Patriots off-season part three

Tom Brady throws the ball during Super Bowl XX...

Tom Brady throws the ball during Super Bowl XXXIX. Brady connected with game Most Valuable Player Deion Branch 11 times to tie a Super Bowl record. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Restructuring of Chad Johnson’s contract- I think that this was a great move by Ocho because it proved that he is not about the money, at least at this point in his career, and that he is determined to show that he can make it in this offense. It was a positive move and for those who think that they should just cut ties with him all together I just have to say that I do not agree. What would they lose by bringing him into training camp and having him compete with Deion Branch, Anthony Gonzalez, Donte Stallworth and Brandon Lloyd? So why not see what he can do with a full, real off-season and time to study. Last season it wasn’t just Chad “Ocho” Johnson who had trouble with his new team it was also Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, Lee Evans, Steve Smith, Donovan McNabb, Zach Miller, Albert Haynesworth, and Shaun Ellis just to name a few. He can work in this system, he can be a contributor and an impact player but it is all on Chad to learn this system and Brady. Honesty, learning this system is not just about the playbook but it is also about learning Tom Brady and HIS playbook because they are different. Chad is smart and I think he will make the team. My prediction is that Gonzalez will get hurt and Stallworth will be underwhelming.

CB- Will Allen- He did not do much last season but this is a decent signing. They need some depth so that they do not have to rely on offensive players to jump in and play some important and major snaps. He will not be an impact player because he has lost a step or two but he can still make some plays. It is nice to be able to have a seasoned veteran to step in at nickel back or into the starting role if need be. Grade: B

FB/LB- Spencer Larsen– I am not so sure that Larsen will make the roster honestly. With that being said, it is not a bad signing. I have said, before this blog was created, that one of the biggest holes that they had was at FB. You remember what Heath Evans brought to the team when he was on our roster and what we were missing when he was gone and so that’s why I believe getting a half-way decent fullback is on the list for this season. I do not think that Larsen is a bad fullback but when you compare him to Lousaka Polite, who was just released, and the recent signing of Tony Fiammetta (see below) I think that either Polite or Fiammetta are better options. (Polite lost though sadly) Maybe he can contribute more as a defensive player and special teams player. In addition, Josh McDaniels being here now might help him make the roster in some position but maybe not FB.  Grade: C

WR- Deion Branch– A good signing because you do not know what Stallworth, Lloyd, Gonzalez and Ocho will bring you and so you need some insurance. In addition, Deion wants to be here and is a great locker room guy, which is a key with the new draft picks that will be coming in after the draft. I originally said that signing Branch would bring about the end to the Ocho experiment but it appears I am wrong, shocking, but training camp could weed out one or two of these guys so I can see why they signed all of these guys. This move will also assure them that Slater can concentrate on special teams and maybe even defense, which he is better at. Grade: A

FB- Tony Fiammetta– Bringing him in to compete with Larsen is a good move by the Patriots. Bringing in a FB will allow them to go back to a more traditional running game and help Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen next season. It will also open up the playbook more and give Brady more options if coverage down the field is good and needs to dump it off. To add an element like that just makes it harder for defenses to successfully stop the offense on a consistent basis. Even though the offense has been great, I think it was also a little too transparent and after a while, defenses knew how to stop them. All you did, really, was make Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski a non-factor by a double team or putting one of your best guys on them and force the Patriots to win with the rest of the guys. Also not having a real FB on the roster made them be creative with one and often-used DL, Aaron Hernandez or an OL but that did not really work. Grade: B

Mark Anderson signs with the Buffalo Bills- His goal I think was accomplished, which was to resurrect his career here in New England and he did. I say good for him but Bills have to know that he is not an every down guy and if they use him on every down, he loses his effectiveness. Just like when they had Aaron Maybin, he was not an every down player but they tried to use him like one and it didn’t work out… then Maybin found his calling with the Jets as a part time player in pass rushing situations. If they use him to his strengths, it will work out for them and he could make Brady’s life harder twice a year, especially with a lot of attention going to Mario Williams.

Patriots release FB Lousaka Polite- Well you knew something had to give when they signed both Larsen and Fiammetta and Polite lost. Polite is a good player but was not going to make the roster most likely so he now has a chance to land with another team and I hope he does honestly. He is a good fullback and some teams in the league have some bad ones so he could step in and contribute.

