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Breaking Down John Clayton’s 2010 NFL QB Rankings by Lloyd Vance

Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan is ranked as the 13th best quarterback in the NFL by ESPN’s John Clayton, but he should be higher…in my humble opinion

If I have said it once, I have said it 1,000 times…”The NFL is a quarterback driven league”.  So one of my favorite past times is comparing league quarterbacks against each other.  And this year, ESPN’s John Clayton helped further the debate by recently posting his annual quarterback rankings.  Clayton broke down the league’s starters into 3 divisions (The Elite, The “Chad Pennington” Division – i.e. “Caretakers”, and Hit-Or-Miss).

As usual the Professor did a nice job in weaving stats, analysis, and opinion.  But it would not be any fun if I didn’t poke any holes into his rankings.  Though I don’t have many contentions, I definitely think Clayton should have used my favorite quarterback barometer, Playoff Wins, more.

  • I think the Elite Division should only be Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, and Ben Roethlisberger.  These quarterbacks have gotten it done in postseason (i.e. Super Bowl winners) and they also have had great stats for more than 5 years.
  • There needs to be another division called “Fantasy Footballers”.  These are quarterbacks that have put up big stats in the regular season, but have not yet sustained postseason success.  Heck a couple of them haven’t even made it to the postseason or won one playoff game. This group would be Matt Schaub (no playoff appearances), Aaron Rodgers (no playoff wins), Jay Cutler (no playoff appearances), Tony Romo (playoff record of 1-3), and Carson Palmer (playoff record of 0-2 with both losses at home).
  • Another division also needing to be created is “The Old Heads”.  These are good quarterbacks that are a 5-year plus veterans that have had some success in the past.  I will put Donovan McNabb in this group — despite his 9-7 playoff record – but he can’t be considered “Elite” without the ring.  You can also add Philip Rivers — sorry San Diego fans…this 3-time Pro Bowler has a career 3-4 playoff record — Matt Hasselbeck and Eli Manning.  I know Archie’s youngest has a Super Bowl ring, but he also is a “team” quarterback that has only one 4,000-yard passing season and one 25+ touchdown season on his mantle -– both in 2009.
  • The “Young Guns”, who are quarterbacks working their way up.  I know some of them have already had some playoff success, but it is still too early to draw long term predictions.  This group would include Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Vince Young, Kevin Kolb, Chad Henne, Mark Sanchez, Josh Freeman, Matthew Stafford, Matt Cassel and Sam Bradford.
  • No list would be complete without a group called “The Journeymen”.  These are guys just happy to be called a starter…well for now.  Byron Leftwich, Matt Leinart / Derek Anderson, Matt Moore, Jake Delhomme, David Garrard, Alex Smith, Jason Campbell, Trent Edwards, and Kyle Orton — Don’t let his 29-19 starting record or last year’s almost 4,000-yard passing season fool you.

Here is my ranking list for the NFL’s marquee position

1) Peyton Manning

2) Drew Brees

3) Tom Brady

4) Ben Roethlisberger

5) Brett Favre

6) Philip Rivers

7) Aaron Rodgers

8) Donovan McNabb

9) Matt Ryan

10) Joe Flacco

11) Tony Romo

12) Carson Palmer

13) Eli Manning

14) Matt Schaub

15) Vince Young

16) Jay Cutler

17) Matthew Stafford

18) Kyle Orton

19) David Garrard

20) Jason Campbell

21) Kevin Kolb

22) Matt Hasselbeck

23) Mark Sanchez

24) Chad Henne

25) Matt Cassel

26) Alex Smith

27) Byron Leftwich

28) Matt Moore

29) Josh Freeman

30) Sam Bradford

31) Michael Vick

32) Jimmy Clausen

33) Derek Anderson / Matt Leinart

34) Trent Edwards

35) Jake Delhomme

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2010 NFL Preseason Week 1 Review by Lloyd Vance

Steelers QB Dennis Dixon received a Game Ball for his outstanding play in Week 1 of the 2010 NFL Preseason

Week 1 of the 2010 NFL Preseason is now in the books.  As usual the start of preseason games are welcomed by most players (want to hit someone else other than teammates) and fans (“Jonesing” for their football fix).  But after most of the starters have left preseason games, usually in the first or second quarter, everyone watching can’t wait for the “real” games to start.  Unfortunately there are usually several “training camp” players on the field after halftime, which lends to some sloppy play at times.

