfounded.
Somehow this guy continues to be a coveted commodity by mystifying coaches with a beautiful release and prototypical frame. Yet underneath the eye candy resides a man completely lacking the ability to make wise decisions from the pocket, especially when the pressure is on.
Few quarterbacks are consistently given the benefit of the doubt more than Carson Palmer has been given throughout his career. What we’re seeing from him this year is more or less the same thing we’ve seen from him for years. Over the last three seasons, he has thrown 59 touchdown passes and 52 interceptions.
Only Eli Manning threw more interceptions in 2013 than Carson Palmer’s 22.
Interestingly enough, Palmer’s 17-10 victory over the top-ranked Seahawks was the lowest Total QBR score of any QB to win a game all season (11.2). This goes to show that it was the Cardinals defense that was mainly responsible for the team's late-season push on their way to an impressive 10-6 record.
On the bright side, Palmer did complete 63 percent of his passes while throwing for over 4,200 yards.
As predicted before the season, Tannehill has been under constant duress over the course of the season due to a completely obliterated offensive line.
Last year, he was the forgotten man, as Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III lit up the league. This year, he seems poised to close the gap between him and the Big Three quarterbacks of his draft class.
One of the more impressive elements to Ryan Tannehill as a football player is his underrated toughness. No quarterback in the NFL was sacked more times than the 58 times opponents got to him in 2013, yet Tannehill got up and carried on each and every time.
Miami’s young signal-caller was also the sixth-ranked QB overall according Pro Football Focus, with a 16.6 grade on the season. This signifies that Tannehill’s performance was much better than his statistics alone.
The Chicago Bears have retooled the front office and inserted an entirely new system under new head coach Marc Trestman.
Cutler started the season off well, ranking third in the NFL in Total QBR with a score of 78 after three games, and looked impressive for the most part until suffering an unfortunate injury.
Cutler would eventually return from his injuries to finish the season off—not without controversy—only to fall one game short of the divisional title and a playoff berth.
His 19 touchdowns and 63 percent completion rate helped justify his place as the starting QB, but many would argue Josh McCown was the better option heading into the final stretch of the season.
It should be interesting to watch what happens with Cutler this offseason considering he’s officially a free agent. The Bears will certainly make efforts to retain his services, but he may end up becoming more costly than he’s worth.
Alex Smith traded jerseys and conferences to become the starting quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs this year under new head coach Andy Reid.
With his style of play and ability to win games, Smith could be considered the best game manager in the NFL. But you can be sure he’s constantly looking to prove he is far more than just a manager.
When Smith was asked about his thoughts on being labeled a game manager on NFL Network, he had this to say, via ProFootballTalk.com:
I have no idea what that means. At this point in my career I’ve been playing long enough that I don’t really care what anybody’s saying, I care about the guys in this locker room, the guys in this building and going out there and winning football games. They can call me whatever they want to call me as long as we’re winning, so fine with me.
The truth of the matter is this—of the 16 QBs who threw over 500 times in 2013, only Chad Henne had fewer yards passing. In addition, only three of those 16 QBs had fewer touchdown passes than did Alex Smith. But just like you’d expect from a game manager, Smith did throw the fewest interceptions of that same group of guys.
All in all, Smith had a solid season, finishing 11-4 as a starter.
Admittedly, I’ve been a tough sell as far as approval of Matthew Stafford over the years. I do understand the impressive arm strength and ability to put up yards. But quarterbacking in the NFL is often much more complex than statistics in a bubble.
Situational football and winning close games have been the biggest issues for this young gunslinger.
Stafford may not be the most efficient QB in the league, but he does have a rare ability to sling it deep and push the ball down the field. In fact, only Peyton Manning and Drew Brees have completed more plays of 20-plus yards than Matthew Stafford. That should at least tell you he knows how to generate big plays.
We also need to consider the fact that Stafford has had Calvin Johnson to throw the ball to during his career, which could generate some bad habits in terms of just launching the ball up carelessly in hopes that the wideout will make a play.
Stafford finished the season with 29 touchdown passes and 19 interceptions. His 52.46 Total QBR is the lowest among QBs with at least 25 touchdown passes.
Overall, I guess you can say Matthew Stafford had yet another season loaded with mixed results and sketchy critics.
Andy Dalton may have spent the 2013 season trying to prove to the world that he is far more than a game manager at quarterback. At the very least, Dalton did succeed at shaking any stigma or perception of being conservative. He’s actually tied for the league lead with 15 plays of 40 yards or more. Obviously, A.J. Green has a lot to do with Dalton’s continued success downfield, but we must give Dalton credit for finding a way to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers—especially considering the knock on his arm strength.
Dalton’s 33 touchdowns on the season rank third behind only Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. That and his 4,296 passing yards are career highs.
The Bengals have also made it to their third straight postseason since Dalton took over—perhaps this is the year when they get their first playoff win.
