Here we are a few days into July and just a few weeks away from NFL training camps, you can smell football in the air. Myself, fellow INSC writer Mark Wilson, and co-host of the After the Whistle podcast on Sports War Radio on spreaker.com Anthony Fiuza have come together to make a list of who we perceive to be the top 5 QB’s going into the upcoming NFL season. Without further adieu here is who we think are the five best NFL quarterbacks heading into the 2016 season.
Stephen’s Top 5:
Tom Brady (Patriots): Brady ranked 11th last season in total QBR just barely behind Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers, and looks to improve upon that as he tries to lead his Patriots to the Lombardi trophy. Now certainly Brady could be anywhere in this top five, however with him scheduled to miss the first four games of the season due to Deflategate I had to drop him to five on this list. There’s no doubt Brady makes his team better but without the full 16 games under his belt this upcoming season he isn’t any higher than five for me. If Brady can repeat his 36 touchdown/7 interception performance he had last season he could very well be on his way to yet another Super Bowl title. Brady who will be entering his age 39 season could show signs of regression but I think Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft will give him every opportunity to succeed.
Drew Brees (Saints): Drew Brees albeit another year older now is still an elite quarterback and could very easily lead the Saints to another title. Brees was the third best QB last season behind only Carson Palmer, and Ben Roethlisberger for total QBR. Brees continues to light the league up even in the latter part of his career last year he posted a phenomenal season throwing for 4,870 yards, 32 TDs, and 11 interceptions. For a guy who has basically been the face of consistency I don’t expect anything less from Brees.
Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers): Just like I’ve said for both Brady, and Brees although Big Ben as Steelers fans know him by is another year older he will still compete at a very high level, and that can be credited to GM Kevin Colbert for putting weapons all around him. The Steelers have a very good opportunity to win their third Super Bowl ring under Roethlisberger and league leading seventh ring for the franchise if Ben can stay healthy all season which has been his achilles heel. Roethlisberger will lead one of the most dangerous offenses this season, lead by the familiar faces in Antonio Brown, Le’veon Bell, Deangelo Williams, and Darius Heyward-Bey, the addition of tight end Ladarius Green will be massive as that now adds another down the field option for Ben. Roethlisberger ranked second in total QBR last season behind seasoned veteran Carson Palmer, and threw for 3,938 yards, 21 TDs, and 16 ints, all while missing a few games. To be successful Ben will need to cut down on his interceptions.
Cam Newton (Panthers): What more is there to say about this guy? He can do it all, rush for a first down, extend the play by scrambling, or just sitting in the pocket and hitting his targets. Newton is going to have to improve his completion percentage a little to continue to stay this high on my list, but with Kelvin Benjamin coming back from knee surgery, and Devin Funchess showing up at the end of the regular season his completion percentage could be a career high this upcoming season. Cam threw for 3,837 yards, 35 TDs, and just 10 interceptions while rushing for 636 yards, and 10 TDs. For a team that is a Super Bowl hopeful this upcoming season that’s exactly what Ron Rivera is hoping for from his young QB. Newton was ninth in total QBR last season just ahead of my number one quarterback.
Aaron Rodgers (Packers): Aaron Rodgers as well as Drew Brees are both models of consistency, and because of how consistent Rodgers has been since taking over for Brett Favre he landed on my top spot. You can argue that any of the others on this list could be number one and you’re not wrong this is a very close group and it took awhile for me to construct this list as it is. But the matter of the fact is all these guys are elite quarterbacks playing at the top of their game, and I just happen to think Aaron Rodgers is a half step ahead of the rest. Rodgers is coming off of a year where he threw for 3,821 yards, 31 TDs, and 8 ints, all without his top receiver Jordy Nelson who was injured during the preseason, and losing his other top receivers at points throughout the season. When you’re having to learn new receivers play styles week in and week out due to injury and still put up the numbers Rodgers did you deserve credit where credit is due. Rodgers finished tenth in total QBR last season just behind Cam Newton and ahead of Tom Brady. I fully expect Rodgers (barring any injuries) to push for the passing title this upcoming season and lead his team deep into the playoffs.
