Debates are fun. They allow us to share our opinions with peers, then being insulted for it.
Rankings spark debates like a match. As soon as someone announces their list of favorites, it becomes a full group-wide discussion. My last blog included my rankings of the top quarterbacks in the AFC. Now, I must do the same for the NFC.
Here are my rankings of the QBs in the NFC.
16.) Andy Dalton
The Red Rifle did not have such a great 2020 season. He only started nine games due to being out with an injury and Covid. His stats plummeted, finishing with career lows in completions, pass attempts, passing yards (last place out of all QB1s), touchdowns, and yards per throw. It’s easy to place the blame on Dalton, but the Cowboys as a team failed to perform to their annual pre-season hype. Once Dak Prescott tore his ACL, the Cowboys’ playoff hopes vanished.
He receives a fresh start in Chicago as the QB1 of the Bears. Yes, they traded up to draft Justin Fields, but Nagy refuses to show his hand to the media. Dalton will start Week 1, but that’s the only guarantee I see from him this year. He rests at the bottom of the list.
15.) Daniel Jones
Daniel Jones lacks an “it factor.”
2021 acts as a critical year for the now third-year starter. Head coach, Joe Judge, wants to win now, his free-agent signings and offseason moves should represent that. Jones will need to significantly improve his game if he wants to have his own Super Bowl moments.
Jones threw for a tad over 2900 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, along with 10 interceptions. His highlight play of the season came tumbling on his way to the end zone on national television. He ran for a career-high 423 yards and a touchdown, which shows he’s at least trying.
Jones battles to keep plays alive and will sacrifice his body to move the ball downfield. However, he lacks the ability to be a playmaker. To win a Super Bowl, QBs may need to go off-script in crucial situations. Jones follows the instructional manual too closely which places him as the second-worst QB in the conference.
14.) Jimmy Garapollo
A certain fall from grace in the Bay area has fans gossiping over an anticipated training camp position battle. A position battle between one QB, who led the 49ers to a Super Bowl two years ago, and another who the organization selected with the number three overall pick.
Jimmy Garapollo cannot find a team who wants him. He ships off to San Francisco after owner Robert Kraft put his foot, refusing to trade Tom Brady. Now, he finds himself in some deja vu. But, he remains the QB1 on the depth chart. So, let’s discuss!
Garapollo mimics Brady’s style of play while striving to share his IQ. He makes safe plays over risky ones, which works to his advantage since head coach Kyle Shannahan believes in establishing the run before airing out the pigskin. Garapollo’s arm talent sits in the middle of the competition, but still finds a way to sling it to an open receiver.
The drama in San Francisco is far from over. It will be too much for Jimmy G, who’ll struggle to keep his starting job placing him outside the top 10 in the conference.
13) Jameis Winston
After his sabbatical in the Bayou, Jameis Winston returns to a starting role. He replaces former Super Bowl champion, Drew Brees and will bring a different type of energy to this offense, hopefully, it’s an improvement.
He led the league in passing yards in 2019, but also led in interceptions (30), and now he steps into an upgrade from his former role in Tampa. Star pass catcher, Michael Thomas, and top-five running back, Alvin Kamara, act as safety blankets for Winston. Both players will be seeing a lot of targets this season.
Winston’s biggest weakness is his decision-making. He lacks awareness in the pocket as its collapsing, forcing him to make a bad throw that could potentially be picked off. Sean Payton has spoken to the press about how he and his coaching staff continue to work with Winston on this in order to improve it before the start of the season. I need a year before I can fully evaluate where he belongs on my list.
12.) Ryan Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick returns for a victory lap in 2021, signing a contract with the Football Team, the ninth team he has signed with during his fifteen-year career.
He nearly brought the Dolphins a wild card birth last season, starting the season 5-0 before being replaced for rookie Tua Tagovailoa. A shocking, but inevitable decision rocked the boat a bit off course as their loss in Week 17 booted them from playoff contention.
Fitzpatrick lines up with potential the best WR duo he has ever had, Curtis Samuel and Terry McLaurin. He could finish the season highs and broken records; that’s where the line is drawn. Fitzpatrick’s floor is a 3200 season paired with 28 touchdowns; his ceiling is a bit higher than that.
11.) Jalen Hurts
From one former Alabama quarterback to another, Jalen Hurts has the potential to break out of his shell in 2021. Hurts proved he can perform at the NFL level when he replaced former second overall pick, Carson Wentz. He won his first NFL start against the Saints by snapping their streak of allowing under 100 rushing yards. He displays similarities to guys like Deshaun Watson and Baker Mayfield.
Hurts has a solid arm. He can hit receivers in stride with twenty-thirty-yard passes over the middle. His offensive line receives a boost with veteran Brandon Brooks returns from injury. Hurts needs to be protected before he gets hurt.
The Eagles’ first-round draft pick, Devanta Smith, played one season with Hurts at Alabama. Hurts deserves some eyes on him heading into training camp. He’s ready to make that next step.
10.) Sam Darnold
It pains me to write this, but Sam Darnold ranks as the second-worst in the league currently. Darnold could not make it work in the Big Apple. In his three seasons, Darnold threw for over 3000 yards once, barley (3025). He threw two more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (9) along with an embarrassing 2.5 touchdown percentage. Granted, look who surrounded him.
Darnold earns a restart being traded to the Panthers during the offseason. He’s reunited with former WR1 Robby Anderson and lines up next to the best running back in the league. He has a bright future ahead of him, but I cannot put him higher than this until I see the proof in his play.
