The Wildcard's 2019 NFL Quarterback Rankings

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THE DUMB MUPPETS WHO ARE NO LONGER RANKED

Josh McCown (32) – Was retired and now is not retired but still off the list, sorry bro

Sam Bradford (29) – The ship’s sailed, my man

Alex Smith (12) – Horrific injury last season, hasn’t given up hope of a comeback though

Andrew Luck (10) – Would have been in my top five no doubt about it


2019 Rank = 39 (2018 Rank = NA) DANIEL JONES – NEW YORK GIANTS

You know the rules, rookies at the bottom of the queue. Doesn’t matter how good you might be, how highly you might be rated, if you’ve never thrown a pass in the NFL proper then the jury is still out and as a general practice with these rankings each time I do tend to err on the side of caution with not overrating folks anyway. Something that’s been kinda vindicated lately by the resurgence/immortality of certain older quarterbacks. I mean, jeez, do we really need three more years of Tom Brady? Not only has he outlasted Peyton Manning but he’s outlasted Peyton Manning’s successor at the Colts too!

Hey and speaking of quarterbacks who need to retire… Eli Manning might still have some life in the old arm yet but the Giants are not the team he should be testing that at these days. Or, you know, maybe they are now that they’ve traded OBJ away… but Saquon Barkley deserves better. Which is where Daniel Jones comes into the reckoning because there’s a 75% chance in my mind that the rookie gets at least a couple starts along the way this season. Not sure if that’s anything to get excited about or not, Giants fans are probably just stoked with the idea of change, but you can’t say he doesn’t at least look like a New York Giants quarterback…

38 (NA) KYLER MURRAY – ARIZONA CARDINALS

Same as the dude above. They traded The Chosen One Josh Rosen away to Miami to clear room for the top overall pick though so he’d better be good. The hype is real, the rest’s up for grabs.

37 (33) NATHAN PETERMAN – OAKLAND RAIDERS

I dunno, Jon Gruden seems to rate him.

36 (38) JOSH ALLEN – BUFFALO BILLS

Here’s a fella who has a fair few fans out there, largely because his running ability makes him a useful fantasy tool. But this is the real life here, son. 52.8% completion with more picks than interceptions is not a pretty sight and while the lad’s got a huge arm he’s way too raw to be any higher on this list (even with a few veterans sliding fast, spoiler alert). But we’ll see, he’s well poised for big improvements in his second season and lord knows he wouldn’t be the first.

35 (37) JOSH ROSEN – MIAMI DOLPHINS

Look, I like him. Rosen was my undercover brother of the 2018 rookie QB class and on a team better than the nuclear waste zone that was that rebuilding Cardinals team he should shine a little brighter. Probably gonna start the season as a backup and that’s not a bad thing, especially with the Dolphins in the midst of some upheaval themselves with a new coaching regime. If there’s one thing that really stands out with young quarterbacks it’s that most can do a job if you simplify it enough. Landing in the right situation to grow and develop your game is often the biggest thing. Although not really sure the Dolphins qualify as that, tbh.

34 (NA) NICK MULLENS – SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

There was a point there last season where people were wondering if cheap undrafted free agent Nick Mullens might actually be a better quarterback than Jimmy Garoppolo on one of the biggest contracts in NFL history… but sense was eventually come to. Still, not many folks have 414 passing yard games in just their fourth career start. He’ll get the opportunity to be a starter somewhere someday in this league.

33 (22) TYROD TAYLOR - LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

FREE TYROD!

32 (34) SAM DARNOLD – NEW YORK JETS

Sam Darnold with Le’Veon Bell in the backfield. Big difference to Sam Darnold without Le’Veon Bell in the backfield. Not sure the Jets will be up to too much in 2019 but they’ve got a sneaky useful roster and Darnold feels like a guy who could shoot up the rankings next year. By all accounts he’s taking to Adam Gase’s offence extremely well. But I just can’t shake the feeling that he looks way too much like Sean Astin to take seriously. Maybe, like, grow a beard or something bro. Either that or embrace it and go full Samwise Gamgee… jeez I bet he’s heard that before.