The Patriots have still yet to make a move and get an impact player or two for defense. They need a pass rusher and a safety and the more they ignore that need the more other teams will take advantage of that. I would think that the strategy would be to go defense heavy in the draft or at least target some real potential talent in the first few rounds. After all, he did build a defensive line before that was one of the best and he did it through the draft, with Richard Seymour, Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork. The question is can he land an OLB/DE, a safety and a DL all in one draft? Maybe that is why Bill has been trading down all of these years, to fill positions with high-potential players a lot, sooner than he did before. The math makes sense; the odds go up with more picks but the odds of landing a dud also goes up so basically you’re in Las Vegas. Well the house always wins, or so I hear and that makes it difficult for the Patriots to land premium guys in a short pan obviously, because they have missed. The combination of trying to land great talent in one or two years means you might have to go after players who might have a lower ceiling but can still play at a higher level, to make them fit under the cap. Of course, this is just a theory, a theory of a shut in writer who thinks and analyzes things a little too much. I must say that this is a solid strategy if it is indeed true and one that if it worked would have kept the rotation of talent going and replacing Seymour, Warren, Bruschi, Law and others wouldn’t have been plaguing them still. I doubt that this theory of mine is true because well it is mine and I have not read it anywhere else, unless of course it is just blatantly obvious that any team would do that if they wanted to refill the talent pool faster.

My overall impression so far is that they have made some good moves to try to ensure that they do not have undrafted rookies as starters but have not really done much else. They went heavy on offense so far and bid farewell to some good players but also committed to some other young ones they believe in. I see the departure of BenJarvus Green-Ellis as a commitment to Ridley, Vereen and Woodhead and that is not a bad thing. Ridley and Vereen have both shown that they have the potential to fill the role left behind by Law Firm, also in my opinion they will surpass it. I did not mention Matt Light and whether or not he is going to retire because it is not confirmed yet and as a side note, I would like to see the Patriots bring in Kevin Faulk as a coach.

Advertisements

One statement spelling out past and future draft strategies by Belichick

Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England P...

Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots watches the preseason game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on August 28, 2009 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was going through ESPN and saw the Patriots Mailbag with Mike Reiss and something caught my attention with one of his answers. The question was about Belichick and trading up for an impact player.

“It sort of ties in to Belichick’s thoughts as relayed in Michael Holley’s “War Room” book about the Falcons trading up to No. 6 to draft receiver Julio Jones in 2011. Belichick didn’t endorse the move because he felt the difference between Jones and Jonathan Baldwin (a later first-round pick) wasn’t worth all it would take to move up.”

Now I can see what Belichick was talking about and sort of agree no doubt about it but I might also see where some of the Patriots drafts woes have stemmed from. Now both Julio Jones and Jonathan Baldwin were first round picks and both saw some significant time on the field but there were some clear differences in performance.

Jonathan Baldwin played 11 games, had 21 receptions for 254 yards and one touchdown. A decent season for a rookie wide receiver I must say.

Julio Jones played in 13 games, had 54 receptions for 959 yards and eight touchdowns. That is a great season for a rookie wide receiver.

While the Falcons did give up a lot to get Jones, I think it paid off in the end. As of right now I think the difference between the two is upside and other little things. Julio Jones, I believe, has a higher ceiling and has more upside than Baldwin has. Baldwin is no doubt talented, maybe as talented as Jones but I don’t think he has as high a ceiling as Jones honestly. Now the argument can be made that there were two completely different quarterbacks throwing to them. One is Matt Cassel, who is a slightly above average quarterback who benefited from backing up the great Tom Brady. Matt Ryan however is a first round pick who came to the Atlanta Falcons after they fell from grace because of the whole Michael Vick situation. Therefore, you would be right to make that connection and bring that up but either man could have ended up on the other team and I will argue that the results could be the same. Jones would still out perform Baldwin, even with Cassel as his quarterback.

Therefore, Belichick is right, sort of, and that giving up all of that might not have been worth it but comparing the two, right now it seems that the Falcons won. Would the Falcons, if they kept all the picks they had, and chose Baldwin and filled some other spots they really needed like defensive line, secondary and getting someone to eventually replace John Abraham, have made it to the playoffs? Maybe, maybe not but drafting Julio Jones did not hinder that at all, they still made it… granted they lost but they made it.

