Every NFL QB fits into one of these categories
From rookies to Super Bowl winners, below are the categorized NFL power rankings of the starting quarterbacks for the 2012 season.
"Good or bad? It's too soon to tell."
(Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden, Russell Wilson)
The performances of these quarterbacks are all over the place -- not just from week to week, but from drive to drive, snap to snap -- from flashes of mild brilliance to unbridled incompetence. It's like Forrest's box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get.
"This is awesome. We're totally going to win two or three Super Bowls eventually."
(Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck)
The speculation of how good these two might be trumps whatever bad performances they'll have this year. The prospect of a bright future outshines the current drudgery -- sometimes irrationally so.
"They're young and kind of skilled. So maybe you could talk me into this."
(Christian Ponder, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert)
It's this interesting blend of borderline mediocrity and youth that makes for an unusual kind of optimism in the future.
"Finally, we have a franchise quarterback."
(Andy Dalton, Cam Newton)
The luster from a sensational rookie season has been replaced with the seriousness and sense of urgency that comes with being a franchise quarterback.
"This isn't working like we had hoped. Why did we give them so much money?"
(Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Cassel, Mark Sanchez)
So far, through four games, these three quarterbacks have combined for 18 interceptions. What's worse, together their contracts are worth $184 million dollars.
"Kind of like a presidency. It's been around four years, and I'm still not sure what to think."
(Sam Bradford, Matthew Stafford, Josh Freeman)
When it comes to these three quarterbacks, people are still trying to figure out whether their struggles are due to the situations they inherited or whether they're just not cut out for the job. All have losing records so far: Bradford (10-20), Stafford (14-19), and Freeman (18-26).
"The game manager."
(Alex Smith, Kevin Kolb)
The rationale behind these guys: If your defense is good enough, then all you need is a quarterback competent enough to not screw up a good thing. (See: Trent Dilfer, circa 2000).
"Not in their 20s anymore, and I'm pretty sure they're no longer worth the optimism."
(Matt Schaub, Michael Vick, Tony Romo, Carson Palmer)
Brass tacks: Collectively, these guys have won three playoff games. How many more excuses can be given? More to the point: How many more chances do you give a quarterback in his 30s before you concede to hitting the reset button and starting over as a franchise?
"This wasn't supposed to be as sad as it turned out to be."
(Jay Cutler, Philip Rivers)
With only four post-season wins between them, these guys only have a couple more chances before they're in the group above.
"He's won one before, but it feels like we might be through here."
It's been an enchanting career, almost blemish free, if only he would have won a few more Super Bowls. Still, it's beautiful watching him compete for another one, even if the possibility seems incredibly unlikely.
"Trying to make the leap."
(Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco)
Both have experienced a mixed bag of early successes, but now they're trying to make the leap into one of the next two categories.
"Great -- just not elite."
(Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees)
These two have the wherewithal to win a championship, but it doesn't seem like their teams have the complementary pieces to make that happen anytime soon.
"The three kings"
(Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning)
When people toss around the label "elite," this is what they mean. Put it this way: If you wanted to win a championship this season, these are the quarterbacks best suited for the task.
Chad Pemberton is a Marshall University graduate who follows the NFL and is writing about it for The Herald-Dispatch. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.