• Which Division Has The Best 4-Man Rotation


    The NFL is about to implement some rather drastic changes. This is an FP exclusive. I can guarantee that no one else has this because I'm making it up as I go. Instead of 1 game a week, they're going to a game every other day. Of course the players can't be expected to play every other day so they're combining each division into a single team. So now we ask the question, which division has the best 4-man QB rotation (and the prize for the longest distance traveled to set up a 2nd rate rate article goes to ...)

    I started by listing all the QBs by division thinking that would help. It really didn't. Each division has it's strong and weak points. I had to come up with something more scientific. I separated the QBs into 8 categories (4 in each category of course), best to worst. The 4 QBs in the best category got 8 points, 7 for the next, 6 for the next (pm me if you can't extrapolate the rest). This was also surprisingly little help (due in no small part to the fact that I spent 45 seconds on the entire exercise). 3 divisions came in at 20 points, 2 others at 19. So I threw all the analytic stuff out the window and picked the NFC East.

    Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Robert Griffin, Michael Vick. Not one of those guys was in my 8-point category, but any one of them could make the Pro Bowl and it wouldn't be a huge stretch to see any of them lead their team to the Super Bowl. Every division has at least one weak link and in the NFCE it's Michael Vick. However, Vick is the only weak link that has Pro Bowl and even MVP caliber ability.

    Last place on my list was much easier than first. The AFC East brought up the rear by quite a wide margin with Tom Brady playing the role of Steve Carlton on the '72 Phillies.

    Next up, Rich will tell you which division has the best bullpen as he ranks all the 2nd and 3rd string quarterbacks. Unless of course he (correctly) determines that this is the dumbest idea ever for an article.

    Comments 27 Comments
    1. DaBearsFan's Avatar
      I've never been big on Vick as a QB, and I'm left wondering if his season two years ago was more fluke than trend. I also worry about RGIII's injury potential. The other small problem I have with the NFC East is that they don't really have an "ace". If they're all healthy, I see 4 #2 pitchers, and RGIII is the only one I can see really making a step to being an ace. That's concerning.

      I would probably choose the NFC South. Drew Brees needs no introduction. My hunch is that Matt Ryan is going to be the Max Scherzer to Brees' Verlander (to further the analogy). Cam Newton quietly had a very solid year last year, and he's still only in his third NFL season after playing only one as a major college starter. Josh Freeman is the weak link that hurts; I think he'll step up but I'm not as confident on that. Like the upside with the NFC South overall compared to the NFC East though.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Is there an AFC Division that could top even one of the NFC Divisions?

      I'm with DBF in that I'd take the NFC South over the East. Brees, Ryan, and Newton is the best top of the rotation any division can offer. And for a back end arm, Josh Freeman ain't all that bad.

      The NFC West, with Kaepernick and Wilson, and especially now that Sam Bradford has some legit toys to work with, has the upside.

      But what about the NFC North? This is the only division starting 4 former 1st rounders. Aaron Rodgers is the best in the business. Matt Stafford will benefit greatly from having Reggie Bush aboard, and I think the best is ahead of him. Jay Cutler and Mark Trestman feel like a perfect fit to me. Plus, I still think there's hope that Christian Ponder has legit growth potential.

      I'd take the NFC South, with the NFC North close on their heels. The NFC East is at 3 until the Eagles situation plays itself out. The NFC West is next, followed by the AFC North, then West.

      The NFC East and South are equally bad. I'd probably take the East because Brady is by far and away the best of the bunch, for at least the next year or so before Luck officially surpasses him.
    1. bradytohernandez's Avatar
      This is just unfair to TB12. He's going to finish with a 1.97 ERA on a 60 win team :/
    1. Andy Freeland's Avatar
      I considered the NFC South and there's a chance that by the end of the year that could be the run away winner. Brees is obvious. Ryan is good and getting better. I just don't know what to do with Freeman and Newton. Freeman had that one spectacular year and I thought he was going to be the next big thing. Then he went all David Carr for a year. He was decent last year but he's thrown 39 INTs the last 2 years. Same with Cam Newton, something in the back of my head is telling me that he's just a more talented Tim Tebow.

      I thought about the NFC North as well. Rodgers was obviously an 8 out of 8 and Ponder was an equally obvious 1 out of 8. Stafford and Cutler are just too unpredictable to pull up Ponder's score.
    1. msclemons's Avatar
      I have to agree with the NFCE. They don't have a Brady or Rodgers but they also don't have a ButtFumble™ or Ponder. Every other division has "that guy".

