Sunday, December 02, 2012

Manning vs Brady

The Sports Guy considers the question posed by a reader:
"Two months from now, it's very possible Tom Brady will have 3 NFL MVPs, 6 Super Bowl appearances and 4 rings. Wouldn't that clinch him as the greatest QB of all time? It's just as possible that two months from now, Peyton Manning will have 5 NFL MVPs, 3 Super Bowl appearances, 2 rings (and may have even just beaten his brother in the long-awaited Manning Bowl). That would pretty much lock Peyton up as the greatest QB of all time, wouldn't it? Has there ever been another season where the Greatest of All Time title was up for grabs like this? For any position? In any sport?"

For one thing, it's neat that we're even here after what Manning went through these past 18 months. When I wrote about the Manning-Brady rivalry in January of 2011, right before the playoffs, their unofficial championship belt was seemingly hinging on the events of that month … and within a year, suddenly it seemed like Brady had a chance to grab the belt without any resistance from Manning. Now it's an argument again. I'd disagree with Eric on one point: We're not even close to resolving it. Quarterbacks are like NBA players — we don't have any idea how long their careers will last anymore (especially now that all these rules are in place to protect their safety). Could Brady play until he's … 42? Forty-three? Who knows? Could Kobe Bryant score 40,000 points? Who knows? I'm prepared for anything this decade.

Anyway, I don't think Brady or Manning can clinch anything yet other than the "Who did the best job of antagonizing his loyal fans by wearing hats of hated baseball teams and appearing in commercials that would have earned real scorn had it been anyone else?" (Brady clinched this years ago) and "Whose forehead can turn the reddest when he wears his helmet too long?" battle (Manning clinched this during this first game).
As much as it pains me to say it, (because I loathed his team at the time), I don't think either Brady or Manning is the greatest quarterback of all time.  I don't think it is even close. I think the title clearly belongs to Joe Montana, who would have easily picked up a fifth Super Bowl ring in 1994 had Steve Young not been awarded the starting job by virtue of being more mobile and five years younger.  I've watched the game for more than 35 years now, and Montana is still the quarterback that I feared most as a Vikings fan.

Sure, having Jerry Rice helped, but what made Montana great was the way he always delivered the ball where Jerry Rice could continue running at full speed when he caught the ball.  Watching Christian Ponder repeatedly deliver balls where Percy Harvin can't keep running in stride should be enough to convince anyone that Montana aided Rice more than Rice aided Montana.  (And yes, as a matter of fact, it is painful to watch Drew Brees and RG3 tear up the league while Ponder rolls out, can't see anything if his first read is covered, and dumps the ball off to his outlet receiver for the 17th time in a row.  Thank you for asking.)

Concerning who is the better quarterback, it depends upon whether you are focused on the athlete as an individual performer or an athlete as a member of the team.  Peyton Manning is the superior individual performer, probably has a higher football IQ and modestly better physical talents, but Tom Brady is the better team leader and superior team player.  Between the two of them, if I was to choose one of the two quarterbacks in his prime around whom to build a team, it would be Brady.



Anonymous Susan December 02, 2012 7:30 AM  

Even though I consider myself barely a fan of the game, I would totally agree with your reasoning here. There is no quarterback currently playing that would stand a chance against Montana when he was in his prime and schooling the opposing team.

Anonymous Susan December 02, 2012 7:34 AM  

Of course the modern game barely resembles the rough and tumble action that was football all those years ago. I would like to see some of the current players try the game of rugby. I am betting that most of them would run screaming from the field like a bunch of sissy marys.

Anonymous TLM December 02, 2012 7:54 AM  

Namath. End of discussion. Mannings neck wouldn't last a game in the old non-feminized NFL. Brady is a fag.

Blogger Michael Hoffman December 02, 2012 7:55 AM  

Agreed Susan. Modern QB's don't get touched. Montana got creamed - and he was somewhat mobile. Brady and Manning can't run; hard to determine how many years they would have lasted starting 30 years ago?

Anonymous Pablo December 02, 2012 7:59 AM  

I'd go with Manning over Brady but that's just a preference. All-time, yeah, Montana. He just had that X factor that made everyone believe that 90 seconds and 90 yards to the endzone were plenty.

Anonymous Fatherof10 December 02, 2012 8:12 AM  

Bradshaw, Staubach, Montana in that order. But I agree you can't compare todays to the ones 20 years ago. The game is different.

Anonymous Robert in Arabia December 02, 2012 8:15 AM

Blogger James Dixon December 02, 2012 8:36 AM  

Well, As Fatherof10 notes, that completely leaves old the older generations of quarterbacks. There's Graham, Starr, Unitas, Namath, Bradshaw, and Staubach, just to name a few. But Montana, Brady, and Manning are definitely in that class.

Anonymous Roundtine December 02, 2012 8:44 AM  

No love for Marino?