31 (NA) RYAN FITZPATRICK – MIAMI DOLPHINS

Fitzmagic is back, baby! Though probably not for long. He’s just there to keep the seat warm for Josh Rosen as the Dolphins settle down into the new season. Last year was some vintage Fitzmagic as he threw 1230 yards and 11 touchdowns in the first three weeks of the season… but he pretty swiftly fell off the horse after that. If Miami can get an opening month out of him like he served up in Tampa Bay last time though then that’ll put them in a decent place to get The Chosen One ready for when the Fitzmagic dries up as it inevitably does. The Fins have their bye in week five so that would be an ideal time to make the change… although they’re pretty clearly tanking so you never know.

30 (36) LAMAR JACKSON – BALTIMORE RAVENS

The man who drove Joe Flacco out of Baltimore like a cattle-driving, bounty-hunting cowboy in the night. It was absolutely the right decision from the Ravens to embrace their young, fresh quarterback and if there’s anyone who has Patrick Mahomes level breakout potential as a second year starter then it’s Lamar Jackson… but for now he remains a little unproved.

A superb runner of the ball whose passing game was kept tidily conservative last season, though they’ve since gone all in on the reshape of that offence to suit Jackson’s abilities. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman worked with Colin Kaepernick at the Niners and that template feels like the one to anticipate here. And even in a small sample size, Jackson did help this team get into the playoffs last year too (although he was pretty mud in that game, only completing two passes in the first half). As a rusher out of the pocket he’s already top tier. It’s his wobbly arm and pass selection that needs to get to a new level if the Ravens are gonna back it up as AFC East champs again. Should be plenty of fun… much more fun than Joe Flacco had standing out wide in the formation when Jackson got his scripted snaps in the early days of last season.

29 (23) BLAKE BORTLES – LOS ANGELES RAMS

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28 (18) CASE KEENUM – WASHINGTON R*DSKINS

The injury to Alex Smith led the R*dskins down into a quarterback crisis zone. They drafted Dwayne Haskins but he’s not really considered ready, they’d rather hold him back a year or two to learn the ropes first. But lucky for them the Broncos picked up that Joe Flacco fella and really wanted rid of Keenum. So the Washington Pro Football Team got their 2019 starter and… let’s just say there’s a reason the Broncos don’t want him.

2012-16: 24 GS | 9-15 W/L | 58.4% COMP | 24 TD | 20 INT | 6.2 AY/A | 78.4 RATE

2017:       14 GS | 11-3 W/L | 67.6% COMP | 22 TD | 7 INT | 7.6 AY/A | 98.3 RATE

2018:       16 GS | 6-10 w/L | 62.3% COMP | 18 TD | 15 INT | 6.1 AY/A | 81.2 RATE

That’s the thing, aye? You pay the bucks after one quality season only for the fella to revert immediately back to version of himself that he was prior to that for his whole career. He’s doing well to hang in there as a starter but if he’s 2018 Keenum instead of 2017 Keenum then it’ll be his last chance. Every starter ranked below him on this list is young with the potential to improve… meaning he might be the most uninspiring week one starter of all of them.

27 (NA) JACOBY BRISSETT – INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Yeah so the thing is… I drafted out the order for this and started writing it before Andrew Luck retired (I know, I’m a busy fella and this is a loooong endeavour). So Jacoby Brissett wasn’t there. Andrew Luck was probably gonna be fifth, maybe even as high as third, so I bumped the others up but then forgot about Brissett… so here’s some Jacoby Brissett.

26 (27) RYAN TANNEHILL – TENNESSEE TITANS

It’s fair to say that a change was due. Tannehill’s a pretty decent QB, he reads the field quite well and he’s mobile enough to move around a bit. But in seven years with the Miami Dolphins he just never had that breakthrough season and it doesn’t help that he missed 24 games over the last three years, forcing the Fins to alter their timeline and to be honest Tannehill was four years late on that star season anyway. Teams can only wait around so long and nobody has the same patience with veteran QBs as they have with the guys they drafted themselves. So Tanny drops to the bench at Tennessee where he’ll back up Marcus Mariota who is in danger of plateauing in a very similar way. An overqualified backup but this is a ruthless league and through injuries and… not inconsistencies but rather too much consistency… that’s where we are now.

