I've been thinking about NFL quarterbacks and I was making a running list of the starting QB's in my head, one through 32, but hell, I bored even myself with a pedestrian ranking like that. Would you rather have Peyton Manning or Tom Brady? Um, yes, please. Silliness.
But still, I kept thinking about it and thought, rather than argue the greatness of Brees over Brady or some such nonsense, why not just group them - the guys you do want, the guys you don't want and the ones you can live with if you have to. So here it is, based on one week of work in 2010, past performances where applicable and what they are capable of now, given age, injury and so on. On with the first QB grouping.
The Joe Montanas. These are the guys who have, can and should win Super Bowls. If you have one of these guys, chances are good that you've already celebrated a Super Bowl win, or there is a very good chance you have one (or two or three) in your future. You should be happy as a clam. No surprises here. Just the five best in the NFL:
Aaron Rodgers and
(Ben Roethisberger.) [Pig Ben gets a parenthetical, because Dennis Dixon is playing as PB was suspended for four weeks for being, at the very best, a huge, gaping a-hole. Let's not even discuss worst case scenario.]
Rodgers is the only unproven in this group, but I really believe he's got a date with Lombardi in his future. I could have bumped him down one notch, but hey, the Pack was my NFC Super Bowl pick.
The Doug Williamses. These are guys with loads of talent, guys who are capable of winning the big game, provided they find themselves on the right team. They're also incapable of maintaining that level of play consistently over a long term. Generally, they'll turn in a stinker or two, but these are the original 'huge upside guys' and if you get them on a roll, you're in for a good time:
Yeah, I know. Two of these guys actually have Super Bowl rings, but both the Ancient One and Opie are streaky. And their inconsistency drops them from the Montana level greatness.
The Trent Dilfers, a/k/a THE MATTS.. This is my way of skirting the "game manager" designation, but these are the guys who benefit most from being on really good teams in systems that play to their strengths. Get one of these guys in the right system, with a good defense and good special teams, you have the 2000 Ravens or the 2002 Bucs. All hope is not lost if you have one of these signal callers, but you'd better have a great coach and a great defense if you do because they cannot win games on their own.
Seriously, what are the chances all four guys would be named Matt? Parents, if you want your kid to be a pretty good athlete, not the greatest, but good enough to draw a paycheck for a lot of years in the NFL, name him Matthew. You're welcome.
For the record, I think 'the game manager guys' actually get short shrift. Doing enough to win usually means making a few good reads, some heads up check downs, plus a handful of really, really good throws when the chips are down. Something that the next group is usually incapable of.
The Kordell Stewarts. These are the guys who are tantalizing, just tantalizing, mouth watering talents. And yet, they will disappoint you in the end. Nay, they will crush you in the end, saving their worst for the post-season, doing just enough to keep the franchise from looking for another QB, but never quite making it through to the promised land. Since I actually lived through the Kordell Stewart era in Pittsburgh, I have waves of sympathy if you find your hometown QB on this list, guaranteed to break your heart:
The Matthew Staffords. We just don't know about these guys, hence the Matthew Stafford designation. I think Stafford's gonna be great. That's just my gut, but that's what it says. My gut says the same thing about Sam Bradford. But we don't know about any of them yet:
The Rick Mirers. This is reserved for guys drafted in the first round. Expectations are high when a QB goes in the first round. Everybody's hoping for the next Peyton Manning, but guys like that don't come along very often. What you usually get is David Klingler. Or worse, somebody who seriously flames out. The one and only member of this group is Mark Sanchez!
My brain says, put this guy in the Stafford Division, my gut instinct says this is where Sanchez belongs. I know it's early to make this designation. I know!
The Brian Sipes.These guys are sometimes good, sometimes bad, but always entertaining to watch. So there's no shame in landing here. They are capable of winning games, lots of them, in fact. And they have flashes, real flashes of greatness. But also huge brainfarts. I don't think I'd want either one leading my team, but I do love watching them.
The Chris Chandlers. These guys, well, I have nothing truly bad to say about them, except to say, I sure wouldn't want them leading my team. Ladies and Gentlemen, the one, the only -- the fair to middling -- the Chris Chandler grouping!
The Cliff Stoudts. This is the home of, 'really, THAT guy is your starter? Be serious.'
Some of them have a large body of work, but sometimes you don't need a large body of work to know. You know? If you have one of these guys, look on the bright side, you may get a good QB out of next years draft.