Anonymous Susan December 02, 2012 8:49 AM  

I agree Fatherof10. The game is being, for lack of a better term, dumbed down, by nannystate libs who just can't bear to see grown men playing a tough game and spectators having fun watching them doing it.

Rush L. says the next item on the libs agenda regarding football, is stopping concussions. How they can do that, I can't begin to imagine.

Anonymous Opdawg December 02, 2012 9:23 AM  

Fran Tarkenton, the original scrambler -rusher Qb- suprised you didn't mention him. And, as much as I hate the Dolphins, Dan Marino was one of the best I've seen.

Anonymous mjb December 02, 2012 9:28 AM  

Brady would agree with your assessment that Montana is the greatest.

Anonymous Tosser December 02, 2012 9:53 AM  

As a Bronco fan, I gotta go with Manning. He's pretty much inspired/forced everyone around him to pick-up their level of play.

Blogger IM2L844 December 02, 2012 10:13 AM  

A convincing case can be made that Johnny Unitas was the greatest of all time.

Anonymous Stilicho December 02, 2012 10:14 AM  

4th quarter, game is on the line, who do you want? Manning.

Anonymous zen0 December 02, 2012 10:27 AM  

How we can have this conversation without mentioning Phil Sims or Trent Dilfer is beyond me.

Blogger James Dixon December 02, 2012 10:33 AM  

> No love for Marino?

Marino went to Pitt. Love would be asking a bit much for a WVU grad. :)

Blogger James Dixon December 02, 2012 10:41 AM  

> Peyton Manning is the superior individual performer, probably has a higher football IQ and modestly better physical talents, but Tom Brady is the better team leader and superior team player.

One other comment: Brady is a great quarterback for the offense they run. I'm not sure he'd be anywhere near as good in another style offense. I think Manning could be successful in more types of offenses than Brady.

Anonymous scoobius dubious December 02, 2012 10:50 AM  

Well at this level you always get into that "inter pares" sort of thing. So, when in doubt, the two greatest QBs (tie) were Staubach and Bradshaw -- not because they were definitively better than other greats named here, but because they played for teams called the "Cowboys" and the "Steelers", two of the best sports team names of all time (I mean come on, the "Jets"?!?). Not only were the team names resolutely not ahistorical or megalomaniacal (e.g. Raiders, Giants... even Vikings, in a stretch) but they were named after actual American phenomena, concrete local grit and industry and determination that made this country great. I like that about them. Football being such a uniquely American sport, I like the teams with the uniquely American names -- Cowboys, Steelers, Patriots, Broncos. I don't like the ones that have abstract or pompous names. I've always wondered if somewhere in Texas there is a high-school Math Team called the Houston Eulers.

Also, honorable mention goes to Johnny Unitas, just for being named Johnny Unitas. I mean, how cool is that?

btw, OT, but...

"Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His mercy endures forever."

I feel obliged to publicly give thanks and praise to Almighty God, because someone very dear to me recently had a close brush with death, but emerged safe and sound. It was doubly important, not just for our personal lives and our families, but because in several other ways not relevant to me, this person's loss would have been a disaster. Blessed be God forever.

Anonymous Boetain December 02, 2012 10:55 AM  

Growing up in the eastern confederacy, the only team around and on TV was the Falcons, so I grew up watching them (most kids were actually either Cowboys or Steelers fans, and I was in the Steelers camp). The Falcons were in the NFC West back then for whatever reason, so I watched Montana destroy the Falcons throughout his career, Neon Deion and "too legit to quit" Glanville notwithstanding. Looking back at the record books, I see he had a career day against them on 10/14/90 when he threw for 476 yards and 6 touchdowns. That is the Montana I remember, and he was simply dominating.

Anonymous Scintan December 02, 2012 11:12 AM  

Brady is the best of all time. Manning's not even a top 6 QB (Brady, Montana, Starr, Unitas, Baugh, Graham).

The Manning/Brady debate isn't even a close one.

Blogger Astrosmith December 02, 2012 11:13 AM  


Just kidding.

If Manning takes the Broncos to the Super Bowl, the people here in Denver will go absolutely nuts.

Blogger TontoBubbaGoldstein December 02, 2012 11:19 AM  

Before all the retired/unretired fiascos, ol' #4 would have been in this discussion. As much as it pains this Raiders fan to admit it, Elway was pretty good. I'll have to also go with Montana as the greatest of all time, though.

I think that Manning is better than Brady in that Manning could win with any team, while any decent QB could win with the Patriots. Manning would have won as many or more than Brady, were he with the Patriots. Brady would not have been as good as Manning was if he had been with Indy or Denver.

IMHO Manning could take the Raiders to the playoffs!!

Anonymous Zek December 02, 2012 11:48 AM  

Montana was awesome, in perfect command. Clucth player.

Clearly I'm a homer, but Bradshaw does not get enough credit for being a great QB. Not saying he's the best, but he had a cannon and liked to throw it deep. He called all of his own plays and was mobile as well. Threw some picks sure, but he gambled and went for it.

