Tony Gonzalez gets it, knows there are only four elite QBs

Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) on the bench in the fourth quarter of the game against the Carolina Panthers during the second half at the Georgia Dome. The Panthers defeated the Falcons 21-20. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The word “elite” gets tossed around too easily when it comes to slapping the tag on quarterbacks, and there are only four quarterbacks in the NFL who have dominated consistently enough to be called “elite”. They are, in order, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees. That’s it. No Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, or even Joe Flacco stuck in there. While there are plenty of very good QBs in this league and several ones that qualify as “great”, the word “elite” is not easily attainable and should only be reserved for those four quarterbacks.

Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez received plenty of unfair criticism for his perceived slight of Matt Ryan, whom he stated isn’t an elite quarterback. He did, however, state that Ryan is close to that level, and his assessment of Ryan was completely fair and totally blown out of proportion by over-zealous writers and pundits. Ryan is definitely a top ten quarterback, but he hasn’t asserted himself as an elite QB and will probably remain on the precipice.

Gonzalez appeared on ESPN’s “The Herd” with Colin Cowherd to talk about his comments, and he wisely stood by his fair, benign remarks and defended himself against the unfair criticism. He also spoke about what it means to be an elite QB, and the future Hall of Fame TE did some great preaching to plenty of people who need to properly grasp this.

He said, via ESPN NFL Nation’s Vaughn McClure, ”If you look at it right now in the NFL — and here’s what I want people to look at — the Mount Rushmore of quarterbacks in this league right now, there’s four of them. There’s Tom Brady, there’s Peyton Manning, there’s Aaron Rodgers, and there’s Drew Brees. And those guys are probably first ballot — I don’t think I’m going out on a limb — they are first-ballot Hall of Famers, all four of them. … As far as I’m concerned, those are the elite quarterbacks. And everybody else is in line after that.”

Follow the link above to read some more great quotes from Gonzalez, who clearly didn’t say anything against Ryan at all. Like Gonzalez, I also have nothing but respect for Ryan and have been signing his praises for a while. The whole “he can’t win” argument is pointless and not even worth wasting time to debunk, and he did a really nice job of playing well under immense pressure this season due to injuries at WR and awful pass protection from the offensive line.

Topics: Aaron Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Tony Gonzalez

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  • Andrew Campbell

    “even Joe Flacco”? Were you serious about that part? “Even”? Really? You’re surprised that Flacco wasn’t mentioned as an elite QB? In all seriousness, I stopped reading at that point.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      Haha, I should have known somebody was going to do this. Calm down, I’m the last person who would call Flacco “elite”, and I don’t think he’s accurate enough to be a top ten quarterback. He’s a pretty good QB all told, but he’s more 15th than 10th. I said “even”, as in “even some people try to put Flacco in the ‘elite’ mix” as a reference to his contract and the hoopla surrounding him last year at this time.

      So in short, it was a tongue-in-cheek comment, and I hope you learned your lesson about jumping to conclusions. Next time, kindly asking, “What did you mean?” would have been a better idea.

      • Andrew Campbell

        Oh.

        • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

          Dang it, now you’re making me feel bad for that blow-up haha. Have a good one, Andrew.

  • arnie

    See Joe I agree with him. The problem is there is no set criteria in which we can look a QB and compare. While the discussions may vary, until we can all agree on some standards, we can’t really look at Tony Gonzales comments fairly.
    As much as I hate to admit, Rivers is a good QB, great even, or a “franchise” QB. But elite? No he just hasn’t done enough to be in that category. He may wina ring or two, but over his career can we really say Rivers dominated games? I’d say he’s only getting that chance under McCoy.
    We’ll see. Overall I think atony is correct.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      I don’t think Rivers is elite, but I do think he’s pretty close. In fact, I think you could legitimately rank him as the 5th-best QB in the NFL, because he is ridiculously accurate, especially on intermediate throws. With competent coaching and blocking around him for the first time in several years, Rivers reminded us all how good he is, and he did dominate in some games this season.

      And why would you hate to admit that Rivers is great? Elite, no. Great, yes.

      • arnie

        Why? I’m just bias the way Drew Brees left. He’s showing why he was not the problem, and proving he was the right guy all along.