In the first half of the season, Ryan was able to maintain his elite standing in the rankings primarily because of his accuracy.
Ryan finished the season completing 67 percent of his passes, fourth behind only Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers.
He also threw 26 touchdown passes and had a passer rating of 89.6. All very strong numbers compared to the rest of the league. It’s the 4-12 record that will remain the biggest stain on this season for Matt Ryan. But he can only assume so much of the blame.
No quarterback in the league had a better Total QBR than Josh McCown at 85.1. This certainly adds to the intrigue of head coach Marc Trestman’s decision to bench McCown in favor of Jay Cutler, who is in a contract year.
McCown ended up leading the NFL with the lowest number of interceptions per pass attempt, which is one of the more impressive stats for a quarterback to have. On the season, the veteran QB racked up 13 touchdown passes yet was only picked off one time.
I’m sure there are a lot of Bears fans who are questioning whether or not it was the right decision to put such a hot hand on the bench in favor of Jay Cutler.
McCown finished the season ranked 13th overall in the power rankings, while Cutler finished ranked 18th.
One thing we’ve learned about Kaepernick so far is that he still has a lot of developing to do from the pocket, specifically regarding his reads and progressions. He’s still completing less than 60 percent of his passes and missed a lot of opportunities for big plays during the 49ers' early-season struggles.
Perhaps to the surprise of many, Kaepernick had two of the five best games of the season in terms of Total QBR, including a 99.8 QBR against the Jaguars in the 49ers' 42-10 blowout win. His other elite game came against the Titans in Week 8’s 31-17 win.
Since the return of his favorite receiver in Michael Crabtree, Kaepernick has shown significant improvement in his decision-making and confidence from the pocket. It’s amazing how much the offense opens up when teams have to focus on Crabtree as a threat.
One of the most impressive elements to Kaepernick’s game is his ability to take shots down the field regularly without turning the ball over. On the season, he has only been picked off eight times, which equates to one of the lowest interception rates in the NFL.
Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers missed the playoffs for the second straight year while finishing at 8-8. But Big Ben was doing everything he could to generate success for the struggling franchise. Eventually, it started to click, but it was too little, too late.
Roethlisberger’s 28 touchdown passes were good enough for seventh in the NFL, and he also completed an impressive 64 percent of his passes. In terms of passer rating, he had a 92 rating and was looking especially sharp during the Steelers' late-season hot streak. After starting 0-4, they eventually finished their last 12 games with an 8-4 record.
Roethlisberger was rumored to be on the trade block earlier in the season, but it’s hard to imagine how Pittsburgh could ever let this talented quarterback play for another franchise.
According to Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders and Pro Football Reference, after Week 2 of the season, Cam Newton was only 2-of-17 on game-winning drive opportunities. Losing in close games had been his biggest liability in his brief career.
This year alone, Newton finished tied for second in game-winning drives with four. Even head coach Ron Rivera agrees that the biggest improvement Cam has made this season has been in his ability to finish games and make plays in the clutch.
Newton completed nearly 62 percent of his passes in 2013 with a passer rating of 88.8. Yet the biggest stat for this promising young quarterback has to be the 12-4 record he helped lead the Panthers to.
What makes this more impressive is that Newton has done this with very little help on offense in terms of receivers. If the Panthers can add a playmaker or two this offseason, they may quickly become the most dangerous team in the NFL.
Tony Romo seems destined to remain a polarizing figure that people either love or hate for the rest of his career.
The bottom line here is that although he had some signature Romo-like blunders, he did give us more reasons to love him rather than hate him. This is especially true when you look at the way Romo finished the season in his final game against the Redskins. In a must-win game, Romo led the Cowboys down the field on a game-winning drive despite being in excruciating pain—pain that would eventually sideline him for the season finale.
On the year, Romo was impressive, completing 64 percent of his passes with 31 touchdowns to only 10 interceptions.
It seems Romo wisely transitioned into a much more proficient yet cautious quarterback in 2013.
One of the most critical elements that makes Andrew Luck so dangerous is his underrated ability to make plays with his athleticism. Of course, we all know Luck is one of the smartest young QBs in the league, but it’s his improvisational skills and ability to extend plays that have allowed the Colts to thrive over the last two seasons despite the level of talent he’s surrounded by on the Colts roster.
Despite the obvious lack of manpower, particularly the spotty play on the offensive line, Luck continues to find a way to will his team to victory.
The Colts have to be the "luckiest" organization in the NFL for getting the chance to replace Peyton Manning with Luck. Even with all of the success Manning’s having in Denver, I doubt many Colts fans are screaming for the return of their beloved Peyton. They seem quite content with Mr. Luck.
If you’re starting a franchise tomorrow, Luck has to be the first player picked if you want greatness at the quarterback position for the next 10-14 years. His ability to win games and succeed with limited talent around him is reminiscent of none other than Peyton Manning himself—but Luck is much more athletic.