Anonymous The Gray Man December 02, 2012 12:02 PM  

The most notable thing about this discussion is the greatest QBs of all time are always pocket-passing white guys.

Blogger Hazim December 02, 2012 12:10 PM  

I could never admire any quarterback as much I loathe Brady.

To quote the great Tosh.O:

"The only time I ever cried over football was when Tom Brady got hurt, and those were tears of joy.
Your coach is a cheater, your rings are a lie, you back-up from Michigan."

Disclaimer: As a Colts fanatic, the game 2 weeks ago sent my Brady meter from "Hateful" to "Maniacal".

Anonymous Opdawg December 02, 2012 12:12 PM  

Hey Scoobius, if it wasn't for cowboys and steel we wouldn't have produced the finest jets in the world.

Glad to hear your friend is ok. Praise the Lord!

Anonymous zen0 December 02, 2012 12:26 PM  

There's Graham, Starr, Unitas, Namath, Bradshaw, and Staubach, just to name a few.

Bradshaw* used adderall. He just said so on a pre-game show 2 minutes ago. It certainly was a different era.*


Anonymous scoobius dubious December 02, 2012 12:34 PM  

Opdawg -- good point about jets. I wouldn't mind the name if the Jets played out of Seattle, something for the home crowd to be proud of. But New York? Shouldn't their team be called the New York Bloodsuckers or something?

On a side note, to ring in the glorious season of Advent, here is Siouxsie Sioux, of all people, doing a charmingly straightforward and quite lovely performance of my favorite Christmas carol. Not to be missed:

The guy in the b.g. who keeps refusing to crash the cymbals is Robert Smith, back when he still an unknown. Siouxsie is apparently half Belgian and speaks fluent French. Whodathunkit.

Joyeaux Noel tous!

Anonymous scoobius dubious December 02, 2012 1:07 PM  

Wouldn't it be great if all the pro sports teams had names that were associated with something that their hometowns were famous for doing or being? I mean, the Milwaukee Brewers -- that's an awesome name, in a sort of Whitman/Sandburg sort of way. Think of the fun you could have with it:

The New York Shysters
The DC Fixers
The Detroit Layabouts
The Miami Kvetchers
The San Antonio Foreigners
The San Francisco Blowjobs
The Chicago Hoodlums
The Buffalo Jihadis

Then you just hire Pat Buchanan for [people of] color commentary on Monday Night Football, and your ratings soar. And then the FCC mysteriously shuts you down by Executive Order.

Blogger James Dixon December 02, 2012 1:17 PM  

> The most notable thing about this discussion is the greatest QBs of all time are always pocket-passing white guys.

In the pros? Sure. You haven't had that many even good black quarterbacks yet, because teams weren't looking for them, and wouldn't draft them. Two of the best black quarterbacks in college from the 80's were never even got a real shot, Harris and McPherson.

Who do you have to choose from? Moon, Culpepper, McNabb, McNair, and Williams? I've probably missed a few, but none of those even make the top 20.

Newton and Griffith could change that, but it's too early to say.

Blogger JDC December 02, 2012 1:23 PM  

I still remember Marshall's hit on Montana in the 90's playoff game. Bruised sternum, fractured ribs - and I think he broke his hand. Brutal. 63% lifetime passing - good scrambler, excellent knowledge of the game, tough, and for me the clincher - 4-0 in superbowls. Montana in a landslide.

Blogger JDC December 02, 2012 1:25 PM  

The current crop of QB's is interesting - Rogers, Brees, pretty good. Although I loathe the niners, it's fun to watch Capernick. He looks like a ballerina (and not in a gay way) making his way through the defenses. Time will tell - but he certainly is one to watch.

Blogger Donald December 02, 2012 1:28 PM  

No current QB belongs in this discussion - my list, in order of greatness:

Unitas and Baugh in particular played when the rules favored the defense and the run on offense - no "in the grasp" rule, etc. I pick U. because his exploits are what pulled me into being a professional football fan, and because he still has the record for most consecutive games with a TD pass (47) - and that's amazing considering how today's game is made for passing. Baugh played both sides of the ball (the last was EJ Holub from my hometown) - also amazing considering how rough the game was back then (just look at the so-called protective gear these guys wore!).

Anonymous VD December 02, 2012 1:33 PM  

he still has the record for most consecutive games with a TD pass (47)

You haven't kept up with the game, old timer. Brees broke that record this season. He just had his streak broken at 54 last week by Atlanta.

Blogger Donald December 02, 2012 1:39 PM  

Thanks for the wake-up call . . .

Anonymous YIH December 02, 2012 1:41 PM  

Even better one for the SF team; The San Fransisco 69'rs.
The don't even have to change the nickname.

Anonymous Simon Grey December 02, 2012 3:22 PM  

"I agree Fatherof10. The game is being, for lack of a better term, dumbed down, by nannystate libs who just can't bear to see grown men playing a tough game and spectators having fun watching them doing it."

