Tom Brady rules over Peyton Manning
It has now become a longstanding part of our athletic culture to make fun of the New England Patriots.
Whether it be for their cuddly-as-a-cactus coach Bill Belichick, the way they run up the score on opponents at times or their Spygate scandal that almost put a black mark on all their success, New England has taken a more than a few shots since its first Super Bowl win in 2001.
And most recently, the Deflategate scandal has become another joke prompt and reason to despise the Patriots. That being said, to hate the Patriots because of Tom Brady falls under the category in my book under the term “hater.”
Since that day when Brady replaced an injured starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe in week 3 of the 2001 NFL season, the sixth-round draft-pick out of Michigan has been the face, arm and strength of the league’s most consistent team.
During his career, Brady has missed the playoffs only once when starting the majority of the Pats’ games. He has led the Pats to 12 AFC East titles, six Super Bowl appearances and four Super Bowl titles.
Now, in 2015, New England looks close to unstoppable in the American Football Confederation while Tom Brady has virtually won his third MVP award with the season only half over. There has not been a better player in the league for the past 15 seasons than Tom Terrific.
To compare Brady and Peyton Manning’s regular season statistics would be a skewed comparison where not all the facts and variables are gathered.
In Indianapolis, Peyton played with two Hall of Fame wide receivers in the prime — Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne — a borderline Hall of Fame tight end, and played in a dome and a division with games in Houston, Jacksonville and Tennessee.
In Denver, although Brady is getting bad weather, he has been blessed with star wideouts in Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Julius Thomas and Wes Welker, as well as playing division games in Oakland, San Diego and Kansas City.
Compare that to Brady’s best receivers. For most of his career, Brady has had to throw to no names like Deion Branch, Troy Brown and Aaron Dobson.
He had Randy Moss for two seasons before he was traded. Aaron Hernandez for two years before inking a deal with the Mean Machines. Rob Gronkowski has been the only pass-catcher Brady has had for more than three years and who is in his prime.
Also, Brady has had to play outdoors in Foxboro for half the season and play in New Jersey and Buffalo in the division. Tom Brady has proven himself as the best bad weather quarterback ever.
Aside from being a great bad weather quarterback, Brady is also a quarterback who never really had high turnover numbers. The most interceptions that Brady has had in a season was 14. For a quarterback who throws as much as he does, that is around the average.
Manning, on the other hand, has throw over 20 interceptions twice in his career and has only one season of not throwing double digit interceptions.
Brady, including this season, has had five seasons of single digit interceptions.
When it comes to postseason, it is no contest (like an average Patriots game).
However, my colleague has a point that football is a team sport, and to blame one player solely for the success and downfall of a team is ridiculous.
But it does matter if the team is failing because of that player. Instead of looking at the player’s success in the playoffs, let us look at his stats. You know, the thing Manning is suppose to have on Brady.
In five more postseason games, Brady has thrown a record 53 touchdown passes, more than 7300 passing yards while being sacked 17 more times than Peyton (48 to 31).
In Manning’s one Super Bowl year of 2006, he threw three touchdown passes to seven interceptions in four games. It would take a combination of all four of Brady’s Super Bowl years to reach seven interceptions, and that comes with 21 touchdown passes.
Brady shines against the best teams, while Manning does not. The best comparison comes from the past two Super Bowls. Against the Seattle Seahawks, Peyton could score only one touchdown in garbage time, losing 43-8. Brady, against the same team, throw four touchdown passes and made the Legion of Boom look like a Division II team.
Manning plays well in controlled environments. Once he loses control, he falls apart. No matter the weather, team or supporting cast, Brady will shine like one of his four rings.
As much as my colleague wishes to believe Peyton Manning is the greater quarterback, the stats, team success, strength of teams and overall head to head performance (which is 11-5 in favor of Brady) does not show that.
The simple fact is that the eye test can only go so far in favor of Manning. In their primes, Manning might have been prettier to watch, but Brady was much more efficient.
There is only one guy I would want with the ball in the fourth quarter with a minute left and two timeouts, and that is Tom Brady.
Give me Peyton Manning over any QB, even Brady
Today, there is no argument who is the better quarterback between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. In New England, the brilliant Tom Brady as aged liked a bottle of Tuscan wine.