So is that why Brandon Tate, Taylor Price, Darius Butler, Terrence Wheatley, Jonathan Wilhite, Shawn Crable, Chad Jackson, Laurence Maroney, Tyrone McKenzie and some others haven’t worked out and why Jermaine Cunningham and Ron Brace are currently not working out? Did he see that they had just as much talent as someone else in the draft but that they had a little less of an upside? While a good strategy by the mastermind Bill Belichick sometimes you have to take that “higher upside” talent to be surrounded by the others. Therefore, you have some adequate young talent surrounding one or two superstars and now you have a team.

However, hey, who am I? Just a fan, someone who watches the games and has an opinion on things. I am obviously not a part of the NFL or any station that follows them, but this is just my opinion and what I see.

I will say that in the last few drafts he has made some key hits with Brandon Spikes, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Patrick Chung, Devin McCourt (well, judge is still out with his horrible season last season but for now I’ll count him), and Zoltan Mesko. Judge is still out on the 2011 NFL draft class but so far some hits seem to be Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon and who knows how Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley and Ryan Mallett turn out but right now, they seem to be a part of the Patriots’ future. Ras-I Dowling is a question mark for me because of his past with injuries and the fact that he ended up on Injured Reserve last season. Before going on IR, he was doing okay but you were, well I was, just waiting for him to end up on that list and he did.

Although, some key misses at least from 2011 was Brooks Reed who went to the Houston Texans and when Mario Williams went down him, Conner Barwin and J.J. Watt made it not so bad that they lost Williams to the Buffalo Bills this past off-season. Another I think was Torrey Smith WR who went to the Baltimore Ravens. I am not going to rehash all of the other misses from the other years because quite honestly, they have been talked about repeatedly and we all need to forget about them. I think it just seems that the Patriots miss more because Belichick piles up so many picks. I still think Brooks Reed and Torrey Smith were misses in time they’ll be in the same category as the others… under a file that just says, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

In my opinion in this 2012 NFL draft that is a little over a month away Bill has to be aggressive, or at least stand pat with his picks and not trade down. Bill, Nick and the powers that be will have the master plan and do what is best for the team but with Tom Brady getting older and his seasons numbered, I think it’s more important than ever to snag a playmaker or two sooner rather than later. However, with what he said I see him continuing to trade down unless he sees an incredible talent on the board that is a once in a lifetime type of talent.

With whatever criticism we all have of coach and General Manager Bill Belichick it comes with an understanding that he is one of the best in the game. He has made questionable moves but we’re lucky to have someone who can win constantly and run the office side of things for as long as he has and like I said still have an “elite” team. At least we don’t have a revolving door at coach and G.M. like some other teams in the NFL. Of course, you could say that Tom Brady is the person who makes sure the Patriots keep winning but Belichick is the one who brings the talent in. Brady can’t do it by himself… don’t believe me? Well 2006 seems to point that way and if they had better talent at that time, they would have won it all instead of the Colts.

It was an interesting mailbag check it out:

ESPN Patriots Mailbag with Mike Reiss

Patriots off-season grades and thoughts part two

NEW ENGLAND Patriots Wallpaper

NEW ENGLAND Patriots Wallpaper (Photo credit: Axel.Foley)

TE- Daniel Fells A good move for the Patriots because it adds some depth behind Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. It will also allow Hernandez to play in the WR position more, as he did last season and still have the option to have a 2 other TE’s on the field to help block or run a pattern or both. Grade: B

WR- Donte Stallworth It’s been about 4 seasons since Stallworth has played in a Patriots uniform and while he was good while he was here back in 2007, what does he have left? This gives the Patriots some insurance if and when Gonzalez gets hurt and could be the nail in the Ocho experiment. Although since leaving, the Patriots Stallworth has not exactly been lighting up the stat sheet. His best season since leaving was last season with 11 games played, 22 receptions, 309 yards and 2 touchdowns, that’s not much of an upgrade over what Chad Johnson but I still like the move. You know that Donte knows the system, so adjusting will not be a problem for him. The only thing I don’t like about this move is that it most likely pushes Deion Branch out of the picture, even if they did trade or release Chad. Grade: B

DB- Marquice Cole- Who? This is a depth move and a player who will play on special teams mainly. Not the move I wanted to see but at least they are improving the depth, something that they needed to do. Hopefully they don’t forget that they need playmakers not just roster fillers. Grade: D

OL- Robert Gallery- Robert, who played for Seattle last season and was a first round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders back in 2004, is a good depth signing. He was pretty healthy for both Oakland and Seattle, except towards the end of last season where he missed 4 games because of injury. Belichick apparently had some interest in him during that 2004 draft and claimed if he had the first overall pick he would have taken Gallery (he was selected 2nd overall) He could jump in and start depending on what happens with Brian Waters and Matt Light who have been toying with the idea of retirement and also could step in if someone gets injured. Definitely like this signing. Grade: A

