AFC West: Kurt Warner
Late last season, it was all about Peyton Manning wearing a glove in the Denver cold. Now, the attention is turning to San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers. Rivers wore a glove on his throwing hand late last season and he experienced success and he stopped turning the ball over. Now, Rivers says he may wear a glove early in the season.
It is it significant?
Well, it all comes down to whether Rivers is comfortable with it. If his 2012 results are any indication, it appears the glove is a good fit for Rivers, who has committed too many turnovers the past two years. His Chargers are 3-0 in games Rivers wore the glove. He threw seven touchdowns and was not intercepted. In the 13 glove-less games? The Chargers were 4-9, Rivers threw 19 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
So it’s no surprise Rivers is considering using the glove regardless of weather. CBS Sports points out Rivers’ new offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt saw Kurt Warner bounce back from turnover troubles by wearing a glove in Arizona.
The glove love in the AFC West may just be starting.
In other AFC West notes:
Denver running back Willis McGahee, who is still recovering from a knee injury, is continuing to stay away from volunteer OTAs. He is expected back next week for the team’s mandatory minicamp. Because of his advance age and his health, there is no guarantee McGahee will be part of the mix in Denver this year. The team is expected to lean heavily on second-round pick Montee Ball in the ground game.
Former San Diego returner/receiver Micheal Spurlock signed with Detroit.
Condolences go out to the family of the great Deacon Jones, who died Monday night. Remembered as a Ram, the great sack master played for the Chargers in 1972-73.
The Broncos have lost two straight games going into Sunday’s home game against Kansas City. Denver will advance to the playoffs for the first time in six years if it wins Sunday. However, Denver has been in this situation before. It was alive in the final week of the season in 2006, 2008 and 2009. It lost all three times. The Broncos are just 7-16 combined in the final four games of the season dating back to 2006.
Denver quarterback Tim Tebow has seen 30.8 of his incomplete passes fall due to overthrows. It’s the most in the NFL. But his accuracy has improved in the past four games. He has completed 51.4 percent of his passes in the past four games, while he completed just 45.5 percent of his passes in his first seven games.
Former Denver quarterback and current Kansas City quarterback Kyle Orton has not been sacked in 68 pass attempts with the Chiefs. Orton has been sacked nine times this season. He has the fourth lowest percentage of pass plays that resulted in sacks in the NFL.
The Chiefs’ defense ranks second in the NFL percentage of passes intercepted at 4.4 this season. Kansas City has 19 interceptions this season.
Oakland’s pass defense has been terrific in the red zone. The Raiders have intercepted or defended more passes in the end zone than any team in the NFL. They have a combined 17 of those plays. The next best in the league is New England with 12.
The Raiders have not scored more than seven points in the first quarter of any game this season. They have 49 points in the first quarter, which is the 24th lowest total in the NFL.
The Raiders have allowed the most points in the NFL after halftime with 235. They have scored 153 points after halftime.
Before running back Darren McFadden was injured Oct. 23, Oakland averaged 159.3 rushing yards per game and had the No. 2 ranked rushing offense in the NFL. In the eight games since then, Oakland has averaged 111.5 yards per game, which is 18th in the league.
Quarterback Carson Palmer has thrown nine of his 15 interceptions this season against AFC West opponents. He has thrown interceptions on 5.3 percent of his passes, which is the second highest percentage in the NFL.
The Chargers have allowed opponents to convert 48.4 percent of their third-down plays. It is the worst percentage in the NFL. It is difficult to win if you can’t get your defense off the field.
If quarterback Philip Rivers throws one more interception and throws for 186 more yards, he will join the likes of Dan Fouts, Drew Brees, Kurt Warner, Warren Moon and Dan Marino, who had seasons in which they threw for more than 4,500 yards and had at least 20 interceptions.
Oakland switched out safeties. In is Jerome Boyd. Out is Chinedum Ndukwe. Ndukwe was signed last month. Boyd was previously with the team.
In other AFC West nuggets:
Injured Oakland quarterback Jason Campbell is not giving up on playing this season. He broke his collarbone last month and there is a chance he could potentially play the end of the season. But the only way Oakland is going to use Campbell this season is if Carson Palmer -- acquired two days after Campbell’s injury -- gets injured or falters terribly. Campbell is a free agent at the end of the year and he will likely sign elsewhere.
