Revisiting: Seven Quarterbacks Better Than Ben?

At the beginning of the season, the NFL unveiled their Top 100 Players of 2014. On that list, which is voted on by players, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger ranked 31st overall: seven quarterbacks placed higher than Big Ben in the rankings.

Back in July, I had questioned if there were 7 quarterbacks better than Ben. While at the time, some of the names mentioned were of the yes/no variety, I’m going to argue most on the list were not better than Roethlisberger this year.

Let’s recap those names which placed ahead of Big Ben, for the 2014 listed published ahead of the 2014 season:

  1. Peyton Manning
  2. Tom Brady
  3. Drew Brees
  4. Aaron Rodgers
  5. Russell Wilson
  6. Cam Newton
  7. Andrew Luck

The list reads like a “who’s who” of NFL quarterbacks, but certainly downplayed the significance of one of Ben’s finer years in 2013. Heading into the 2014 season, who knew that Roethlisberger would shatter all expectations?

I had contended that the one reason Ben may have not been ranked higher on the list was due to the Steeler absence from the playoffs. Glancing at the list above, the only quarterback who did not make the playoffs this season is Drew Brees. The irony being, Ben and Brees were tired at the top of two statistical categories for 2014: total passing yards and average yards per game.

To compare everyone fairly, here is a statistical composition of the 2014 season (sorted by total passing yards.)

1 Drew Brees 456 659 69.2 4,952 7.51 33 17 97.0 310
  Ben Roethlisberger 408 608 67.1 4,952 8.15 32 9 103.3 310
3 Andrew Luck 380 616 61.7 4,761 7.73 40 16 96.5 298
4 Peyton Manning 395 597 66.2 4,727 7.92 39 15 101.5 295
5 Matt Ryan 415 628 66.1 4,694 7.48 28 14 93.9 293
6 Eli Manning 379 601 63.1 4,410 7.34 30 14 92.1 276
7 Aaron Rodgers 341 520 65.6 4,381 8.43 38 5 112.2 274
8 Philip Rivers 379 570 66.5 4,286 7.52 31 18 93.8 268
9 Matthew Stafford 363 602 60.3 4,257 7.07 22 12 85.7 266
10 Tom Brady 373 582 64.1 4,109 7.06 33 9 97.4 257

Not surprising, is the absence of Cam Newton and Russell Wilson from the passing yards discussion, as those quarterbacks are known for their running skills as well.

Okay, I’ll be the one to admit that throwing for a lot of yards isn’t the best metric, but let’s have a look at some other categories Big Ben excelled in this season:

  • 3rd overall completion % (67.1% behind Drew Brees and Tony Romo)
  • 3rd overall in yards per attempt (behind Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers)
  • 3rd overall passer rating (103.3 behind Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers)
  • 7th in touchdown passes (32 total, behind Luck, Manning, Rodgers, Romo, Brady and Brees)

There’s no denying Aaron Rodgers is a beast, but a name that popped up who wasn’t ahead of Ben is Tony Romo. So let’s examine that first.

Tony Romo had a heck of a season in terms of completion %, yards per attempt, passer rating and total touchdowns. However, Tony Romo did not throw the ball a lot and leaned on DeMarco Murray in the Dallas offense. While Ben Roethlisberger was 4th in passing attempts with 608, Romo is all the way down the list at 23, with only 435 tries. For this reason alone, I would disqualify Tony as a player I would put ahead of Roethlisberger, when evaluating the top QBs in the league.

As for the other signal callers, we can examine how many interceptions they’ve thrown. Roethlisberger is tied for 23rd in the league this year, only turning the ball over 9 times (note: Ben is tied with Tony Romo and Tom Brady.) However, Ben’s direct competitor, Drew Brees, is out of contention as someone who should be ranked ahead of the Steelers QB. Brees ranked 3rd in the league with 17 picks. Also worse than Ben in this category are Andrew Luck (16), Peyton Manning (15), and Cam Newton (12).

Plucking off the names one by one, we can see where each of the QBs falls:

  1. Peyton Manning (lots of TDs, more INTs, worse rating)
  2. Tom Brady (less attempts, 1 more TD, far less yards)
  3. Drew Brees (same yards, more TDs, better completion % but high number of picks)
  4. Aaron Rodgers (we’ll get to Mr. Rodgers in a second)
  5. Russell Wilson (as a passer, not really on the charts: just average)
  6. Cam Newton (see Wilson, but worse statistics on a down, injury-plagued year)
  7. Andrew Luck (monster amount of touchdowns, but also lacking in INTs and 23rd in completion %)

After sifting through all of the different statistics, it could be argued, the only QB who deserves a ranking higher than Big Ben is Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers had more yards per attempt, a higher passer rating, more touchdowns and a crazy 5 interceptions this year, which places him at #36 in that category (which is less than all of the league, plus several backups!)

In conclusion, there are not 7, 6, 5, 4, or 3 quarterbacks who are “ahead” of Ben Roethlisberger. I would state that Big Ben is the AFC’s best passer, and 2nd to Aaron Rodgers ungodly numbers, for the NFL’s quarterback crown.

Keep this in mind when 2015’s list is unveiled: as 2 of the QB’s on 2014’s list will play in the Super Bowl, and undoubtedly knock Ben a few more spots down the ladder. However, it’s time that Roethlisberger get the recognition he justly deserves.

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