Visit of DL Luis Castillo- This tells me that Bill is not done on defense and has a plan in mind and is just playing his game of chess. He is just 28 years old but is coming off an injury. He, however, is not a pass rushing type of player either with just 2.5 sacks in 2010 and 2 in 2009. Therefore, I can see why they put him in and tried to see what he had, he can add to the depth of the DL but is not a game changer in my opinion. Some names are still available: Mark Anderson, Andre Carter, Shaun Rogers, Matt Roth, Aaron Smith, and Gerard Warren to name a few.

Jets sign LaRon Landry This is a blessing in disguise because Landry has a history with injuries for some reason (look up his recent photo and you’ll see why this is actually sarcasm). If he does well for the Jets, hey cool, but I’d rather give a chance and time to someone who can stay on it. Some interesting names still available on the market: OJ Atogwe, Melvin Bullitt, Bob Sanders, Jim Leonhard, Brian Dawkins, and Jarrad Page just to name a few.

Trade Rumors of Tim Tebow to the Patriots- While the Patriots were interested in Tim Tebow during the 2010 NFL Draft a lot has happened since then. Mainly, Brian Hoyer has got better and we drafted Ryan Mallett so I don’t know where he would fit. The idea though is intriguing and Josh McDaniels, who did draft him, is on the team and can share the ideas he had for using Tebow with Belichick. However if he came here he would have to change positions, to something like TE/RB/FB hybrid who can occasionally take a direct snap, or run a wild cat type offense. You can do many things with Tebow on this team but he would have to agree to be something other than a QB, even if you have to sell it to him that it’s just for now. You can have Tebow in the backfield with Brady and Woodhead, in the shotgun formation and Tebow can take the direct snap, Brady does his typical fake and then the Pats can run some form of the option-offense. Tebow can either throw it, run it, or hand it off to Danny but of course that’d be only one play but Tebow I think can fit as that TE/RB/FB type of hybrid. So many options, but I honestly don’t see him on this team because I don’t know if he’s ready to put his “dream” of being a QB aside, especially since Tom Brady is the main man and you don’t want to take the ball out of his hands. Message to Tim Tebow- don’t be stubborn, if Bill Belichick a Hall of Fame bound head coach wants you and asks you if you want to change positions… you change positions man. Also, just a fun fact, the Broncos need some WR help and the Patriots have an abundance of them and one in particular could be odd man out… sooo maybe you offer Chad Johnson and a pick to Denver for Tebow. I think that Chad has plenty left in him even though he is 34 and if he can’t prove it to New England fans on the Patriots then we will on another team… they I could be wrong but I just don’t see it that way. Do I see Tebow in a Patriots uniform? No.

The Patriots could also look at the draft to upgrade the pass rusher position but I am not going to hold my breath. Free Agency is not over so we’ll see what the Patriots do with the time they put into it but safety is not deep in this drafting according to some analysts so the only key I think would be getting some sort of impact DB. Belichick has done a good job this off-season focusing in on needs but getting mid-range players who aren’t horrible options. We’ll see what happens, so far it’s been pretty decent.

UPDATE: Dolphins continue to go in the opposite direction by planning to cut starting Safety Yeremiah Bell. Um, sure, Ireland is nuts I think… this is like Timberwolves and Kahn… entertaining. I mean they went from maybe one, two or three pieces away to rebuilding… already.

Where do the New England Patriots go from here?

NEW ENGLAND Patriots Wallpaper

NEW ENGLAND Patriots Wallpaper (Photo credit: Axel.Foley)

After losing to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl you have to think, where do they go from here? Well it was obvious, to me anyway, that the Patriots have some holes that really need to be filled if they want to win another Super Bowl ring. The score of the game cannot blind them, yes, if they scored a touchdown then they would have won and ESPN and other outlets would be swamped with comparisons of Tom Brady and Joe Montana, and we would be trying to find a channel that was not talking about it and most likely failing. However, the Patriots defense could not stop the Giants on that last drive and even on other drives made some crucial mistakes and they lacked playmakers on that defense. The Giants had 114 yards rushing and 282 through the air and they won the time of possession battle. So where do the Patriots go from here?

