With Super Bowl LII just over a week away, there's been a lot of reflection and recollection of past Super Bowls and standout performances through the years.
NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal took a look Thursday at all 60 Super Bowl quarterbacks and ranked them within seven different subcategories. Rosenthal explained his system:
It's important to note that for players like Johnny Unitas and Bart Starr, who started Super Bowls but whose peak years came *before the Super Bowl era, I considered their entire careers, not just what they did from 1966 onward. I ranked all quarterbacks based on career achievements, with regular-season excellence, All-Pro/Pro Bowl appearances and seasons as top-five and top-10 players at the position carrying more weight than just Super Bowl success. (Spoiler: Jim Plunkett did not have a better career than Dan Marino. Sorry.)*
Rosenthal placed Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton, who played for the Vikings in three of the franchise's four Super Bowl appearances, at No. 13 overall and within the "In (or should be in) the Hall of Fame" category.
Leading the category at No. 12 overall was Saints current quarterback Drew Brees, whom Rosenthal compared to Tarkenton:
Like Tarkenton, Brees is an undersized, undervalued but consistent star with an incredibly long run of statistical dominance.
Rosenthal included Joe Kapp, who led the Vikings to the 1969 NFL Championship and Super Bowl IV at No. 53 overall.
Leading Rosenthal's list were six quarterbacks included in the top tier: Tom Brady (5-2 with the Patriots), Johnny Unitas (1-0 with the Colts), Joe Montana (4-0 with the 49ers), Peyton Manning (1-1 with the Colts; 1-1 with the Broncos), Dan Marino (0-1 with the Dolphins) and Brett Favre (1-1 with the Packers).
Coller: Vikings most-important offseason decision will be offensive coordinator
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and General Manager Rick Spielman have some big-time areas to evaluate and consider this offseason, including making decisions at quarterback.
Matthew Coller of 1500ESPN.com, however, opined that even more important than the quarterback situation is who the team hires at offensive coordinator after Pat Shurmur was hired as the Giants new head coach. Coller wrote:
While quarterbacks drive success in the NFL, what we just witnessed this season with Case Keenum should tell us something. There are so many mid-pack QBs that scheme and personnel ultimately drive a quarterback's success or failure unless that QB is an elite talent.
Take Derek Carr, for example. With a good system, great O-line and running game in 2016, he was a franchise quarterback with a 96.7 rating. This year his offensive coordinator changed, his line got hurt, running game faltered and receivers dropped passes left and right. His rating sunk to 86.4.
Coller said that while it's impossible to predict potential injuries, "you can guarantee the Vikings will have a great supporting cast for whichever quarterback they choose." He emphasized Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs' talent at wide receiver and the anticipated return of running back Dalvin Cook, whose impressive rookie season was cut short by a torn ACL.
Coller said that Shurmur was able to "get the most out of those weapons to maximize [Case] Keenum's performance" in the 2017 season.* *
There's so many interesting questions that don't have answers. Does Zimmer already know his QB and will he decide on an OC based on how they fit with QBX? Will he hire the best OC, then have that person influence the QB decision?
Danielle Hunter among 'unsung heroes' in NFC
Fans usually are well-aware of each of their respective team's playmakers. But when taking a step back and looking at the league-wide perspective, a number of players were "unsung heroes" during the 2017 season that perhaps didn't receive the attention they deserved.
Matt Harmon delved into the NFC and created a list of these players for NFL.com. He chose one individual from each roster, identifying defensive end Danielle Hunter for the Vikings. Harmon wrote:
Vikings pass rusher Everson Griffen snagged Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors and looked like a Defensive Player of the Year candidate at different points this season. His running mate was a solid contributor on the other side of the line, as well. Hunter chipped in with 46 pressures this season, finishing behind only Griffen's 62 on Minnesota. The 23-year-old defensive end proved to be a solid ground-game defender in addition to his work against the pass. Hunter clocked 17 run stuffs on the year, third on the team behind Eric Kendricks and Linval Joseph.
Who else in Minnesota's division did Harmon single out?
On the Bears roster, Harmon selected cornerback Kyle Fuller, who "deserves major credit for turning in his best season at a critical point in his career." According to Harmon, Fuller landed in the top 12 of corners who took over 200 passing snaps.
He also highlighted the performance of Lions defensive end Anthony Zettel and Packers linebacker Blake Martinez, who was a 16-game starter for Green Bay in his second season.