By NATE MARKLE
Everyone knows the NFL is a passing league. Long gone are the days of a premiere running back toting the rock 25-30 times a game. Nowadays it is common for a team to pass on 50 or more plays and sprinkle in runs here and there amongst a committee of backs.
Needless to say this has only intensified the fans’ long running admiration for the signal caller. Quarterbacks are the league. They dominate jersey sales, they frequent advertisements and they receive more glory or blame than anyone else in the organization.
Quarterbacks are so popular and beloved, ranking the all-time greats is a sort of pastime amongst fans.
That being said, this column aims to present the top 10 quarterbacks of the 2013-14 NFL season.
Shocking development, and in some cases regression, radically altered what my list originally like before the season commenced.
One thing is for certain: most readers will disagree with at least one of the player’s rankings, and even more will be enraged over who is not on the list.
No. 10: Matt Stafford (Detroit Lions)
Stafford was awesome again on Sunday, besting Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys.
The former Georgia Bulldog conducted the game’s winning drive, which was completed by a stellar Stafford acting job as he hurried to the line signaling a spike, then proceeded to jump the pile and goal line for a last second score.
Some will disagree with Stafford making this list, but he consistently puts up good numbers.
It is important to realize just how good his numbers are; also, fans need to take note of his pension for heroics.
Sunday’s win was his tenth career comeback, meaning almost 50 percent of the wins the Lions totaled under Stafford are in thanks to his fourth quarter success.
No. 9: Alex Smith (Kansas City Chiefs)
The Colin Kaepernick sheen is surely wearing off for some fans. The 49ers do not even trust him to throw the ball 20 plus times any more.
Meanwhile, the man Kaepernick replaced is leading the only unbeaten team left in the NFL.
Alex Smith of the Kansas City Chiefs is beyond underrated. He refuses to turn the ball over or take excessive shots down the field.
He plays the game with an old school mentality and style, which is perhaps why the media and fans are slower to grant him the praise players like Kaepernick receive.
The former No. 1 overall pick may not be flashy, but he wins games, posting one of the top winning percentages since 2009.
No. 8: Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens)
Like Smith, Joe Flacco embodies a winner—he has never missed the postseason. Although many began over ranking him after last year’s Super Bowl, he belongs on the list.
He will never lead the league in passing or win the MVP race, but as long as the Ravens have Flacco, they have a chance. That is why the organization paid him so handsomely in the off-season.
He possesses a cannon for an arm and intangibles that do not show up in the stat sheets.
The Ravens’ offense is definitely short of weapons this season, and Ray Rice is struggling mightily. Still, they are in the chase for the division and that can in part be attributed to Flacco.
No. 7: Tony Romo (Dallas Cowboys)
As I said, this list is certain to make some fans fly off their seats. It is hard to conjure up a quarterback as maligned and underappreciated as Romo.
Since 2006, all Romo does is put up great numbers. However, fans love to point to an inability to come through for them in the clutch. These fans must not be paying attention.
Romo is statistically better in the fourth quarters of games than many of the elite quarterbacks in the league, and he holds the most fourth quarter comebacks in recent seasons.
Romo would probably accomplish even more if he played for a team with a better defense, more character guys and less Jerry Jones intervention.
Ultimately, fans (and Dez Bryant) will continue to berate him unless he finally wins the big one for Big D.
No. 6: Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons)
Ryan was a part of the same draft class as Joe Flacco, and, like Flacco, Ryan has yet to miss the playoffs.
However, the Super Bowl-less Ryan gets the edge on Flacco because he is personally responsible for a ton of the Atlanta Falcons’ victories during his tenure.
Ryan accumulated 23 game winning drives in his relatively short amount of time in the league. Matty Ice is undoubtedly the perfect moniker for the Dirty Birds’ main man.
Ryan belongs at No. 6 because his career so far offers something for everyone: great winning percentage, impressive passing totals, perennial playoff presence and a ridiculous amount of last second heroics.
Be sure to catch next week’s column for the top five quarterbacks in the NFL.