- Former star quarterback Kurt Warner believes Palmer is a better option for the Raiders than Campbell.
- Denver linebacker Wesley Woodward didn’t practice for the second straight day with a knee injury. Kansas City linebacker Demorrio Williams sat out his second straight day of practice with a groin injury. Kansas City safety Jon McGraw practiced fully Thursday after being limited with a shoulder injury.
I will check in later with more pre-game notes.
Philip Rivers is not one of them.
That fact hangs over Rivers’ head and will be the biggest question mark about him until he wins one. There’s little doubt that the San Diego Chargers’ prolific, big-armed, big-hearted leader is the best active quarterback alive without a Super Bowl ring.
If Rivers, 29, ends his career without hardware, will it prevent him from being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? After his first five seasons as an NFL starting quarterback, Rivers (the No. 4 overall pick in the 2004 draft) has compiled statistics that suggest he is on his way to making the Canton, Ohio, museum.
And, thus far, he compares with non-Super Bowl-winning modern era quarterbacks such as Jim Kelly, Warren Moon, Dan Marino and fellow Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts.
“I think he’s on his way,” Gary Horton of Scouts Inc. said of Rivers' chances of becoming bronzed. “He’s got the look of a Hall of Fame player. He belongs with those names that have made it recently It would really help his cause if he won a championship, but he’s on pace in my mind.”
Quarterbacks are judged on championships, and Rivers has pressure because several quarterbacks he is judged directly against have won Super Bowls recently.
New Orleans' Drew Brees won the title after the 2009 season. Brees left San Diego after the Chargers decided to start Rivers in 2006. The Giants' Eli Manning won the title in 2008. Manning and Rivers were the centerpieces of a 2004 draft-day trade. Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger has won two Super Bowls. He was picked seven slots after Rivers in 2004. Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers won the Super Bowl earlier this year. He was drafted the year after Rivers.
The two other active quarterbacks to have won the Super Bowl are New England's Tom Brady (three rings) and the Colts' Peyton Manning (one).
If Rivers doesn't win a Super Bowl in his career, it could be held against him in the Hall of Fame voting room, especially if a few more quarterbacks win titles before he retires. The numbers could be stacked against him.
Brady and Peyton Manning are slam dunk Hall of Famers. I'd think Roethlisberger, Brees and Rodgers are in good shape to make it unless they all totally fall apart. Recent retiree Brett Favre will make it, and fellow recent retiree Kurt Warner has a great chance to be enshrined. The late Steve McNair could also get some consideration. Thus, a lot of quarterbacks who played during Rivers' career could be heading into the Hall of Fame in the next five to 15 years.
Still, Rivers’ numbers show he is on pace to be considered seriously for Hall of Fame enshrinement.
In his career, Rivers (who threw a total of 30 passes in his first two NFL seasons) has thrown for 19,661 career yards. He has thrown 136 touchdowns and 56 interceptions. His career passer rating is 97.2. In 15 career seasons, Fouts threw for 43,040 yards, 254 touchdowns and 242 interceptions, and his passer rating was 80.2. Rivers is on pace for a much better career than Fouts, who never went to a Super Bowl but is enshrined in Canton.
Kelly, who lost four Super Bowls, played 11 seasons in the NFL. He threw for 35,467 yards and 237 touchdowns, and his passer rating was 84.4. Moon played 17 seasons in the NFL. He threw for 49,325 yards and 291 touchdowns, and his passer rating was 80.9. Dan Marino played 17 seasons. He threw for 61,361 yards and 420 touchdowns, and his passer rating was 86.4
If Rivers continues to play at a high level, he could be in the neighborhood of some of these Hall of Fame quarterbacks who did not win a Super Bowl.
Of the active Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, only Rodgers has a better career passer rating than Rivers. Peyton Manning, Brady and Brees have more touchdown passes, and Peyton Manning and Brees have more passing yardage than Rivers since 2006.
“He stacks up with a lot the current guys and the recent Hall of Famers,” Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. said. “I think he is very much in the same class as Kelly or Moon for sure -- and maybe even Marino. Longevity will be key, but his lifetime numbers should be off the charts.”
If Rivers (who had a famously speedy recovery from a torn ACL in the 2007 playoffs) can stay healthy, he should make a serious Canton push, ring or no ring.
