Ranking The NFL's Top QBs
Just how good is Jimmy Garoppolo? Is Aaron Rodgers still among the elite of the elite? And what's left in the tank for Tom Brady?
On Monday, The Athletic's Mike Sando published his popular annual quarterback tier rankings, which includes opinion from fifty NFL coaches and evaluators regarding the game's greatest signal-callers — and the list generated plenty of discussion.
The ranking sorts QBs into Tiers 1 through 5, and the upper echelon featured Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes, Seattle's Russell Wilson, Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, New Orleans' Drew Brees and Houston's Deshaun Watson.
Yet for the first time in over a decade, Brady fell out of the top tier, while Garoppolo's Super Bowl run wasn't enough to boost him out of the middle of the pack. All in all, the rankings raised 3 particular questions:
1. Just how good is Jimmy G?
Garoppolo came in at Tier 3 despite completing 69.1 percent of his passes (4th in the NFL) for 3,978 yards and throwing for 27 touchdowns (tied for 5th) in 2019. He was also 3rd in average yards per attempt (8.4).
So why the disconnect between Garoppolo's rate stats and his ranking?
Colin Cowherd believes fans and analysts hold it against Garoppolo that his Super Bowl performance from last season was less than memorable — but when looking at Jimmy G's resume in its totality, Cowherd argues, he's one of the best quarterbacks in the game.
"Garoppolo's problem is there's nothing to grab onto. There's nothing to say, 'Look at that,' ... But when you break it down and look at Garoppolo's numbers, folks, he may not be a Tier 1, but he's mid-to-upper tier 2, and there's no way he's middle of Tier 3."
2. Is Aaron Rodgers still a Tier 1 guy?
Rodgers, 36, played all 16 games in 2019, throwing for 4,002 yards, 26 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions (tied 1st).
But the former Super Bowl MVP completed just 62.3 percent of his passes, his lowest completion percentage since 2015 and his second-lowest since becoming a full-time starter in 2008.
Moreover, the Packers increased their reliance on the run in 2019, going from 34 percent run plays in 2018 to 42 percent last season.
Yet Shannon Sharpe chalked that up to LaFleur attempting to take some of the pressure off Rodgers to be the sole playmaker for the Packers.
"He's still the guy. Here's the thing – he gets a new coach and they make a commitment to running the football, so he's not asked to put the football in harm's way 40 times a game, even though he doesn't put the ball in harm's way."
3. Is Brady still elite at age 42?
The 6-time Super Bowl champion and 3-time NFL MVP struggled in 2019 and landed in Tier 2 on Sando's list.
Brady's passer rating of 88.0 was his lowest since 2013 (87.3), and his 24 TD passes were the third-fewest of his career since becoming a full-time starter.
His 60.8 completion percentage was also the third-worst of his career as a starter.
Sharpe agreed wholeheartedly with the assessment of Brady from Sando's tier rankings.
"I ain't no exec ... But that guy said exactly what I've been saying for a year and a half, verbatim. 'He’s cautious. He is a little more skittish in the pocket. He doesn’t want to take a hit.' ... 'I think his arm strength is diminished and if you are around football a lot, you notice his ball placement is slipping a little bit.'"
While the discussion will swirl all season long, according to FOX Bet, Brady has the best odds of the three to win MVP this season at +1800, followed closely by Rodgers at +2000 and Garoppolo further back at +3000.
Patrick Mahomes (+375), Lamar Jackson (+600) and Russell Wilson (+700) are the top-three favorites.