A year ago at this point in the season, the top three players on the Meter were Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, ranked in that order.
By the end of the season, it was Rodgers, Brees and Brady, ranked in that order.
These were players that separated themselves from the pack early and did not look back. Brady already had 940 yards and seven touchdowns through two games. Rodgers had two 300-yard games and five TD passes under his belt. Brees had 689 yards and six TDs. Not one of them had thrown an interception.
They set the stage in what was a historic year for quarterbacks.
We have not seen that type of dominance yet from those three, or any other signalcaller, this season.
It’s left a void at the top of the Meter. Falcons QB Matt Ryan claims the No. 1 slot this week after a strong performance in a big win on a national stage. He has staying power, but this year’s race may never be as clear-cut at the top as last season’s. It certainly is wide open through two games and, as you can see, we are not counting out Rodgers or Brady, and not even Brees, who has struggled more than the other two, from this conversation.
1. Falcons QB Matt Ryan (No. 7) — No one has a better passer rating than Ryan (117.6), who has been very sharp for the 2-0 Falcons. He delivered in the clutch, making a key third-down conversion on a pass to Julio Jones late in the fourth quarter with Atlanta clinging to a lead against the Broncos on Monday night. Ryan has been the best player on one of the league’s best teams thus far.
2. Giants QB Eli Manning (No. 5) — Why is a player that threw three interceptions, including one that was returned for a TD on Sunday moving up on the Meter? Well, because Manning led the Giants on a stunning comeback from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter of their win over the Buccaneers. Manning racked up 243 of his career-high 510 yards passing in the fourth quarter as the Giants scored 25 points in the last 15 minutes. He’s the main reason it’s foolish to ever count the Giants out.
3. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (No. 1) — The Packers bounced back with a win in Week Two, but Rodgers has not come close to displaying the form he showed last season. We know how much of a difference maker he can be, though. It’s going to take a longer lukewarm streak to move him out of the top-five on the Meter.
4. Patriots QB Tom Brady (No. 2) — Like Rodgers, Brady has been a bit off his usual elite mark, and losing TE Aaron Hernandez to an ankle injury for reportedly the next 4-6 weeks does not make returning to form any easier for him.
5. 49ers QB Alex Smith (Cusp) — Only Matt Ryan has a higher passer rating than Smith’s 115.9. He’s attempted a franchise-record 216 passes without throwing an interception. Call him a game manager or don’t — he’s been one of the most impressive quarterbacks in the league thus far.
6. Panthers QB Cam Newton (No. 6) — Newton was on-point in Carolina’s win over the sagging Saints, completing 14-of-20 passes for 253 yards and a TD. More importantly, he keyed the return of the Panthers’ ground game, which was nonexistent in Week One. Newton led the team in rushing with 13 carries for 71 yards and a TD.
7. Chargers QB Philip Rivers (Cusp) — Rivers appears to have put his erratic ways of a season ago behind him. He leads the league in completion percentage (73.8) among quarterbacks with 65 or more passing attempts and helped lead San Diego to a 38-point output in Week Two despite being without RB Ryan Mathews and TE Antonio Gates.
8. Bills RB C.J. Spiller (not ranked) — The Bills’ versatile weapon is making the most of his opportunity as a featured back with Fred Jackson out of the lineup. Spiller leads the league in rushing with 292 yards and is averaging a stunning 10.1 yards per carry — more than four yards greater than the next highest average. His next rushing touchdown will be his fourth, which would match a career high.
9. Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (No. 10) — If not for a dumb penalty by WR Josh Morgan, which moved a potential game-tying field goal out of Billy Cundiff’s range, the Redskins might be 2-0 right now. RG3 gave Washington a chance to win again in Week Two, throwing for 206 yards, a TD and a pick and rushing for 82 yards (7.5-yard average) and two TDs on 11 carries.
10. Packers OLB Clay Matthews (not ranked) — After sacking Jay Cutler 3½ times in Green Bay’s Thursday-night win, Matthews exited Week Two with twice as many sacks (six) as anyone else in the league.
On the cusp (in alphabetical order): Rams QB Sam Bradford, Saints QB Drew Brees, Dolphins RB Reggie Bush, Ravens QB Joe Flacco, Texans RB Arian Foster, Lions WR Calvin Johnson, Broncos QB Peyton Manning, Ravens RB Ray Rice, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, Cowboys QB Tony Romo, Texans DE J.J. Watt.