Many starting quarterbacks have distinguished themselves as standouts of the young season thus far this season.
While typical mainstays have met and in some cases exceeded high expectations, there are several younger QBs who have taken their games to the proverbial next level.
No positon in sports is more important or influential to a team's success than starting QB, as the players on this list indicate. Due to the exceptional play of these signal-callers, their teams have had a great start to the season, and all look poised to make playoff runs this winter.
The following are Week 5's Power Rankings of the top QB performances thus far in the 2010 NFL season.
Michael Vick, Eagles
If not for a rib injury suffered in the first quarter of his team's loss to the Redskins on Sunday, Vick would certainly be on this list, and have a viable argument for its top spot. Since taking over for Kevin Kolb midway through the first game of the year, Vick has been a revelation for the Eagles. He has coupled his amazing athleticism and escapability with newfound acumen in the passing game, as evidenced by his 8-0 TD-INT ratio and stellar QB rating of 108.8.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers
A popular preseason pick for league MVP, Rodgers has endured many ups and downs in the young NFL season. Despite an exceptional QB rating of 96.3, he has thrown five interceptions already in 2010, just two shy of the number he threw all of last season.
Still, Rodgers has accounted for 940 yards and completed 69 percent of his throws, and generally has the Green Bay passing game running on all cylinders. If he cuts down on his turnovers (as he most undoubtedly will), Rodgers has the kind of ability and weapons at his disposal to be at the head of this list at season's end.
Matt Schaub, Texans
Having led the NFL in passing yards last season, opponents have been dropping back into coverage to contain Schaub's aerial attack. As a result, new starting RB Arian Foster leads the league in rushing heading into Week 5, which is why Schaub merits mention here. Still, he has put up gaudy statistics thus far in 2010, having already thrown for over 1,000 yards and compiling a QB rating of 95.6.
After leading the Saints to a Super Bowl win last season, expectations have never been higher for Brees and his New Orleans teammates. Thus far in 2010, he has shown he can live up to his newfound reputation as one of the league's true elite QBs. Brees has completed a truly staggering 73.8 percent of his passes, a number that is far and away the league's best.
However, he is only throwing for 7.07 yards per attempt, a mark which ranks him right in the middle of the pack. Additionally, Brees committed two interceptions in his team's only loss of the year, a 27-24 OT loss at home to the Falcons. Still, there is no doubt Brees is one of the best football players in the world, and should remain a mainstay on this list as the year progresses.
2010: 118-160 (73.8%), 1131 YDS, 7.07 YPA, 7 TDS, 2 INTs, 102.4 QB RAT
By far the youngest player on this list, Sanchez has made incredible strides since just the first game of the 2010 season. A second year pro, he was supposed to be closer to that of a game manager than playmaker for the run-oriented Jets this season. However, after his amazing play in the last three weeks, that is no longer the case.
In three consecutive wins over New England and on the road at Miami and Buffalo, Sanchez has totaled eight touchdown passes and thrown no interceptions, numbers that would make Joe Namath proud. He hasn't been without his faults, however, as he is only completing 58.3 percent of his passes this season, a mark which he needs to improve on.
Whether or not Sanchez can maintain his play as one of this season's best QBs remains to be seen, but with his play thus far in 2010 he has clearly established himself as one of the league's brightest young field generals.
2010: 60-103 (58.3%), 711 YDS, 6.9 YPA, 8 TDs, 0 INTs, 105.3 QB RAT
The most pleasant surprise of the year thus far, Orton is a legitimate MVP candidate after the first month of the season. The former journeyman leads the league in passing yards with 1,419, establishing a new NFL record for a season's first four games in the process. Additionally, he has shown a newfound accuracy this season, completing 67.4 percent of his throws.
Despite his play, though, Denver's record only stands at 2-2. While much of that has to do with the team's non-existent run game, Orton needs to be more effective in the red zone, as he only has six touchdown passes on the year. If he can maintain his incredible yardage pace while upping his TD rate, Orton will compile one of the best seasons for a QB in NFL history, and cement his status as the long-term starter in Denver.
2010: 118-175 (67.4%), 1419 YDS, 8.11 YPA, 6 TDs, 3 INTs, 96.4 QB RAT
Prior to his team's Week 4 loss to Jacksonville, Manning was at the top of this list. Though his play had little to do with that game's outcome, he slides to number two because of his team's .500 record. Despite that, Manning has had arguably the best beginning to any season of his storied NFL career.
He ranks first in the NFL in QB rating and touchdown passes, and second in both yards and completion percentage. Statistically, he has clearly been the top QB in the league thus far in 2010. Whether or not he wins yet another MVP award this season is not exactly up to him, as the Colts' shoddy defense may put their postseason hopes in peril.
Still, Manning will without a doubt remain one of the top QBs in the NFL this season and the foreseeable future.
2010: 120-172 (69.8%), 1365 YDS, 7.94 YPA, 11 TDs, 1 INT, 112.2 QB RAT
In leading the defense-challenged Patriots to a 3-1 record this season, Brady has quieted the critics who questioned whether his knee problems have put his best days behind him. He ranks second in the league in QB rating (posting a stellar mark of 109.0) and third in both touchdown passes and completion percentage. If not for Manning, he would be the best statistical QB of 2010.
In compiling these great numbers, Brady has seamlessly integrated a host of new weapons like rookie TEs Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, as well as newly-acquired RB Danny Woodhead. Perhaps most importantly, he has been one of the league's most fiery competitors, as evidenced by his emotional reaction to his team's dominating win over Miami on Monday night.
Brady is perhaps the best leader in the league, a title which will prove vital to his team's postseason success this winter. If the New England defense and special teams can play like they did against the Dolphins, there is no reason why Brady can't lead the Patriots to their first Super Bowl win since the 2004 season.
2010: 85-122 (69.7%), 911 YDS, 7.47 YPA, 9 TDs, 2 INTs, 109.0 QB RAT