“The guy has everything,” Horton said. “He’s a son of a coach. He’s a gym rat. He has great skills. He showed last year he can succeed with street free agents because all of his guys were hurt Philip Rivers is a Hall of Fame type guy, there’s no doubt about it.”
The NFC West is accustomed to catching its share of grief, and then some.
The St. Louis Rams own six victories over the past three seasons, the Seattle Seahawks own nine over the past two and the San Francisco 49ers haven’t posted a winning record since Mike Rumph was a promising rookie cornerback for them (2002). The Arizona Cardinals have been better lately, but now they’re reduced to Derek Anderson versus Matt Leinart.
No wonder AFC West blogger Bill Williamson thinks the new-and-improved Oakland Raiders would win the NFC West. But would they? NFC West blogger Mike Sando would put them third, behind the 49ers and Cardinals, even with Jason Campbell under center in Oakland.
The misery has to end sometime and this year may be the year Oakland finally emerges from the dregs of the league and becomes a legitimate, competitive team. The horrendous JaMarcus Russell era has ended. Jason Campbell is far from an elite player, but he is an established NFL quarterback who knows what he is doing. That alone should allow Oakland to be much more productive on offense. This is a team that scored just 17 offensive touchdowns in 2009. Campbell could help the team score 20-25 more touchdowns this season.
Mike Sando: Let’s say Campbell posts a passer rating in the mid-80s and the Raiders back him with a defense ranked in the top 10. The Raiders would take that scenario, no questions asked. The reality, though, is that Campbell’s passer rating last season was 86.4 and the Redskins -- his old team -- fielded a defense ranked 10th in yards allowed. It all added up to a 4-12 record against a weak schedule. I like some of the Raiders’ talent on defense, but 25 teams allowed fewer yards per game last season. It’s a stretch to pencil in Oakland for a No. 10 ranking on defense in 2010 and a greater stretch to say they'd win the NFC West.
Williamson: The defense in Oakland is going to improve. The Raiders have added two potential stars in middle linebacker Rolando McClain and defensive end Lamarr Houston, both in the first two rounds of the draft. The run defense has been horrible in recent seasons, but it should be much improved.
Sando: I watched Frank Gore carry twice against the Raiders’ starting defense Saturday night. He gained 58 yards on those runs, and Mike Iupati, the 49ers’ rookie left guard, took out McClain pretty easily on one of those Gore carries. Preseason isn’t much to go on, but Gore probably could have had 150 yards if the 49ers had left him in the game.
Williamson: I can see why the 49ers removed Gore from the game. He’s always getting nicked up and that probably will be the case again this season. Follow me for a minute here. Oakland should easily compete to win eight games. Sure, it is not the stuff of playoff dreams -- at least in a real division -- and it won’t be enough to unseat San Diego in the AFC West, but this isn’t about the Raiders’ division. It’s about the NFC West, which managed a league-low 12 victories outside the division last season (the AFC West had 18). There is no anchor team in the NFC West, unless you count the sinking Cardinals. San Francisco? Come on. These teams are not markedly better than the Raiders. Arizona is a mess as it enters the post-Kurt Warner era and San Francisco always seems to fall short of its potential. Put Oakland in the NFC West and you’d have your 2010 division favorite.
Sando: There’s no way Campbell would hold up in the NFC West behind that horrible offensive line. The 49ers roughed him up Saturday night (Campbell has a stinger and wrist injury as a result). A week earlier, the 49ers roughed up Brett Favre (the Vikings had to yank him after only four plays). The Cardinals’ defensive front also would mangle Campbell. They feasted upon the Chicago Bears' Jay Cutler when both teams’ starting units were on the field Saturday night. Cutler had zero points, four sacks and two interceptions in five drives. Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell would feast on the Raiders’ offensive line. It'll happen soon enough. The teams meet in Week 3.
Williamson: Let’s get back to the quarterbacks. No legitimate contender in the NFC West has one better than Campbell. Matt Leinart's career is on life support in Arizona and his replacement, Derek Anderson, is the quintessential stop-gap solution. Alex Smith is as fragile as a porcelain vase. Matt Hasselbeck is very much on the back nine of his career and Sam Bradford is just not ready to carry a team on his back. Not this year, at least.
