John Clayton has his always entertaining Quarterback rankings out. Last year, he declared Joe Flacco an elite quarterback. We learn in his column that he views “Elite” as quarterbacks who can throw for 4,000 or more yards and elevate their team to the playoffs. Clayton then notes that 4 of his 5 healthy elite quarterbacks made the playoffs last year (thank you Norv Turner face) and 5 of his NFC Elite passers were in the postseason.
Of course, this is hindsight bias. His “elite” passers last year did not produce as well, with Josh Freeman, and Stafford wasn’t in the group a year ago. In hindsight, yes, the quarterbacks that Clayton calls elite made the playoffs. There is a large difference between Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, and the guys toward the bottom of the “Elite.”
So, he probably gets some of the correlation and causation mixed up. Elite quarterbacks play with good defenses. Cam Newton, who threw for 4,000+ yards as a rookie, is somehow not elite as the #1 overall pick moving into year two, because his defense was dreadful last year. (5th in points scored, but 27th in points allowed in 2011). Jay Cutler is apparently not elite because it would ruin this playoff narrative. The Bears were on target for the playoffs until Cutler stopped being the starter because of injury and Caleb Hanie happened. Cutler didn’t lead them there = not elite, I guess.
Further down, the list, though, is the most bizarre ordering. Mark Sanchez is at 23rd. Andrew Luck is at 24th. Robert Griffin III is at 25th. Is there literally anyone who would take Sanchez over those two right now? I’m not even talking future development, differences in salary or anything like that. I know they have not taken a snap yet in a NFL regular season game, but I’d like to think that the choice of Luck over Sanchez (hypothetically if the Jets were given such a choice) would be made faster than Rex Ryan could get his socks on.
[photo via US Presswire]