As a first of a list of 2009 season rankings, I decided to start with probably the most important man on the field, the quarterback. In the case of any QB battles that are still going on, I put in the person who I believe will win the battle.
And before we get to this article I would like to say RIP to Steve McNair. He has been found shot dead while I am writing this article. Steve was a great QB and a great person, who will be missed.
32. Alex Smith. San Fransisco 49ers: I'm sure this comes as no surprise to anyone reading this. Labeled as one of the top busts of all time, Smith has struggled ever since coming into the league. Smith did not even play last year, playing second fiddle to J.T O'Sullivan.
He will have young wide-out Michael Crabtree to throw to, but they won't help him much in Crabtree's first season.
31. Marc Bulger. St Louis Rams: There is no other way to face it. Bulger is getting older. Last year Bulger threw 13 INTS and 11 TD's. And with the new coach Steve Spagnuolo the focus will be on defense. And outside of Donnie Avery, his has very little help. Bulger will probably have another season similar to the last.
30. Matt Stafford/ Dante Culpepper. Detroit Lions: First, I included both Stafford and Culpepper because I believe Culpepper will start the season as QB and Stafford will take over sometime during the season.
This being said, I am not expecting a Matt Ryan/Joe Flacco performance out of Stafford. It also does not help that the personnel around them isn't great, outside of Calvin Johnston. In fact, Johnston is the only thing keeping them out of the 31 spot.
29. Josh Freeman/Brian Griese. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Like the Matt Stafford/Dante Culpepper situation, I think we can see Josh Freeman stepping on the field for the Bucs sometime this year. The Bucs have also said that they are impressed with Freeman and his understanding of their playbook.
They do have a top five WR in Antonio Bryant, but the problem will be getting the ball to him. Obviously Freeman is a rookie, but Griese has never played a full season. Last year he started 5 games and had 5 TD's and 7 INT's.
28. Mark Sanchez. New York Jets: Unlike Matt Stafford and Josh Freeman, I think Sanchez will have the job from the start and likely have it the whole season. Sanchez may not be ready for the NFL right now though, after only starting one year at USC.
After some games though, Sanchez will likely adapt to the NFL and finish better than he started.
27. Jason Campbell. Washington Redskins: Campbell had a troubled off-season with the Skins, as the team considered trading up to get above mentioned QB Mark Sanchez. He said he wanted to be traded if Sanchez or another QB was drafted.
As for last season Campbell had a decent season last year, and he should have another one this year. He still has Clinton Portis in the backfield and Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El to throw to.
26. Jeff Garcia. Oakland Raiders: After a productive 2008 season, Garcia decided to leave the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the Raiders. In Oakland, I believe the veteran QB will beat out young QB JaMarcus Russell. I think putting Garcia in would be a better move for the Raiders than putting in Russell.
As for his success on the field, I think Garcia will have good success, even though he is playing in Oakland.
25. Tarvaris Jackson. Minnesota Vikings: Jackson did not start last year well, but after he was removed for Gus Frerotte something must have clicked for him. After Frerotte suffering a back injury Jackson was thrown back to the QB job, where he went 57-89 with 8 touchdowns and just one interception.
If Jackson can play through this year like he finished last year, this could be a good season for Jackson and the Vikings.
24. Matt Hasselbeck. Seattle Seahawks: Hasselbeck is a confusing QB for this upcoming season. You would think he would be higher with the fact that the Seahawks picked up sought after WR T.J Houshmandzadeh.
But after back injuries last season, and the team threatening to fine him over apparent weight troubles this year it could be a tough one for him. All that on top of a new coach in Jim Mora Jr., this year could be tough for Hasselbeck.
23. David Garrard. Jacksonville Jaguars: Since coming into the NFL, Garrard has been an average QB, nothing great. This year will most likely be like past seasons. Average, but nothing great.
22. Joe Flacco. Baltimore Ravens: Last year's "rookie sensations", Flacco and coach John Harbaugh will have another year under their belt. No one expected Flacco to throw for 14 TD's and 2,971 yards and a trip to the AFC Championship game. This year, Flacco should improve his game some, but not an amazing improvement.
21. Matt Cassel. Kansas City Chiefs: Some people say he'll have a good season, some people say he'll have a bad season. I believe he'll have an okay season.
I don't believe that last year's surprise performance won't happen again, but it is quite obvious that his production will go down this year now that he's not throwing to Randy Moss and Wes Welker and not getting the calls from Bill Belichick.
20. Chad Pennington. Miami Dolphins: There's a reason Pennington has won the Comeback player of the year award twice, once in 2006 and again last year in 2008. It's because he is a streaky QB. While he seemed to have a good season last year in Miami, I believe his production will go down once again this year.
19. Matt Schaub. Houston Texans:The often injured Schaub could be seeing his final chance to silence all critics this year. In 2007 and 2008 Schaub started 11 games and has had average success throwing 24 TD's and 19 INT's. But as I said, Schaub has never played a whole season.
If he can remain injury free though, this season could be a good one for him. Don't forget he is throwing to a top-five WR in Andre Johnston.
18. Kyle Orton. Denver Broncos: After being traded from Chicago to Denver I remember thinking about how much of a downgrade it will be for Denver at QB. I think the only thing that will keep him from having a terrible season this year is Pro Bowl wide-out Brandon Marshall, but his time in Denver may be short as well.
17. Brady Quinn. Cleveland Browns: This will be Quinn's first season as a starting QB. His first season to prove himself. And from what we have seen from Quinn's preseason and short amount of time last season, Quinn will have success in the NFL. It will help that he will be throwing to Braylon Edwards, who I believe will greatly improve from last year.