I'm not so sure. I can't imagine that offensive players of, say, forty years ago wanting to line up against Suh or Ray Lewis. Sure, football is a tough game, and maybe there is something to certain people wanting to see it made weaker. However, I think a strong case can be made that modern defensive players are more physically dangerous than their counterparts of fifty year ago. I'd need to do some research, obviously, but I would bet that players of the modern era are, on average, taller, faster, stronger, and heavier than their counterparts from decades ago.

Another thing to account for is the general emphasis placed on offense by most fans. Yes, everyone pays lip service to the need for defense, but what most fans tend to talk about, at least in my personal experience, is sick passes, catches, and runs. Good hits get mentioned occasionally, but not nearly as frequently as impressive offensive plays. This, of course, begs the question of causality (i.e. which came first: pro-offense rule changes or increased fan love for offense?). I don't know what the causal order is, and I suspect that it would be hard to prove causality one way or the other.

"Rush L. says the next item on the libs agenda regarding football, is stopping concussions. How they can do that, I can't begin to imagine."

I'd take a page from Rugby's book and eliminate helmets. My younger brother played football in high school and currently plays club rugby in college, and he's been injured far less in the latter than in the former. They don't wear pads or helmets in rugby, so player's have a considerably stronger incentive to not recklessly use their body as a weapon.

Anonymous Simon Grey December 02, 2012 3:31 PM  

"Modern QB's don't get touched."

@Michael- then, why, exactly, did Brady only play part of one game during the 2008 season? Why did Manning miss out on the 2011 season? Why was McNabb placed on IR during the 2005 season and the 2006 season? Why wasn't Michael Vick able to start a full season in both 2010 and 2011? Were all these QBs busy not getting touched?

Anonymous WaterBoy December 02, 2012 3:34 PM  

Susan: "Rush L. says the next item on the libs agenda regarding football, is stopping concussions. How they can do that, I can't begin to imagine."

Two-hand touch.

Anonymous Simon Grey December 02, 2012 3:39 PM  

"As a Colts fanatic, the game 2 weeks ago sent my Brady meter from 'Hateful' to 'Maniacal'."

I couldn't watch the whole game; I left it in the third quarter. Hate doesn't even begin to describe my feelings for Brady and Belicheck.

All the same, I've been pleasantly surprised by how Luck and the Colts have played this year. I'm kind of surprised we're still in the running for a playoff spot.

Blogger James Dixon December 02, 2012 4:39 PM  

> I can't imagine that offensive players of, say, forty years ago wanting to line up against Suh or Ray Lewis.

I doubt they are any more fearsome than Mean Joe Green or Jack Lambert were in their day. Yes, the defensive players today are undoubtedly better athletes, but so are the offensive players. It evens out.

Anonymous ENthePeasant December 02, 2012 6:24 PM  

Everything's better today and we're all smarter, and can finally make stupid stuff work cuz we're so much better... or something like that.

Couldn't agree more about Montana. I was never a Niners fan but I loved watching him play. Few remember this, but when he went to KC he led them into the playoffs and late in games KC would be driving and Montana hit pass after, which his receivers mostly dropped. Montana kept KC in games they had no business even watching on TV. Despite what's been said about him, and what he used to say was important for coaches, Bill Walsh was decidedly uncool during tough situations. But Montana always acted like he was ordering a beer on the beach in Fiji. There's a lot said about QBs having "intangibles". Montana had said "intangibles" which were nothing more than a burning desire to win and yet remain focused and cool no matter how bad or how good it got.

Anonymous Stilicho December 02, 2012 6:27 PM  

How we can have this conversation without mentioning Phil Sims or Trent Dilfer is beyond me.

How a Canuck failed to mention Flutie is beyond human ken.

OpenID whoresoftheinternet December 02, 2012 6:58 PM  

As a Boston guy, I totally get the Brady hate. It's the same with Derek Jeter hate for us---strong dislike for a guy who consistently wins a lot, looks better than you ever will, makes millions of dollars, is commercially friendly, and constantly scores with girls you can't even get near. Oh, and comes through in the clutch.

Call it Winning Pretty Boy Syndrome.

However, I recognize Montana as the best ever, and I hate Steve Young with a passion for removing him from SanFran. And, sullenly, I think Belichick would go back in time and take Manning over Brady if given the option; Manning could have completely run the offense for Belichick, allowing him to have remained a D-coordinator in a head coach's body. Plus, Manning could have done so much with even less than Brady, Belichick could have lavished the D with a ton more spending and consistently had the #1 D (we're talking 85 Bears or 91 Eagles-type D's, year in and year out).

Still, in terms of accomplishments and comebacks, Brady beats Manning. My top 5 all time are:

1. Montana
2. Unitas (if he'd been in his prime in Super Bowl 3, no one would know who Joe "Willie" Namath was).
3. Brady
4. Manning
5. Elway or Tarkenton

P.S. Anyone who even breaths Marino in the top 10 needs a history lesson. Marino was like the QB equivalent of Roger Clemens or Wilt Chamberlain: they rack up numbers against sub-par opponents and in meaningless games, but absolutely choke against tough competition/playoffs. Marino's numbers make him an HOF, but he disappeared in tough games, and was jerk to boot----watch game tapes of him, and whenever something went wrong, he would be screaming on the sidelines at players, berating them for making him look bad. He wasn't a team leader; he was a gloryhound.

