For clarity, this is strictly for the upcoming 2017 NFL season, not projecting the quarterbacks long term.1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots – This smug, UGG boot wearing, ball deflating, cheating SOB…now that it is out of my system…the greatest quarterback in NFL history. Damn you, Tom. Listen to your wife and retire after this season. The team will be fine with Garoppolo and you can go play in China, far far away from East Rutherford, New Jersey.
2. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers – It may be nearing the end for Big Ben but he is still a monster, who seems to break his leg in four spots every season and then manage to play five days later. I don’t know what he is made out of, but it is harder to break than a stale hoagie roll…which may be what he is actually be made out of.
3. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts – It has been a banged up and disappointing recent two years for Luck who arguably should be in the number two spot. The Colts have finally hired a GM who appears to be competent so long term they may divert from their strategy of drafting undersized, speed receivers and putting Luck behind five traffic turnstiles with a swiss cheese defense to never give him a break.
4. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders – He is trending in the direction of being number two on this list and maybe eventually number one, once Brady listens to my savvy advice to retire. It will be interesting to see how he bounces back from his injury and how he handles every team now having Oakland circled on their calendar as one of the league’s best teams. The Raiders will not be sneaking up on anybody and still need to find a way to beat the Chiefs.5. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers – Rivers showed some alarming signs of decline down the stretch last season. If he begins a rapid descent, the Chargers could quickly go from an intriguing wild card sleeper to competing with the Jets, Browns and Jaguars for the worst record in the conference. Rivers has thrown at least 26 touchdowns in every season since 2008 and is at 29 or more the past four years, so maybe it is too early to write him off.
6. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans – Took a nice step forward in his second season despite a limited supporting cast of pass catchers, which the Titans have properly rectified this offseason. Mariota looks to be a plus version of the guy he is one spot ahead of on this list. It will be interesting to see if he can bump up his YPA this year with Corey Davis and Eric Decker in the mix.
7. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs – The 7th best quarterback in the conference and his team (rightfully) cannot wait to replace him. Smith is good enough to get you to the playoffs and mediocre enough to make you spend the whole offseason cursing him out after a crushing January loss. I can only scoff at Smith so much because he is better than any quarterback the Jets have had since Brett Favre in 2008.
8. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals – The Red Rocket is also the butt of many jokes but has 43 touchdowns to 15 interceptions over the past two years with a YPA of 7.94. Similar to Smith, Dalton is good enough to get you in the playoffs but mediocre enough to leave you slamming your head on the table after another quick playoff exit. If John Ross and Joe Mixon pan out, the Bengals will have so many weapons that even Dalton may not be able to mess it up.9. Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills – The best running quarterback in the conference who also happened to throw 37 touchdowns to 12 interceptions over the past two years despite a mishmash of injury plagued crap at the pass catching positions. If Sammy Watkins can’t stay healthy (which is much like expecting Greg Oden to stay healthy), Taylor is again going to have limited weapons but likely still keep producing at a better than average rate.
10. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins – THIS is the year Tannehill breaks out, right? RIGHT? The Dolphins did not miss a beat going from him to Matt Moore last year which is not ideal for demonstrating his value. Tannehill is basically Alex Smith, with a few more touchdown passes and way more interceptions (24 over the past two seasons).
11. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens – Flacco has been flat out mediocre the past two seasons. He earned his monster contract with his Super Bowl win but the Ravens are paying ELITE money for a guy who is averaging one touchdown pass per game over the past two seasons and cannot come close to cracking a 7.0 YPA.
12. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans – Sorry Tommy Savage, I’m making Watson the projected starter. He has not taken a NFL snap yet so I didn’t put him any higher on this list but with the situation he is entering, Watson could have a Dak Prescott like season (with maybe a few more interceptions) and soon be much higher on this list.
13. Trevor Siemian, Denver Broncos – The Broncos offense was dreadful last year despite an impressive collection of pass catchers and a competent offensive line. Siemian had a monster early season game against a crappy Bengals team that padded his very average final season stats (18 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 3 fumbles) and a rough final quarter of the season against four teams who finished .500 or better. It will be interesting to see if he can hold off Paxton Lynch in training camp.
14. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars – The ultimate bad quarterback who compiles stats in garbage time just reverted to being outright bad last season. Bortles looks like a drunk guy throwing a greased up ham when trying to complete a 7 yard out route. I am already having nightmares of receiving tweets asking if the Jets “should bring him in to compete” after he is cut next season.
15. Cody Kessler, Cleveland Browns – The Browns may end up starting walking cap space albatross Brock Osweiler or DeShone Kizer but as of now Kessler remains the favorite and was actually kind of decent in an awful situation last year. He showed an inability to stay healthy but with an improved offensive line in Cleveland, he could evolve into a competent placeholder and eventual backup to who they draft in 2018.
16. Josh McCown, New York Jets – Framed as a heady, game managing mentor, McCown is simply a bad, old, journeyman quarterback who can’t stay healthy (with a great personality!). Why the Jets are paying him 6 million dollars is beyond logic but then again they paid Ryan Fitzpatrick 12 million dollars and still are suffering a 5 million dollar cap hit from him this year. FUN!
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com