Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Argument for Aaron Rodgers

With football season approaching, FOX Sports writer Peter Schrager released his list of the top 99 NFL players currently.

Normally when I read these lists I check to see where the players on my favorite team rank. Also, while I generally don't agree with a list like this top to bottom, I at least see a decent amount of logic and reason to give the writer a benefit of the doubt. While I am glad to see that he recognized Charles Woodson got placed at #58, I strongly disagree with Schrager's exclusion of Aaron Rodgers on the list.

The Criteria he used in making his list was as follows:

"1. Which player would I rather have on my team? 
2. Which player would make the most impact on my team? 
3. Which player will be the best in 2009, specifically?"

Schrager placed 13 other QBs on this list while excluding Rodgers, implying that he is an average at best QB. After watching how far along Rodgers was in his first year, how poised he was on-the field, and especially how admirably he handled the Brett Favre circus last summer, I am convinced that in 2009 there is no way 13 QBs will have better seasons than Rodgers and that in terms of being the best player/have most positive impact on his team he'll probably be somewhere between 7-10 (not in stratosphere yet but likely in the tier right below) (On a list like this I could see Rodgers ranking anywhere between 30 and 60).....The breakdown of other QBs on this list goes as follows......

1-Peyton Manning
2-Tom Brady
3- Ben Roethlisberger

These three are the league's cream of the crop and there's no argument here.

7-Drew Brees
16- Phillip Rivers
17- Eli Manning

Brees had a similar but  more prolific season than Rodgers. Both put up impressive numbers but were on teams that missed the playoffs due to porous defenses. I would still put Brees above Rodgers since Brees nearly rewrote the record books and Brees handily won the head-to-head match-up last year.

Rivers was one of the better QBs even when San Diego started slow last argument against this.

With Eli Manning....there begins to at least be an argument. While he has won a Super Bowl and a solid quarterback...i'm still not quite sold on him being a top 20 player (i'd place him in the 20-40 tier)...yes he's won lots of games but has been helped out alot by a strong running game and an overall solid team.

However, a better case can be made for placing him at some point below the top 20 as he compares somewhat favorably with the QBs on this part of the list.

23-Donovan McNabb: Solid quarterback who's brought the Eagles back to relevancy, a bit below his peak but still with many solid seasons ahead of him. I would still place him higher than Rodgers

25- Carson Palmer: If this was a few years ago there would be no argument here. Unfortuantely, Palmer hasn't been the same since he tore his ACL in that playoff game and seems to have gone downhill ever since.....I honestly don't see Palmer making an impact in 2009 and seeing this ranking going down as a bad call

28-Tony Romo: Being Mr. October is is not a bad thing, if your a baseball player. Romo is a slightly-above average QB with questionable on-field decision making skills and known more for who he's dating than anything he's accomplished on the field.

31- Jay Cutler- In terms of talent-level compares about the same as Rodgers....has a higher tendency to throw too many INTs but Cutler-Rodgers has the potential to develop into a good rivalry.....personally i'm pulling for it to be one-sided in favor of Aaron Rodgers but realistically I see these two being pretty even for the next several years.

43- Matt Ryan- Compares pretty evenly to Rodgers. Lots of similarities in that they both had better 2008s than many expected. Obviously, Ryan has the advantage of getting to the playoffs and winning the head to head match up. However, I would expect these two to be pretty even in '09 and beyone

64- Kurt Warner- Had a nice year and could be ranked higher based solely on coming within seconds of winning the Cardinals the Super Bowl. However, he is another year older and it's unclear how much longer he'll be on top of his game but with Arizona's explosive receiving core he still has at least another strong season with him.

67- Matt Cassel- This pick I flat-out disagree with. While he deserves credit for playing well for New England after Tom Brady went down for the year, he was still playing within a highly successful system and surrounded by a highly talented team... With Cassel playing for the Cheifs I do not see him replicating his success for a team that only won two more games than the Lions this year.

Overall, in terms of Schrager's criteria and the quarterbacks that were included ahead of Aaron Rodgers, I would rank him somewhere in the middle.

6 of the quarterbacks are above and beyond Rodgers at this point (P. Manning, Brady, Roethlisberger, Rivers, McNabb and Brees.) 

4 of the quarterbacks I expect to make more or less similar impacts/contributions to their teams (Cutler, E. Manning, Ryan and Warner)

3 of the quarterbacks I do not see them having much of an impact on their teams. Not only would I rank Rodgers above these three, the fact that they made the top 99 list is questionable at best, egregious at worst (Palmer, Romo and Cassel)

While I focused much of my opinions and discussion based on quarterback rankings, the following players stuck out like a sore thumb for various reasons

22- Ladanian Tomlinson= As much as it hurts me to say it, he's had better days. If this was a couple years ago he would easily be a top 5 player. At his peak, he was one of the most exciting players to watch and one of my favorite non-Packers player of all time. However, he has been marred by injuries and lost a step or two.....Also, it doesn't help his case in last years playoff game against the Colts Tomlinson was a non-factor while Darren Sproles put on a clinic.....I hope i'm proven wrong on this one but I see Tomlinson being a non-factor in '09

86- Chad Ochocinco- Where to start on this one, well he's the best NFL player out of those who have legally changed their names to the spanish translation of his jersey number. In all seriousness, he's an over-rated receiver playing with an over-rated quarterback on a team that usually has more arrests than victories

99- Reggie Bush- I've never been sold an Reggie Bush as an NFL player. So he got like a million yards against Fresno State in that game when he was at USC. He's been able to milk a lot of commercials out of that. Despite never averaging more than 3.8 yards/carry in his career, he's still managed to appear in more commercials than any other NFL player (except for Peyton Manning of course....but Manning has acheived significantly more than Bush in the NFL so his commercial overexposure at least has a trace of logic in it........)

Streak for the cash pick of the day: Dodgers 5
                                                               Angels 4

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