I want to start this by saying not every quarterback in the playoffs this year is bad. Obviously, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, and Drew Brees are excluded. The surprising thing to me is when you run through the 12 quarterbacks that made the playoffs, I would consider three maybe four of them to be a part of the top eight or “elite” tier of quarterbacks. In the past, quarterbacks were able to carry a team to the playoffs on their own. The best of the best aside from that one elite defensive unit was able to drag their team to the playoffs. So what happened?
So, let’s start with the bad quarterbacks. Tyrod Taylor is in the playoffs because the Bills have magically been mediocre all season and honestly just lucked themselves into the playoffs. Aside from LeSean McCoy, nothing on the team seems above average. Taylor doesn’t turn the ball over a ton, but he has 14 touchdowns on the season. Blake Bortles has played better in the last six weeks, but let’s be honest, he was a laughing stock and in legitimate danger of losing his job come next year. He has been carried by a fantastic rushing attack and a historic defense full of talent.
Marcus Mariota has been absolutely terrible this season and has fallen into the same category as the Bills, they lucked into the playoffs. Nick Foles had a good game against the Giants but does not look comfortable. It’s not his fault, he is a backup but did have an incredible season in 2013. He is a mystery, but for now, he is in this category because I expect him to struggle.
The mediocre quarterbacks that aren’t in that elite category are Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Jared Goff, Case Keenum, and Alex Smith. Yes, I just called Cam and Ryan mediocre, get over it. Newton has been the definition of inconsistent this season. While his team can compete with any team in the league, he needs to find consistency and I just don’t expect it to happen.
That being said, I do think he’s close to elite if he manages to get back to his MVP form. Speaking of former MVPs, Matt Ryan isn’t elite this season, his offense is pedestrian, and while he has a new Offensive Coordinator, his whole career has been pedestrian, aside his outlier year in 2016.
Jared Goff has made real strides and is likely to continue to develop into a top-tier quarterback. I won’t sit behind my computer and try and be a hater that’s going to act like he isn’t destined for greatness. My only concern is that this is his second year, he’s still inexperienced, not quite ready for a playoff atmosphere.
Case Keenum is a second string backup. He hasn’t been terrible, in fact, he’s been great. However, just like Goff, he’s very inexperienced and that scares me. While I think he can be an average NFL quarterback, I don’t see him making that jump. Lastly, Alex Smith isn’t elite and never will be. While he fooled us with his first six weeks and looked like an absolute stud, he’s returned to earth and been average since.
When I compare the elite quarterbacks in the playoffs this season to last, the difference is remarkable. I would rather have Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, Dak Prescott, Derek Carr, Tom Brady, and Ben Roethlisberger, all of whom played exceptionally well last season. These quarterbacks carried their teams, while this year more complete teams made the playoffs. Personally, I feel this is an outlier season and this trend won’t continue in the future, but who knows?