So out of all of the Patriots free agents, a list can be found here, who comes back? Wes Welker I believe is a given, Deion Branch, Dan Connolly, Matthew Slater, I do believe will all be back. Who is on the fence? Andre Carter, Mark Anderson and BenJarvus Green Ellis– all had decent seasons and could be offered contracts that the Patriots don’t want to match or beat. Especially with Green Ellis who hasn’t fumbled yet, what team wouldn’t want that and by letting him go you make a commitment to the two young running backs that you drafted last season, Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, they deserve to play more than they did last season and bringing back Green Ellis will just stunt any production I believe. The top priority is obviously Wes Welker but Matthew Slater is also on top of that list as well and as for Branch, well if he is willing to take a reduced role then we should sign him.

So what positions should be looked at in free agency? They need a pass rusher we all noticed the impact Andre Carter had so to have that consistently and from both sides would really make a difference. Defensive backs- they need better corners and safety. Bringing some impact defensive backs can really turn around a defense and a game. I’m not sure any team respects our corners and safeties. They also need an explosive Wide Receiver, only one who is strictly a deep threat but just an explosive WR that will get teams to respect the talent and notice he can be a deep threat. Even with the pending retirement of Brian Waters, I believe the Patriots are okay with the offensive line but grabbing a player or two in free agency or the draft would not hurt.

As much as we say it’s an offensive league, a defense still wins championships. Since 2004, every team who won a Super Bowl had at least a good defense, except the Indianapolis Colts but they were against the Chicago Bears who probably should not have been there. Maybe it’s not all about where you rank but more about the players you have and the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers this season I believe proved that but they shouldn’t be fooled, The Patriots deserved to be last especially when they released Brandon Meriweather and James Sanders without getting anything in return.

So who do the Patriots look at in free agency? Well this is a little tricky because they will look for talent but most likely not top talent because they will command big money. So with that being said who could be on the radar? Well you have Wide Receiver Reggie Wayne, something that former Patriots Willie McGinest pointed out. I know he’s a top WR but I have him because he played with Peyton Manning in a complicated offense, so you know he will grasp the playbook and know what is expected of him from another future Hall of Fame Quarterback Tom Brady. So what other names jump off the page? Well Defensive End Aaron Smith is one name, if healthy, can provide some energy and make an impact. Also obviously, Mario Williams would also be worth looking into but who knows if the Houston Texans will franchise tag him. Corners and safeties that could be available- Rashean Mathis, Marcus Trufant, Eric Wright, LaRon Landry, Chris Hope and Jordan Babineaux. Also some decent linebackers available, which could be on the radar as well. What should be watched is the situations in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Oakland because Pittsburgh and Philadelphia want to dump salary to make room for others and Oakland is going under a change in direction, strategy and everything since Al Davis passed away and is looking to release some “bad” contracts.

Some moves might be based on how they feel about Ras-I Dowling who was a 2nd round pick and was on injured reserve, also has a past of injuries. In addition, do they cut or keep Ron Brace, Jermaine Cunningham, Myron Pryor, and Chad “Ocho” Johnson and will they move Devin McCourty permanently to safety. This is certain though, Bill Belichick will make some moves, just as he did last off-season and with a whole off-season to teach the playbooks and system it will make a difference.

Key areas to improve- Cornerback, Safety, Defensive End, Outside Linebacker, Wide Receiver and Offensive Line.

Whom to target in the upcoming NFL draft? Safety Mark Barron from Alabama could drop to them since he has an injury and his time at the Scouting Combine will be limited. If he is still on the board at 20 or so, they should try to trade up and snag him. DT- Michael Brockers, DT- Dontari Poe, DE- Fletcher Cox, WR- Mohamed Sanu, OLB- Courtney Upshaw. It’s hard to predict what Bill will do in the draft but this is what I predict- Mark Barron will indeed fall to the Patriots at 27 but Bill will trade down for another second round pick and the Baltimore Ravens will pick Barron. Why? Well they will see someone else who maybe has the same skill set as Barron but with a lower ceiling and will be cheaper.

Franchise Tags can be applied- February 20th

Free Agency begins on March 13th

NFL Draft starts April 26th

Tim Tebow is the next Tom Brady?!

