The quarterback position is one of the most challenging and vital positions in the NFL. It may also be one of the most analyzed positions. Arguably, the greatest debate that surrounds the quarterback is what makes them elite. Household names such as Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have almost become immune to the debate however other quarterbacks such as Eli Manning and Joe Flacco have been questioned about their elite status.
When Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz suffered an ACL tear in a Week 13 win against the Los Angeles Rams many people thought their Super Bowl LII hopes were out of reach, some even thought they would lose the game. Nevertheless, Nick Foles stepped in and shocked majority of NFL fans. Not only did he win the game in Los Angeles but he has led the Eagles to Minneapolis where they will face Tom Brady and the Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
In Minnesota Case Keenum took the place of Sam Bradford who suffered a knee injury in Week 1. Keenum may have had the most shocking success in the NFL this season. He led the Vikings to a 13-3 record, and the NFC championship game. The story here is without Nick Foles stepping into Carson Wentz’s place, and without Case Keenum filling in for Sam Bradford the Eagles and Vikings probably would not have enjoyed so much success. Is it possible that their incredible seasons now make them elite quarterbacks? Many NFL fans think Carson Wentz deserves to be in NFL MVP talks but what has he accomplished other than winning a divisional championship?
In the case of the proven quarterback such as Eli Manning, what does it take to make him elite? He is top ten in multiple categories including fourth quarter comebacks, touchdown passes, and passes completed. Manning also has four Pro Bowl selections, two Super Bowl rings with MVP honors to match them both, and he beat conceivably the best quarterback ever in Tom Brady in both championship seasons as a wild card in the playoffs. Even with all of his accomplishments he is oftentimes snubbed on elite quarterback lists. Joe Flacco is also a proven quarterback who is underappreciated when it comes to elite quarterback talk. Flacco is a Super Bowl winning quarterback and I can see the argument coming in saying, “well the Raven’s defense carried Flacco to the Super Bowl.” If you look at the numbers, it isn’t true at all. When the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2013, their defense ranked in the middle of the league. They were 17th in yards per game, 10th in yards per play, and 20th in rushing yards per game. The Ray Lewis retirement journey may have been a major highlight, but Flacco played his best football during that playoff stretch. He finished the playoffs with 11 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Joe Montana is the only other quarterback to do that. I am not saying Flacco is the best quarterback, but he was the main reason the Ravens got to and won the Super Bowl. Granted he has not played nearly as good since his Super Bowl win but he has been riddled by injury much of the time.
So what does it take for a quarterback to be considered elite? Super Bowl wins? Touchdown passes? Conference championships? Individual records? Whatever it is…many deserving quarterbacks get overlooked when it comes to the debate.