Campbell is the most reliable of all of the above-mentioned quarterbacks heading into this season. He is a smart game manager who is not going to lose games. He will trust his young receivers and his potentially strong running game.
Sando: Granted, the whole Leinart-Anderson debate isn't helping the NFC West's credibility. But the coaching in Arizona is solid and the team still has good talent throughout its roster. Jason Campbell might be an upgrade for the Raiders, but the Redskins did bench him during an ugly loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last season. Last time I checked, the Chiefs weren’t good, even by AFC West standards.
Sando: The 49ers had a chance to go after Donovan McNabb and they chose Smith instead. I didn’t think it was the wisest move, but it’s no stretch to think Smith will finish the 2010 season with better numbers than Campbell will post in Oakland. Smith had 18 touchdown passes with 12 interceptions in 10-plus games last season. Campbell was at 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions over a full season. Smith has a clear edge over Campbell in available weaponry, and he's finally getting comfortable. Don’t tell Al Davis this, but Michael Crabtree was a better choice than Darrius Heyward-Bey. Crabtree had more catches in 11 games last season (48) than any wide receiver for Oakland, and his total would have ranked tied for third on Campbell's Redskins. Better yet for Smith, Crabtree isn’t necessarily the best option in his arsenal. Vernon Davis is a first-team Pro Bowl tight end, Josh Morgan is a decent No. 2 and newcomer Ted Ginn Jr. looks like he’ll provide a welcome speed element on the outside. It’s ironic that the 49ers have the pure burners -- Ginn and Davis -- Oakland usually covets.
Williamson: Smith and Campbell have both faced tough circumstances in recent seasons. They've gone through coaching changes, gotten knocked around and faced criticism. Campbell has persevered far more impressively. He’s held up physically and finished with more touchdown passes than interceptions in each of the four seasons he has played. Smith has done it just once -- last season -- and never as a full-time starter. He couldn’t even beat out Shaun Hill heading into last season.
Sando: Drawing the NFC West as part of the NFL's scheduling rotation is going to help Campbell, but it’s not like the Redskins played a tough schedule last season. I heard Mike Shanahan call it soft during a recent radio interview. He's right. With Campbell at quarterback in 2009, the Redskins lost to the Lions, Panthers, Chiefs and Giants (twice). They barely beat the Rams, 9-7. They scored 17 points or fewer in 11 of 16 games. That doesn’t look very good on a quarterback’s résumé.
Williamson: The Raiders are not all about Jason Campbell. Quietly, Oakland has added some very talented pieces throughout its roster. While Oakland has crashed and burned in the first round lately, it has not gotten enough credit for late-round finds. The unheralded results form the makings of a solid roster.
There are legitimate stars on this team.
Start with left cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. If league observers would take their eyes off Revis Island for a minute, they would realize there is dominant cornerback play on the left coast, sans the snazzy nickname and lengthy contract holdout. Asomugha is one of the brightest, most instinctive players in the NFL. Consider that he plays a premium position and you have a highly valuable player.
The linebacking corps has a chance to be very good with McClain and Cleveland refugee Kamerion Wimbley. Wimbley showed his pass-rushing potential with four sacks in a limited role against Chicago in the second preseason game. Three-time Super Bowl champion Richard Seymour is anchoring a new-look and potentially outstanding defensive front.
Offensively, Campbell has some young, intriguing weapons to play with. Tight end Zach Miller is a blossoming star and one Campbell should utilize often. Young receivers Chaz Schilens, Louis Murphy and Heyward-Bey all have a chance to reach their immense potential very soon. Running backs Michael Bush and Darren McFadden could give defensive coordinators fits on a weekly basis because of their varied skills. There’s talent in Oakland that teams in the NFC West simply can’t match.
Sando: Asomugha arguably would be the best player in the NFC West, but Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Willis and Steven Jackson wouldn't be far behind. Kamerion Wimbley? I'll take Dockett, Adrian Wilson, Gore, Davis, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Justin Smith, Matt Hasselbeck, Marcus Trufant -- the list goes on, and I've probably missed a few.
This debate will be tough to settle, but we can say the scheduling rotation should help one or more teams from each division pump up their records. NFC West teams eagerly can look forward to facing the Chiefs, Denver Broncos and possibly the Raiders. AFC West teams can feel the same way about games against the Rams and Seahawks, at least.
