With training camp and preseason on the horizon, hope has returned to NFL fans. The AFC West could be the strongest division in the NFL. With all that talent, there could be three teams from the division in the playoffs by the end of the season. At the end of this series, we will add up the scores and see where the teams rank.
If you look at the comments section of any article on Mile High Report, you know the most talked about, stressed over, and passionate arguments come with the quarterbacks. There is no doubt the most important position on the football field is under center. The guy who touches the football every play has the biggest impact on the team.
As we start our series ranking the AFC West positions, we find an area that Denver fans are less than excited to look at. Mostly due to the fact that this has been a dramatically polarizing topic, but also because the Broncos fell from Peyton Manning to, well … not Peyton Manning.
Note: while we are pre-disposed to favor the Broncos, for this exercise we will try to be as objective as possible and welcome debates in the comments.
AFC West starting QB grades in 2016.— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 4, 2017
Who has the best year in 2017? pic.twitter.com/9SVtq6qADo
#1 - Derek Carr
Aside from the big contract he signed during the offseason, his value was made very apparent during the playoffs. What did the Raiders accomplish in their first trip to the playoffs since 2002? A loss to Brock Osweiler. And why did they lose that game to Houston? Probably because Derek Carr couldn’t play.
His value to the Raiders was made plain, but there is more to this ranking than just that playoff loss. If you look at Football Outsiders, Carr is the highest ranked AFC West QB in both Defensive-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR), and Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA). He had the best TD:INT ration in 2016, and the highest PFF grade. This one was really easy.
#2 - Philip Rivers
This is where the rankings get a little murky. At this point, it all depends on what you are looking for out of a QB. Do you want a player who plays safe and looks for high percentage plays, or a gunslinger? The rankings here deviate from the PFF rankings, and the stats.
Philip Rivers was forced to throw away 11 (46 vs 35) more passes than any quarterback in the NFL last year pic.twitter.com/2iuvOo6LDK— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) July 8, 2017
Philip Rivers played on an injury ravaged Chargers team in 2016. Add to that playing 6 games against the AFC West defenses, and you can see how he may not have the best stats. He ranks behind Alex Smith for both DVOA and DYAR. He led the AFC West in touchdowns, but also threw the most interceptions. That being said, he is just a better quarterback that Smith.
#3 - Alex Smith
The Kansas City Chiefs have so much confidence in Smith that they went out and drafted a quarterback in the first round of the 2017 draft. Smith could be the definition of milk toast. He had the highest QBR in the AFC West in 2016. He was safe.
The short passing game is a way of life for Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith pic.twitter.com/ZX61AShmGI— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 29, 2017
The Chiefs offense is predicated on short passes, safe plays, and running the football. Alex Smith fits this mold, but he has far less impact on a game then his counterparts ranked ahead of him on this list. The fact is, Smith isn’t going out and winning any games for his team. He may not lose any games either, but he rarely shoulders the load.
He isn't good. He isn’t bad. He is milk toast.
#4 - Trevor Siemian/Paxton Lynch
The Denver Broncos situation is the most unstable heading into 2017. First of all, no now knows who is going to be the starter. Will Trevor Siemian retain the starting job, or will Paxton Lynch step into the role? And even after a starter is named, this could change at a moments notice.
Siemian was the lowest ranked starter in all statistics that mattered in 2016 for the AFC West. Lynch struggled in his spot starts, as well. Is the confidence building for you? The Broncos offense was putrid in 2016, and while there were several issues that held the team back, ultimately, the QB is the one who shoulders the responsibility.
Comparing Broncos QBs Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch in 2016: pic.twitter.com/w22neMtExz— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 18, 2017
There really is no need to rehash the 2016 season. With a new coaching staff, expect whole-sale changes from the offense. There will be no prediction about who will start here. It does not matter, as both potential starters would be ranked last on this list.
What do you think Broncos Country? How do you rank the quarterbacks in the AFC West?
Which QB will be the best of the West in 2017?
This poll is closed