25 (24) JAMEIS WINSTON – TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Big season for this fella. It’s a contract year and his role with the Buccs is absolutely on the brink these days – we really can’t understate the fact that this bugger got benched for Ryan Fitzpatrick last year. I mean, he won that starting gig back but only because Fitzmagic only lasts a month or two. If you’re playing musical chairs with Ryan Fitzpatrick then you should probably start worrying. There’s a new coach in place for TBB now, the esteemed Bruce Arians, and with Blaine Gabbert as the next QB on the depth chart he should at least have a clean run through the year… but the first overall pick in 2015 is at a crossroads right now. Only Ben Roethlisberger (59) has thrown more picks than Winston since Jamies came into the league, and that’s with 2500 more passing yards and 24 more touchdowns. Blake Bortles is tied with Winston’s 58 picks and he’s not even a starter anymore.

24 (28) JOE FLACCO – DENVER BRONCOS

The good news is that 2018 was the first season in Flacco’s career where he threw single digit interceptions… the bad news is that it’s because he only played nine games before he was benched and eventually traded. His last four years he has a 16-game average of 20 TDs and 14 INTs with a quarterback rating of 82.7 and 249.3 yards per game. He’s been a below average starter for a number of years now and the Ravens were immediately better with a rookie starting instead of him.

And yet… he’s still an upgrade for the Denver Broncos, whose post-Peyton roll of starting quarterbacks reads tragically as thus…

  • Trevor Siemian: 24 starts | 79.9 RATE | Backup for the NY Jets

  • Case Keenum: 16 starts | 81.2 RATE | Starting for Washington

  • Brock Osweiler: 4 starts | 72.5 RATE | Currently a free agent

  • Paxton Lynch: 4 starts | 76.7 RATE | Battling for practice squad in Seattle

Even through the worst sustained poor performances of his career he’s still better than anything the Broncos have had in recent times and while a lot of the personnel has changed since then this is still the franchise that won a Super Bowl with the corpse of Peyton Manning hurling wobbly passes. Flacco’s not very good anymore but this is a great fit for him and a bounce back season isn’t out of the question.

23 (22) ELI MANNING – NEW YORK GIANTS

Speaking of jokers who need a change of scenery… Peyton’s little brother’s still hanging in there despite the optics. 2018 was actually a statistical rebound season for Eli but that’s just more evidence that you can’t rely on the stats alone because the constant checkdown nature of the fella, the risk-free approach, is so much the antithesis to the man who threw the pass for the helmet catch way back when. Eli has never been a great quarterback, he’s just a dude who gets on a roll sometimes. When he’s won a playoff game he’s won the Super Bowl. 8-0 in 2007 and 2011 while he’s 0-4 in the playoffs in every other year of his career. Has only made the playoffs once since 2011 as well. One of the most skewed legacies out there but fair play to the fella because, mate, he earned those rings with some all-time clutch plays.

Oh yeah and the general negativity around the Giants has led to Odell Beckham packing his bags after the G-Men inexplicably failed to give their star player a new quarterback who’d actually throw the ball up for him to go get a few times. Even still OBJ hauled in 1052 yards in just three quarters of a season in 2018 so take that out of the picture and it’s only getting worse. There is still Saquon Barkley at least, with his 2000+ yards from scrimmage, but this is a weaker Giants team without Beckham. Also Daniel Jones is winning fans in preseason so Eli has a genuine threat behind him now too.

Honestly, they shoulda just gone their separate ways after the travesty that was breaking his consecutive starts streak the way that they did. Scandalous. No respect. It should be Eli starting for the Broncos and not Joe Flacco.

