Life is better when there's debate involved. Anger, arrogance, in-fighting, arguing. All of 'em make it so much fun. I did something like this once before, pitting the New York Giants up against the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, and Dallas Cowboys, and things got heated. That's the point!
So let's take a look at quarterback. This has been a position that's at times been a strength of the division, and at other times, a weakness. Each QB is controversial, each ranking is based solely on personal opinion and it'll be something to watch out for.
I'm going to be looking at a couple different aspects with which to grade these positions. It's very simple, there are three categories that I'm going to make my judgments on. Is this perfect? Nah.
Performance - I'm going to look at how each position did last year because I think that it's a strong measure of success in the future. Of course there will be fluctuations from year to year, but I think that it's a fairly reasonable predictor of how the player might do in the future. It'll be graded out of 100, and will count towards 50% of their final grade. If the starter is a rookie, I'm going to go based off of how I ranked that player in this past upcoming draft.
Upside - This is a wide encompassing category. I'm going to be looking at return from injury, any beneficial/harmful scheme changes, any changes in personnel that might affect this position (for example, for quarterbacks, you look at changes in offensive line and wide receiver). This'll be graded out of 100 and be worth 25 percent of the final grade.
Depth - While it may seem like the position should be based solely on the starters, equally as important is your depth pieces. Your backups and situational players are your first line defense in case someone goes down and they can play important specialist roles as well. This'll be graded out of 100 and be worth the final 25 percent of the final grade.
Nick Foles, Eagles - 92/100
Tony Romo, Cowboys - 87/100
Robert Griffin III, Redskins - 77/100
Eli Manning, Giants - 74/100
As far as last year's performance goes, there was a clear gap between the top two quarterbacks and the bottom two. Nick Foles went a superb 27 touchdowns to two interceptions after taking over for the ineffective Michael Vick en route to an NFC East division crown. It wasn't always pretty and he got lucky a few times with regards to his interceptions, but there's no denying the fact that he thrived in Chip Kelly's system. He threw accurately and efficiently in that ruthless attack. Romo had a good season as well, despite the inevitable late game hiccups we've come to know and love. He had a 31 to 10 TD to INT ratio and was really the only thing that kept the Cowboys in games since they really didn't field a defense last year.
As for RGIII, this year was a bit of a struggle. He was coming off of injury and was really tied down to what he could do. His biggest strength was the threat of his legs forcing defenses to keep an eye on him while his terrific arm and down field accuracy struck daggers in opponents. With that gone, he was forced to be more of a pocket QB and was simply okay. He had over 3000 yards and had a 16 to 12 TD to INT ratio. Nothing to write home about. Our very own Eli Manning, however, was just bad. Yes, there was a lot of issues regarding the offensive line and the wide receivers, but make no mistake about it, Eli struggled. His mechanics broke down in the pocket, sometimes he panicked, and sometimes he just didn't make good decisions.
Eli Manning - 91/100
Tony Romo - 86/100
Robert Griffin III - 85/100
Nick Foles - 85/100
Looking at the changes for each team here, I think the clear winner here is Eli Manning. He got a new QB friendly scheme, he added Odell Beckham Jr. to the wide receiving corps, and the Giants vastly upgraded their interior offensive line. With a focus on getting the ball out quicker and having good route runners running shorter routes, plus extra time in the pocket with Geoff Schwartz, J.D. Walton, John Jerry, Charles Brown, and Weston Richburg as additions to the team.
Tony Romo comes in next as the loss of the unreliable Miles Austin might not be a bad thing. Terrence Williams had an underrated rookie year last year, on top of Dez Bryant being the best WR in the division. Tony Romo should have plenty of time throwing to these guys, plus Jason Witten, as the Cowboys added Zack Martin to the fold in a revamped, young, powerful OL. RGIII and Nick Foles come tied for 3rd here, even though Foles' biggest weapon, Desean Jackson, has defected to the Redskins. Foles gets another year in Chip Kelly's system, which I think is by far the most QB friendly, and he adds Darren Sproles as a nice dump off guy to go along with Jeremy Maclin coming back. I don't like Jay Gruden's system, meanwhile, for RGIII. Given what Gruden accomplished with Andy Dalton, I think Robert Griffin would thrive in a more vertical attack that takes advantage of his powerful running game.
Redskins - 81/100
Eagles - 80/100
Cowboys - 79/100
Giants - 79/100
For this, it just comes down to which backups are the best. Out of the four teams, Kirk Cousins seems like the best backup QB in the division. He's proven that he can win games and has the most upside as a starter. Next comes Mark Sanchez, who comes in from the New York Jets, and while he's a proven winner, he's been on a bit of a downward spiral. The Cowboys have Brandon Weeden (I don't believe Kyle Orton will be in Dallas come September), and he's terrible. The Giants tie with them because they don't really know if Ryan Nassib is terrible or not.
Eagles - 87.25/100
Cowboys - 84.25/100
Redskins - 80/100
Giants - 79.5/100
Now wait just a second. This might seem like blasphemy for the Giants to be ranked dead last, especially at quarterback. Consider that this system that I just made up off the top of my head is anything but scientific (and thus flawed), I think I might agree for now ... but leave room for this to be a huge shakeup this time next year. Manning really struggled more than I ever saw last year, and this is certainly a prove it year. The differential in play between Foles and Manning seems monumental given their raw stats, but I don't think it's that big a gulf and I think given how close these rankings are shows that (in my opinion). I think the biggest difference maker between the Redskins and the Giants is Cousins vs.Nassib. RGIII didn't have a great year and is prone to injury. One bad hit to Eli could keep him out a few games too. Who are you going to put your faith in then? Cousins or Nassib?
Okay, if you could pick "neither" as an option you would, I get it. But having to pick one, the choice becomes quite easy given what we know right now. Let's just hope that my "upside" argument for Eli holds true this year, fellas. Stay tuned for my next part!