The week’s highlight had to be the opening of the New Meadowlands Stadium as the “Battle for New York” was center stage on Monday Night football. Friendly tenants, the New York Giants and New York Jets, battled it out with the G-Men coming away with a 31-16 win.  The biggest television-worth play had to be Giants quarterback Eli Manning having a “Y.A Tittle” moment.  Manning departed the game in the first half with a three-inch laceration to his forehead after getting caught between two Jets’ defenders with his helmet off. Blood was gushing from Peyton’s little brother’s melon, which definitely needed several stitches to close the wound.

One key element that I noticed this week and throughout the preseason is that the National Football League is “survival of the fittest”, where you can never have too much quality depth.  Unfortunately players around the league continue to drop like flies. Some notable injuries were Buffalo Bills RB Fred Jackson (broken hand – 4 to 6 weeks), Houston Texans RB Ben Tate (broken ankle – season), Tennessee Titans RB Stafon Johnson (his great comeback story is over for now after a heart-breaking ankle injury), Dallas Cowboys OT Marco Colombo (knee scoped), Detroit Lions LB Jordon Dizon (knee – season), New England Patriots DE Ty Warren (season-ending hip injury), Baltimore Ravens OT Jared Gaither (back tear) and too many others to list.

All these injuries are making coaches and general managers scream, “Please Let’s Just Start the Regular Season”. I have to agree with them, because too often important pieces of a team’s puzzle are lost for considerable amounts of time, including for the entire season, in meaningless games. We all know that preseason games — or “exhibition” games as I like to call them — are only on the schedule for the purpose of generating extra revenue (television dollars and local teams having two extra “home” games at full price) and they are very unnecessary. Also as Eagles head coach Andy Reid recently said of his game-planning for the his preseason Week 1 opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars, “We kept it pretty vanilla” – BTW: the Eagles and Jaguars play in Week 3 of the regular season.  You just are not going to see much in preseason as teams usually want to save their best for the games that count.

With today’s athletes already engaging in year-round NFL activities including OTAs and long arduous training camps, four preseason games is a bit much. Today’s NFL players’ bodies are already pushed to the max after training camp two-a-days in the hot sun, so there is already a “Next Man Up” mentality before preseason games are even played. I know coaches try to limit exposure to key veterans by getting them out of preseason games early, but the risk is always there. I believe NFL commissioner Roger Goodell needs to investigate limiting preseason game, however I am not sure about removing them just to add more career-shortening regular season games.

Even though this week’s preseason games only gave a minor taste of “real” regular season NFL football action, there were some bright spot performances.  Overall though, I say bring on the “real” games, because the NFL’s preseason is just too long of a process and watching games of depth chart 3’s versus 4’s is unbearable.  For goodness sakes, Minnesota Vikings 3rd string quarterback Sage Rosenfels threw for 310 yards and 3 TDs in a 28-7 win over the hapless St. Louis Rams ….need I say anymore.

Game Balls

Redskins QB Donovan McNabb – After a slow start, Washington’s new signal-caller settled down to lead his offensive unit to touchdown.  McNabb hit young receiver Anthony Armstrong with a 4-yard strike to complete his night’s work.  For the game, Big 5 finished with numbers 5-of-8 for 58 yards in two series.

Giants WR Victor Cruz – I guess the NY Jets really do need holdout Darrelle Revis. A preseason star was born in the Giants’ 31-16 win over the NY Jets.  Cruz caught 6 passes for 145 yards and 3 TDs.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers – The former 2009 Pro Bowl passer was amazing as he finished with numbers of 12-13, 159 yards, and 1 TD against the lowly Cleveland Browns.