Tim Tebow

Image via Wikipedia

Tim Tebow, drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 1st round of the 2010 NFL draft by Josh McDaniels. I think the one thing I took from that move by McDaniels is his thoughts about whether Orton can run his offense. Is Tebow, who is now starting over Orton when Fox saw what Josh did, the next Tom Brady? Please! Absolutely not. He does not have the accuracy nor the consistency or a team that will back him if he has a bad performance. I think that Tebow has some potential to become a decent Quarterback in the NFL but I’m not sure he is a Franchise Quarterback. If you use smoke and mirrors and have shorter routes by the wide receivers and yeah that hurts them but Tebow is a young Quarterback who has some issues throwing the deep ball. He can scramble, energize the offense, is becoming known as a 4th quarter Quarterback, throw the short routes and maybe some medium ones and from what I have seen will protect the ball. Look at what the 49ers are doing with Alex Smith. Instead of trying to mold him into someone he just simply is not, they decided to use what skills he possesses to their advantage and simplified the offense and are now winning.

What will happen to Tebow next season? This is all based on what he does this season and how much time Denver gives him. If they have passed on Kyle Orton and have determined that Kyle is not the future for them then I see them just going with Tebow for the rest of the season cause you spent a 1st rounder on the kid so you should just see what he can do. Maybe if you see that he can’t play Quarterback full-time then you move him to a different position and use Tim as a wildcat type QB. I don’t read much into what ESPN and others have said and I am waiting to see what he does on the field and if he progresses from week to week simply because they have been wrong before.

Tim Tebow will not be the next Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Joe Montana or Steve Young. I see him, if he can get his accuracy to at least a respectable level, reading the defense better and making adjustments, being a Jason Campbell, Chad Pennington, Jon Kitna, Trent Dilfer, Kordell Stewart. Which is a Quarterback who can run your team, can win you games and even get you to the playoffs but probably won’t get you a ring and needs a very good defense. Anything can happen in the NFL however and who knows who Tebow will eventually become… maybe an above average QB, maybe a Game Managing QB, maybe a bust, maybe a Tight End or Wide Receiver. The Broncos don’t have anything to lose by playing him for the rest of the season cause I didn’t think they’d make the playoffs anyway and figured that Kyle was not in the plans for Fox or Elway.

 

Bottom line is that Tim Tebow has a lot to learn in order to become a viable NFL Quarterback and I do think that most of that comes with more playing time but I do not see him being elite nor will his throwing motion completely change. He might be best suited to switch his position or becoming a hybrid player. That is one thing that no player has perfected which names like Kordell Stewart, Brad Smith and some others have tried but no one has made it as dangerous as Tebow could.

How do I rate the NFL QB’s?

Tony Romo (en) at a Dallas Cowboys (en) preseason.

Image via Wikipedia

Quarterbacks leveling off

Joe Flacco– How come, with some weapons that he had and has including the running game and the élite defense they have, is this team not elite? I still think Flacco has some potential but could very well head down the “slighty above average QB” path as well. Let’s just say this, I know they have Anquan Boldin but sometimes I forget, and he is a great talent. You put him on most other teams and his name would be tattooed on other teams Gameplans and NFL Network broadcasts. He has had some good games since I began this but I still feel he is leveling off.

Mark Sanchez- Starting to see that he is a game manager and not a game changer and with the weapons he has around him that is not what the Jets need but it is efficient and will win you some games, even some key ones… just maybe not the big one.

Philip Rivers- If he has the same weapons that some other QB’s have/had then he could go back to being on the rise. He doesn’t have much help with Gates and Matthews injury problems and one real receiver. You take away the original trade and put him in Mannings spot I think he’d be back to being on the rise if not élite and a few rings.

Eli Manning- Has a good group around him, young and talented and is becoming, somehow, prone to turn the ball over. He is good enough I think to get them to the playoffs most of the years he is starting but winning another Superbowl? I don’t know, if he turns his habits around and stops turning it over then yes and he could off higher on this list as well.

Jason Campbell- He lives on the this list and I think that this is what Sanchez will be. Good enough as a starting quarterback but don’t expect him to win you a Superbowl.

Matt Cassel– Chiefs are still young and have some decent pieces but Cassel is definitely not surrounded with the same amount of talent that he was when he stood in for Brady the season Tom was out. What would he be with established targets and the same running game he had with Weis?

Matt Hasselbeck- He is getting older and he was always more of an above average QB anyway. I never felt that he was going to win you a Super Bowl, however he did get you to one.

Rex Grossman- He is just too inconsistent and all over the place from week to week. It’s why he didn’t work out in Chicago, he did do good enough to get them to the Super Bowl but the real Rex showed up and they lost.