      NFCW - Palmer (although having Fitzgerald may bring back his glory days)
      NFCS - Freeman
      NFCN - Ponder
      AFCE - ButtFumble™
      AFCW - Alex Smith Flynn
      AFCN - Gramps Weeden
      AFCS - Gabbert

      The worst in the NFCE are Vick and the pretty little QB with the curl on his forehead (when he is good he is very, very good, when he is bad he is horrid).
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      I think the NFC East QBs are good, but there isn't an obvious QB that scares you. Eli is the closest and he is such an erratic QB during the regular season that I think he is just easy to overlook. I also think Vick is eroding and probably won't start by the end of the year, if not even the beginning of the year. So I can't see the NFC East as having the best rotation.

      I don't know where I would go as the best rotation. The AFC North is pretty darn good, but you have the weak link with Weeden. The NFCW looks promising with a couple of ascending QBs, but it does have Palmer and Bradford has been a disappointment. The NFC North is pretty good, but there seems to be issues with three of the four QBs. Stafford seems to have problems beating good teams. Cutler has some leadership issues and Ponder is well.. Christian Ponder. The NFC South is probably the most well-balanced. Although I still don't know what to make of Freeman yet and Newton certainly has some skills, but he has leadership issues too.

      I guess if I had to pick, I would lean toward the NFC South, with the AFC North a close second and the NFC North an even closer third.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Andy, I have already done the research on what elementary school Ricky Stanzi attended (Bellflower Elementary)....so I'll just do 500 words on each third stringer, okay?

      I think it has to be up to the NFC East and the NFC South, but other divisions certainly bring some entertainment. I think the NFC West might be the most entertaining along with the most amount of questions. Can two young QBs avoid 2nd-year starter slumps and lead their teams to a title? Will the Zona line, remember, they thought bringing back Levi Brown was a good thing, kill Carson Palmer? Is Sam Bradford going to be good (maybe) and be worth the money (no, hilariously no with the new rookie scale)?

      The AFC North is probably the division where solid play and health mean the most. Can Dalton take a next step? Can Flacco put up more than 22 touchdowns to help a young defense? Can the Steelers go one year without playing Chaz Batch or Byron Leftwich (just because they aren't on the team now and retired doesn't mean a thing)? Isn't it still funny to think that Brandon Weeden is older than Aaron Rodgers?
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      I'd go:

      NFCE (Eli, Romo, RGIII, Vick)
      AFCN (Ben, Flacco, Dalton, Weeden)
      NFCN (Rodgers, Cutler, Stafford, Ponder)
      NFCS (Brees, Ryan, Freeman, Newton)

      as my top 4.


      It's interesting thinking about the NFCW. Everyone says its a QB league and is so high on the NFCW, but their group of QB's wouldn't be in the top 5 or even 6 in this discussion.
    1. Pruitt's Avatar
      Might be tempted to take the NFC North - you always want to have the stud in your rotation and Aaron Rogers is that guy. But I'll take the NFC East.

      By the way, how about the AFC East - That'd be the starting staff of a 50 win team.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      NFC East. I don't disagree that they're all strong #2's. But that doesn't matter. In a 160 game baseball season, depth is more important than a single star player. So if we're stretching this tortured analogy to its logical conclusion, 4 solid starters are better than two firsts and a couple of also-rans.
    1. Docta's Avatar
      Too many NFCE supporters in here. Vick might not even win his own job, and RG3 has Dusty Baker 2.0 coaching him.

      Has to be the NFCS. Freeman might be inconsistent, but he's still young and has had to deal with some incompetent coaches. Drafting Glennon should have lit a fire up his butt. A breakout season is imminent.
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Docta View Post
      Too many NFCE supporters in here. Vick might not even win his own job, and RG3 has Dusty Baker 2.0 coaching him.

      Has to be the NFCS. Freeman might be inconsistent, but he's still young and has had to deal with some incompetent coaches. Drafting Glennon should have lit a fire up his butt. A breakout season is imminent.
      Yeah I just don't get the NFC East love either. When its possible that two out of the four QBs in that division (Vick and RG III) might not even start at the beginning of the season, how is that the best "rotation" in football? There are issues with the NFC South, but at least I know who the 4 starting QBs will be in that division.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      Vick is better than Freeman though, more accomplished than Newton.

      And RGIII's probably the best of the 4 of them.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Docta View Post
      Too many NFCE supporters in here. Vick might not even win his own job, and RG3 has Dusty Baker 2.0 coaching him.

      Has to be the NFCS. Freeman might be inconsistent, but he's still young and has had to deal with some incompetent coaches. Drafting Glennon should have lit a fire up his butt. A breakout season is imminent.
      I thought he had that breakout season a couple years ago before regressing again.....
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Bengals1181 View Post
      Vick is better than Freeman though, more accomplished than Newton.

