QB Power Rankings: October 15, 2018

What follows is the most ambitious attempt to evaluate the modern quarterback, a decades-in-the-waiting synthesis of technology and expert scouting to isolate the performance of the QB from that of his team.

Just kidding. This is the debut of my QB Power Rankings, a subjective but hopefully (mildly) informative ranking of the best at the position right now. The goal is not to pick a quarterback for one game or for the long run; it’s essentially who I’d want for the rest of this season.

(To be eligible, the QB must have attempted at least 20 passes in the NFL so far in 2018 and not be injured for the season. Jimmy Garoppolo would rank somewhere in the 11-15 range if healthy.)

  1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Rodgers takes home the No. 1 spot in the debut of this series, but it’s a tenuous hold. Thanks to a combination of injuries to himself, suspect talent around him, and the conservative offensive schemes and play calling of his head coach, Mike McCarthy, Rodgers hasn’t quite been in peak form in years. Of course, off peak form for Rodgers is still pretty good: this season, without full health, he’s throwing for over 300 yards per game with 10 touchdowns and one interception. No QB combines Rodgers’ athleticism, arm strength, accuracy, and decision making.

  1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

Brady already has six interceptions in just six games this season; that’s just two fewer than he had all of last year. He put up 43 points last night without an INT, just narrowly outdueling Patrick Mahomes. He’s okay.

  1. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Brees has all kinds of talent around him. Alvin Kamara might be the most explosive running back in the league, and Michael Thomas is quickly rising up the wide receiver ranks. With the help—and New Orleans’ fast home track—Brees is reinventing the position at 39 years of age. He’s completed 77.9 percent of his passes this season while averaging 8.7 yards per pass—and he’s yet to throw a pick.

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The XFL Could Save Football (But It Probably Won’t)

The original iteration of the XFL only lasted one year, failing for numerous reasons ranging from the popularity of the NFL, its direct competitor, to being a rushed and inferior product, with inferior players, and so on. The XFL’s mantra then was that it was going to be even more extreme than the already hard-hitting NFL, and Vince McMahon, owner of the WWE (and thus XFL) likely thought he could do football even better. It was a stretch, sure, but his company was in the midst of the immensely popular “Attitude Era;” it wasn’t out of the question that McMahon could find something that rivaled the NFL, or at least carved out a niche alongside it, appealing to the many people who watched wrestling on television.

It didn’t happen, of course, as the XFL was largely an embarrassment, quickly shelved and jettisoned from public consciousness. It may be surprising to you then that now—in an era of CTE awareness and fair(er) treatment of women, etc.—that McMahon’s XFL, which got off on big hits and cheerleaders, is trying to make a comeback. McMahon’s already distanced himself from the previous version of the XFL, however, noting that this one will come without the gimmicks.

Okay, but what’s the angle? Well, take a step back, and you can see McMahon’s money-making levers start to jostle. The NFL’s had something of a controversial year, from players kneeling for the national anthem in droves early in the year to declining ratings to the ominous and ever-present specter of CTE knowledge. I’m not sure if McMahon sees value in that latter point, but the first two . . . that’s probably  why he’s pouncing here. He’s already made it clear in part of the XFL’s opening salvo that the league is going to essentially force players to stand during the national anthem, attempting to divorce the sport from any politics or social stances, while also not hiring, according to McMahon, any player with any sort of criminal record.

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Did Rashaad Penny Get Snubbed?

Let me preface this with a couple of quick bullet points:

  • My interest in season-ending awards, in baseball or football, has thankfully waned over the years.
  • I’m not necessarily a San Diego State football fan, although I did watch three or four of their games this season.
  • Whatever comes below does not discount the tremendous season that Rashaad Penny had.

Okay, glad that’s out of the way. My interest in whether Penny got snubbed from one of the three spots as a Doak Walker finalist is purely a curiosity. As in, is he or is he not one of the three best running backs in the country?

Of course, it’s a simple question with an almost impossible answer. Football is a team game, and much of the statistics that are recorded are tough to entangle from team play. How much credit goes to the running back and the offensive line on a good running play? How much credit goes to the quarterback and the wide receiver—let alone the O-line—on a long touchdown pass? And, further, how do we account for things that aren’t even recorded, like the blocking skills of a running back or the value of good play-calling?

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