aNewDomain — As June comes bursting in, we diehard NFL fans can take solace in one fact: We’re only a little more than a month away from the opening of pro football training camps.
Where’s the fast-forward function on this calendar?
Of course, we always have the option of passing the time by talking about our favorite sport. That discussion invariably lands on quarterbacks, the guys who play, arguably, the most-important position in sports.
Today, we’re taking a look at each team’s starting QB situation and ranking all 32 NFL quarterbacks from best to worst. While these rankings are largely based on stats, we’re also taking into consideration player durability and wins.
- Green Bay (Aaron Rodgers): Rodgers puts up huge numbers and has played at least 15 games in six of his seven NFL seasons as a starter. Last season was the second-best of his career with 38 touchdowns and five picks.
- Indianapolis (Andrew Luck): The Colts love throwing the ball and that works in Luck’s advantage. Only Drew Brees and Matt Ryan put the ball in the air more often. Luck is entering his fourth season and is poised for even bigger things.
- New England (Tom Brady): With Brady suspended the first four games of the season, the Patriots have to rely on untested Jimmy Garoppolo and his 27 career pass attempts. When Brady comes back, of course, the Patriots’ QB situation is as good as any in the league.
- Seattle (Russell Wilson): Wilson’s game is tailor-made for Seattle’s philosophy: Don’t make mistakes and shut down the other team’s offense. Wilson is a double-threat, finishing tied for 16th in the league in rushing and 15th in passing yards.
- Denver (Peyton Manning): Entering his age 39 season, Manning is nearing the end of his remarkable run near the top of the QB heap. With the exception of his lost 2011 season, Manning has passed for more than 4,000 yards in all but two of his 16 NFL years. He’s still one good hit away from being finished and the Broncos don’t have a good Plan B.
- New Orleans (Drew Brees): Brees threw the ball an amazing 659 times last season, 51 more than the No. 2 QB in the league. He also had his fewest TD passes (33) since the 2010 season. Still, he’s durable and can be counted on to win more games than he loses.
- Pittsburgh (Ben Roethlisberger): Pittsburgh has never had a good backup for Roethlisberger, who usually misses a game or two a season. Big Ben is coming off a career-high 4,952 passing yards in 2014, earning a distinguished place on our list.
- Atlanta (Matt Ryan): “Matty Ice” has only missed two starts in his seven-year career and he keeps putting up big numbers. He has thrown for at least 4,177 yards the past four seasons. Julio Jones (third in the league in reception yards) is his main target and that’s a really good thing.
- Baltimore (Joe Flacco): Baltimore can always count on Flacco to make the start. He hasn’t missed a game in his seven NFL seasons. He’s a solid if unspectacular quarterback who wins games and has a Super Bowl ring to cement his status.
- San Diego (Philip Rivers): Rivers is a really good QB who often gets ignored in discussions about his position. He has six career 4,000-plus yard seasons and 252 touchdowns in 11 years. The Chargers are regaining their playoff form and Rivers is one of the reasons.
- Detroit (Matthew Stafford): Stafford hasn’t thrown for fewer than 4,257 yards in his past four seasons and has played all 16 games the past four years. He had a season for the ages in 2011, when he threw for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns.
- Dallas (Tony Romo): The much-maligned Romo had a career season last year with 34 TDs, nine interceptions and 113.2 passer rating. Losing DeMarco Murray out of the backfield could very well have a negative impact on those stats this season.
- New York Giants (Eli Manning): Manning was sixth in the league with 4,410 passing yards last season, a much better showing from his 2013 numbers. That was when he threw a career-high 27 interceptions. Having Odell Beckham on the receiving end of his passes is a big help.
- Miami (Ryan Tannehill): One of the better quarterbacks in the league who no one talks about, Tannehill threw for 4,045 yards last season, good for 11th in the league. His quarterback rating has gone up every year since his rookie season in 2012. He’s a player on the rise.
- Carolina (Cam Newton): The Panthers are a good team when Newton is playing well. They made the playoffs the past two seasons as their QB threw 42 TDs and rushed for a combined 1,124 yards. If backup Derek Anderson makes many starts, well, that’s trouble.