Anonymous MattN December 02, 2012 7:05 PM  

I won't comment on best all time cause when I started watching Montana was a Chief, it's hard to compare different eras looking at stats. I do disagree about Manning being more physically talented than Brady. Brady has seriously underrated arm strength. On one of the last plays of Superbowl 42 Brady threw a bomb to Randy Moss that was in the air over 70 yards and on target. The Giants defender got his hand up to deflect it, but that's not a throw Manning could ever make. They're both great quarterbacks but I would take Brady.

OpenID whoresoftheinternet December 02, 2012 7:05 PM  

One more thing---let's not read too much into the SportsGuy's sports I.Q.: this is a guy whose own wife whipped his ass in football pics, and claimed that b/c Matt Leinart had played at U.S.C., he would have an outstanding career b/c "He's already played for a huge pro-team in a major market." Oh, and once the SportsGuy claimed that NBA players wouldn't gamble on their own games or throw them...after telling a story of Michael Jordan fixing a minor bet.

Blogger Nate December 02, 2012 7:43 PM  

wait wait...

I can't believe I miss this.

Joe Montana? A guy who literally could only through the ball about 30 yards in the air? Google "Joe Montana Deep Pass". Its not there. Because as far as I know he never threw one. The dude's arm was a freaking wet noodle.

What a freaking joke.

Joe Montana doesn't deserve to be in this conversation. He was a system QB... like Danny Wuerfel in college.

Blogger James Dixon December 02, 2012 8:36 PM  

> Marino's numbers make him an HOF, but he disappeared in tough games, and was jerk to boot...

Well of course he was a jerk. What part of him going to Pitt did you miss?

OpenID ampontan December 02, 2012 8:37 PM  

Montana, Brady, and Manning are all top flight quarterbacks, but John Unitas was the Babe Ruth of the NFL.

Super Bowls are won by teams, not individual players.

Blogger James Dixon December 02, 2012 8:46 PM  

> Marino was like the QB equivalent of Roger Clemens or Wilt Chamberlain...

You might want to have a little chat with some of his competitors before dismissing Chamberlain so lightly. Say Bill Russell. From head-to-head matchups vs. Russell, Chamberlain scored more points, grabbed more rebounds, passed for more assists...

Of course, he goes on to point out that the Celtics won more of those games, but that wasn't due to Chamberlain being outplayed by Russell.

Anonymous Huckleberry - est. 1977 December 02, 2012 10:31 PM  

No love for Kenny Stabler?
Seriously, though, I'm going to go Bradshaw because he played at an elevated level in an era where power defense was at its peak and absolutely defined the game.
He had to face Jack Tatum and a league full of almost Jack Tatums.
Who has Manning had to worry about, Shawn Merriman? Rodney Harrison? In a era where merely looking at a QB the wrong way draws a 15-yard flag?
1,000 times no.
As for Montana, he was laser-accurate, but as Nate said couldn't throw an intermediate, let alone deep, pass to save his life. Watching those 49er teams led by Montana was fun, and he was absolutely crucial to making Walsh's West Coast offense successful, but like Fouts with Air Coryell, it was more system than skill. And to be honest, Coryell's system was far more dynamic than Walsh's.
But whatever, I'm a guy who thinks the most exciting, satisfying play in football is a punt that pins the return team inside the 1.
My opinion is not wanted by the modern NFL.

Anonymous Susan December 02, 2012 10:55 PM  

So Nate, the fact that Montana led his team to so many Superbowls means nothing? He had to have been doing something right. They only give those rings to winners. And as to throwing, Huckleberry is right. An accurate short throw can be more valuable to a victory than distance sometimes.

As to the other old timer names mentioned like Unitas and Namath, I forgot about those guys. No disrespect intended, sorry. Like I said, I am barely a fan. I watched more college than pro when I was growing up.

Anonymous TLM December 02, 2012 11:26 PM  

Yeah, like Lyle Alzado was such a pussy. And these youngins likely know nothing of Howie Long other than he's a nice guy annoucer. Know your history before popping off.

Anonymous zapbrannigan1 December 03, 2012 12:13 AM  

Agree on Joe Montana being the best I've seen.

The crazy thing is that when Montana was at Notre Dame, Devine had him as a 3rd stringer in the early part of the 1977 season. It was only after Lisch and Forystek went down that he finally got his shot. Once he was under center, ND went undefeated for the rest of the year, shutting down Texas for the national title.

Seems crazy in retrospect.

Anonymous Josh December 03, 2012 1:02 AM  

QB wins is the single dumbest stat in sport. Even dumber than RBI.

Manning is the best QB to ever play the game, and it isn't even close.