22 (31) MITCHELL TRUBISKY – CHICAGO BEARS

Trubisky Year 1: 59.4% COMP | 2193 YDS | 7 TD | 7 INT | 6.1 AY/A | 77.5 RATE

Trubisky Year 2: 66.6% COMP | 3223 YDS | 24 TD | 12 INT | 7.3 AY/A | 95.4 RATE

Not to mention he won four games from 12 starts in that first season then won 11 games from his 14 starts the next, taking the Bears back to the playoffs where they would have beaten the Eagles but for a blocked field goal at the end there. So, yeah, utterly enormous strides made by Yung Mitch Biscuit and on one of the best coached teams in the league with weapons all around him I expect him to outperform this 22 ranking… but I also think that his outperforming is overrating his personal ability beyond the scheme that he finds himself in (a scheme which, to be fair, is also part of why his rookie stats were so bad as they over protected him). But that’s fine. Plenty of quarterbacks on this list who wouldn’t be able to have this success in this situation and if he cuts down on those occasional shocker pick-able passes then he’ll reach another level again. The Bears are intensely good and Trubisky is a positive influence on that. Keep on laying it down, my son.

21 (26) MARCUS MARIOTA – TENNESSEE TITANS

Just like Jamies Winston, Marcus Mariota is coming into a definitive contract year. Mariota has been better than the fella drafted one spot ahead of him four years ago but he also hasn’t quite taken the leaps that were expected of him particularly last season. Having brilliantly led the Titans to a playoff win in 2017 (despite a pretty poor regular season from himself) he stumbled again in 2018. Just 11 touchdown passes from 331 pass attempts… nobody that’s started a full season’s worth of games (so… 16+) over the last two combined seasons has a worse TD% than MM. To put it nice and bluntly here, the lad has to prove that he can be a force with his arm as well as with his legs and that means getting the ball into the endzone a whole lot more. Otherwise Ryan Tannehill won’t be far away.

20 (20) DEREK CARR – OAKLAND RAIDERS

Oooh boy, this could go in any direction. I still really like this dude but am starting to feel like it might be getting illogical. Basically suffocated by the Jon Gruden thing, at least you can’t blame Derek Carr for trying to make it work – he bought a bloody house next to a head coach who these days won’t rule out benching Carr for Nathan Goddamn Peterman. But, like, if that offensive line steps up and Gruden doesn’t trade away all their best players around him (getting Antonio Brown in is a whirlwind of mental headlines but he does bring a top tier WR to the crew) then times might be brightening. This is a ruthless one for DC if he wants to still be starting when this team moves to Las Vegas in 2020 and considering what a timid little nice boy he is he could be about to get swamped by the showtime personalities of Gruden and Brown. It ain’t a great situation but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for now.

19 (14) JIMMY GAROPPOLO – SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

There are some negative whispers about handsome Jimmy G. The kind of whispers that are inherent in American sports where super hype is the name of the game. Garoppolo looked rusty and reckless in preseason? He’s got a solid backup in Nick Mullins putting pressure on him? Sure… let’s not forget that Jimmy G did kinda miss the bulk of last season with a brutal knee injury after all. The dude is coming into his sixth season in the league and he’s started just 10 games yet is on a 5yr/$137.5m contract so I guess sometimes the hype works for you, sometimes the hype works against you. There’s a lot we don’t know about Jimmy G and thanks to the weird nature of his career so far we’re casting judgements on pretty tiny sample sizes. He signed that big-ass contract for a reason though.

18 (35) BAKER MAYFIELD – CLEVELAND BROWNS

Sliding in just ahead of Jimmy G because Baker has actually started more games in the NFL.

BM: 13 GS | 63.8% COMP | 3725 YDS | 27 TD | 14 INT | 7.5 AY/A | 93.7 RATE

JG:   10 GS | 65.4% COMP | 2968 YDS | 17 TD | 8 INT | 8.2 AY/A | 97.3 RATE

I mean, I’m pretty sure Garoppolo is the superior quarterback but it isn’t all about that. Baker is on one of the most hyped teams in the league with genuine playoff expectations and the momentum of a quality rookie season and he’s not only been gifted one of the best wide receivers in the game with Odell Beckham Jr in town but he’s also got a good one in rookie running back Nick Chubb who could be amazing. Meanwhile Jimmy G is coming back from an ACL reconstruction. I figure both of them will rise at least five spots next season.