- Cincinnati (Andy Dalton): Unfortunately, interceptions will always be part of Dalton’s career. He has 66 in 64 career games. On the other side, his next TD pass will be his 100th. There’s no one on the depth chart to challenge him for the starting job.
- Chicago (Jay Cutler): One of Chicago’s biggest whipping boys, Cutler has to win the fan base back. He spent much of last season moping around the sidelines. Bears faithful better get used to Cutler because No. 2 QB Jimmy Claussen isn’t going to make many starts.
- Minnesota (Teddy Bridgewater): Although his sample size is rather small at nine career games, Bridgewater is the Vikings’ unquestioned starter. He had an excellent December, completing 72.3 percent of his passes in four games. A sign of good things to come.
- San Francisco (Colin Kaepernick): Remember when Kaepernick and Russell Wilson were held in the same regard? The 49ers quarterback has some catching up to do. His 2014 season wasn’t terrible (3,369 passing yards, 639 rushing). San Francisco just expects much more.
- Arizona (Carson Palmer): A torn ACL limited Palmer to six games last season. At age 35, his best years are no doubt behind him and Drew Stanton is a serviceable backup at best. Palmer had 11 touchdowns and three interceptions and the Cardinals appeared headed to a division title when he was hurt.
- St. Louis (Nick Foles): If Foles can regain his 2013 form, the Rams will get the better end of the deal that sent Sam Bradford to the Eagles. Remember Foles had an amazing 27 TDs and two picks that year in 13 games.
- Oakland (Derek Carr): Carr unexpectedly beat out veteran Matt Schab for the Raiders’ starting job last season. He enters the 2015 season coming off a solid rookie campaign (seventh in the league in passing attempts, 21 TDs, 12 interceptions). We like him.
- Philadelphia (Sam Bradford/Mark Sanchez): Acquiring Bradford from the Rams was a curious move by Coach Chip Kelly. Bradford has played in only 49 of a possible 80 games in his pro career. Sanchez says he’s coming to camp to be the starter but his stats (82 pro TDs, 80 interceptions) say otherwise.
- Kansas City (Alex Smith): No one on the Chiefs’ depth chart (Chase Daniel or Aaron Murray) is a threat to Smith’s starting spot. He hasn’t thrown 10 interceptions since 2010 with the 49ers and is the ultimate game manager. At least that’s what Dan Patrick says.
- Washington (Robert Griffin III): Griffin has gone downhill since a breakout rookie season in 2012. Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins are his backups, so the Redskins better hope Griffin is more like 2012 (20 TDs, five interceptions) than 2014 (four TDs, six picks).
- Buffalo (Matt Cassel/E.J. Manuel): Two options and neither one gets the pulse racing. Cassel hasn’t played more than nine games since 2010 and Manuel lost his starting job to Kyle Orton last season.
- Houston (Brian Hoyer/Ryan Mallett): Boyer wound up playing a lot more than Johnny Manziel for the Browns last season. Having Mallett on the roster gives the Texans a couple of options, although neither is all that appealing.
- Jacksonville (Blake Bortles): Bortles had a tough rookie season for a bad team. He has a ton of potential despite being stuck with a franchise that’s going nowhere fast.
- Tampa Bay (Jameis Winston): Starting a rookie quarterback is always a risky proposition but that’s what the Bucs are doing this season. Winston was picked first overall in the 2015 draft, giving him the leg up on second-stringer Mike Glennon.
- Tennessee (Marcus Mariota/Zach Mettenberger): While Mariota had an outstanding college career at Oregon, he has a lot to learn about the pro game. He rarely huddled as the Ducks’ QB and some say he’s a system guy. Mettenberger could get a few starts this season.
- New York Jets (Geno Smith/Ryan Fitzpatrick): The Jets signed Fitzpatrick for a reason. They didn’t want to draft another QB in the first round and patience is running out on Smith, who has 25 TDs and 34 interceptions in his career.
- Cleveland (Josh McCown/Johnny Manziel): McCown washed out with a bad Bucs offense last season and the Johnny Football experiment in Cleveland could be short-lived.
Photo of Andrew Luck: Erik Daniel Drost, via Wikimedia Commons
Photo of Colin Kaepernick: Au Kirk, via Wikimedia Commons