Tag:Philip Rivers
Posted on: July 20, 2010 3:16 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2010 3:40 pm
 

Position rankings: quarterbacks

Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit saved everyone's favorite position ranking debate for last.

Josh Katzowitz’s top five

5. Aaron Rodgers, Packers

4. Brett Favre, Vikings

3. Philip Rivers, ChargersP. Manning (US Presswire)

2. Drew Brees, Saints

1. Peyton Manning, Colts


This top five quarterbacking exercise is interesting. You basically can put the league’s starting quarterbacks into three categories. The top guys (about seven players), who you’d pick if (for some reason) you needed somebody to go 80 yards in 2 minutes in order to save your mortgage. The middle guys (maybe nine players) who used to be really good but now aren’t or who are young but could turn out to be really good. Then, the lower-end guys (the rest) who are interchangeable and probably wouldn’t lead your team to the top of the division. In that end, this exercise isn’t that difficult, because, basically, we’re picking from about seven quarterbacks.

That said, I’d be surprise if anyone argued against Peyton Manning as the top quarterbacks in the league – and maybe one of the best-five of all time. I could run through the stats, but you know they’re awesome. Perhaps most impressive about Manning, like Favre, is that he’s so durable. Part of that has to do with the performance of his offensive line – Manning was sacked 10 times last year – but he’s also tough, never missing a start in his career (that’s 192 straight games).

Brees had an incredible year last season, recording a QB rating of 109.6 and completing an NFL-record-tying 70.6 percent of his passes. I’d feel safer with Manning with the game on the line, but not much. Rivers and Rodgers passed for at least 4,200 yards, 28 touchdowns and less than 10 interceptions last season. And it’s tough to discount Favre, especially after how he performed last year in his 19th season. Yeah, he plays cowboy too often and throws atrocious interceptions in clutch moments, but for consistent greatness, he’s tough to beat.

Andy Benoit’s top five

5. Brett Favre, Vikings

4. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers

3. Drew Brees, Saints

2. Tom Brady, Patriots

1. Peyton Manning, Colts

Josh, seven of the last nine Super Bowls have been won by quarterbacks who are NOT on your list. I can understand omitting Eli Manning – he ranks in the 10-12 range, not the 1-5 range. But I can’t, for the life of me, figure out how Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger don’t show up.

The only explanation for a “healthy-minded” individual omitting Brady is that said “healthy-minded” individual thinks Brady isn’t the same after his ’08 knee injury. True, Brady had some trouble getting comfortable in the pocket during the first half of last year, but he still finished the season with nearly 4,400 yards and 28 touchdowns. The knee can’t be THAT grave a concern.

The argument against Big Ben, I’m assuming, is that he’s suspended for character issues, which calls his leadership into question. Whatever. The man is 28 and already owns two rings. Physically-speaking, Roethlisberger is the most gifted quarterback in the NFL.
 
Go ahead and retort these Brady-Roethlisberger arguments – I’m prepared to argue all day. (And if you’re prepared to say that Brady has weapons around him, I’m prepared to say that he won his three titles with Troy Brown and David Patten; if you’re ready to mention Roethlisberger’s sack numbers, I’m ready to remind you that his improvised plays have been a more than adequate tradeoff, and I’ll also ask, “If sacks are so bad, then what is Rodgers doing on your list?”)

A few other notes from your list…

**I agree with your analysis on Manning and Favre. Something I’d add is that no two quarterbacks transform average receivers into stars like these two. Favre made the careers of Robert Brooks and Antonio Freeman. He built fantastic chemistry with Donald Driver. Most recently, he’s helped Sidney Rice recognize his full potential. Manning did the same with youngsters Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie last year. Think either of those guys could register 100 yards in a playoff game if they had a typical quarterback throwing them the ball?

**You give credit to Manning’s offensive line. Don’t. All the credit goes to Manning. The Colts offensive line is, at best, average. Left tackle Charlie Johnson is a plodder and both guards are undersized. Manning’s awareness and pocket presence explain the low sack totals. It’s the same case with Brees and the Saints’ line, by the way. Left tackle Jermon Bushrod is awful, and you know how I feel about Jon Stinchcomb. But even with iffy tackles, Brees almost never takes sacks.

**Like you, I put Manning ahead of Brees. My reasoning is that Manning has been playing at the highest of levels for about eight years. Brees, only three or four. That said, I have trouble following your logic when you write, “I’d feel safer with Manning with the game on the line, but not much.” Wasn’t Brees’s Super Bowl title clinched by Manning’s late fourth quarter pick-six?