Panthers QB Jimmy Clausen – Could there be a quarterback controversy in Carolina already?? I am saying hold your horses on that one.  But the former Notre Dame star showed good footwork and arm strength in his team’s 17-12 loss to the Ravens.

Steelers QB Dennis Dixon — Had a perfect passer rating as he finished with numbers 6-7, 128 yards and 1 TD in a 23-7 win over the Detroit Lions.

Panthers OLB Greg Hardy – Showed great burst off the edge as he finished with 2 sacks in a loss to the Ravens

Lloyd’s Lackey

Colts better get another back-up quarterback – Usually try to not give out a “Lloyd’s Lackey” this time of the year.   But there was an awful performance that must be noted.  In case Peyton Manning gets hurt — not that No. 18 ever gets hurt — Indy has no shot of winning games with back-up passer Curtis Painter.  The former Purdue star was awful in a 37-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.  His line for the game was 9-for-19, 64 yards, 0 TDs, and 3 INTs.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

My View from the Washington Redskins Press Box by Lake Lewis

Optimism is all that any Washington Redskins’ fan can ever hope for after a horrid 2009 football campaign. Last season contained former Redskins head coach Jim Zorn — now Baltimore Ravens quarterbacks coach — routinely questioned by fans and the media for his coaching tactics.  Former starting quarterback Jason Campbell’s leadership was questioned and many debated if he even was a legitimate playoff caliber signal caller.  And lastly, the ‘Skins defense was often criticized for not playing in a free-flowing attacking style. 

Well, the 2010 season has brought eternal hope for all around our Nation’s Capital.  And if last night’s Redskins preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills was any indicator, then the new season should bring a sort of giddiness seldom bestowed on this franchise over the last decade. The Redskins came out and imposed their will on the Buffalo Bills in route to a 42-17 alley-slapping.

In the Redskins’ preseason opening win, the three most important off-season acquisitions, in my opinion, of Head Coach Mike Shanahan, Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and Quarterback Donovan McNabb did not disappoint in their burgundy and gold debuts – BTW: I didn’t count General Manager Bruce Allen as he joined the team at the end of the 2009 season. 

After a shaky first series, the Redskins’ offense -– 2009 NFL rankings of 22nd in total offense and 26th in scoring — showed signs of life.  On their second possession, the new look offense led by McNabb orchestrated a twelve play, 70-yard, drive culminating with the former All-Pro passer connecting with first-year player Anthony Armstrong on a four-yard touchdown strike.  The touchdown pass showed that finally the Redskins seem to have the most important position on the field covered. 

McNabb’s improvisation skills were on full display on the touchdown play as he showed foot movement and presence in the pocket.  The former Philadelphia Eagles starter kept the play alive by moving around to find his receiver despite some pressure from the Bills.  Overall, McNabb who took the snap from center 17 times — was scheduled to take only 18 snaps actually — completed five of eight passes for 58 yards and the aforementioned touchdown. The former 6-time Pro Bowl player also turned in a more than respectable 124.0 quarterback rating for the game.

In his postgame presser, McNabb said that he felt good after having played his first game with the Redskins.  The new leader of Washington’s offense said, “It was an exciting time.  When you play your first game, obviously, with a new ball club it takes you back to the first game you played.”  The 12-year veteran added, “Your adrenaline is high and you have to settle down a little bit.  The second time we went out, after our first drive, it led us putting up some points.  Then good things happen.  There are a lot of things we have to work on but I thought offensively we were able to progress today.”

The strong performance of the Redskins did not stop at McNabb’s doorstep.  Back-up quarterback Rex Grossman, a former Super Bowl lead guy in Chicago, may have helped ease any discord about who will replace #5 should he have any kind of setback.  Grossman showed complete command of the Kyle Shanahan’s offense, which he was already familiar with from having been coached by the younger Shanahan last year with the Houston Texans.  For the game, Grossman played two quarters while completing eleven passes for 140 yards and 2 touchdowns. The former Florida Gators passer also finished with a great quarterback rating too (122.5).