Anonymous ENthePeasant December 03, 2012 3:15 AM  

Funny to hear of Montana's shortcomings, which stayed with him all his life. His supposed passing shortcomings were what kept in on the bench until necessity forced coaches to give him a try. He was just a winner, and true he'll never have the arm of Vince Young. It's no contest, I'd go with Young, or Jamarcus Rusell any day... (Some people here just can never see that forest on some subjects). And I loved Ken Stabler, He was a man, but the day he arrived in the pros he could barely walk and he could never leave that pocket. Of course he'll never be a Young of a Russel.

Blogger James Dixon December 03, 2012 5:58 AM  

> No love for Kenny Stabler?

Oh yeah. I loved the Snake. But I also loved Jim Plunkett, Jim McHahon, Jim Kelly, and a host of others. Of those, only Jim Kelly deserves mention in this list, and like Marino, he never won a ring. Kelly is like Tarkenton, in that his team could never win the big one.

Anonymous Papapete December 03, 2012 7:54 AM  

After watching how Belichek protégés have fared on their own since leaving the Pats and reviewing his coaching record before coming to New England I've come to the conclusion that a great deal of his coaching genius is based on the fact that he has had Brady under center for all these years.

That being said, there is no doubt that Montana is the best of all time. When he got traded to the Chiefs he took a markedly inferior team up against the 49ers team that would win the Super Bowl that year and beat them almost singlehandedly. His will to win and leadership was unmatched. Madden said that was possibly the best game Montana ever played.

Right now you can argue about whether Manning or Brady is better. In his time there was no argument. Montana was the king.

Blogger Nate December 03, 2012 7:57 AM  

"So Nate, the fact that Montana led his team to so many Superbowls means nothing? He had to have been doing something right."

Yes. What he did right... was throw 4 yard passes to Jerry Rice and watch him run.

Do you think Chad Pennington is the best QB ever?

Because Chad Pennington could've done everything Joe Montana did in that system... better than Joe did it.

Blogger James Dixon December 03, 2012 8:27 AM  

> Yes. What he did right... was throw 4 yard passes to Jerry Rice and watch him run.

So your argument is essentially that Archie Manning was the best quarterback ever, Nate? After all, if wins and losses don't mean anything...

Blogger James Dixon December 03, 2012 8:31 AM  

Now, Nate does have a point that wins and losses, especially winning or not winning a Super Bowl, aren't the single defining characteristic of a great quarterback. But everyone should admint that they are one of the characteristics.

How exactly to rate wins, losses, Super Bowl appearances, etc.; versus a quarterbacks physical and leadership skills would be a never ending discussion in and of itself.

Anonymous MattB December 03, 2012 9:38 AM  

I believe I echo one of the posts of James Dixon. Brady has been in the Belichick system his whole career. When he went down with an injury for a season, Cassel came in and had an incredible year. We all know what happened after that. Cassel goes to another team and has generally been average to not-very-good since. Thus my contention that maybe a lot of very good quarterbacks would have been great like Brady in the Belichick system. This thesis might also be applied to some of Montana's success.

Manning has been a great quarterback with less talent around him than Brady. And could one argue that the MVP should have gone to Manning last year without playing a game when the Colts bombed without him? Now tack on the performance Manning is giving with a new team...

Anonymous Daniel December 03, 2012 10:30 AM  

Nate, your Montana theory explodes entirely when you look at what he did with a destroyed and repaired right arm after missing two seasons and getting traded to the hapless Chiefs. Name any of his receivers from '93 or '94. Ok, I'll acknowledge he couldn't throw the bomb, but aside from that, you don't understand quarterbacking.

The Chiefs had wandered Stramless for 20 years in a wasteland, and with Montana and Allen, they won the division for the first time since '71 and went to the conference title game.

That wasn't system. Schottenheimer's system had earned 3 wild cards and early playoff exits three straight years before that.

The difference was Montana. [Allen added a great dimension, but nothing special in '93, vs. what they'd been getting from Okoye in previous years. He was good pr, but Montana was the difference the year after his recovery and release from the 49ers.]

Anonymous Maxwell December 03, 2012 10:48 AM  

You guys will have to forgive Nate on all things football, as his team's last significant accomplished was to get away with a blatant forward lateral during a game winning kickoff return in the playoffs about ten years ago.

Blogger TontoBubbaGoldstein December 03, 2012 11:19 AM  

I got love for the Snake...and his predecessor, George Blanda.

Archie Manning should be in the discussion!

