Ranking players, and quarterbacks in particular, is a proud tradition of American sportswriting. It is therefore not surprise to see yet another such list being published; this time courtesy of the self-proclaimed world wide leader in sports, ESPN. 50 “league insiders” – from general managers to head coaches to scouts – were asked to place the NFL’s current top passers into five tiers from best to worst.
Only two players were unanimously placed in the highest tier, and neither one of them is a surprising choice. Consensus greatest quarterback of all time and reigning Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady – he of five titles with the New England Patriots – and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers both stand above the rest with a perfect score of 1.00.
They are joined in the first tier by the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger (average ranking 1.40), the New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees (1.42) and Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (1.48), the reigning NFL MVP. All three of them are also on the Patriots’ upcoming schedule and will be a challenge to a defense that has ranked first in the league in scoring last year.
As for Brady, the panel was full of praise for the 40-year old. “Brady probably needs to have his own category,” a former general manager said about the Patriots’ passer before adding: “Brady, above the neck, is just way ahead of everybody, and his competitiveness is every bit as good as Rodgers' competitiveness. His toughness is every bit as good, if not better. For all the GQ stuff, the guy is a blue-collar quarterback and his ability to process, his smarts, his poise are just off the charts.”
A defensive coordinator asked for the piece echoed this and added that Brady’s ability to carry his team is “the whole deal”: “Some guys are system guys, meaning they have to run their whole offense -- run game and pass game -- to be effective. If you make them one-dimensional and they have to try to win it at the end, to me, that is what separates them.”
As Brady has shown time and again, he is able to carry the offense around him unlike any other player in NFL history. And that is what makes him not only an undisputed tier one quarterback in today's game but the greatest to ever step on a football field.