I set out to rank the NFC East's best wide receivers earlier this week, and obviously I did a fantastic job. Having passed that test with flying colors, it's time for the true test of fortitude that's sure to be my downfall – ranking the division's quarterbacks.
This idea is much, much tougher than it sounds on paper. I mean, look around the division: two longtime veterans with gaudy resumes – though they have plenty of ugly moments, as well. There are two bright young stars, who have had ups and downs, and on top of that they simply haven't been playing long enough to have a good gauge. Even the backups in this division have careers that make them stand out.
I'm not excited about it, but here's what I came up with.
1. Tony Romo, Cowboys –I didn't want to do this, because it feels like a homer pick – I do write for the Cowboys' website, after all. How do you rank Romo, with his one career playoff victory, above a guy with two Super Bowl MVP awards?
My reasoning is that over time, Romo has proven to be a more consistent quarterback. I don't think Romo would ever chalk up a season as disastrous as Manning's 27-interception season in 2013. Manning has actually thrown 20 or more picks in three separate seasons, while Romo has never done it.
Manning has more yards, more touchdowns and more game-winning drives, though he has started 43 more games than Romo in his career. Romo's career completion percentage of 64 percent is a good bit better than Manning's underwhelming 58 percent.
There's really just one glaring argument in Manning's favor.
2. Eli Manning, Giants –As big of a premium as we put on winning in the NFL, it pains me to drop a guy with an 8-3 playoff record and two Super Bowl trophies below a guy who has yet to even appear in a conference championship game.
That said, there's too many other variables that determine whether a team wins a Super Bowl for me to leave it up to that. Manning has had a fantastic NFL career, but it's been one full of ups and downs. The numbers aren't indicative of a top-level quarterback, even though the postseason resume is.
It will be interesting to see how the younger Manning rebounds in light of the Giants' transition after the setbacks of last season.
3. Nick Foles, Eagles –Like I keep saying. It's tricky to rank these guys. If you're just going off 2013, I'd be sorely tempted to place Foles at the top of this ranking. He threw 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions – that's absurd. He had a better completion percentage than Romo and Manning, and he even threw in 221 yards and three touchdowns as a rusher.
Oh, and there's the part where he led Philadelphia to an 8-2 record and the NFC East championship this season. The Eagles lost their lone playoff game with Foles at the helm, but the second-year player did win a Pro Bowl MVP award in his first trip to the game.
If he continues at the rate he's on, Foles is going to top this list soon enough. But when you combine past resume with future potential, I still think the two veterans have the youngster beat for the time being.
4. Michael Vick, Eagles –Does this count as a curveball? I guess it depends on who you ask. Maybe some people would take issue with me ranking a backup above Washington's starter, Robert Griffin III. But then, Griffin technically finished the 2013 season as a backup.
Injuries befell Vick, as has been a case throughout his career, and opened the door for Foles' big season. But the Eagles' offense was hardly struggling with the veteran dual-threat quarterback under center.
Vick threw for 1,215 yards in seven appearances – six of them starts. Complimenting LeSean McCoy as a runner, he also rushed for 306 yards. It's dumb to try to measure that for a full season, but that could have led to 3,000 passing yards and about 700 rushing yards – assuming Vick had stayed healthy.
You can go back into this blog and read my opinions: I thought Vick was the best fit for the Eagles when the season started. Obviously Foles deserves the starting spot, but I would still trust the veteran to run my offense effectively. If I was a team in need of a quarterback, I'd give him a long look.
5. Robert Griffin III, Redskins --What a difference a year makes. This time last year, Griffin was the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year. He led Washington to the playoffs, he stockpiled stats – you name it.
We don't need to discuss everything that went wrong for both Griffin and the Redskins in 2013. Suffice to say, things went south. That includes Griffin's performance, as he led Washington to just three wins, he more than doubled his interception tally, he butted heads with the old coaching staff and got himself benched for the last three weeks of the season.
It's far too early to close the book on Griffin being one of the bright young quarterbacks in the league going forward, and I think Jay Gruden will help him return to form. But he took a major step back in his second season. [embedded_ad]
6. Kyle Orton, Cowboys –People are only going to remember the season-ending interception against the Eagles, but Orton acquitted himself well for a guy who had not started a game in two years.
Orton completed 65 percent of his passes for 358 yards and two touchdowns, proving the Cowboys' backup can handle himself if Romo goes down injured. I wouldn't feel comfortable with Orton starting a significant stretch of games, as I would with Vick, but he handled himself well.
7. Kirk Cousins, Redskins –Cousins got his shot to prove himself at the tail end of the season, and he wasn't quite the phenom many hoped he would be. Washington went winless in Cousins' audition, and his seven interceptions in three games didn't do much to hurt Griffin's hopes of returning to the starting role in 2014.
8. Ryan Nassib, Giants –Nassib did not throw a pass in the regular season this past year, after the Giants selected him in the fourth round of the draft. But I saw enough of Curtis Painter when he replaced Peyton Manning in 2011 to want to rank him.