What is an ELITE Quarterback in the NFL?

Elite QBs - Blog


A few days ago, my fellow YouTube sports enthusiasts/NFL prognosticators and I had a twitter war over this subject–Is Russell Wilson an elite quarterback?  It was a battle that lasted an hour with nobody leaving the battle satisfied with the outcome or proof that they are right (sorry Football Guru, you didn’t prove your point).  I come to find out that everybody has their own definition of an ELITE quarterback and qualifications to be as such.   There’s one thing I know, the word ELITE has been thrown around loosely and sports fans get caught up in the moment too much when they go and tag  a player as ELITE.

The quarterback position is the most important position on the field; he is 70% of the game.  Championship-caliber teams are built with the quarterback as the main focus on both offense and defense.  You have pass rushers that can get to the QB and knock him down, an offensive line to keep the pass rushers from the QB, wide receivers who are on the same page with the QB to catch his passes and you need a secondary who can knock down the passes from the QB.

I’ve heard everything when it comes to the specifications of an elite quarterback.  Sports fans say the elite has to put up enormous numbers when it comes to passing yards and touchdowns, the elite has to have Super Bowl notches in their belt and they have to show the clutch gene in big games in the months of January and February.  These requirements are “must-haves” to separate them from good quarterbacks.

You can win a Super Bowl with good quarterback that knows how to manage the game, limit the turnovers and let the star players and other phases of the game take over.  I believe elite quarterbacks are winners; they are the ones that want the football in their hands and carry the team when they need to and make the big plays and be consistent in doing so.  Dynasties are made with elite quarterbacks and when their careers are done, they are on a one way trip to Canton, Ohio–the football Hall of Fame.

Currently, there’s four quarterbacks in the NFL that everyone considers elite. They are Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers, Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos and Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints.  Quarterbacks who are borderline elite are Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens and Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The quarterback who has jumped on the hyper drive escalator and moving fast towards the elite status is Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks.  What this young man has done within the three years he has been in the NFL is amazing.  He has led the Seahawks deep into the postseason since becoming the starter and won a Super Bowl ring last season by beating an elite QB in Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos convincingly; now he’s on his way to fitting another championship ring on a finger when he goes up against another elite QB in Tom Brady next week in Super Bowl XLIX.

I can see how it can be easy to tag him with an ELITE status right now for what he has accomplished, but he has been in the league for only three years.  He has to have a substantial body of work where he continues to show this winning characteristic continually for me to tag him as elite.  Let’s remember, Peyton’s brother Eli Manning beat Tom Brady twice in Super Bowls and people were quick to add on the “te” at the end of his name; and this was the same quarterback who led the league in interceptions more than once during his career.  So let’s slow down and see what Wilson can do in the next two to three years.  I’m not saying he’s not in the talks, but I just can’t tag him right now.

So what is your definition of an elite quarterback and who fits that mold in today’s NFL?  It is interesting the kind of debate you will spark by bringing those two questions up in a conversation; just make sure you have the time and patience.






2 thoughts on “What is an ELITE Quarterback in the NFL?

  1. As a Panthers fan, I don’t exactly have any love for Russell Wilson or the Seahawks, but I have to say he’s an “elite” QB, but not through conventional measures.

    The game is always in a state of change, and today is no different. QBs are becoming more athletic and mobile, so if you go buy “huge numbers,” the passing numbers may not measure up. But then, I think that’s already becoming off-point. It’s almost like saying you can’t have a team that plays great defense and employs a run-first offense AND have an elite QB at the same time.

    Wilson led the NFL in rushing yards among all QBs while being the smallest one, physically, at the same time, for example, but they aren’t PASSING yards. Oh, BOO-HOO-HOO! He ONLY has a three-to-one TD-INT ratio? oh, BOO-HOO-HOO! Gotta be FIVE to one or eleventy million to one for him to be elite!