I'll be heading to Oakland in Week 2 for the Raiders' game against the Rams. St. Louis has managed only three victories over the past two seasons, but they're 1-1 against Campbell during that time, losing by two points at Washington in 2008 after suffering a fourth-quarter fumble inside the Washington 10.
If Bradford plays as well as he has recently, I won't be shocked if the Rams make it 2-1 against Campbell over the past three seasons.
But don’t fret. Rivers has plenty of time. He will turn 29 late in the 2010 season. A quick look at the ages of the last 10 quarterbacks to win their first Super Bowl shows the average age is 28.9.
So, relax, Rivers is not behind the curve. Here is a look at how old the last 10 quarterbacks to win their first Super Bowl titles were:
Cassel has been called for eight penalties, which is tied for the third highest in the NFL. Cassel had just three penalties last season with New England. Haley may be the connection. He calls the plays in Kansas City. Last season, as the offensive coordinator in Arizona, Haley saw quarterback Kurt Warner flagged 11 times. Without Haley, Warner has been penalized three times this season.
So, Cassel’s flags have increased with Haley as his coach and Warner’s have decreased without Haley as his coach. It’s just a fact.
Does this mean Haley is a poor coach? No, not by any means. But it is an interesting tidbit that Haley may want to look into in the offseason.
The chart ranks NFL quarterbacks by most penalties, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Dawkins joins a player advisory forum along with Baltimore’s Ray Lewis and Arizona’s Kurt Warner. Former NFL coach Tony Dungy will lead it.
The forum will provide input to Goodell on polices, programs and issues that affect players in all aspects of life, the league said in a release.
Dawkins, in his first season with Denver, has long been known for his leadership on and off the field. He is one of the most respected players in the league, so this appointment appears fitting.
Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson
I get that new coach Todd Haley believes in being critical in his attempt to rid the Kansas City Chiefs’ of their losing odor.
I get that Haley has already developed a reputation for demoting players who don’t playing well.
I get that as offensive coordinator in Arizona last year, Haley saw his team catch fire when Matt Leinart was benched in favor of Kurt Warner.
I get that Haley made headlines Tuesday when he said this when asked about quarterback Matt Cassel’s status as the starting quarterback: "You've got to ultimately do what you think gives your team the best chance to win. If that means another quarterback being in there other than Matt Cassel, then sign me up."
Still, I don’t buy the fact that Haley is considering benching Cassel. It doesn’t make any sense. It wouldn’t be fair to Cassel, Haley himself or the team. It’s been one game.
Cassel made some mistakes in the 13-10 loss to Oakland, but it was his very first game with the organization. He wasn’t at full strength as he is recovering from a knee injury.
Cassel isn’t the only reason why Kansas City lost. He did move the ball at times. There were actually encouraging signs. He played OK. So did Brodie Croyle in the season opener against Baltimore. Both quarterbacks had the same results for the Chiefs, who have won just six of the past 34 games: They lost.
There is no way Haley could be thinking about shelving Cassel this early. He knows it will take some time for him to develop. He knows Cassel will need to get into a rhythm with his new teammates.
Last season, as an injury replacement for Tom Brady in New England, Cassel showed he could by an effective NFL quarterback. Yes, Cassel had great weapons around him in New England. But he was the quarterback. He has ability. That’s why Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli, who also came from New England, wanted to reunite with Cassel.
That’s why Cassel will be paid $40 million over the next three years– to be the quarterback to turn around the Chiefs.
When I visited the Chiefs’ training camp in August, Haley praised Cassel. He said he loves how committed to the game Cassel is and how he think he can become a special player. No matter what the talk is in Kansas City, I do not expect a change. And it does happen anytime soon, it would not be the right move for the Chiefs.
They need Cassel to succeed. He can only succeed if he is given a chance.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- Some Chiefs fans have gotten nervous about new quarterback Matt Cassel because he struggled in a scrimmage and was not overly impressive in Kansas City's preseason opener.
Kansas City coach Todd Haley, however, is not concerned. In fact, he has been quite impressed with the quarterback, whom the Chiefs traded for this offseason.
"He has a chance to be special," Haley said.
Haley came to Kansas City from Arizona where he was the offensive coordinator. He was always impressed by the work ethic of Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner. Cassel reminds Haley of Warner.