One of the recipients of Grossman’s two touchdown passes was gifted receiver Devin Thomas.  The former Michigan State receiver had recently been under intense scrutiny for his participation in a music video with R&B star Fantasia.  But he rebounded to have a nice game as he pulled-in three catches for 64 yards and a touchdown.  Some people, who I talked to during the game, thought that Thomas should be bypassing any outside distractions and just focusing on football. 

However Thomas showed why he was a top-rated receiver prospect on many boards back during the 2008 draft.  Yesterday’s game could be the confidence booster for Shanahan’s offense and the third-year pro that the Redskins have been looking for.  After briefly talking to Thomas after the game, I can safely say there is not a more engaging player who knows exactly what is expected of him in the locker room.  I truly expect a breakout year for the developing receiver and for Thomas to also be the starter opposite veteran Santana Moss come opening day.

On the defensive side of the ball, there were some things from the game that I believe need to be corrected including over-pursuit and poor tackling.  But for the most part, new defensive coordinator Jim Hasslet’s unit showed the attacking style that most Washington fans have longed for since the departure of former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who is now with the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.  The other major off-season drama, the Albert Haynesworth situation, also definitely seems to have been put to bed.  The $100-million dollar man started his long climb back up the depth charts and ‘Skins Nation’s hearts by playing a solid game.  Haynesworth entered the game in the second quarter, with the second unit, and although he did not record a sack or a tackle, his presence helped several players.

Redskins Game Notes:

First-year players who made an impact on the game were:

— LB Perry Riley who played well and was credited with a tackle for a loss.

— WR Anthony Armstrong caught his and Donovan McNabb’s first touchdown as Redskins.

— RB Keiland Williams showed that he could possibly breakthrough an already crowded backfield to make the final roster.

— CB Ramzee Robinson made several special teams gems.  And as always this is what separates young players who make NFL rosters.

— WR Brandon Banks showed the 4.2 speed that has caught the eye of many around the NFL.  Banks did not waste any time as he returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown.  His effort should help add greater debate about getting the young speedster more opportunities.

— RB Ryan Torain was impressive with 17 rushes for 62 yards.

— Former Pro Bowl TE Chris Cooley looked comfortable working with McNabb as he produced 3 catches for 33 yards.

— CB DeAngelo Hall had a nice interception, which he returned for 33 yards.

 

Lake Lewis is the head of the Sports Journey Broadcast Network and their daily drive-time radio host.  He also is a credentialed member of the media by the NBA, Washington Redskins, and Baltimore Ravens.

Donovan McNabb’s Washington Debut is a Success by Lloyd Vance

Redskins QB Donovan McNabb had a strong performance in his Washington debut against the Buffalo Bills

After only having one preseason game last week, the NFL exploded this week with a slate of 16 early season battles.  One the most anticipated storylines of the 2010 NFL Preseason Week 1 was the debut of 12-year veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb with the Washington Redskins.

The former Eagles starter for 11 years had been performing in training camp to some mixed reviews.  But as usual “Game Time” meant that the former 6-time Pro Bowl passer was all business.  McNabb gave the Redskins’ faithful something to cheer about as he led Washington to a dominating 42-17 home victory over the hapless Buffalo Bills.

After a couple of errant throws in his first series, the notoriously slow starting McNabb picked-it-up.  Big 5 started to look comfortable in his new surroundings on Washington’s second offensive series.  And finished with respectable numbers 5 for 8 for 58 passing yards and one rushing yard in two series of work.  His biggest play was a 4-yard touchdown to WR Anthony Armstrong. 

McNabb said after the lopsided win, “When you play your first game, obviously, with a new ballclub, it takes you back to the first game you played.”  The dual-threat passer added, “Your adrenaline is high, and you have to settle down a little bit. The second time we went out, after our first drive, it led to us putting up some points.”

Next up McNabb and the Redskins will face the Baltimore Ravens on August 21 in a territorial bragging rights game.  But you know the 33-year old passer is using every game until October 3rd (vs. the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field) as a warm-up.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)