What is elite?
Well by definition it’s,a group of people considered (by themselves or others) to be the best in a particular society or category especially because of their power,talent, or wealth.
Even with it spelled out as plainly as this,in the realm of sports sometimes it’s not as easily depicted as such. Here are a few ways to determine if a player is truly elite on the field, specifically the quarterback position in the NFL. Simply put the easiest way to tell is by the name and the truly elite are Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.
There are a number of outstanding quarterbacks in the league that are close, yet haven’t gotten to that point and are currently on the outside looking in. There aren’t many football fans who would argue that those four quarterbacks aren’t in the elite category.
In determining elite status it’s on the preparation board. Meaning when the opposing team goes to the film room where does that quarterback fall on their list of “keys to victory”? Regardless if the terms “stop” or “slow down” aren’t the first and last priority of the defense then the signal caller hasn’t reached the elite level and defenses will look to game plan towards the team’s best player.
With or without a running game, pass rush, or a big time receiver, Manning,Brady, Brees and Rodgers will forever be the priority for opponents. One misconception that there’s a set amount of quarterbacks that come with the elite designation in each season.
Listed earlier are the only four elites. With the fifth best not quite getting to that rank and there here are three different tiers when it comes to starters.
Funny thing is Mark Sanchez is closer to that second-tier level, yet it’s hard to put him there with no teams wanting him on the roster. The starting tier the starters have a wide range of players in that category including game manager’s, game winners and those who do just enough to keep games close. A majority of these quarterbacks are replaceable some more than others.
For example Matt Ryan, heads the top of the second tier list and he possesses all the things that an elite QB has. In other words if the Atlanta Falcons called up the New England Patriots with a straight up trade for both quarterbacks would it happen? Not likely as one is viewed as irreplaceable and the other is not. Same can be said for the Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos.
Ryan puts up great numbers, makes his team better, wins games year in and year out but hasn’t done enough to separate himself from the Tony Romo’s, Philip Rivers‘, and Matt Schaub’s of the world.
One last misconception is that in order to get put at the elite status Super Bowl wins matter. This is how the Eli Manning, Ben Rothlisberger, and Joe Flacco arguments start. While winning a championship is import these players haven’t separated from the rest of the pack. Though rings do matter when comparing similar players.
Quarterback is the one position where a player is automatically elevated to the top of the class based off a Super Bowl victory regardless of the rest of their résumé. Case and point, Brandon Jacobs is a two-time Super Bowl champion, yet is not even close to being in the same category as Adrian Peterson. Santonio Holmes is a Super Bowl MVP as well and is he even in the list of top 20 wide receivers in the NFL?
Meanwhile, E. Manning and Roethlisberger look to get into the elite club with years of solid seasons and come up clutch in big games, yet rely on an elite defense or running game.
Now before pointing out the 2008 season in which Brady missed he immediately assumed his starting duties after coming back 100 percent healthy and re-assumed his spot as the leader of the team and face of the franchise.