Thanks to the many legendary NFL quarterbacks such as Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, John Elway, Dan Marino and Jim Kelly to name a few, all league franchises—including their fans—dream to have a signal caller to take them to the highest level in order to win Super Bowls.
Many of the great field generals of decades past could be associated with one word to describe their brilliance on the gridiron.
Jim Kelly: The Gun
Joe Montana: Cool
Johnny Unitas: Solid
Dan Marino: Golden
John Elway: Tough
Then, there were the other guys. Quarterbacks who were borderline great, like Vinny Testaverde and Mark Brunell, could be labeled as “giddy” for their toughness and persistence.
On the NFL level, there were countless quarterbacks who were never close at being good in the league, like Heath Shuler and Kyle Boller who both could be labeled as being “shaky” due to a lack of confidence in themselves or were placed in a bad situation with no hope to succeed.
The current NFL quarterbacks are not exempt from being labeled, as their play on the field has dictated who they are after each snap.
In one word, each of the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL can be described, as they all attempt to lead their club to the promise land. For some, these attached names will be predicated to their body of work over the years, while others are attempting to start a legacy.
For the 2011 NFL season, these quarterbacks are also known as:
Tom Brady of the New England Patriots – Killer
Without a doubt, Brady is terrific for his ability to move the ball up and down the field with ease. However, despite having a double-digit lead, up by one or down by a little, Brady will perform surgery on any defense as if the game was on the line.
Brady is leading the NFL in passing yards with 2,163 and has won 31 straight home games.
Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Buffalo Bills – Persistent
Fitzpatrick was never considered, probably still isn’t, a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL. After short stints in St. Louis and Cincinnati, Fitzpatrick landed in Buffalo. Spending time as a backup for other failed signal callers, Fitzpatrick’s persistence allowed him to stay firm in his belief of being a leader.
For the first time in his professional career, Fitzpatrick finally has naysayers believing in him as he has the Bills in second place of the AFC East with a 4-2 record.
Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets – Lukewarm
Starting strong in games is not Sanchez’s forte. At times, Sanchez is on point early, which is very rare. Consequently, Sanchez plays better in the second half and, thanks to his defense, the former USC quarterback has time to right his wrongs.
Matt Moore of the Miami Dolphins – Lost
Moore is attempting to find himself as he goes behind center in the second start of the season against the Broncos.
He threw two interceptions to Darrelle Revis on Monday Night Football.
Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens – Steady
Whether up with a lead, or down after a touchdown toss or after throwing an interception, Flacco’s facial expression pretty much stays the same.
The four-year starting quarterback, who never missed a postseason, consistently gets better each season as his sure confidence has his team believing that the Vince Lombardi trophy will return to Baltimore—soon.
Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals – Go-getter
The consensus was: no Carson Palmer, no chance for success in Cincy. Dalton and his band of Thundercats took those kinds of comments to feed off them. Dalton is displaying the leadership that the Bengals needed, completing 62.4 percent of his passes, as he has taken the bull by the horns to get a 4-2 start.
Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers – Solid
Roethlisberger does not go down easy, his nerves cannot be rattled; when opponents believe they got him, Big Ben makes a play. Roethlisberger is a complete quarterback, but his toughness makes him solid through and through.
Colt McCoy of the Cleveland Browns – Fighter
McCoy is not a cupcake by any means. The Browns are going through some growing pains, and McCoy is fighting through the difficulties.
Matt Hasselbeck of the Tennessee Titans – Fine Wine
Standing as the oldest starting quarterback in the NFL at age 36, Hasselbeck has found new life in Tennessee, with the Titans sitting at the top of the AFC South with a 3-2 record. Rookie quarterback Jake Locker will ultimately be the Titans’ franchise signal caller.
Apparently, the fine wine (which gets better with time) in Hasselbeck will keep the young bottle in Locker on the shelf a little while longer so he can be sweeter.
Matt Schaub of the Houston Texans – Risky
Taking a chance on dangerous plays has been rewarding for Schaub, while at times, taking a risk has caused him to receive criticism.
Fortunately, Schaub is playing in a city where the press is not as critical like New York or Washington D.C. Schaub has been able to develop in Houston after being a long-time backup for quarterback Michael Vick, now with the Philadelphia Eagles, in his days with the Atlanta Falcons.
Schaub’s riskiness would be on display nationally if given the opportunity to play in a national base market—either bad or good.
Blaine Gabbert of the Jacksonville Jaguars – Stuck
Gabbert is stuck in a situation where he has no big-time pass-catcher, as the rookie signal caller passed for only eight passes over 20 yards (tied second to last with McCoy and Kerry Collins who completed only five).
The only play maker Gabbert has is running back Maurice Drew-Jones. Until the day Gabbert has better talent around him and could be better measured, Gabbert is stuck.
Curtis Painter of the Indianapolis Colts – Cautious
Painter is taking care of the ball and he is not making costing mistakes, which helps the Colts defense to stay rested and give his team a chance to win.
The former Boilermaker is not Peyton Manning, but after missing the Colts’ first few games, Painter has thrown five touchdowns and one interception with a 93 percent passer rating.
