This season has been dubbed by many as “the year of the quarterback”. There are many reasons as to why 2011 has been so unique with 4 quarterbacks in striking distance of Dan Marino’s 27 year old passing record and the chance of 3 QBs going over 40 TDs for the first time both in the same year. This is an interesting year to evaluate the quarterback position.
Some blame the lockout because of the fact that defenses did not have enough time to jell in the off-season, but really it would make more sense that quarterbacks would be a step behind given the timing and chemistry needed between them and their receivers. That has simply not been the case. Even odder is that there are 3-5 quarterbacks out of an unheralded draft class that have had surprising success immediately at the most difficult position in the game in their first year. Cam Newton set passing records in both of his first two games as a rookie (despite there being many questions about his ability to transition to the pro game and throw accurately), and Andy Dalton, coming from mid-major Texas Christian, stepped in as QB for a team that was expected to be terrible and led the Bengals to a lead in the rugged AFC north and momentarily a #1 seed into midseason. Christian Ponder and Jake Locker have also had success in relief.
So in the “year of the quarterback” how do you rank the top half of the starting quarterbacks in this league? There have been a handful of QBs like Eli Manning, Jay Cutler and Alex Smith that have had better seasons than we are accustomed to seeing out of them and there have been some QBs like Philip Rivers, Michael Vick and Josh Freeman who have taken large steps back this year. It is very hard to ignore the overall status of certain QBs in this evaluation, but I have mainly focused my determinations on what the quarterback has done this year alone.
Here is how they stacked up.