Quarterback is the most important position on the field. It feels near impossible to compete in the playoffs without at least an average quarterback, and the luxury of having a top talent at the position can paper over issues all over your roster.
The NFC North has a wealth of talent at the position, and today we are going to be ranking the top five quarterbacks between the four teams in the division.
Just missed the list:
5. Mitch Trubisky (Chicago Bears)
The oft-maligned Chicago Bears quarterback beats out his former backup, Chase Daniel (now of the Detroit Lions) for the spot at No. 5 in the division. The second overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft has certainly failed to live up to expectations thus far, and the Bears recently affirmed their disappointment in the young quarterback by declining the fifth-year option on his rookie contract.
Trubisky’s highs have been very high throughout his career—he nearly tied the NFL record for most touchdown passes in a single game when he threw six against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018—but his lows have been even lower. The quarterback has had some high-profile failures against the Philadelphia Eagles in his lone playoff appearance and against the Green Bay Packers in the 2019 season opener.
His time as the starter in the Windy City seems all but finished (the next quarterback on this list has likely taken his job), and Trubisky may find himself out of the NFL by 2022. For now, though, the quarterback still hopes that earning a starting role this season can get his career back on track.
Nick Foles (Chicago Bears)
The Super Bowl MVP and architect of one of the most improbable runs in recent history has arrived in the NFC North. After a one-year stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars, quarterback Nick Foles was dealt over the to Bears for a fourth-round pick. Foles now is the likely starter in Chicago.
Foles has had an interesting run over the past few years. He led the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl after Carson Wentz suffered an ACL tear in 2017. He was forced to take over again in 2018—but with less-than-stellar results. Foles signed a mega deal worth $88 million with Jacksonville that they almost instantly regretted, as he was soon replaced by rookie sixth-round pick Gardner Minshew in 2019.
If the 31-year-old quarterback wants to continue his NFL career as starter, then he will first have to defeat Trubisky in training camp. He will enter as the de facto starter, but if he continues to play like he did in 2019, one has to imagine the Bears will give Trubisky another chance to prove himself at the helm of the offense.
3. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers)
How far they fall.
Aaron Rodgers is arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, and until recently, he was pretty much universally regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. The quarterback’s health has deteriorated over the years, and his play-making prowess has been replaced by some of the most conservative play we have seen from a quarterback in recent years.
Rodgers still shows flashes of the player that he was once was. He clearly still has an incredibly strong arm and great athleticism. While he sometimes is too conservative, his turnover-averse play style is still preferable to the way that many other quarterbacks around the league play.
At his best, Rodgers can still play like one of the best players in the NFL. Week to week, though, he a slightly above average quarterback that can elevate the players around him.
2. Kirk Cousins (Minnesota Vikings)
Kirk Cousins might be the most underrated player in the NFL. The narrative surrounding the quarterback often focuses on his inability to win games on ESPN, but those narratives ignore who he is as a player.
Cousins is the ultimate game manager. Prime Alex Smith with more upside. Cousins operates perfectly on script. He can make any throw you need him too, he is a very accurate passer at the intermediate and deep levels, and he is a great decision maker from a clean pocket. He is exceptional running play action, which is becoming even more popular in the NFL.
Where Cousins struggles is when he is forced to go off script. He is entirely incapable of improvising and panics whenever he has to deal with pressure coming from right in front of his face. This leads to Cousins giving people on Twitter a lot of opportunities to create 10 second clips they can laugh at and use for retweets, shaping a narrative around him.
Unfortunately for Cousins, his ability to regularly hit tough passes outside the numbers at the intermediate level doesn’t translate into retweet-worthy content, leading to many becoming misinformed about his actual ability. Cousins is a good NFL quarterback, and deserves much more credit than he gets.
1. Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions)
Matthew Stafford would have certainly made his second career Pro Bowl if an injury had not cut his 2019 season short. If his team was not terrible and actually managed to win enough games to be real contenders in 2019, he may even have earned his first ever MVP votes. The veteran quarterback was in the midst of his best NFL season, throwing for 2,499 yards and 19 touchdowns in eight games. He likely would have ended the year near the top of the leaderboards in every major passing category.
We do not know if the injury will linger at all for Stafford in 2020, or if he even would have managed to keep up that impressive pace for the second half of the season, but those first eight games of 2019 was the best eight-game span of the quarterback’s decade-long career. If the team had been winning, he would have been widely regarded as a top five quarterback in the league.
If Stafford continues playing at that level, the national media will eventually stop ignoring it, no matter what the win-loss record says. Stafford is the best quarterback in the NFC North—and maybe even in the NFC as a whole.