16. Jake Delhomme. Carolina Panthers: After his self-explosion in the playoffs last year, throwing 5 INT's and fumbling once Delhomme will most likely get back on track this season. Delhomme had an average season last year throwing for 15 TD's and 12 INT's. I mean how hard is it when you are throwing to Steve Smith?
15. Donovan McNabb. Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles have done everything they can to get the right pieces around McNabb ever since he got there. A lot of fans also believe that this could be a special season for McNabb and the Eagles.
That being said, and this could be Giants bias, I don't think McNabb will improve by more than a couple touchdowns this season. His team on the other hand are going to try to get back to the NFC championship, and get McNabb and their franchise their first Super Bowl ring.
14. Eli Manning. New York Giants: This is another interesting one. If you have watched enough football, you would know that Eli Manning has kept on improving since that amazing Super Bowl run two years ago.
Last year, Manning brought down his interceptions and only threw 10 compared to his 21 TD's and earned his first Pro Bowl appearance. What will make this season interesting though, is Manning's WR's.
The other Steve Smith will be leading these WR's after losing Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress. I think Manning will improve again this season to maybe 24 TD's and 11 INT's.
13. Tony Romo. Dallas Cowboys: Unlike some people, I believe losing T.O will be a great loss. As much of a distraction off the field as he was, T.O made his team, and Romo so much better on the field. But Romo will still be throwing to Roy Williams and Jason Witten, so he can still have a great season.
12. Kerry Collins. Tennessee Titans: After a disappointing loss to the Baltimore Ravens last year, the Titans are looking to come back and get all the way this year. And if they do this, Collins will have to play great.
In the offseason, they went out and got Nate Washington from the Steelers which will add another element to this offense, and is sure to help Collins' passing along with Justin Gage. Put all of this together with their great running game, and Collins should have a good season.
11. Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay Packers: In his second season with Green Bay, Rodgers has far put thoughts of Brett Favre behind him. Last season, Rodgers threw for 28 TD's, 13 INT's and 4,000 yards. He will continue have success this year, and could go to the Pro Bowl for the NFC.
10. Ben Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh Steelers: Coming off another Super Bowl win, Big Ben and the Steelers will be run by the defense, and their offense will go unnoticed. Last year Big Ben threw for 17 TD's and 15 INT's. But expect good numbers again from Big Ben and WR Santonio Holmes in 2009.
9. Trent Edwards. Buffalo Bills: As I said with Tony Romo above, the loss of T.O will have a greater impact on him than some people expect. Well, I believe that this also works the other way, and Trent Edwards will benefit greatly from the addition of T.O.
Besides bringing a lot more attention to Buffalo T.O also usually has a great season in the first year with a team, until they self destruct in his second or third season. T.O and Lee Evans could be a dangerous combination for Edwards to throw to this season.
8. Carson Palmer. Cincinnati Bengals: This may come as a surprise pick to some people but I believe that Carson Palmer is going to have an amazing season this year, and if it wasn't for Tom Brady he would probably be the comeback player of the year.
Carson and WR Chad Ochocinco will both be looking to bounce back this year, and with the departure of TJ Houshmandzadeh both of them have the potential to have comeback years.
7. Phillip Rivers. San Diego Chargers: Rivers had one of his best seasons in his career last season throwing 34 TD's, 11 INT's and an NFL best 105.5 QB rating. His season last year was MVP worthy but the honor instead went to Peyton Manning. Although he won't top his season last year, Rivers is going to have another great season this year.
6. Jay Cutler. Chicago Bears: If Jay Cutler hadn't demanded a trade and went to the Chicago Bears he would have possibly been a top three QB. In Denver, Cutler had a great WR in Brandon Marshall.
Even though he doesn't have Marshall or anyone close to his talent in Chicago, Cutler is in for another great season. Jay Cutler is the QB of the future in the NFL.
5. Peyton Manning. Indianapolis Colts: Peyton Manning at No. 5 in any QB ranking list would have been ridiculous in any previous year but this is also the first year Peyton will be without head coach Tony Dungy and offensive coordinator Tom Moore in his 11-year career.
He will also be without his primary offensive target, Marvin Harrison. He does however have young receiver Anthony Gonzales, and tight end Dallas Clark. Without these pieces it won't be an MVP season for Manning, Peyton Manning will adapt to his new team and coaching staff and have a top-five season.
4. Kurt Warner. Arizona Cardinals: It is hard to not be a great QB when you have two of the best WR's in the league in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Warner coming off another Super Bowl berth will come back and have another great season.
3. Matt Ryan. Atlanta Falcons: Some people would say that this is too high for Matt Ryan, but I think he could be in the running for the MVP award this upcoming season.
After winning the rookie of the year last year, his Atlanta Falcons made one of the most important trades in the offseason picking up veteran tight end Tony Gonzales.
Gonzales along with Roddy White could make Matt Ryan one of the best QB's in the NFL next season.
2. Tom Brady. New England Patriots: A year removed from season ending surgery, Tom Brady is going to come back this year, and like I said earlier, most likely win the comeback player of the year award.
Even though we will not know whether Brady has fully healed, it is hard to believe that the league's best QB will not be able to come back this season and return to form.
1. Drew Brees. New Orleans Saints: After coming 15 yards short of the all time record for passing yards in a season, Drew Brees is going to come back this season with a vengeance. He was probably the most deserving of the MVP trophy last year.
Although he won't be able to top his performance from last year, Brees will have another great season of 35 TD's, 15 INT's, and around 4,500 yards.
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