17 (25) NICK FOLES – JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

It’s been a strange career for this guy. 2013 and he explodes onto the scene with one of those all-time statistical anomaly seasons as he threw 27 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions but then fell back to earth the following year before breaking his collarbone. Which saw the Eagles and Chip Kelly stunningly trade him to the Rams for Sam Bradford (how’d that one work out, aye?) but he was awful there, like straight up awful, next season he’s at the Chiefs and did okay but barely played. Then back to Philadelphia where he settled in as a backup… and the bloody guy only goes and leads the Eagles to the title winning Super Bowl MVP after Carson Wentz went down injured. Looked really good again to start the following year and won another playoff game later on after Wentz had been injured again.

Now the bloke’s got that rarest of rare opportunities… a second chance as a starting quarterback. It’s a big risk for the Jags but then again they’re moving on from Blake Bortles so the baseline’s not exactly a stretch even for a guy who’s only ever done it for Philadelphia. That disparity is a very weird one. A very weird one. A Super Bowl MVP who has been traded for Sam Bradford and benched for Case Keenum in his career. Old mate’s got a lot to prove in Jacksonville.

16 (19) ANDY DALTON – CINCINNATI BENGALS

Freed from the shackles of Marvin Lewis or suddenly exposed from the protection of a long-time coach? S’pose we’re about to find out, right? This season’s rankings are so crazy because there’s just this enormous middle ground of young quarterbacks on the rise, veterans on the slide, and unproven dudes in the middle in new situations. Andy Dalton has made a career out of being one of the most consistent blokes out there but the line between consistency and stasis is a tricky one to figure out sometimes. He was really good in 2015, with a 25/7 TD/INT ratio and a passer rating of 106.2… but we all know that he’s never won a playoff game and every other season in his career that rating’s been in that 80-92 range which is rather mediocre, to be honest. But mediocre is okay, it has you as the 16th ranked starter amongst the 32 teams. Smack bang in the middle and he’d better lap it up too because this could be The Red Rifle’s last chance to hold such esteemed ground because the Bengals are going to be bad in a very good division. It could get messy.

15 (13) KIRK COUSINS – MINNESOTA VIKINGS

The enigma. Both overrated and underrated. Both good and bad. The Vikings put all their chips on the table last season and didn’t even make the playoffs, with Cousins’ play definitely partly responsible amongst all the other factors, and how they respond to that will be pretty interesting. Cousins can make passes that few other QBs in the league would even attempt. But he also does things so stupid you wonder where all the money is coming from. He’s topped 4000 passing yards and 25 TDs in each of the last four seasons and just completed at 70.1% from 606 pass attempts in 2018 which is the tenth best mark in NFL history. He’s capable of doing it yet he never seems to be a guy who can step it up in the big games. His two playoff starts were both defeats. He’s 0-7 on Monday games and 1-5 on Thursdays. 5-13 as a starter in late kickoffs. He went undefeated against non-playoff teams in 2018 and 1-7 against those that made the playoffs. At some point bro you’ve gotta start winning games that matter too.

14 (9) MATT STAFFORD – DETROIT LIONS

I don’t even know where to go with this dude any more. The days of him throwing 4500 yards a season and attempting 700 passes are long gone… last year he threw just 555 passes which is the fewest he’s chucked in a complete season in his career. As for his passing yards, mate… way down there at 3777 which is almost 500 yards fewer than he’d done before in a complete season. They’ve rearranged the offence around him the last probably four or five seasons to engage him more as a pocket passer and it’s been alright but the Lions haven’t won more than nine games in any of those season and I dunno that they’ll be much better this time either.

So what we’ve got here is a very solid quarterback who has been useful in a few different variations for this team over the years yet with almost nothing really to get excited about. He’s no worse than he was a year ago. There’s a fair argument that he should still be top ten. But I’m just not feeling it, you know?

He does still chug a beer like a champ though, old Staff.

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13 (15) DAK PRESCOTT – DALLAS COWBOYS

Here he is. Old mate. And I think it’s about now where you get into the quarterbacks who could realistically lead their team to a Super Bowl championship this season. Maybe Matt Stafford too but probably not. And I mean lead them too not just win as a part of a solid team. Which is funny because there are three starting QBs and SB MVPs way back on this list… but it’s 2019 now Eli and Joe while Nick Foles is a Jaguar.