Josh’s rebuttal

So, you’re going to choose one play to illustrate that Manning isn’t clutch at the end of games? Well, what about the 2006 season AFC Championship game when he led the Colts back from an 18-point deficit, including that game-winning 80-yard TD drive, to beat Brady and the Patriots? Can we count that? Manning’s been clutch for longer than Brees in this league. That’s why I went with Manning as No. 1. Which you agree with, anyway.

When I mentioned there were seven quarterbacks who could have made the top seven, I obviously was also talking about Brady and Roethlisberger. I’ve seen Roethlisberger play numerous times live, and, to me, he’s simply a notch below the guys I’ve listed. I didn’t factor the recent legal issues or the suspension into my equation, but the leadership issues I did. It’s just the way he’s perceived by his teammates and the fact that they’ve questioned his character on a number of occasions. It’s not a good thing. I don’t mind him taking sacks because, I agree, he makes so many plays off his freelancing that it tends to balance out. But I point you to his 2008 stats: 59.9 percent completions; 3,301 yards, 17 touchdowns, 15 interceptions. Those are not elite numbers. Hell, Chad Pennington had better numbers than that in 2008.

And you know what? I don’t have a great argument for excluding Brady, other than he didn’t seem like the same player last year after the knee injury. Plus, Matt Cassel had a pretty good year in Brady’s place, so in my mind, that diminishes Brady just a tad.

But if I had a mulligan, I think I’d replace Rodgers with Brady at No. 5.

Andy’s final word

Can’t let you off that easy, Josh – especially since this is our last position rankings debate. Putting Brady at No. 5 is inadequate. He’s at least 2 or 3. I will say, though, your point about Cassel is not a bad one. The Patriots went 11-5 under him and were hot down the stretch (they got screwed out of a postseason berth by the NFL’s flawed playoffs rules that put the 8-8 Chargers in the tournament that year). During that ’08 season, an immensely respected NFL analyst privately told me that you could argue Brady is simply the greatest system quarterback of all time. This analyst wasn’t saying he believed this, he was merely explaining that the discussion was worth having. We’ll save that discussion for another time. For now, I’ll keep it simple by honoring a Three-Time Champ.

Roethlisberger’s ’08 numbers are poor. And, from afar, he doesn’t appear to be highly respected by teammates. I get that. But again, this is a multi-time World Champion we’re talking about. If we had more Super Bowl winners in the league, you could leave the guy off. But it’s hard to go with Rodgers or Rivers when those guys have yet to build rich playoff résumés.

Final follow up on Manning: I’m not saying he isn’t clutch. He is. I’m just anticipating all the comments we’ll get from people griping that Brees should be No. 1 based on recent history.


Other positions: Safety | Cornerback | 3-4 Scheme Outside Linebacker | Punter  | Kicker | 4-3 Scheme Outside Linebacker | Inside Linebacker  | Defensive Tackle  | Defensive End | Offensive Tackle   | Center | Offensive Guard | Tight End | Wide Receiver | Running Back)

--Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.

Posted on: June 23, 2010 8:25 pm
 

Whitehurst fails to impress, then impresses

When Seattle traded a 2010 second-round pick and a 2011 third-round pick to San Diego for a 2010 third-round selection and career backup QB Charlie Whitehurst (and agreed to pay him about $5 million a year to make him the signal-caller of the future), it was a surprise.

Consider: Whitehurst has spent his four years in the NFL as a backup to Chargers QB Philip Rivers, and he’s made exactly zero passing attempts in a regular-season game. He’s not shown that he’s a high-level NFL QB who eventually can replace Matt Hasselbeck. He’s not shown he’s better than J.P. Losman, who spent last year in the UFL before signing with Seattle but was a starter for most of his five seasons in Buffalo.

Yes, Whitehurst is tall and athletic. Yes, he has a big-time arm. Yes, Seattle’s coaches and front office personnel say they see a big upside to him – coach Pete Carroll has even hinted that he could compete with Hasselbeck for the starting role. But honestly, I was never that impressed with him when I saw him live a few times during his years at Clemson (less than 60 percent completion percentage during his career and 49 touchdowns to 46 interceptions). 

So, I ask: if he wasn't that spectacular in the ACC, how's he going to be the Seahawks QB of the future?