Mark’s Top 5:
Russell Wilson (Seahawks): Many felt that Wilson was robbed of the MVP last season due to Carolina’s record. While that may be the case, Wilson struggled early in the season while Newton stayed consistent throughout. The Seahawks came on late as Wilson literally put the team on his back and proved that he belongs in the Elite conversation. Anytime you can post 34/8 with a completion percentage of 68% you should be on top of the list. His rushing yards were lower than Newton’s due to the ground game the Seahawks have, other than that he outplayed Cam.
Cam Newton (Panthers): The MVP will continue his dominance over the rest of the star-studded QBs in the league, except Wilson. Newton has matured into a pretty decent pocket passer. His completion percentage was terrible last year, but the amount of dropped balls had plenty to do with his decline. If the pocket breaks down he can use the other weapon he, his legs. Newton rushed for 636 yards and 10 TDs, name another QB besides Wilson that can put those type of dual threat numbers up. With Kelvin Benjamin back I expect Newton to equal or surpass last season’s 35/10 mark.
Drew Brees (Saints): There’s no mistake here, Brees had a wonderful season last year and with the growth of his young receivers I expect Brees to put up similar numbers next season. There’s no need for you to Google search, 4870/32/11, accomplished with a young receiving core at the age of 36. Brees has been consistent as far as yardage but what sets him apart has been is completion percentage. Last season he was nothing short of spectacular with a percentage of 68%, Brees has never fallen off.
Philip Rivers (Chargers): Rivers is that quarterback you have no idea is elite until he retires and you check his stats. But I am here to tell you how consistent this man has been throughout his career and why we shouldn’t expect anything less of him despite the Chargers injuries on the offensive side of the ball. There is no ground game for the team to turn to, so expect Rivers to once again lead the NFL is pass attempts as he did last season with 661.
Blake Bortles (Jaguars): Most writers or fans will place either Aaron Rodgers or Carson Palmer here but Bortles will put himself in the Elite company next season. If he can keep his interceptions down I can easily see 38 TDs and 10 interceptions. The best part is their age, the Jags are young and are willing to take risk on the offensive side. The talent is there with Hurns and Robinson. Trust me, by the end of the season Bortles will me everyone a believer.
Anthony’s Top 5:
Drew Brees (Saints): This was a tough decision, but I have chosen Drew Brees. This came down to trust. I enjoy watching guys like Andrew Luck and Cam Newton, but if I had to trust someone with the game on the line I would choose Brees. He had the most fourth quarter comebacks from 2011-2015 and he has won a Super Bowl. Even though he’s had too many turnovers over the last four years combined and has caused me to doubt his play Luck and Newton haven’t shown me enough to pick them over Brees. Also, Brees hasn’t had much of a supporting cast around him over the past 3 years. Have you seen the Saints defense? Brees can lead, make plays and despite having plenty of mediocre performances over the past few years, he lead the NFL in passing yards in 2015.
Russell Wilson (Seahawks): He is great at keeping his composure and has a knack for making clutch plays in Seattle. After being down 31-0 in a playoff game against Carolina, Wilson brought his team back to within a touchdown of tying the game. Seattle fell 31-24 and Wilson out performed MVP Cam Newton. The Cincinnati native doesn’t always throw for a ton of yards, but when he does look out because history is probably about to happen. He is just as good as any quarterback in this league and rarely turns the ball over.
Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers): Big Ben had a great year in 2015 despite getting injured in the Steelers win vs the Rams. He threw for over 3900 yards and had a better completion percentage on third down than Rodgers and Brady. He moves that Steelers offense down the field with ease and he also takes chances that normally workout. He makes big plays consistently and never shies away from the big moment.
Tom Brady (Patriots): The California native once again tore up defenses in 2015 and led the Patriots to the AFC title game. Brady is always accurate, making the right adjustments and rarely turns the ball over. I would put Terrific Tom #1, but he doesn’t take as many shots down the field as Rodgers does.
Aaron Rodgers (Packers): He is a fearless competitor with command of the huddle. Rodgers is an accurate passer whether he’s on the move or in the pocket. He can make all the throws and never stops making plays. Even though Rodgers had plenty of struggles last year, he still threw for over 3800 yards and lead the Packers to a 10-6 mark with a weak supporting cast. He even won a playoff game. Quarterbacks are supposed to make their teams better and Aaron Rodgers certainly did that last season.