The NFL regular season began Thursday and starts in earnest on Sunday, and, as always, the focus is on the quarterbacks.
Who’s the best quarterback? Who’s the worst?
Several reputable sites ranked the 32 starting quarterbacks this week, and we cited five of those sites. Two former Cal players will be starting quarterbacks on Sunday. One ranks among the best in the NFL, but is not No. 1. The other ranks among the worst, but is not No. 32.
We cited quarterback rankings by NFL.com, CBS Sports, TSN, the San Jose Mercury News and, just for variety sake, the International Business Times, which ranked only the top 10 quarterbacks while the others ranked all 32 starters.
Not surprisingly, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is No. 1 on all five sites, but former Cal star and current Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is No. 2 on all five. Rodgers, the 2020 MVP, had an eventful offseason and will begin the regular season Sunday against the Saints.
Buffalo’s Josh Allen, Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady and Seattle’s Russell Wilson make up the other members of the top five in various pecking orders.
Down near the bottom of the rankings is ex-Golden Bears star and current Lions quarterback Jared Goff, who will make his regular-season debut as Detroit’s quarterback against the 49ers on Sunday.
Goff is ranked 23rd by two of the sites, 27th by another site and 28th in a fourth. He is not among the top 10 in the International Business Times.
Here are the rankings of Rodgers and Goff in the five sites.
Rodgers No. 2
2020 stats: 18 games | 70.2 pct | 4,941 pass yds | 8.1 ypa | 53 pass TD | 6 INT | 146 rush yds | 4 rush TD | 2 fumbles lost
The situation around Rodgers flipped. The depth of weapons around him is terrific, but there are questions about the offensive line, where only one starter (left guard Lucas Patrick) is expected to be back in the same spot he was in one year ago. Still, every sideline hair tussle between Rodgers and Matt LaFleur is a reminder that these two men have earned every benefit of the doubt. Year 3 in a system Rodgers mastered a year ago should allow him to overcome any obstacles.
Goff No. 27
2020 stats: 17 games | 66.9 pct | 4,281 pass yds | 7.2 ypa | 22 pass TD | 13 INT | 109 rush yds | 4 rush TD | 4 fumbles lost
In three of his four full seasons as a starter, Goff's level has been consistently around or just below league average by most objective measures, from PFF grade to DVOA to QBR. The exception was 2018, a season with a sour ending that further reinforces the notion that Goff's play is as consistent as his haircut, despite the lofty draft pedigree.
Rodgers No. 2
At 37, has Rodgers ever been more confident in himself? What he lacks in youth, he more than makes up for in clutch ability and elite accuracy. Another title run is very much a possibility.
Goff No. 28
Oh, how things change. Goff is not a bottom-tier QB at his best; far from it. But his days as a Rams standout are long gone. As a placeholder for a rebuilding squad, the odds are against him, especially considering his tendency to wilt under pressure.
TSN is The Sports Network, which is a Canadian English-language sports specialty channel. It’s sort of the ESPN of Canada.
It provides a video of its rankings of the top 32 quarterbacks, putting Rodgers at No. 2 and Goff at No. 23
It’s hard to have complete confidence in a video where the “experts” are wearing NFL jerseys, but their analyses seem insightful.
2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (at New Orleans)
Gearing up for a huge year and then no doubt another offseason of cryptic comments and drama. That’s OK. He’s Aaron Rodgers. You put wins in the bank and live with it.
23. Jared Goff, Detroit (vs. 49ers)
Hard to believe Goff took a team to the Super Bowl and has since been discarded. First impressions are the Dan Campbell hire will be a disaster.
International Business Times (top 10 only)
2) Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
The reigning NFL MVP was as good as ever in 2020. Rodgers led the NFL in passer rating, completion percentage, touchdowns and yards per attempt. No quarterback makes fewer mistakes than Rodgers, who has the lowest career interception percentage in history.
Cover photo of Aaron Rodgers by Rich Barnes, USA TODAY Sports
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