Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Philyaw making his presence felt in Cleveland ... and in the QB rankings
By Gary Horton
So who has the best QB in the AFL? Gary Horton goes team-by-team and ranks them all.
1. Philadelphia's Tony Graziani/Matt D'Orazio
Graziani was knocked out of the game on a controversial hit in the third quarter, but backup Matt D'Orazio filled in nicely. Before he left the game, Graziani threw for 204 yards and six touchdowns. He did have two interceptions, but his chemistry with WR Chris Jackson gets better every week. Graziani was playing as well as anyone and was not making many mistakes. The Soul will be without him for 3-4 weeks with a sprained knee.
2. Cleveland's Raymond Philyaw
He continues to lead this Cinderella team with his performance on the field and leadership off it. He played another clean game, with 209 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. He is really developing excellent receiving targets in Robert Redd and Otis Amey.
3. Utah's Joe Germaine
Germaine continues to play at a very high level. He threw for 363 yards, seven TDs and no interceptions against a usually good Orlando defense. He spreads the ball around, finds good matchups and rarely misses a needed conversion. Now if only his defense could help him.
4. Georgia's Chris Greisen
He did a nice job of spreading the ball around, and his 366 passing yards and seven touchdown passes against a usually good Los Angeles defense was impressive. Receivers Charles Pauley and Troy Bergeron are coming on strong.
5. Orlando's Shane Stafford
Stafford played a solid game against a struggling Blaze defense, with 265 yards and six TD passes. Though he was not sacked, he was under a lot of pressure. But he made good decisions and accurate throws to his improving trio of receivers (T.T. Toliver, Chas Gessner and Ron Johnson).
6. Chicago's Russ Michna
When starting QB Sherdrick Bonner left the Rush to witness the birth of his first child, backup Michna stepped in and played a nearly flawless game in a win over struggling Grand Rapids. He was 18 for 26 for 245 yards and five TDs and no interceptions. He was named the offensive player of the game in his first career start.
7. Columbus' Matt Nagy
He continues to be a one-man show with excellent numbers. His 351 yards and seven TDs should be good enough to win, but the Destroyers' defense could not stop Cleveland, such that the team looked one-dimensional. Still, the Nagy-to-Derek Lee connection is something special.
8. San Jose's Mark Grieb
Grieb played his usual solid game, throwing for 264 yards and three touchdowns. The offense was not overly explosive, but he did a nice job of spreading the ball around.
9. New Orleans' Danny Wimprine
Wimprine looked good in his second start -- and second win -- with 222 yards and seven touchdowns, four of those to WR James Jordan. He didn't throw an interception, wasn't sacked and showed excellent poise on most of his throws, including a nice pump-fake for a TD.
10. Colorado's John Dutton
He started out completing his first 11 passes, but that all changed in the second half as he threw numerous incompletions and three interceptions. After that, he just didn't look like the same guy, finishing with just 207 yards and four touchdowns.
11. Tampa Bay's Brett Dietz
Dietz put up big numbers (328 yards and five TDs), but he was under constant pressure by a VooDoo defense that sacked him four times and broke up four passes. It also led to two interceptions, and Dietz had to scramble all day to make plays.
12. Los Angeles' Sonny Cumbie
Cumbie manufactured only seven first-half points, and even though his statistics were respectable, he couldn't make key plays when he needed to (1-for-7 on third down). His pass protection was shoddy and there was no explosiveness in this offense.
13. New York's Aaron Garcia/Rohan Davey
Garcia played his usual productive football before he left the game with an injury. He threw for 250 yards and six TDs, which was amazing considering he was harassed all game by a superior Philadelphia defense. But New York could not convert third downs or red zone opportunities.
14. Dallas' Chris Sanders
Sanders started out slowly, completing only 10 of 22 passes in the first half, but in the second half he hooked up with Will Pettis for four touchdown passes. He did it by throwing less short passes and going with more deep balls.
15. Grand Rapids' Adrian McPherson/James McPherson
The Rampage used both McPhersons at QB, Adrian in the first half and James in the second half, but the results were the same. Fumbles, sacks, and shoddy pass protection meant little offensive production.
16. Arizona's Jeff Smoker
Smoker played fairly well considering the pressure he was under from the San Jose defense. He threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns, but was sacked four times, hit numerous other times and threw three interceptions.
17. Kansas City's John Fitzgerald
The good news is that Fitzgerald had the week off. The bad news is that his offensive problems are not likely to go away. He is doing a good job of running with the ball (five touchdowns), but his passing production and offensive weapons are suspect.
Gary Horton, a pro scout for Scouts Inc., has been a football talent evaluator for more than 30 years. He spent 10 years in the NFL and 10 years at the college level before launching a private scouting firm called The War Room.