Friday Evening Quarterback

In about 48 hours from now, nearly all of us will be watching Super Bowl XLVIII in our various stages of interest and sobriety. I’ll be sober, watching the game with a passion (although I don’t have a huge rooting interest this year) and just kind of hanging with my wife and five-and-a-half-year-old boy. Hint: If I get bored or have to answer too many annoying questions, I may need a hook-up.


Of course, much of my reading and listening time this week has revolved around the Bowl. About an hour ago, while driving home, I heard former Redskins great quarterback – and Super Bowl winner ­­– Joe Theismann say casually that there are only 10 good quarterbacks in the NFL. At the time, he was discussing whether Michael Vick could find a starting job somewhere if he left the Eagles.


Now, it’s possible that Vick might be successful in doing so (at least for a year or two), but my first thought was that Theismann is way off-base here. In fact, I think that this is an unbelievably good era for NFL quarterbacks. Yes, expanded leagues have – in some sports – weakened the play at many positions, but at quarterback? My sense is that it would be hard for me to find 10 teams that don’t have a good starting quarterback. That leaves 22 other teams that have good, and maybe, very good or great, signal callers.


Of course, this is all very subjective. You can’t prove that Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady is a good quarterback or higher (I’d say “great”), but I’d tell you that you shouldn’t be allowed to watch football if you don’t think that both of them are at least good.


How am I defining “good?” This is a seat-of-the-pants exercise, but I’d say that a good quarterback is not necessarily a Hall of Famer in the making, but a guy who will make more good plays than bad. A good quarterback, generally, will not blow a game for you, and can even steal some games with some combination of arm, legs and leadership. If rooting for a team, you couldn’t complain too loudly if one of these good quarterbacks were at the helm.


So, here’s my team-by-team rundown, without doing any research. If you follow football, you just know these things, although of course, you may disagree. Let’s see if Theismann knows what he’s talking about, or if I really can name at least 22 good NFL starters. (I’ll even concede that Joe’s right if I can’t name 15 or more.)


Eagles: Nick Foles – In his second year in the league, and first as a starter, all he did was compile one of the greatest-ever passer ratings. Yes, that qualifies as good. (For now on, any quarterback listed in bold print is (at least) good.

Cowboys: Tony Romo – As a Birds fan and Cowboys detractor, I’d love to tell you that he really does stink. Until he proves otherwise, there really is some truth…at least a little…to his not being good in the clutch. But, overall? Still, a fine QB. Really.

Giants: Eli Manning – A strange player, who has looked lost at times, but yes, any QB who wins two Super Bowls is good.

Redskins: Robert Griffin III —  In 2012, as a rookie, you could make a case that he had the best rookie season ever for a quarterback. Tell me if you can find a better rookie season.


Panthers: Cam Newton – A great talent, and really matured in this year, just his third. And imagine if he had good people to throw to.

Saints: Drew Brees – A Super Bowl champion, who’s still breaking some records. Probably, a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Falcons: Matt Ryan – Still young, and despite a down year for his team, he did come within a play of leading his team to the Super Bowl last year.

Bucs: Mike Glennon – Score one for Theismann.


Seahawks: Russell Wilson –  Undersized, but athletic, very smart and a born leader.

49ers: Colin Kaepernick –  Tremendous tools. In one-and-a-half years as a starter, he was a play away from taking his team to a championship last year and to the Super Bowl this year.

Cardinals: Carson Palmer – I could make a credible case that he’s at least “good”, but I don’t need to.

Rams: Sam Bradford – Was he worthy of being the #1 overall pick in 2010? No. But I think he’s far from a bust, and pretty good.


Packers: Aaron Rodgers – If starting a new team for the next year or two, I’ll take No. 12, bad commercials and all; you can have your pick of the rest.

Bears: Jay Cutler – He’s underachieved a little and not my personal favorite, but the man has a cannon for a right arm, and there’s some there there.

Lions: Matt Stafford – A younger Cutler, and I’m not really sold, but a lot of teams would take their chances on him.

Vikings: Matt Cassel – Meh.


So, Mr. Theismann, I’ve got 13 good ones (including Hall of Famers Brees and Rodgers) and we’re only halfway through.


Patriots: Tom Brady – Many hate his team, his coach, and the fact that he’s married to Gisele. Almost everybody will include him as a Top 5 of the modern era.

Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill – He may indeed be pretty good, but I need to see more…of his wife.

Jets:  Geno Smith/Mark Sanchez – Sanchez took more abuse than he deserved, and I can’t blame the Jets for taking Geno. I’m not sold on him yet, but he was only a rookie.

Bills: ??  They’re not really settled yet. Manuel? Lewis? Jack Kemp?


Bengals: Andy Dalton – He’s on my good list…for now. He has been pretty steady in the regular season, but he needs to do more in the playoffs.

Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger – Winner of two Super Bowls, he’s unconventional, but very effective.

Ravens: Joe Flacco – He may not be worthy of that huge contract, but the man won the Super Bowl last year, and has a 9-3 postseason record.

Browns:  Let’s move on.


Colts: Andrew Luck – The first overall pick in the 2012 draft has done very little in his first two years for anybody to not think he won’t be great. Sorry for the clumsy wording, but I’m rushed, and that was meant as a compliment.

Titans: Jake Locker – Locker may prove to be pretty good, but for now…

Jaguars: I’ll pass

Texans: I thought they had one in Matt Schaub, but nah…


Broncos: Peyton Manning – I may not be his #1 fan, but he waltzes into Canton unanimously when eligible.

Chiefs: Alex Smith – I would not turn cartwheels if the Eagles traded for him, but the man knows how to win games. Smart, and a good leader with good mobility and accuracy.

Chargers: Philip Rivers – After a couple of down years, Rivers was one of the best in the game in 2013.

Raiders: Terrele Pryor – Not sure if he’s Cam or Jemarcus. Probably in-between, and may be good one day.




If you’re keeping score at home, I consider 13 of the 16 NFC quarterbacks and 8 of the 16 AFC quarterbacks to be good. At 21, I fell just short of my projection of 22, but I could have made a case for Ryan Tannehill or Carson Palmer.

Take that, Mr. Theismann!

Your thoughts, (even if your name isn’t Joe)?

(Matt Goldberg) is the author of five books and hundreds of eclectic, published writings. He is also available to help you craft the article, speech (and even book) that will help you best reach your intended audience. Contact him via matt@tipofthegoldberg for all inquiries.


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