9.) Matt Ryan
Poor, Matt Ryan. He experienced the worst feeling a quarterback could go through during the offseason. He watched his team draft a freak athlete built similarly, if not bigger. Then, a month and a half later, he watched Julio Jones leave for Tennessee.
Ryan led the league in completions (407) and attempts (626) in 2020. The Falcons rushing attack seemed to be non-existent, which caused Ryan to air it out on a majority of their offensive possessions. Mike Davis signed with the Falcons during the offseason, which will provide Ryan with relief in commanding the offense.
Matt Ryan remains a top 20 QB in the league. He still can throw the ball at a high level along with his incredibly high IQ. With no Julio Jones, a few spots inside the top 10.
8.) Jared Goff
Jared Goff is the most underrated quarterback in the NFL. He is only two years removed from a Super Bowl appearance, He finished the season with less than 4000 passing yards for the first time since 2017. Shockingly, Goff becoming a Lion is a blessing in disguise.
Rumors of Goff and McVay’s deteriorating relationship sparked the Rams to be eventual trading partners with the Lions. The trade works out for both sides. The Lions have a franchise QB; stop putting them in the conversation for Spencer Rattler.
Goff walks into almost an identical situation to what he had in 2017 with Campbell’s crew. He only will sniff the top 15 due to the uncertainty of the Lions heading into the season. All eyes should be on Goff this season.
7.) Kirk Cousins
I would like to take this chance to apologize to Kirk Cousins, as well as all Vikings fans. I was wrong; Kirk Cousins is a very good quarterback. Last year, Cousins threw for 4000+ yards for the fifth time in six years. He tossed 35 touchdowns and only threw 13 interceptions.
Usually, when quarterbacks lose their number one target, their numbers take a dip. Cousins saw a significant increase a season prior in major part of the production from rookie wide out Justin Jefferson. Adam Theilen remained a reliable receiver ending the season just shy of 1000 yards but found the end zone 14 times (third in the league). Those are just his wide receivers; Dalvin Cook plays an even bigger role than those two.
Kirk Cousins will continue his dominance tour in 2021 with one of the most complete offenses he has captained. The Vikings equipped Cousins for the potential best season of his career.
6.) Matthew Stafford
The Lions decided it was time to finally move on from the face of the franchise after the 2020 season. The feeling became mutual, leading to Stafford falling forward in Hollywood. He joins one of the best teams he has been a part of even before training camp.
Stafford receives a major upgrade in receivers with Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods lining up next to him. Desean Jackson signed a one-year contract with the Rams this offseason, giving Stafford a deep threat with track and field type speed. Tyler Higbee may be a step down from TJ Hockenson, but still remains a viable option in the red zone.
Stafford may produce some career-high numbers in 2021. McVay believes that Stafford can lead his team back to the Super Bowl; honestly, I believe so too, but more because of the defense behind him led by Aaron Donald.
5.) Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson has made headlines this offseason with his alleged friction with head coach Pete Carroll. Aaron Rodgers silenced those rumors with his pipebomb he dropped on the media. I do not totally buy into the rumors, but I do sense a decline for Mr. Unlimited and the Seahawks.
This has less to do with Wilson and more to do with the amount of talented young QBs around the league. The Seahawks offensive line ranked at the bottom of PFF’s rankings, sparking initial rumors to pop off. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett provide Wilson with the elite pass-catching ability, but it allows teams to focus on them rather than the run game with Chris Carson returning from a nagging injury.
Even though Russ threw a career-high 40 touchdowns last year, I believe he’ll take a step back in production, but still, be producing like the top-tier QB he is.
4.) Tom Brady
Tom Brady is a myth. Yet, the man continues to shock the sports world even at the ripe age of 43. He won a Super Bowl in 2020 playing on a torn MCL. He threw 50 total touchdowns on one MCL.
Anyway, Brady enters his 21st season in the league with one of the best rosters he has been a part of. The Bucs returned all of their starters from their championship run. Brady continues to dominate per usual, except only at a top ten caliber. It will be a down year for the GOAT.
3.) Kyler Murray
Kyler Murray has improved in each of his first two seasons, but it has not been enough to launch the Cardinals to a playoff spot. So the front office decided to make a move, signing JJ Watt to boost the defense. Next, they signed AJ Green to give Murray another elite WR, but Green has seen better days.
Murray started last season as a contender for the MVP but saw a decline once the Cardinals began to implode. He missed 4000 passing yards by less than 100 yards, which will be the next milestone he achieves with his new-look offense.
2.) Aaron Rodgers
The 2020 MVP refuses to play for his team in 2021. It is the first time in history football fans have witnessed a story such as this. With that being said, let’s assume Rodgers plays for the Packers in 2021, but with some bad blood boiling.
Aaron Rodgers demonstrated what happens when you piss off a sleeping beast. Rodgers dominated the entire league with every pass to Devante Adams and even introducing Robert “Big Bob” Tonyan to the league, launching him into a top-five tight end finish. Rodgers cannot be ranked any lower than this before the season, even if he becomes the host of Jeopardy.
1.) Dak Prescott
Dak Prescott got screwed in 2020. He entertained the league with his fantastic play in the first weeks of the season and even gave Rodgers competition for the MVP. He averaged 370 yards, 2 touchdowns, and less than 1 interception in his five starts. It took until Week 6 before another QB finally knocked him off the top spot in passing yards.
He wants vengeance to come in September.
Prescott has been waiting for this moment since he was carted off the field in Week 4. Hard Knocks will be a place to get an idea of where Prescott is at with the return process, but he sits behind only one man in my rankings until then.