During Seattle’s mini-camp this week, Whitehurst had mixed results.

In a Tacoma News-Tribune blog post from Eric D. Williams on Tuesday, he wrote that Losman is “far closer to being a game-ready productive quarterback than Whitehurst.” Williams cites Losman’s arm and his experience. Whitehurst has the arm as well; just not the experience.

Yet, in a blog post today for the Seattle Times , Danny O’Neil wrote that, on the final day of mini-camp, Whitehurst looked as impressive as he’s been since he put on a Seattle uniform.

So, who knows? We ask you this, though. Will the guy making $5 million be the third-string QB? Or will it be the guy making $630,000?

--Josh Katzowitz

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.


Posted on: June 16, 2010 2:21 pm
 

Don't expect Jackson, McNeill to return soon

Despite giving WR Vincent Jackson and OT Marcus McNeill an extra 24 hours to sign their restricted free agent tender offers, the Chargers now expect to play much of the 2010 NFL season without two of their stars, the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee writes.

“We lost a couple of great players today, and it hurts,” GM A.J. Smith told the paper. “We are trying to build a championship team, and losing the services of both Vincent and Marcus just made that more difficult – but not impossible. In due time, Coach (Norv) Turner will name two new starters. We will rally as a team, compete and try to win as many games as we can.”

It won’t be easy to replace the production of Jackson and McNeill. Jackson is coming off a 68-catch, nine-touchdown season, and every year he’s been in the NFL, his production has improved. McNeill, meanwhile, is a two-time Pro Bowler and will be sorely missed on the offensive line, protecting QB Philip Rivers’ blindside.

Acee expects both players to forgo signing what would be a hugely-reduced contract and then return to the team in mid-November to play the final six games – which would count to their service time as an accrued season. Acee explains how much money Jackson and McNeill will give up:

McNeill will lose $2.568 million as his tender is dropped to $600,000. Should he not report until after the Chargers’ 10th game, which numerous sources have said he will and the Chargers are expecting, he will make $212,000.

Jackson will have his tender dropped from $3.268 million to $583,000 (a $2.685 million reduction). He would make $206,000 if he doesn’t report until six games are left, though it remains unclear how an expected suspension of two to four games for his past DUIs will affect him.


Without them, expect newly-signed WR Josh Reed and OT Tra Thomas to take their places in the lineup.


--Josh Katzowitz

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl .

Posted on: June 15, 2010 10:10 am
 

The Amazing Wes Welker

Albert Breer of the Boston Globe has a really interesting article on Wes Welker’s recovery from ACL surgery. Welker surprised everyone by cutting and running routes for a few minutes back on June 2. In this article, Rod Woodson and Philip Rivers talk about their own remarkable recoveries from knee operations.

Obviously, it wasn’t as easy as those men made it look. (Woodson, you may recall, tore his ACL in Week 1 of the ’95 season but came back for the Super Bowl; Rivers played with a torn ACL in the ’07 playoffs and, a few months later, was back on the field in Week 1 for the ’08 season. Both men played at a high level after their injuries.)

Here’s an excerpt:

Rivers was told it would take 18 months before his knee would feel normal again and, much as he didn’t want to believe it, that was the truth. He added that a third of his patellar tendon was removed from the front of his knee to create the ACL graft, which brought additional soreness. And he’d feel that, in his calf and quad, doing mundane things such as driving or getting a night’s sleep.
But his ability to block out pain on the field came quicker.

“It took until those preseason games the next year,’’ Rivers said. “Those were important. Even in practice, as much you did, you knew it was protected. In a live deal, it takes some time to where your mind is committed and focused on the game and the defense in front of you. You have to get through it, and realize you’ll be OK.’’

Woodson said it took him about 16 months to stop thinking about the knee completely.

“He’s got to be careful that he doesn’t overcompensate,’’ said Woodson, who made five Pro Bowl teams following the injury. “Maybe his Achilles’ is sore, because he’s running on a leg that’s not fully healed, so something happens. With your Achilles’, your quad, your hamstring, you compensate because you’re not running right.

“I remember my right Achilles’ started hurting, and that bothered me more than the knee did the next season.’’
Ian Rapoport of BostonHerald.com also has a unique piece on Welker, talking about the Hermosa Beach, CA training facility where Welker is rehabbing his knee. The facility is operated by a 5’1” ex-power lifter named Jeremy “Troll” Subin and offers alternative physical and emotional exercises.

--Andy Benoit

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com