    Wilson adjusts to the situation at hand as well as any NFL QB in the game today. Trouble passing? He’ll run to move the chains and keep drives alive – something “elite” QBs do NOT do? How does that work, exactly?

    Can’t run that day? Wilson passes for enough to win. Can’t pass that day? Wilson runs enough to win. But apparently, winning isn’t part of the equation? HUH?

    He runs when the team needs him to run or when a given play breaks down, and often scrambles looking to throw. Sometimes he runs it. He can do both. Manning, Brady, and Brees don’t scare defenses with their running ability. Rodgers does, but almost always looks to pass because that’s the way his team is built.

    I think an “elite” QB is one who WINS, number one, and without whom the team likely could not win without. A QB who, BY WHATEVER MEANS, keeps his team in games and even can bring them from a near-insurmountable deficit to win. Sound like anyone we know?

    An “elite” QB can win anywhere at anytime. No, it doesn’t mean he ALWAYS does, but often. Sound like anyone we know?

    An “elite” QB does need to be able to be an accurate passer and work within the system he’s in and keep things going smoothly overall. All QBs make mistakes, but the mark of an “elite” QB is helping the team overcome not only his own mistakes, but those of the whole team. Sound like anyone we know?

    Wilson is highly mobile, intelligent, has the “IT” factor out the wazoo, and throws an accurate a DEEP ball as anyone in the NFL. Just ask Bene Benwikere about that as he had his man blanketed but was beaten on a _perfect_ throw by Wilson. After defeating the Panthers, he overcame 4 INTs (2 of which hit his WRs in the hands and bounced off) and along with a bit of “good luck,” thew yet another perfect deep ball to Jermaine Kearse to secure a second consecutive Super Bowl berth.

    The young man has now taken his team to two Super Bowls and been in the league for three years, defeating “elite” QBs and their teams along the way.

    At some point, one has to look at reality. Would they have made it without him?

    I guess he’ll have to win four more Super Bowls for some people to realize the talent this young man has and they admit what’s plainly visible out on the field. He beat one “elite” QB in one Super Bowl and is facing another one next week in this year’s Super Bowl. One of them apparently has to use deflated balls to get there but is “elite.” He just beat another “elite” QB that couldn’t seal the deal in the NFC Championship Game.

    I personally want to know what the “magic number” is before he’s officially “elite” by many. All he does is continue to defeat teams that do have officially “elite” QBs.

    And he does it all with a bunch of “average” targets….no Jordy Nelson, no Rob Gronkowski, no Demaryius Thomas, and no Jimmy Graham.

    ….but he’s not “elite?”

    Keep thinking that and he’ll just “remind” you the next time he plays YOUR team!

    • Thanks for your comment Ken Dye; it is greatly appreciated. You are with a group of fellow sports nuts that I have been battling with on Twitter (@GETWITTEDSPORTS) when it comes to giving Russell Wilson the ELITE tag. Like I said in the post, I like Wilson and I think he ha a bright future in the NFL and might be one of the faces of the league in the near future, but to say he is elite right now is too soon and I think people are becoming prisoners of the moment.

      I see what he has accomplished within the three years he’s been in the league, but let’s not forget that defense they have and I believe it is the defense that keeps them in games and takes thm over the top. The Seahawks don’t blow other teams out. The defense establishes the pace of the game and Wilson does a great job nickel-and-diming his way up the field with minimum turnovers.

      People were jumping the gun saying that it was inevitable that Wilson will have the ELITE tag after he wins back-to-back Super Bowls against two elite QBs. Well as you an see that didn’t happen; he got the upper hand on Peyton Manning and my beloved Broncos, but Tom Brady wasn’t having it and showed him how the elite QBs do it in the fourth quarter. I hate the Patriots, Belichick and Brady….but I respect their skills and gameplay.

      Once again, Russell Wilson IS NOT AN ELITE QB, but I’m not denying the fact that he has potential to earn that title; I just cannot give it to him right now after what we have witnessed in Super Bowl XLIX.

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