I think one criteria for "greatest all time QB" should be that they played at a very high level for, say, 10 or more years. This rules out some like Jim McMahan,who were very good for several seasons, but did not have the longevity of Manning (any of them), Brady,Montana, Favre (Yeah, I said it!), Bradshaw, Marino etc.
Winning Super Bowls is a team effort. Don't think Marino would have had multiple rings had he been with the Niners of Montana or the Patriots of Brady? Think again, homie! Barry Sanders, arguably the best RB of all time [ Be cool, everyone! This is NOT a hijack attempt!], didn't have a lot of wins, either. Yet winning must count for something....
My thought experiment is this: Who among the QBs that we have named, could have (in their prime) gone to the Raiders of 5 years ago (or any suck team from any era), and not only put up big #s/wins...but continued to do so over the ensuing 5 years. Manning- yes. Montana-yes. I can even see the Snake, in his prime, torching defences with deep balls to Jacoby Ford and Heyward-Bey. Brady--not so much.

Anonymous WaterBoy December 03, 2012 12:18 PM  

Montana couldn't throw a long pass? The evidence shows otherwise.

Anonymous ENthePeasant December 03, 2012 1:27 PM  

Thanks Waterboy, Nate doesn't have a clue as to what he's talking about, but that's alright, it's what makes the pro game interesting. So many people without a clue, all of them with strong opinions. One thing I used to love about Stabler was his ability to go over and under the coverage. At the time most teams were playing man with cover 1 (man with one deep free safety) or cover 2 (two deep with four underneath). Stabler would go entire games where he'd throw quick outs or bring it in (depending on the defense). Then guys like Nate would write articles saying that Kenny couldn't throw the deep ball and you'd know what was coming. Next game Branch gets two TDs on post patterns. Oh well I guess Montana will have to settle for a few rings and his Hall of Fame induction.

Anonymous Paul Sacramento December 03, 2012 1:50 PM  

Joe Montana's wiki page is hard to argue with.
SO is winning every Superbowl you play in and nothing throwing 1 interception in those games.
The level of greatness is, well, great.

Anonymous WaterBoy December 03, 2012 2:20 PM  

ENthePeasant: "Then guys like Nate would write articles saying that Kenny couldn't throw the deep ball and you'd know what was coming."

To be fair about Montana, it wasn't something that happened all that often, since Walsh's WCO was mostly designed around the short pass. A perfect example was the final drive in Super Bowl XXIII, which saw Montana complete passes of not more than about 20 yards.

He could do it...he just wasn't called on to do so often.

Anonymous WaterBoy December 03, 2012 2:27 PM  

Paul Sacramento: "Joe Montana's wiki page is hard to argue with."

So is The Sporting News, which named Montana #3 on the All-Time list of 100 greatest players.

Now, that list was compiled before Manning really got going and Brady even started playing, so it would be interesting to see where they would each rank in a new list....

Anonymous WaterBoy December 03, 2012 2:42 PM  

James Dixon: "How exactly to rate wins, losses, Super Bowl appearances, etc.; versus a quarterbacks physical and leadership skills would be a never ending discussion in and of itself."

Exactly. The question over "best" will always be relative to the metric chosen, and the metric chosen will always be subjective. It's why the discussion, while fun, is ultimately meaningless.

Anonymous WaterBoy December 03, 2012 2:44 PM  

Josh: "Manning is the best QB to ever play the game, and it isn't even close."

Tennessee homer.

See above.

Anonymous rubbermallet December 03, 2012 2:45 PM  

montana is not the greatest QB specimen physically that we've ever seen. the difference with montana and what makes him arguably the best is his leadership ability and his ability in the clutch

the "hapless" chiefs won 31 games the 3 seasons before he got there. he came onto a playoff team and kept them a playoff team after the likes of steve deberg did the same thing. stop making that seem like that is sole proof of his greatness. there are much better arguments.

the best qb ever argument is a bad one to try and make (but fun at times). every great qb is reliant upon so many other factors that makes it impossible to give a benchmark comparison. the ability of the defense to give a qb good field position. good wr's. good blocking up front. a competent run game. coaching. everything factors.

montana is the greatest leader of all time in my mind. but as far as if i wanted a qb to lead me to the promise land with 2 minutes left to go in the superbowl. peyton manning is my numero uno.

i love brady as a michigan man and not many others have done more with less like he has. (all the superbowls with mediocre receivers, non existent run offense) but i think manning can work in any offense, with any players, with any type of defense and will prevail. montana won 4 rings with the help of a styfling defense, and solid run game. same with every other QB. thats what makes it hard.

Anonymous ENthePeasant December 03, 2012 2:55 PM  

"To be fair about Montana, it wasn't something that happened all that often, since Walsh's WCO was mostly designed around the short pass."

That's exactly the point that Natist's miss. And the WCO wasn't really designed around short passes, it was designed on high percentage runs and passes. It's amazing to me that so many QBs couldn't succeed in the WCO, and yet they had strong arms, which doesn't mean shit in reality since completions are what matter. I would say that for most (but not all) fans born after 1970 the deep pass is their only gauge on success. It's as if the rest of the game doesn't matter. In fact a lot of owners were also struck with that false God. I had a chance to watch De La Salle High school play this weekend. They are always rated in the top ten high schools in the country. Their secret is "execution", which barely exists in the pro game, although some teams are trying to bring it back. The pro game is all about running 200 plays poorly, but with great athleticism. Admittedly most pro football fans wouldn't know the difference anyways, so they are probably handling the business end correctly by giving fans what they want.

