With Manning out with a neck injury, Brees and Rodgers have been playing better than ever and Brady has been Brady. The gap between those three and the rest of the league has widened.
Year of the Quarterback
ESPN has dedicated 2011 to examining one of the most crucial positions in all of sports -- the quarterback. Year of the QB »
Sure, there’s still the upper-middle class of Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning, guys who can take a very good team to the Super Bowl without being asked to do everything on their own. But what happened to the nouveau riche?
The guys who were supposed to jump right over Roethlisberger and Eli Manning suddenly have had their pockets emptied.
In Bradford’s case, the pocket has simply collapsed. The St. Louis offensive line has allowed so much pressure that Bradford has looked like a rookie in his second season -- something he never did in his first. Bradford’s been hit so much, he couldn’t even play Sunday and the Rams are winless.
Rivers, the one guy who already seemed to have a foot in the door to the clubhouse of great quarterbacks by throwing for at least 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons, seems to have stepped back.
Rivers had been the guy who could put up huge stats, but just needed to show he could win big before earning full initiation. But Rivers isn’t even putting up the stats this year. Through six games, he’s thrown seven touchdowns and nine interceptions, and he had one of the most anemic games of his career in Sunday’s loss to the Jets.
Freeman, who looked so poised last year in his first full season as a starter, has turned into an interception machine. He threw four Sunday against the Bears in London and has 10 interceptions for the season, after being picked off only six times last year.
Ryan supposedly got the missing link when the Falcons traded up to draft Julio Jones. But, much like Bradford, Ryan’s offensive line has exposed him to a huge amount of hits. At times, Ryan has appeared more flustered than at any point in his first three seasons.
Can Bradford, Ryan, Freeman and Rivers bounce back? Sure, in each case the talent is there. Any of them can get back to ascending to greatness if some problems can be fixed. Maybe that comes in the second half of this season, maybe next year or maybe it never happens.
If it doesn’t, who’s the next great quarterback?
Detroit’s Matthew Stafford is starting to run into injury problems again and there’s not much beyond him. Brees, Rodgers and Brady might get company when Peyton Manning returns.
Quarterback | New York Jets ... Next Game: 11/6 at BUF
After a very slow start, Sanchez had his best game of the season against the Chargers on Sunday. At very least, it was his most efficient game. The numbers were far from spectacular. But the Jets don't need Sanchez to be spectacular. They just need him to go out there and not hold the offense back.
Quarterback | Houston Texans ... Next Game: 10/30 vs. JAC
There's a common theme in Houston's three losses. Schaub has attempted 37 or more passes in each of those games. The Texans need to look at Sunday's victory against Tennessee and learn a lesson. They've got Arian Foster. When you have that and take advantage of it, you don't need Schaub throwing 40 or 50 times a game.
Quarterback | Baltimore Ravens... Next Game: 10/30 vs. ARI
There's something really wrong when you've got a defense like Baltimore's and you go out and lose a 12-7 game to Jacksonville on Monday night. Sure, the Jaguars have a pretty good defense. But there's no way in the world the Ravens should go out and lose to rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert when he's throwing for a whopping 93 yards. But that did happen, and it happened because Flacco simply could not move the offense.
Quarterback | Detroit Lions ... Next Game: 10/30 at DEN
After a tremendous start to his third season, Stafford has cooled off. He's lost his last two games and completed just 46.9 percent of his passes in Sunday's loss to Atlanta. More significantly, Stafford sprained his ankle in that game. The whispers about him being injury prone are starting again.