Charlie Whitehurst- I’m still not sure what he can do really. He was a back up for Rivers and Seattle traded for him and it was a good move for maybe they saw as the QB of the future but now he is already on the bench waiting for his moment behind Tavaras Jackson? That’s not a good sign.

Still rising, some barely not counting rookies

Matt Ryan- I still think that the only targets he has is White, Tony, and now Julio Jones and they definitely are better in this area than last season but his consistency and lack of wins on the road hold him down a little. Still progressing though and making some key plays and is starting to get Brady/Manning like at the line. Falcons however needs a defense to help him out a bit. He can manage the game, keep from turning it over and put points on the board but if the defense can’t stop anyone, you’re in trouble.

Matt Schaub– He is not surrounded by much but still seems to make the best of it. Johnson, the élite WR is his key and almost only target. Schaub could still get you to “the game” if he had some other talents around him. Tight ends seem good, Tate and Foster seem are  headed that way thus far so we’ll see. I think they are just too reliant on the monster known as Andre Johnson. I think you need another dynamic WR to help out Schaub and also help the passing game. It seems that if you take away Johnson, double him and make him a non-factor than you beat them, not good.

Ryan Fitzpatrick- He is making some no name receivers look good and that is what a QB should do. If he continues this the rest of this season and into the next who knows what ceiling he has, could be a hidden gem or just a fluke.

Sam Bradford- Doesn’t have a lot around him, or really anything besides Stephen Jackson. He has done well with what he has, the only real good target I believe has been Amendola. They get some others around him and Jackson stays healthy and he could be the next elite QB in the NFL that could bring the Rams back to the promise land.

Matthew Stafford- A few shoulder issues has me instantly thinking of Chad Pennington but Stafford if he can stay away from the IR has a higher ceiling especially with the talent around him.

Colt McCoy– The game that really opened up some eyes in the NFL was the game against the Patriots at least in my opinion. He has some decent pieces around him but it could be better I think. Get an elite WR and let Hillis continue to improve and now you have a great QB.

Michael Vick- Yes he is on this list and not the elite list. I must admit he is probably very close but playoff wins and a trip to the superbowl hold him back for me. He is in between great and elite and it is up to him to get to that coveted position. He has the tools to become a unique quarterback and the blueprint for what a scrambling quarterback is suppose to be, minus the jail time.

Josh Freeman- An up and comer in this league and can become the next Donovan McNabb if he keeps up the pace and the Bucs plays their cards right. The team has some young pieces at each position and has revamped the defense so we will see where they go from here. Blount is also a nice surprise, especially since they picked him up as most likely a back up and now he has turned into a good running back, which helps Freeman.

Kevin Kolb– Disappointing season thus far for Kolb but he is still on this list, barely but he still remains. I do believe that he is still getting down this system due to coming to the team late and I think when he does have it completely down, he’ll be very good but that is up to him.

Tim Tebow- Is only on the rising list cause he is not declining and not leveling off. This could very well go badly but not because of him, not completely anyway. The Broncos have no running game really and traded Brandon Lloyd the current number 1 receiver. Decker, Royal, Thomas and others are promising at WR but are still young and mostly unproven. Eddie Royal looked to have promise and was probably one of the main reasons why McDaniels felt comfortable enough trading Marshall, I bet drinking helped as well JUST KIDDING but anyway Royal did not come through after the trading of Brandon Marshall. What is with Denver and trading the only developed WR they have? Note to others on the depth chart, want off a losing team? Just become a known commodity and a viable receiver and you’ll be traded. Again, I’m kidding, trading Lloyd makes sense to me honestly and gives the young guys a chance to develop.

Alex Smith- Surprising that he is on this list cause of all of his earlier seasons but in Harboughs system he is shining which is to the 49ers benefit. He is becoming a good game manager and now it is up to him to keep it up and for now it is his job to lose.

Elite

Tom Brady
Peyton Manning
Drew Brees
Ben Roesthlisberger
Aaron Rodgers

Declining

Tony Romo– Seems to collapse in crunch time where even average QB’s are decent in. He plays paranoid, rushed and makes bad decisions during these times. His WR talent doesn’t help but QB’s, especially elite ones, are supposed to make no names look good. Anyone heard of Reche Caldwell before or after his season with the Patriots? No, but Brady made him look good. You have to think that if the Cowboys either don’t get into the playoffs or lose in the first round, are the Cowboys going to try to replace Tony? It’s not a crazy thought, and that’s why Romo is here.

