We’re a month and a week away from the 2010 NFL season’s opening weekend, so it’s time to get busy with previews, and here is our first – the five best quarterbacks in the league heading into the 2010 NFL season.
Number 5 – Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
It took Rivers some time to get recognition as an elite QB, but when LT finally slowed down last season, Rivers improvement was evident. He led the Chargers to a 13-3 season before a painful 17-14 loss to the Jets in the playoffs. Rivers finished third among QB’s in passer Rating (104.4, second straight season 104+), was 8th in passing yards with 4254 (career best, second straight 4000+ season), a 28-9 touchdown-interception ration and probably the most efficient of the NFL’s quarterbacks, averaging a league best 8.8 yards per pass attempt, leading the NFL in that category for a second straight season. He also got voted into his second pro-bowl appearance. From the sound of things in the Chargers camp, LaDainian Tomlinson’s departure to the Jets could mean the Chargers will finally get the change to take them all the way.
Number 4 – Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
The former Golden Bear had to wait three years before he started his first NFL game, backing up Brett Favre, but has proved he was a good choice to stick with, backed by two very strong seasons in 2008-2009 and taking the Packers to the playoffs last year with an 11-5 record and a classic wild card shootout loss to the Cardinals (51-45, 422 yards and four touchdowns) which was decided after Rodgers fumbled and Arizona’s Karlos Dansby ran away for the winning TD.
Rodgers threw only 7 interceptions ,1.3% of his passes, a league best, but was sacked 50 times, as the Packers struggled with their offensive line for most of the season. Rodgers had his second straight 4000+ yard season and finished 4th among quarterbacks in passing yards, passing touchdowns and passer rating. If the O-Line stays healthy, Rodgers could be headed for an even better year, having one of the best receiving ensemble in the league.
Nubmer 3 – Tom Brady, New England Patriots
For a comeback year in 2009, Brady had an amazing year. The problem is he has been so good for so long, probably the biggest and best proven winner among active NFL players, having three Superbowl rings and two Superbowl MVP awards, it’s hard to tell if age and injuries are beginning to take their toll on the golden boy or was it his teammates. Brady, after completing only 11 passes in 2008, bounced right back, leading the Patriots to a 10-6 season with his third 4000+ season (4398) and 28 passing touchdowns – tied for his second best. If Moss stays healthy and happy, Welker comes back as good as new and Torry Holt still has some gas in the tank and a few others if, Brady could be leading the Patriots into another deep playoff run. Still, there are quite a few IF’s.
Number 2 – Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Brees won the NFC Offensive Player of the year award for the third time in the last four seasons in 2009, and also that small thing called the Superbowl and the game’s MVP award, but I’d still rather have Manning as my quarterback. Brees had his fourth consecutive 4000+ season with the Saints, leading the NFL in pass completion (70.6%) and in passer rating with 109.6, a career best for the 31 year old. He also led the NFL in passing touchdowns for the second straight year, completing 34 times in the end zone. Brees also broke a Superbowl record by completing 32 passes in their win over the Colts, as he threw for 288 yards and two touchdowns, completing the entire playoff without getting picked off.
Number 1 – Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts
Yes, he might be a bit of a loser. Yes, he might blame others when yet another playoff, but he just might be the best regular season quarterback in NFL history, and still, at the age of 34, with 12 NFL seasons behind him, 192 games (still hasn’t missed one game since entering the league), he seems to be better at this job than anyone else.
Manning finished second in the league in passing yards with 4500, his 10th 4000+ season in his career (4th all time with 50,128), second in passing touchdowns with 33, his fifth 30+ season (366, 3rd all time) and a 99.9 passer rating. Manning won his 4th NFL MVP, leading the Colts to a 14-2 record and to their second Superbowl with him at the helm. Manning had a huge NFC championship game with 377 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Colts back from a 17-6 deficit in the second quarter with 24 unanswered points. He threw for 333 yards in the Superbowl, but it wasn’t enough against the Karma-Backed Saints.