With precise accuracy on each sharp ball, Brady, with Aaron Rodgers, is currently the best quarterback in the NFL. His greatest contemporary rival, though, Peyton Manning, has aged like a week old hot dog on a hot summer sidewalk. With every throw beyond 15 yards, not only is Peyton grimacing, but as a true football fan who has watched the best quarterback of his era, I am grimacing.
For the debate of best quarterback, both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady deserve recognition of being within top-five. However, when the two were at their absolute best, I have never seen the position of quarterback played better than Peyton Manning. And I phrase the debate like that instead of “best quarterback,” because I have truly never seen an individual play the position better.
Perhaps because our memories are much shorter today than they were in 2007, but it seems like a whole generation of football fans have forgotten how dominant Manning was with the Indianapolis Colts. A Colt from 1998-2011, that was the team which Manning built his legendary career with; it was not the Denver Broncos. And though he had the greatest passing season in the modern era of the NFL in 2013, highlighted by his 55 touchdown passes, it is hard to believe that even though that was his best season statistically, that Peyton Manning was not even at his prime. That is what he did after four neck surgeries.
Between 2003-06 and from 2008-09, Manning was the most dominant player of his era. With five first team All-Pro selections and four MVPS, there was no better passer in the game. Yet, the awards do not tell the story.
Certainly the smartest quarterback of all time, Manning at the pre-snap made quarterbacking an art as he sets-up, preps and dissects defenses like a doctor before a surgery. And while Manning has had talented wideouts like Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, it can be argued that Peyton developed these players more than they did he. For example, Manning has had seven different receivers record at least 1,000 yard seasons. However, Reggie Wayne is the only member of this group to have had another 1,000 yard year with another quarterback.
Yet, with arguably the greatest résumé from a quarterback, Manning will be seen by some as below Brady when ranking the greatest quarterbacks, primarily due to Brady’s four Super Bowl wins to Manning’s one. However, like I repeatedly contend, an individual player in a team sport should not have championships be the deciding factor between two players.
In every era, in every team sport, I prefer the player who I simply believe was better, not whose team was greater, allowing that athlete to win more championships. I will always take Chamberlain over Russell. I will take LeBron over Bryant and Duncan. I will take Willie Mays over Mickey Mantle. I will take Barry Sanders over Emmitt Smith.
With all due respect to Mr. Brady, who has been skilled enough to win four Super Bowls, outside of his outstanding performance against the Seahawks last season, early in his career, Brady was simply a part in some legendary teams which did not need any strong quarterback play from 2001-2004.
I mean, in the 2001 AFC Championship game enroute to their first Super Bowl, the Patriots won as Drew Bledsoe came in to replace an injured Brady. From 2001- 2004, New England was a run-heavy offense with a defense which featured Pro Bowlers such as: Rodney Harrison, Tedy Bruschi, Richard Seymour and Ty Law. Early in his career, Brady was more of a manager than an active role. Manning on the other hand has routinely shouldered the load for somewhat average teams which would not have sniffed the playoffs without him.
And this measure of responsibility is most notably seen, as both quarterbacks missed an entire season due to injury. As a result, Brady’s Patriots in 2008 went 11-5, and Manning’s Colts went a dismal 2-14 in 2012.
And that is because, for the bulk of their careers, Manning has had to do a lot more for his team than Brady. From 2010 to today, yes, Brady has been asked to be the everything for his offense. For nearly 18 years though, Manning has had to be everything for his respective teams.
And, I do think we under appreciate the role of head coaches in team sports, and Brady has been fortunate enough to have the greatest defensive mind in league history, Bill Belichick. As a coordinator with the Giants in the 1980s and early 90s, Belichick would routinely slow down all-time offenses spearheaded by Joe Montana, John Elway and Jim Kelly. Baffling the best to ever play the position, Manning has gone up against Belichick and his defenses, not Brady. And because Belichick has beaten Manning more times than the other way around, I would have no problem say, Belichick > Manning.
Manning influenced a generation of offenses, including Brady’s current offense, due to his lightning quick no huddle-offenses at the early set of the millennium. He was also the catalyst of the highest scoring offense in league history so, to me, Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback I have ever seen.