Tavaris Jackson- Probably shouldn’t be starting anyway but his play with the Vikings pre-Favre was okay and had some potential but when showed what an elite QB could do with the same offense you saw why Vikings let him walk to Seattle. I think that he is just a bridge until Carroll can find his starter, maybe his name starts with a C? Pete is a smart coach I think, he’ll find his man, but I don’t think either are on this roster.

Jay Cutler- His lack of time, lack of talent surrounding him at all spots except RB could be the reason he is on this list. His whining in Denver didn’t help his reputation at all and neither did the injury during the playoffs last season. Give him some time and an elite receiver or two and maybe he jumps up to leveling off. I wonder what the Bears see in some of the WR’s they have, because I sure don’t see what they do. You give any QB time and some good receivers around him and he’ll give a chance to win, example Curtis Painter and the Colts. Orton did not do as bad as Cutler with the Bears, it’s almost as if both of these guys were better off where they were.

Carson Palmer- I just think that his issues with the Bengals and the owner Brown has made him look bad, even if he is right by doing it. He should know his owner is stubborn and honestly should just play. Now he has lost leverage since Dalton is playing well and the team is winning so even if he came back, he’d be #2 or 3 on the depth chart. Could also be ego driven and Palmer could be in the wrong. He has recently traded to the Raiders so hold your hats everyone, we’ll see if he goes up or down on the list.

David Garrard- Inconsistent and might be a decent game manager but I think he hit his ceiling already and is only the down side already, then again maybe Jacksonville didn’t give him the pieces to win with, but, I don’t see that as true. They haven’t had a good QB since Brunell and now are showing they are attracted to the same type of QB, was expecting them to go after Vince Young in the off-season. Gabbert is kind of the same type, but he is rookie, hard to judge him.

Kyle Orton- Can make the throws, put up the stat numbers but can’t seem to put points on the board. You can throw for 400 yards a game but if you end up with just 7 points by the end of the 4th, you did something wrong. Even in Josh McDaniels offense, which made Cassel look like Brady, he couldn’t stay consistent in the win column.

Donovan McNabb- At one time was one of the elite QB’s in the game and I do think that the Eagles squandered his prime years away with low quality talent at the WR position but you could see that after drafting Jackson and Maclin that McNabb already started to level off and now he has lost a step. Just got to wonder why Vikings didn’t resign Sidney Rice and give McNabb a better chance to go back in time but with Ponder waiting behind him he might just be a teacher/bridge.

Chad Henne- Came in with question marks this season and before his injury he was on the verge of getting sent to the bench, especially since his coach is most likely on the hot seat and now his season is over cause of a shoulder injury. Something that Dolphins fans are all too familiar with when talking about quarterbacks. So when next season starts where will Henne be? Miami? Or somewhere else either starting or backup? I guess his time is over starting in Miami unless he comes out of the gate next season during off-season and exhibition games and plays like the quarterback they thought they were getting.

Regardless of my opinion of these quarterbacks my analysis won’t change after just a game or two. It would have to take a few games playing at the same compete level and getting better with each game. At the beginning of the season, for example, I would bet that Ryan Fitzpatrick would have been on my declining or leveling off section but to my surprise he is getting better and now a part of the on the rise section after 3-4 games with great performances.

Next  elite QB’s?

So who is the next class since Brady and Manning are getting older. Who will step in and join that class?
Matt Ryan, Sam Bradford, maybe Philip Rivers.

Surprising move at Quarterback?

Cutler/Romo traded or benched. I would see Romo traded if Dallas felt he was not there man going forward just cause of his contract, that kind of money can’t just be sitting on your bench. Cutler, who in Denver was a borderline Franchise QB, most actually called him that, has not been able to duplicate such a label with the Bears and if he doesn’t improve they might just move on. I see them trying to trade Cutler if they don’t see him in their future plans but with so many teams with quality starting QB’s I’m not sure they’d find someone able to bite. It depends where Luck goes and what happens with other teams with question marks at QB.

Teams with QB issues

Miami Dolphins
Seattle Seahawks
San Fransisco 49ers- depending on how Smith develops this season
Denver Broncos- Just because the front office doesn’t believe in Tebow.

I think that some other teams are comfortable with who they have going forward, but might not have the Franchise Quarterback they want and one of two others have Quarterbacks who are doing very well but can they keep progressing? I will also mention that I wrote this list after Week 5 in the NFL and I have made a few changes on my thoughts and I will update them again soon. Any of the names on this list can go up or down depending on performance.