If you haven’t checked it out yet, be sure to take a look at this article from BLD Lead Writer Chris Trapasso. It details Ryan Fitzpatrick’s quest to improve this offseason, which includes work with renowned QB coach David Lee. While reading that and dreaming about Fitz suddenly morphing into Aaron Rodgers, I got to thinking…how good can Fitz be? Where does he rank among the rest of the NFL’s starting quarterbacks?
And those thoughts led to this list you see below. This is ranking of how successful I feel each starting QB will be in 2012 (not necessarily a reflection of his past success). Feel free to agree, disagree, or anything in between in the comments.
1) Tom Brady, New England – I hate Brady and the Pats with the fire of a thousand suns…but Brady is amazing. I think he has at least one more great season in him – he’s desperate for the fourth title. Expect Brady to be on an absolute mission in 2012. And that will suck.
2) Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay – I really considered putting Rodgers #1. He was the best QB in 2011, without question. His 2011 stats (45 TDs/6 INTS, 9.25 yards per attempt, 122.5 QB Rating) boggle the mind. I do think he and the Pack come a little back to Earth this year, though.
3) Eli Manning, New York Giants – Eli’s at the top of his game right now. Expect another huge year.
4) Peyton Manning, Denver – If he’s healthy, that is.
5) Drew Brees, New Orleans – I love Drew, which is probably the only reason he’s this high. Wouldn’t be a shock if he and the Saints really fall off in 2012. Just too much offseason nonsense.
6) Michael Vick, Philadelphia – I know, I know. Vick was not good in 2011 and can’t stay healthy. But I’m downright bullish on the Eagles in 2012. They quietly had a great offseason, and if Vick does stay upright I think he’s got one more truly great season in him.
7) Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh – It’s been a rough few years for Big Ben. I think he’ll lead the Steelers to a good season in 2012, however.
8) Matthew Stafford, Detroit – I can’t decide if Stafford’s outstading season last year was a sign of things to come or a bit of a fluke. Did you know he topped 5,000 yards and 40 TDs in 2011? Crazy.
9) Tony Romo, Dallas – Another team I’m really high on. And Romo can play. That NFC East is going to be BRUTAL in 2012. Three really good teams.
10) Matt Schaub, Houston – Schaub puts up good numbers, but I don’t totally trust him. But throwing to Andre Johnson and having a great running game should ensure another excellent season in Houston for Schaub.
11) Cam Newton, Carolina – Sophomore slump or the continued rise of football’s next star? It will be fun to find out.
12) Philip Rivers, San Diego – I don’t know what went wrong last year…but I’m pretty sure Norv Turner is not the man to fix it.
13) Jay Culter, Chicago – New WR Brandon Marshall will help. The sulky one may put up a banner year.
14) Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo – Probably too high…but I’m an optimist. Fitz really was playing well before he broke his ribs last season.
15) Matt Ryan, Atlanta – I know he’s good, but man do he and the Falcons bore me. I’m not sure if there’s an NFL team I enjoy watching less. Expect another decent season and another playoff game where they roll over and die.
16) Joe Flacco, Baltimore – Another guy I probably have too low based on intense personal dislike.
17) Robert Griffin III, Washington – The ‘Skins will struggle a bit in the NFC East, but RGIII will be a ton of fun to watch. I love this guy.
18) Alex Smith, San Francisco – Welcome back to Earth, Alex Smith (and the 49ers).
19) Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee – Expect the Jake Locker watch to start early, even though it won’t be really Hasselbeck’s fault.
20) Andy Dalton, Cincinnati – The Bengals as a whole are going to take a step back in 2012. That inlcudes Dalton.
21) Sam Bradford, St. Louis – Bradford can play, I think. The Rams need another year of rebuilding before he’ll get the chance to really show it, though.
22) Mark Sanchez, New York Jets – Poor Sanchez. Tebow-mania is going to swallow him up. He’s going to hear “Teee-boooowww!” chants in his dreams.
23) Andrew Luck, Indianapolis – Luck will be great. He won’t be in 2012. The Colts are not good.
24) Matt Flynn, Seattle – If he wins the impending three-way QB battle, Flynn will…hand off a lot.
25) Matt Cassel, Kansas City – I just don’t think he’s ever going to get any better.
26) Kevin Kolb, Arizona – Could go down as one of the worst free agent signings ever.
27) Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay - I was really high on Freeman at one point. But man, he was awful last year. We’ll see if he can bounce back.
28) Carson Palmer, Oakland – “Washed up” doesn’t even begin to describe Palmer. He’s DONE.
29) Matt Moore, Miami – Moore was actually pretty good last season, toiling for a crappy team. But he’s just not going to be given a real chance to succeed with David Garrard and rookie Ryan Tannehill around.
30) Colt McCoy, Cleveland – Just a hopeless situation. Everyone in Cleveland’s front office should go.
31) Christian Ponder, Minnesota – Some people like this guy, and I’m not sure why. I’m just not seeing it, and the Vikings are going to stink again.
32) Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville - I’m not sure if it is possible to overstate just how bad Gabbert’s rookie season was. If he’s not markedly better early in 2012, he’s not going to be the starter for long.