'They're very similar in the way they approach the game," Haley said. "Football is all Matt thinks about, just like Kurt. He's thinks about it all the time. He texts me about the game all the time. It's just who he is. He's very serious about this .... He's going to be very good."
Garcia, 39, is the perfect short-term safety net for third-year quarterback JaMarcus Russell. If Russell gets hurt, Garcia can step in and do a solid job. If Russell doesn't make strides or if he regresses, Oakland has a veteran option.
I'm not saying 2009 is a make-or-break for Russell, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2007. But it is a vital season for him. He must get better after being mostly unproductive and inconsistent in 2008. He still has a chance to be a standout, but he must make improvements this year or Oakland might face a decision on his future.
At the NFL owners' meeting last month, Oakland coach Tom Cable made it clear he wants to see Russell take the next step. Cable wants to see Russell work harder and take charge more.
With Garcia signed, Oakland could try to trade backup Andrew Walter for a low-round draft choice.
Oakland also benefits from this deal because Garcia won't be a Bronco. If Denver wants another veteran to compete with Kyle Orton and Chris Simms, they will have to turn elsewhere because the Raiders just signed the best veteran quarterback available in free agency.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
DANA POINT, Calif. -- New Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley addressed the media at the annual NFL owners' meetings Tuesday.
He touched on several subjects. Here is a sampling:
On 2008 top pick Glenn Dorsey, who struggled as a rookie
"I'm excited to about seeing him running around and lift because he's a guy I thought a heck of a lot of coming out of college. Last year he wasn't real productive but I think he's got a lot of great versatility, especially where we are transitioning potentially to this 3-4. I think there are some roles in there for him where he could have more of an attacking role."
On his early impressions of new Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel
"I've been telling everyone I hope he can play because he's got all of the intangible things you get excited about as a coach. I just came off two years of working with one of the best guys I've ever been around in Kurt Warner. In best guys, I mean guys that are in to football, like to talk about football. It's not about much else for Kurt Warner. This Matt Cassel feels and acts a lot the same way. He is football 24/7 to the point where I've had to pull back the reins on him a couple of times and say, 'Listen, Matt. These next couple of months are about getting in shape and getting your body ready for the season. There's time enough for football.' He's all football. He's calling me every day for numbers to call some of the other guys on the team. We picked up Bobby Engram and Bobby Engram is texting me wanting Cassel's number. At the same time, a text is coming in from Cassel: 'Can I get Engram's number?' So he's doing all of those things that get you excited as a coach. You don't have to worry about what Matt Cassel is doing most of the time. He'll be worrying about football."
On the team's personnel needs on the defensive side of the ball
"That's why I say we're going to be in a transitional period here (to the 3-4). We may never go fully that way. You just don't know. We have to see what we have. That's part of the reason for having the camp before the draft."
On running back Larry Johnson who said he wanted to be traded. (Yet, Kansas City owner Clark Hunt said this week that he heard Johnson wants to come back to Kansas City. Haley said he doesn't know if Johnson will show up to the team's offseason program that starts Monday.)
"I honestly don't know. This is a voluntary thing. I've made it pretty clear that it's a pretty important part of our development as a team."
On whether he will call the offensive plays:
"I haven't decided yet. It's no different than how I'm looking at everything else: What gives us the best chance to win? There were years with Bill Parcells in Dallas where we might have been going into the third preseason game without knowing who was going to call the plays. So I don't think this is abnormal or wrong or right."
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
I played along with our quarterbacking ranking feature.
It was an interesting exercise. I learned it's a pretty good league for quarterbacks these days. Some of the players I had ranked low are quality players and are winners.
Here's my list:
1. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis: Manning may be the best quarterback ever to play.
2. Tom Brady, New England: OK, Brady is 1b.
3. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh: Big Ben isn't pretty, but he's a winner.
4. Drew Brees, New Orleans: Brees has had his share of doubters. Not anymore. He's got the goods.
5. Philip Rivers, San Diego: Rivers is a winner. End of story.
6. Carson Palmer, Cincinnati: A good quarterback in a lousy situation.
7. Jay Cutler, Denver: He is not elite yet, but he's on his way.
8. Matt Ryan, Atlanta: What he accomplished as a rookie was astounding.
9. Tony Romo, Dallas: He may need to focus better, but he's a big-league talent.
10. Kurt Warner, Arizona: A future Hall of Famer.
12. Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia: He isn't perfect, but McNabb's a solid player.
13. Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle: Hasselbeck is a gamer.
14. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay: He'll be a Pro Bowler by 2010.
15. Chad Pennington, Miami: A gutsy, hard-nosed player.
16. Matt Cassel, Kansas City: We'll see how he does outside of the Patriots' bubble.
17. Trent Edwards, Buffalo: He has a chance to be very good.
18. Joe Flacco , Baltimore: He has a chance to move up this list quickly.
19. Jason Campbell, Washington: This is a big year for him.
20. Matthew Stafford: Detroit may be wise to take him with the top pick.
21. Matt Schaub, Houston: I expect a big year from him.
22. Mark Sanchez: He has a chance for fast success.
23. Jake Delhomme, Carolina: He's slipping, but he's had a nice career.
24. Kerry Collins, Tennessee: He's finishing his career strong.
25. Jeff Garcia: He still has something left in the tank.
26. Brady Quinn, Cleveland: He will move up this list soon.
27. David Garrard, Jacksonville: He doesn't make many mistakes.
28. Tarvaris Jackson, Minnesota: He's still raw and he needs to improve.
29. Marc Bulger, St. Louis: The end is near.
30. JaMarcus Russell, Oakland: The jury is still out, but he hasn't been impressive yet.
31. Derek Anderson, Cleveland: He needs a fresh start.
32. Kyle Orton, Chicago: He's just so-so.
33. Shaun Hill, San Francisco: Same with this guy.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
The problem for Denver and new coach Josh McDaniels, who wanted to reunite with Cassel, is that Cassel was dealt to Kansas City and Cutler caught wind of the talks. Now, Cutler would prefer to play elsewhere because he mad at the Denver brass. But Denver doesn't have a quarterback to replace him and unless it would try to get into the Kurt Warner talks, there are no quality replacements.
Still, with Cutler preferring to leave, the word around the league is that several teams could be having internal talks about what it would take to get Cutler. After all, 25-year-old Pro Bowl quarterbacks aren't always on the trading block.
Here is a list of potential teams in which it could make sense for Denver to trade with if it can't mend the issues with Cutler:
Chicago: There have been reports that Chicago wouldn't get in on the Cutler talks. But the Bears would have to consider trying to get an upgrade like Cutler.
Detroit: The Lions were one of the teams that were involved early. The Lions could make perfect sense. They need a quarterback and Cutler is a much safer bet than a rookie. The Lions would likely have to include the No. 1 overall pick and perhaps more to get Cutler so Denver can try to draft a replacement.
Minnesota: The Vikings couldn't get into the Brett Favre sweepstakes last year because the Packers wouldn't let them. There are no such restrictions this year.
New York Jets: Cutler is represented by Bus Cook, who is Favre's agent. Perhaps the two come together on another blockbuster.
San Francisco: If the 49ers don't land Warner, maybe they could turn to Cutler.
Tampa Bay: The Buccaneers were involved with the Cutler deal on Saturday. There is no reason why the Buccaneers wouldn't try to press the matter with Cutler still seething.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
Conceivably, sure. The team hasn't settled on a quarterback and Warner flourished in 2008 in Arizona under offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Haley, of course, is now the head coach in Kansas City.
So, yes, if Warner doesn't re-sign with the Cardinals, Kansas City could be a possible dance partner. But here are three reasons why it wouldn't make sense for the Chiefs to pursue Warner.
Warner is looking for big money: If the Chiefs want to spend big on a quarterback, they should probably trade for New England quarterback Matt Cassel, who has a history with new Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli and who is much younger than Warner, who will turn 38 in June.
Warner is a stopgap solution: He will not be the long-term answer so the team will need to figure out another option at quarterback in a couple of years. Instead of spending big on the short term on Warner, the Chiefs would be better off trying to develop the young Tyler Thigpen now.
The Chiefs aren't a winner: Warner, fresh of the Super Bowl experience, will want to win now and the Chiefs likely won't be an instant winner. If Warner plays somewhere other than Arizona, it will likely be a team that is just a quarterback away from contending. The Chiefs have many more needs.
So while the Haley-Warner connection is intriguing, there are too many tangible road blocks that make this an unlikely pairing.