      And RGIII's probably the best of the 4 of them.
      No disrespect intended, but in what world is Michael Vick currently a better QB than Josh Freeman, or especially Cam Newton? The Eagles aren't even convinced he's better than Nick Foles.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Trumpetbdw View Post
      No disrespect intended, but in what world is Michael Vick currently a better QB than Josh Freeman, or especially Cam Newton? The Eagles aren't even convinced he's better than Nick Foles.
      This (and others, too)--Michael Vick has had exactly one good year as a passer. One. He's athletic, but he's fumbled ten times or more each of the last three seasons (and his three seasons before the dog-fighting fiasco, fumbled 16, 11, and 9 times). If you look at the individual metrics that usually tell you whether or not someone's a good quarterback--a completion percentage of about 62%, a YPA 7.0 or more, a 2:1 TD:INT ratio--he's just not that great. Now, I'm sure I'm not the first person to say that I won't be that surprised if Chip Kelly tweaks a thing or two here or there and Vick comes through with a good season--but I doubt it will last past eight weeks of film. He's just not that good. There, I said it.

      On the rest of the NFC East:

      Griffin is a good, young player with the potential to be great, and we all know that I believe Tony Romo is undervalued as a player and probably receives undue criticism because of the fact that he's the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. In any event, though, if buying Griffin is a bit like buying Chris Sale--to use a baseball analogy--he's already shown me enough that he has my undivided attention and I think Griffin's combination of speed and arm more or less equates to Sale's lefthandedness and velocity. With both, though, I'm worried about the way they're built (Griffin at 6'2", 223; hard-throwing lefties who weigh 180 pounds don't have a long shelf-life) and the way they're used (we've been over this with RGIII, and the massive increase in Sale's innings could be long-term trouble). I mean, right now, both are great, but is it going to last? I guess if the question is only about right-at-this-moment, then okay.

      I'm on a little firmer ground with my feelings about Romo, which are well-established. The best comparison I'm coming up with for Romo is Justin Masterson (although Romo has obviously been around a lot longer). What I mean is, both their numbers look good--and when Masterson is humming, he is straight-up filthy...and it doesn't usually leave him, but when it does, it can get bad in a hurry.

      Eli Manning is weird. He's one of those guys whose stat-line lies: he's better than his numbers would suggest. But I still think he's overrated and the Giants really won two Super Bowls because of their defensive linemen. Now, I don't know what or who this makes him, I don't have a pitcher in mind, though Wax's initial description of 'a solid #2' sounds about right to me, if that solid #2 played for say, the Yankees or Red Sox and we had to hear about him constantly. Maybe he's Andy Pettite, but not as ancient yet.

      Anyway, which division is best? I'm not sure there's a clear answer. I would say that if you're building the best four-man rotation, I'm not with Wax's call for all-solid. You start with a clear ace and then look to complement with him with a dependable second, at least one rising young talent (or two, unless you go for the 'crafty veteran' option, needed in most five-man rotations and baseball movies). I've resisted the Freeman kool-aid for a while--and, I think, been vindicated to some extent--but in the end there's a lot of obvious talent in the NFC South, including him, and with a clear ace in Brees, a solid #2 in Ryan, and great potential in Newton, I'll have to go with them.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      To continue with mkocs' analogy, I liken the NFC South to the Tigers. Brees is Verlander, Ryan is Scherzer, Newton is Anibal Sanchez, and Josh Freeman is probably Doug Fister, which is to say, one of the best #4 starters in the league.

      The NFC East is solid, but I'd go Brees over Manning, Ryan over RGIII (both relatively close), Newton and Romo are nearly dead even, as I think both have their values underrated, and Freeman over Vick/Foles.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Trumpetbdw View Post
      No disrespect intended, but in what world is Michael Vick currently a better QB than Josh Freeman, or especially Cam Newton? The Eagles aren't even convinced he's better than Nick Foles.
      what has Freeman proven? What has Newton for that matter? They may have brighter futures, but neither has proven they are a winning QB in this league. Vick has at least done that.

      Vick's biggest issue IMO is health. Things have been shaky in Philly lately, but it's not all of Vick. The coaching staff got stale there, and the oline was horrid.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      If we're saying Vick only has one good season, then what does Freeman have? I think that if Philly can solve their oline, Vick will be tremendous. There, I said it.

      I think RGIII has more chance to succeed in his offense than Newton does in Carolina's.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Bengals1181 View Post
      what has Freeman proven? What has Newton for that matter? They may have brighter futures, but neither has proven they are a winning QB in this league. Vick has at least done that.

      Vick's biggest issue IMO is health. Things have been shaky in Philly lately, but it's not all of Vick. The coaching staff got stale there, and the oline was horrid.
      Leaving out Vick's 2010, Newton's two seasons are more productive than any two Vick seasons you can find--certainly true on passing alone, but Newton more than holds his own when rushing is added to the equation.

      Freeman is another story. I think he's shaky, but he's got talent--and he's had one good season in his career. Comparing four-to-four, at this point, you can go either way but I don't think you make your ultimate decision based on the number-four starter. Two through four are close enough but Brees is a clear ace and Eli is not, I think.