The one thing missing with Dak’s game… actually there are two. One is that he was sacked waaaay too many times last season although a healthier offensive line and some slightly smarter play should help that. The main thing is that his TD numbers are too low. 23, 22 & 22 in his three seasons. But consider that he’s rushed for six more in each of those years and also consider how many close ones Zeke has popped in and it’s a tad misleading. Also, I present exhibit c to the gentlefolk of the jury:

2018 Dak Pre-Amari Cooper Trade:   62.1% COMP | 8 TD | 4 INT | 87.4 RATE | 6.8 AY/A

2018 Dak Post-Amari Cooper Trade: 71.3% COMP | 14 TD | 4 INT | 103.0 RATE | 8.03 AY/A

Funny what a difference a legit top receiver makes, right? It’s almost like the NFL is actually a team sport after all and that the success and failure of quarterbacks are quite reliant on teammates and coaching and luck and coincidence.

12 (11) CARSON WENTZ – PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

You know Carson Wentz has never played a playoff game? There’s no secret that the Eagles have made the right call in keeping Wentz and flipping Nick Foles, despite the fact that it was Foles who toppled the Patriots, Foles who led them in those playoffs, Foles who won Super Bowl MVP. The Philly Special… that’s Nick Foles too. But lightning in a bottle is one thing, Carson Wentz can get it done every day of the week - as long as he’s fit of course. Which is a big deal with this dude, the injuries, and you only need to look as far as Andrew Luck to know what regular and sustained injuries can lead to.

But Carson Wentz mate… he’s the industry darling. He’s the guy that scouts adore, that blend of athleticism and efficiency and accuracy and playmaking. Everything you want in a quarterback in 2019 except perhaps for that Patty Mahomes level cannon arm. So the Eagles have duly locked him up until 2024 with a new contract. Which is why I’m here to periodically point out that, sure, he looks great and it’s all sweet and no dramas but let’s not get carried away here. Dude hasn’t even played a playoff game yet.

11 (16) DESHAUN WATSON – HOUSTON TEXANS

He was on pace for something special when he got injured as a rookie. 19 touchdowns in six starts with another couple scores in the ground, he emerged fully formed into the NFL and nobody could stop him but his own body. But crucially he rebounded to start every game last season, putting up solid numbers too. 4165 yards on 68.3% completion. 26 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Another five scores with 551 yards on the floor. If you were worried about the lingering effects of that knee injury then breathe a sigh of relief immediately because he was fantastic.

Now, the Houston Texans have absolutely lost their minds in recent days with Jadaveon Clowney traded away to Seattle (the rest of the NFC West would like to offer a raised middle finger in response to that one) and they gave up dollars upon cents to get Laremy Tunsil (and to a lesser degree Kenny Stills) having already drafted two offensive linemen in the first two rounds of the draft. Pretty mental for a team to be so drastic while operating without a permanent general manager… but there is method to the madness.

Watson was sacked a league-high 62 times last season. In fact that was tied for the most sacks upon a single QB in a season for more than a decade and tied fifth for the most ever. Part of that is Watson’s style of play but that’s no excuse if you’re committed to a QB who likes to extend the play (Dak Prescott has similar issues last season). You simply have to find a way to give him better protection, at least limit the hits he’ll take even if you’ll never eliminate them. Fewer rolls of the dice, you dig? The Texans have invested in their quarterback and even if they went about it in a pretty funky way, that’s still a positive sign.

10 (17) JARED GOFF – LOS ANGELES RAMS

How about that new contract aye? Ol’ Goffy’s getting paid, friends. Those contract records get broken all the time these days so it doesn’t really mean anything and let’s be honest the second that Patty Mahomes comes up for grabs on his next contract he’s busting this to pieces… but that’s why paying the dudes now is always the best idea if you’re sure about them since today’s overpay is tomorrow’s bargain… as the ancient saying goes.

