Five scariest quarterbacks entering 2022 NFL season;  where Gronk ranks among top TEs of all time

Five scariest quarterbacks entering 2022 NFL season; where Gronk ranks among top TEs of all time

One way to spark a strong reaction from the football world is to insinuate that a superstar is a systemplayer, someone who is elevated by the pieces around him and lacking the skills needed to succeed in any situation. Former Ravens and Jets linebacker Bart Scott recently did the honors, setting social media on fire after he said that he and others would rather face Tom Brady than Peyton Manning.

“I’d much rather go against Tom Brady every day of the week than go against Peyton Manning,” Scott said last week on ESPN Radio’s Bart & Hahn Show. “…I believe that’s how everybody feels. Like, in the heyday, never ever have I said when I’m playing the Patriots, ‘I’m so afraid of Tom Brady.’

“I lost as a No. 1 seed to Peyton Manning with the Baltimore Ravens. Peyton Manning gives you a different set of anxiety. … With Tom Brady it was more about Bill Belichick, the entire team, the execution, them having a game plan.”

While I believe there is a lot more nuance needed to fully understand the point Scott tried to make, there is something different about facing a player who is in the system compared to someone who thrives within the system. For instance, a quarterback who can operate outside of the play designs crafted by the offensive coordinators poses a bigger threat to the defense. Whether making plays on an impromptu scramble or firing a no-look pass across the field, the quarterbacks who keep defensive coordinators up at night are the ones who are able to make plays beyond the diagrams on the chalkboard.

In the mid-1990s, I had a chance to witness it firsthand when I played with the Green Bay Packers in the midst of Brett Favre’s run to three consecutive MVP award wins. The Hall of Famer was the best player on the planet during that time and his improvisational skills kept defensive coordinators and defenders on their toes.

As No. 4’s teammate, the presence of a magician at the position not only changed the way opponents defended us but it gave the team the kind of confidence that can result in rings and banners at the end of the season. The offense expected to score every time it had the ball with Favre in the huddle. From the coaches to the players, the goal was to score 30 or more points each week. Anything less than flawless execution and efficient performance drew the ire of the coaches, particularly Mike Holmgren, and created some tense moments on the sideline and in the locker room.

On defense, the emphasis was on getting the ball back to give Favre more chances to put points on the board. Whether we were up or down, the team’s confidence was unshakeable due to the presence of a unicorn in the offensive huddle.

I’m certain Brady’s teammates in New England and Tampa Bay feel the same way about TB12 in the huddle. I think Brady would be the first to admit, though, that he’s never been the most athletically gifted to pass around. There is something different about having a transcendent star at the position with the potential to make a play from anywhere on the field in a variety of ways.

Looking at the starting quarterbacks in today’s league, there are a handful of quarterbacks who have the star qualities and blue-chip traits that led to sleepless nights for defensive coordinators and defenders around the league. The combination of IQ, athleticism and arm talent makes them a nightmare to defend, and it requires more than just the Xs and Os to slow them down.

Here are my top five scariest quarterbacks in the league right now.

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