This is based on all circumstances being equal. I’m projecting how each of them would do with an average offensive line and average receivers. I think Drew Brees is excellent, but he is not nearly as mobile nor strong-armed as Cutler or Roethlisberger, and only recently did Roethlisberger get the kind of dynamic weapons Brees has had for years.
1. Aaron Rodgers. 2011 stats: 68.3% comp., 4643 yards passing, 48 total TDs, 6 total TOs in 15 games (regular season); 56.5% comp/. 264 yards passing, 2 total Tds, 2 total TOs (postseason). He’s more mobile than #2, and no one stretches a defense the way he does.
2. Tom Brady. 2011 stats: 65.6% comp., 5235 yards passing, 42 total TDs, 14 total TOs, (regular season); 67.6% comp., 878 yards passing, 9 total TDs, 4 total TOs (postseason).
3. Peyton Manning, Colts. Injured for 2011. It will be interesting to see how the preparation and hard work pay off for Brady and Manning as they each likely enter the twilight of their respective careers.
4. Eli Manning, Giants. 2011 stats: 61% comp., 4933 yards passing, 30 total TDs, 20 total TOs (regular season); 65% comp., 1219 yards passing, 9 total TDs, 1 total TO (postseason).
5. Jay Cutler, Bears. 2011 stats: 58% comp., 2319 yards passing, 14 total TDs, 10 total TOs in 10 games.
6. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers. 2011 stats: 63.2% comp., 4077 yards passing, 21 total TDs, 19 total TOs in 15 games (regular season); 55% comp., 289 yards passing, 1 total TD, 1 total TO (postseason).
7. Drew Brees, Saints. 2011 stats: 71.2% comp., 5476 yards passing, 47 total TDs, 15 total TOs (regular season); 68.9% comp., 928 yards passing, 7 total TDs, 3 total TOs (postseason).
8. Tony Romo, Cowboys. 2011 stats: 66.3% comp., 4184 yards passing, 32 total TDs, 13 total TOs. This is where it gets most difficult to assess. I think Romo is better than Vick, but Romo’s got two complete wide receivers and Vick has two guys who struggle in certain situations. Romo’s best target was in and out of the lineup and Romo himself played some of the season with a flak jacket.
9. Michael Vick, Eagles. 2011 stats: 59.8% comp., 3303 yards passing, 19 total TDs, 18 total TOs in 13 games.
10. Philip Rivers, Chargers. 2011 stats: 62.9% comp., 4624 yards passing, 28 total TDs, 25 total TOs.
Just missed: Lions QB Matthew Stafford, Ravens QB Joe Flacco, Texans QB Matt Schaub, Panthers QB Cam Newton. I think Joe fits the Ravens offense better than most QB’s do (massive arm strength), and I thought he did better than the media made it out to be against the Texans (0 turnovers despite heavy pressure, executed twice in the red zone) and had a very good game against the Patriots in the AFC Championship. I put him ahead of Schaub because Schaub’s historically been mediocre in high pressure games, where Flacco put in – again – two admirable performances (and might have put the Ravens in the Super Bowl in 2010 if Cam Cameron had opened up the offense or if Houshmandzadeh would have held on to the ball). If not for drops, we’d be talking about four straight good performances in postseason games. I also believe Rex Grossman and Ryan Fitzpatrick have been held back by offensive lines and lack of big weapons.
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