So an MVP candidate a year ago and already with a Super Bowl appearance for a supremely offensively talented squad… is he ranked too low? Tell you what I’m not a hundy percent sure that he isn’t ranked too high, actually. See I’m old enough to remember his rookie season where he lost all seven games he started and threw more picks than touchdowns at a completion rate of 54.6%. Since then he’s been incredible, winning 24 out of 31 games, completing at 63.6% and with 60 TDs compared to just 19 INTs. His success is tied to coach Sean McVay and his system for sure and with the new contract he’ll continue to be tied together with Sean McVay. But… I mean, old mate Tom Brady has only ever had one coach himself and nobody holds that against him. Even within a system you’ve still got to be accurate, you’ve still got to complete, you’ve still got to make the right decisions. And that system’s not going anywhere so might as well wrap up the guy who makes it work. Look, situations are everything in this league. Can’t ever take that for granted.

9 (8) CAM NEWTON – CAROLINA PANTHERS

‘Twas not a pretty 2018 for SuperCam, but then of course it wasn’t – it was an even year. Since 2013 when Newton first made the playoffs (his third season), the Panthers have won 38 games and made the playoffs all three times (including an NFC title and an MVP award for Cam) in odd years while those pesky even years have seen them win 20 games in three years with just one playoff appearance. Plus we all know that Cam Newton wasn’t healthy last year and it showed blatantly in his game – his four rushing TDs are the fewest he’s ever mustered. But he had shoulder surgery in January and is bouncing around with energy again which is great to see. Pretty obvious candidate for a resurgent season here, he’s a former MVP after all. Plus Greg Olsen, his favourite target, is hopefully nice and fit after only playing 50% of their games the last two seasons and with Christian McCaffrey doing some funky things he’s got a decent group around him.

Also I have no idea what’s going on here and that’s always a good sign with Cam Newton…

8 (7) PHILIP RIVERS – LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

Could this be the season? Philip Rivers is a legit Hall of Famer who is coming off a couple wonderful years, especially 2018 with 68.3% completion for 4308 yards and 32 touchdowns. With Eli’s record broken at 210, Rivers now has the longest active consecutive start streak for a quarterback with 208 games and counting (2019 if you include playoffs). But after 15 seasons in the league the closest he’s come to even playing in a Super Bowl was the 2007 AFC Championship game they lost to the Patriots.

A franchise that has been a bit notorious for finding ways to lose had their best season in a decade last time out but they still play in a stadium that’s filled with away fans pretty much every week and this will be Rivers’ first season without Antonio Gates so that’s something. But Keenan Allen’s a star and that defence should be very dangerous with Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa doing what they do. The Chargers can be contenders this season. They’re building in the right direction. And for Rivers, who has two more seasons on his current contract, it means a very slim championship window to potentially cap off a magnificent and, let’s be honest, underappreciated career. Underappreciated largely because of the four or five all-time greats whose careers have crossed over with his but okay.

7 (6) MATT RYAN – ATLANTA FALCONS

Do you realise what Matty Ice did last season? Just a cheeky 4924 passing yards, 35 touchdowns, and only 7 interceptions. The second best season of his career in other words… but the Falcons had a losing record so nobody really cared. Winning is the most important thing after all so fair enough, however they weren’t losing because of this bloke, that’s for sure. Nah that was down to a poor rushing attack and an even worse defence that couldn’t get the stops.

I think with Matt Ryan, his reputation should have gone through the roof after that MVP season in 2016 – which isn’t even that long ago! – but he followed it up with a poor one, the only season since 2012 where he hasn’t topped 4500 passing yards or 66% completion, and it sorta vindicated a few people who weren’t on board with elevating this dude up to where he belongs. Julio Jones probably took a lot of the praise that they shared. Plus 28-3 doesn’t exactly help either.

6 (5) BEN ROETHLISBERGER – PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Hmm. So on one hand Big Ben threw 5129 yards last season with 34 touchdowns which are both career highs for him. On the other hand he no longer has Le’Veon Bell or Antonio Brown on his squad, although LB didn’t even play last season. This is the age of the veteran quarterback so no reason to feel like Big Ben, who was seriously talking about retirement a year ago, is on the slide in any shape or form. But they only won nine games and missed the playoffs last time out and have lost their start RB and WR under very strange circumstances. Hard to know what to think there.