Luck’s 8,196 passing yards in two years are the most in NFL history for a quarterback’s first two seasons.
His troubling tiff on the sideline with head coach Mike McCarthy was clearly the result of building frustration after the Packers struggled in two of their first three games. The drama seemed to be centered on Rodgers’ displeasure of the coaches’ play-calling, particularly in the red zone.
In any case, Rodgers played well before missing significant time due to a broken collarbone.
His 104.9 passer rating ranks him fifth among qualified quarterbacks, while his 68.66 Total QBR ranks sixth.
Rodgers only played nine games in 2013, but he did make a big enough impact to get his team to the playoffs. The Packers were 6-3 with him and 2-4-1 without him.
When Michael Vick pulled up lame in Week 5, he left the door open for Nick Foles to potentially take control of the starting job. That is exactly what he did and never looked back.
Nick Foles led the NFL in several significant passing categories in 2013, including passer rating (119) and yards per attempt (9.1). As a starter this season, he turned the Eagles around, guiding the team to an NFC East divisional title and a playoff berth for which they’ll be hosting the Saints.
As a starter, Foles went 8-2 on the season.
This potential star in the making finished first in touchdown percentage and second in interception percentage among all QBs in 2013. That’s a pretty incredible feat for anyone to accomplish and explains how he managed to throw 27 touchdown passes to only two interceptions
In a league with exciting young athletes taking over the quarterback position, Tom Brady represents the old-school pocket passer—but few, if anyone, do it better in the NFL.
Per an article by Will Brinson of CBSSports.com, heading into Cincinnati in Week 5, Tom Brady was a mere three games away from breaking the NFL record of 54 consecutive games with a touchdown pass held by Drew Brees.
Brady was tied for the league lead in 2013 in game-winning drives with five, according to Pro Football Reference. He also led in fourth-quarter comebacks, adding another five in that category. This speaks to his ability to play his best football in critical situations of a game.
Brady might have struggled in some categories more than normal this year, but we must consider the difficult circumstances he faced this season with rookie receivers and devastating injuries. Even through the struggles, Brady seemed to find a way to win games.
Russell Wilson is definitely a quarterback on the rise in this league despite the fact that his actual physical stature will never exceed six feet. It should be interesting to see what his ceiling is given his height limitation. He and Drew Brees could be paving the way for smaller guys in the NFL for years to come.
Wilson has been a dangerous force with both his arm and his legs. He finished third overall in touchdown-per-throw percentage via Pro Football Reference, behind only Nick Foles and Peyton Manning.
He was also a member of an elite club of just seven QBs to attempt at least 100 passes and have a passer rating over 100.
To the surprise of so many experts, Wilson has been making a strong case as the best quarterback of a great class from a year ago.
Oh, how things have changed for Philip Rivers.
As a whole, Rivers has played surprisingly well under new head coach Mike McCoy, which explains his tremendous jump in the ratings. Let’s not forget Rivers is doing all this with a severely diminished receiving corps due to injuries.
The Chargers QB was actually in a similar situation to guys like Tom Brady, Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick with regard to battling through depleted options due to injuries at the receiver position. One could make a sound argument that no one has handled this adversity better than Rivers thus far, especially when you consider he’s managed to have a passer rating of 105.5 while leading the league in completion percentage at 69.
However, his most impressive stat of the year might be his ability to convert first downs on 42.3 percent of his plays. That stat puts him second overall in the NFL behind Peyton Manning.
Drew Brees threw for 5,162 yards in 2013, marking the fourth time in his career he has eclipsed the 5,000-yard mark.
Brees may not be very big for a quarterback, but he’s established himself as one of the best at getting the ball downfield—something he did plenty of all season long. Furthermore, for a guy who likes to take chances deep, he manages to protect the ball surprisingly well.
Only Peyton Manning had a better year of quarterbacking than did Drew Brees. These types of seasons for him are beginning to be commonplace. Hopefully fans and analysis don’t begin to take this level of quarterbacking for granted.
Denver became the highest-scoring offense in NFL history, as Peyton Manning had a video game-like season. Manning threw for an NFL-record 5,477 yards on the season to go with another all-time-record 55 touchdown passes. As if that wasn’t enough, No. 18 only had 10 interceptions and a passer rating of 115.
Manning has clearly established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history and still seems to have just enough arm strength remaining to shred up defenses with his experience and understanding of favorable matchups.
This type of historic performance makes it impossible not to slot the old man in as the best quarterback in the league today.
He may be old and far from the most physically gifted of quarterbacks, but this legend-in-the-making is clearly the smartest strategist in the NFL today.
Manning’s record may not mean as much as Dan Marino’s record of 48 touchdowns back in 1984, but it’s still a feat that had never been accomplished before in the sport—that alone is an incredible feat.
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