Thursday, June 26, 2008
Top QB isn't necessarily the biggest name
By Gary Horton
Quarterback is the most important position in the AFL. So who has the best QB in the playoffs? Here's the breakdown:
1. Utah Blaze
Joe Germaine continues to be the most prolific QB in the AFL, despite losing his best weapon, WR Siaha Burley, in free agency. Germaine threw for 4,859 yards with 97 TDs, 13 interceptions and a sparkling 123.1 QB rating. On a team that doesn't get a lot of defensive help, Germaine is under tremendous pressure to put up big numbers every week.
2. Georgia Force
Despite losing some of his best receivers to free agency, Chris Greisen retooled his offense and put together another huge season. He threw 97 TDs, had a 121.6 QB rating and led the league with 4,946 passing yards. He is an excellent decision-maker and knows how to find the right matchup.
3. Philadelphia Soul
The Soul have been the AFL's most consistent team at QB and play almost mistake-free football. Matt D'Orazio has done a great job replacing Tony Graziani and leads the league with a 131.3 QB rating. He's thrown 72 TDs to just four INTs.
4. San Jose SaberCats
Mark Grieb threw an amazing 100 TD passes in the regular season, but also threw 18 interceptions, the most in the league. He is a confident veteran who is not afraid to take chances. The SaberCats have thrown the ball 608 times in 16 games.
5. Cleveland Gladiators
Veteran Raymond Philyaw is the heart and soul of a good Cleveland offense, and his efficiency and decision-making are excellent. He threw 83 touchdowns with 10 interceptions for a QB rating of 124.5, second best in the league. While he lacks a true franchise receiver, he spread the ball around well and his receivers continue to improve.
6. Chicago Rush
The Rush started the season with aging veteran Sherdrick Bonner, but when they shifted to Russ Michna their offense dramatically improved. Michna has thrown only seven interceptions in 349 pass attempts and his mobility allows him to avoid pressure and create better red-zone options.
7. Dallas Desperados
Clint Dolezel missed several games around midseason with a shoulder injury, but backup Chris Sanders played well in his place. Dolezel calls his own plays and is like a coach on the field. Nobody does a better job of setting up defenses and exploiting matchups.
8. New York Dragons
When healthy, Aaron Garcia is one of the best QBs in the AFL. But his durability has become a big factor for the Dragons and they are not the same team when he is not in the lineup. He has 78 TDs with only nine interceptions. When he gets hot, he can put up for big numbers in a hurry.
9. Orlando Predators
Shane Stafford has posted good numbers, but coach Jay Gruden has changed QBs several times and it doesn't always look like a stable position. Stafford has thrown 81 TDs, but his QB rating and efficiency is not as good as you would expect.
10. Colorado Crush
John Dutton is having his best season. His 681 pass attempts was tops in the league and he threw for 94 TDs, but he also has 17 interceptions for a so-so 109.1 QB rating. For all of his great statistics, Dutton doesn't play with great consistency, week in and week out.
11. Grand Rapids Rampage
James MacPherson became the starter during the season and has done a nice job of running an innovative offense. His 87 TDs are impressive, as well as is his 119.3 QB rating. He still makes an occasional bad read, but he is getting better each week with seeing the entire field.
12. Arizona Rattlers
The Rattlers played musical chairs at QB for most of the season, alternating Lang Campbell and Jeff Smoker before settling with Matt Sauk late in the season. He responded with 21 TD passes and only five interceptions for a 107.2 QB rating. His composure is good for an inexperienced guy, but he did struggle in the past couple of weeks.
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.