What’s definitely beyond doubt is that Roethlisberger remains a top tier quarterback who is going to keep producing at a high level behind a top tier offensive line. Which is crazy because you realise he’s been doing this since 2004? Like, it’s not really something to be proud of but Roethlisberger is the third most sacked quarterback in NFL history, 24 sacks behind Brett Favre’s record of 525 (John Elway has 516).

5 (30) PATRICK MAHOMES – KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

I just… I just don’t wanna overreact to one season as a starter is all. That’s the only reason I’m holding him back in fifth because other than that my homie Mahomes has all the goods. 50 TDs and 5000 yards passing in a single season is something only Tom Brady had ever done before. He was the unanimous MVP when most people didn’t hardly know his name a year earlier. His supreme athleticism combined with an enormous arm and accuracy makes him the perfect quarterback for this era of the NFL. Andy Reid and the Chiefs have given him everything he needs to succeed and he’s done the rest in an offence that goes beyond exciting. An offence which just added LeSean McCoy as well (for what that’s worth in 2019). Hey and they should be a fair bit better on defence this season too. So… 55 TDs and 5500 yards then…?

In fairness you’ve surely gotta bank on a regression year. Other teams have had all offseason to scan the tape and figure out ways to stop him now, especially those divisional rivals, and not even Andy Reid is going to be able to scheme up new takes on a timeline that can keep up with all the new information that other coaches now have on Mahomes. The reigning MVP has a target on his back and in only his third season in the league that can’t be easy to deal with. But a season of statistical regression combined with a defence that now has Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu making things look a whole lot better might even be a stabilising factor. Less is more, you know?

Either way I’m good as long as we get more clips of him hurling footballs out of stadiums and connecting on these no-look passes which are fast becoming revolutionary…

Word is he’s got a behind the back on in the works too.

4 (4) DREW BREES – NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

You know there was a time there when it looked like Drew Brees was on the slips. He was throwing damn near 5000 yards every season but the Saints were finishing 7-9 all the time and it was like he was just going through the motions a little, the whole franchise was to be honest. Stuck in this sort of perpetual purgatory where they were good but not good enough. Then these last two seasons he’s done what I just said about Mahomes and embraced the whole less is more strategy, allowing his running backs to do their own thing and the result has been something special. The yards have dropped substantially yet the completion rate has risen. This was his line last season…

15 GM | 74.4% COMP | 3992 YDS | 32 TD | 5 INT | 9.0 AY/A | 115.7 RATE

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you age gracefully in the NFL. He’s still there for the clutch play and we know he’s a well-established master – the Obi-Wan Kenobi – of the two minute drill. But with Alvin Kamara doing what he does so well and Michael Thomas such a fantastic receiver… why exert himself so much? He had seven game-winning drives last season. I don’t care how old you are, when you can orchestrate seven victories late in games like that then you’re one of the premier guys in the competition. The only man ever with more in a single season is Matthew Stafford in 2016 and, well, that wasn’t exactly the Super Bowl contending team that these Saints are.

3 (3) RUSSELL WILSON – SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

He’s won 75 of his 112 starts over his career

His passer rating is the second best of all time

No current quarterback has a better yards per pass average than Russ’ 7.9

His interception rate of 1.9% is the fourth best in the history of the league

He’s coming off a season where he threw a career best 35 TDs to just 7 picks

Russell Wilson is beyond debate.

2 (1) TOM BRADY – NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Every year I try and justify Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers in the top two, sometimes they shuffle around though usually it’s in this order. To tell you the truth I simply don’t know what to say anymore. Where can I get me on that TB12 method, please?

1 (2) AARON RODGERS – GREEN BAY PACKERS

So excited for Aaron Rodgers this season that I’ve leapt him back up to his usual number one spot ahead of the guy who just won the Super Bowl. Because with Mike McCarthy gone now that offence is finally going to evolve in the way that it should and Rodgers gets to actually be coached and play within a system rather than just doing Aaron Rodgers things whenever it gets ugly and he’s fit and he’s healthy and he should still be in the prime of his career and I don’t even know what else to say… so here’s a picture of him when he was on Game of Thrones.

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