Painter will step aside when Manning returns. Moreover, Painter is getting work done.
Phillip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers – Fiery
Rivers is a fiery competitor, as he takes a linebacker approach to the quarterback position. Rivers is ranked fourth in completion percent at 67.2 percent and is constantly in someone’s face, not backing down.
Rivers normally starts the season off slow and finishes strong, pushing all the right buttons.
Jason Campbell of the Oakland Raiders – Snakebitten
Just when it appeared that Campbell had finally arrived to place where he could make a mark in the NFL after sustaining different coaches each season while in Washington, the former standout Auburn quarterback has injured his collarbone. The broken collarbone may sideline Campbell for the rest of the 2011 season.
The Raiders traded for quarterback Carson Palmer before the NFL trade deadline, so Campbell can kiss his Raiders days goodbye and try again elsewhere.
Matt Cassell of the Kansas City Chiefs – Lucky
Cassell had the best seats in the building during his championship years at USC and with the Patriots—from the bench, as he never played a down in college and landed a spot behind Brady.
Cassell had one solid year in New England when Brady went down for the season as he sustained a knee injury in 2008. After a successful 11-5 campaign, Cassell was traded to the Chiefs and signed a six-year, $62.7 million contract.
The jury is still out on Cassell as a top-flight quarterback.
Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos – Hope
Let the foolish things confound the wise, as Tebow does not present the traditional tools to be a quarterback in the NFL—but his will and faith could make him a conqueror.
Eli Manning of the New York Giants – Unfazed
When Manning receives undeserved or deserved criticism, those statements go in one ear and out the other. Manning has an understanding of his team and the system, and he manages to find a way to win.
John Beck of the Washington Redskins – Untested
To be continued, as his first start this season will come on Sunday.
Nevertheless, Beck could be described as “itchy” because he was itching for a chance— which he finally received—while Grossman could easily be known for being “uncomfortable.”
Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys – Gamer
Much like former quarterback Brett Favre, Romo is either all in or all out. Romo will always gamble, and despite crapping out from time to time, he often rolls sevens.
Romo has a passer rating of 91.7.
Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles – Breathtaking
Vick is breathtaking.
After being absent from the game of football, technically, for three seasons (about two years in federal prison for dog-fighting charges and a season on the Eagles bench backing up Donovan McNabb, now with the Minnesota Vikings, and Kevin Kolb, now with the Arizona Cardinals), Vick has been as breathtaking since the day he entered the NFL.
Breathtaking with his moves and delivery of the ball, breathtaking for the mistakes he made and for the hits sustained due to his size.
Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers – Lethal
Rodgers rarely misses his target. Rodgers has the highest passer rating in the NFL, standing at 122.7, and is tied with Manning in completing passes over 40 yards, with seven.
Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions – Health
If Stafford can continue to stay healthy and get some protection, which he has, he can become one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears – Ouch!
Cutler is a talented quarterback, and his skills are not the concern. The concern regarding Cutler is his ability to survive due to the pounding he takes on game day.
Cutler has been sacked at least once in 28 consecutive games, which is the longest streak in the NFL, averaging 2.9 takedowns per outing.
Donovan McNabb of the Minnesota Vikings – Done
McNabb is done in Minnesota, as well as his career probably. Rookie quarterback Christian Ponder is a wonder as he steps in.
Josh Freeman of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Calculated
Freeman doesn’t do anything in life or on the field, unless he has figured things out first. Freeman is a wonderful talent with a heart of a champion, but he would prefer to plan his actions out first.
He’s a classic second-half quarterback with nine career comeback wins.
Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints – Money
Brees’ name speaks for itself, as he is a sure bet for any situation.
Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons – Overrated
Ryan is an extremely talented quarterback. Nevertheless, until he wins a playoff game, Ryan should not be mentioned as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers – Impressive
Despite having a losing team record at 1-5, Newton has won over many critics, his teammates (especially wide receiver Steve Smith), the organization and his fans.
Newton is fourth in the NFL in passing yards at 1,847, and is tied second in rushing touchdowns (seven) with four others.
Alex Smith of the San Francisco 49ers – Re-Born
Smith has his team rolling at 5-1. The 49ers defense is controlling opponents, and the offense is loaded with talent.
All Smith has to do is play it safe on the field and deliver the ball.
Tarvaris Jackson of the Seattle Seahawks – Indecisive
At times, Jackson looks in control, while other times, he is not. Jackson signed with the Seahawks during the offseason.
Kevin Kolb of the Arizona Cardinals – Project
Kolb made out on a great deal when he was traded to the Cardinals from the Eagles and signed a six-year, $65 million contract based off potential.
Kolb is starting to get comfortable in the Cardinals system, but he is a work in progress.
Sam Bradford of the St. Louis Rams – Help
Bradford needs help. After displaying such promise a year ago without help in the passing game, Bradford is struggling due to the lack of talent among his group of receivers.
Bruised and battered, Bradford is completing 52.7 percent of his passes, threw three touchdowns with two interceptions and has 1,170 yards passing.