Anonymous WaterBoy December 03, 2012 3:53 PM  

ENthePeasant: "And the WCO wasn't really designed around short passes, it was designed on high percentage runs and passes."

And passes in the short range typically have a higher percentage of success than the long range, with passes supplanting most of the runs. And as that video of Montana to Rice showed, long passes were made when available, they just weren't all that common.

From here:

The West Coast Offense features short pass plays to replace the running game while still controlling the ball...The 49er West Coast offense relies on short passes turning into big plays with the ability of the skill players...Eventually, the big play will come either with a long pass or a short pass with a missed tackle resulting in a touchdown.

Anonymous ENthePeasant December 03, 2012 5:18 PM  

A real pleasure discussing this with you Waterboy. Walsh took what you gave him, and he liked getting running backs into short passes so they could run, but mostly that was meant to drive defenses out of their zone defenses so he could run (old fashion I formation with Rathman and Craig)which few people seem to remember now. Walsh loved making linebackers "run, run, run", particularly the great ones. As the game progressed LBs became fatigued and then Rathman would start to get some major yards and Walsh could also control the clock with short passes which further fatigued the defense. And yes, he was looking for the "scoring" play, which is always big. But it was all meant to make D's uncomfortable, which it did and why many don't like the offense. It made fools of other teams Ds and you could almost here the six year old voices going, "no fair!" I've attended numerous Clinics with that guy and one of the reasons it became associated with short passes was because Montana could complete them. It worked differently for Deberg, and differently again for Steve Young (who threw a lot more medium passes then Montana). It was always based on what could be done, not what the coach wanted to do (and as an aside I was always trying to do things that could not be done well, so it resonated with me). Short passes are not always high percentage with some QBs, like young and Deberg, but Montana always had that great touch. As you can see from the discussion there's some kind of assumption that throwing short passes is easy, but it's not for most QBs. It's very difficult to lead someone the closer they are which a lot of people don't get. The further away your target the slower QB has to move allowing for a much smoother and accurate throwing motion. When someone's close and on the edge, the angles are all wrong... except for Montana. I've had many shortcomings in my life but one of the greatest was never able to get why throwing to the "close" edge was so difficult. Having Walsh play QB and run the angles was a revelation into my own stupid. I realized I'd lost one important game after another because of things like that. BTW, Building A Champion, by Walsh is one of the best football books I've ever read and one of the few I was actually able to transfer to real life when I was coaching. Check out used book stores as it's considered a rare (means expensive) book and you'll pay a high premium any where else. I suspect you'd love it.

Anonymous Scintan December 03, 2012 5:20 PM  

Manning's not even in the top 5. Heck, if you actually sit down and look into it, he grades out somewhere between 9 and 15.


That's your top 8, in no particular order. The rest fill in from there. Manning's dueling it out with the guys like Elway and Marino for that 9th spot.

Blogger Nate December 03, 2012 6:10 PM  

"Tennessee homer.

See above."

Josh is a Vandy grad. That's like calling an auburn grad a bama homer because he said Kenny Stabler was a great QB.

Blogger Nate December 03, 2012 6:13 PM  

"That's exactly the point that Natist's miss. And the WCO wasn't really designed around short passes, it was designed on high percentage runs and passes. "

Dude please. Anyone that claims Montana had anything but a limp noodle hanging from his right shoulder is an idiot.

Blogger Nate December 03, 2012 6:17 PM  

Manning is the GOAT... and it has nothing to do with Super Bowls, or yardage, or completions.

He's the GOAT because he redefined the position at a time when the position has become the most critical part of the game.

No one played like Manning before Manning. No one created plays based on designing individual routes, chosen AT THE LINE of scrimmage.

No one before Manning watched so much film they actually picked up tells from individual defenders and used those tells to figure out who was blitzing and who wasn't. Example: Keith Bulluck would flex his left hand before he blitzed. Manning picked that up on film and used it to burn the Titans several times.

Brady never did that until he found out Peyton did it.

No one has ever done it like Manning does it. And now? Everyone tries to do it. You're not a good QB unless you live in the film room.

Wasnt' that way until Manning set that standard.

Montana didn't do anything to change the game like that. Neither did marino. Neither did Brady.

Suck on that.

Says the Bama fan.

Anonymous Scintan December 03, 2012 7:28 PM  

Sorry, Nate, but that crap about tells had been getting done since the first days of film, and QBs have been making those on-the-line adjustments since the beginning of football..

Manning isn't in the top 8. It's just the way it is.

Anonymous The Stig December 03, 2012 11:50 PM  

Agreed. Montana is still the best.
Being out here in PAC 12 land I've been watching Luck for years now.
He's damn good. He could've started in NFL 2 years ago.

RG3 will be another mobile QB tossed into the pit of NFL coulda, shoulda history...though by all accounts seems to be a quality individual.

Blogger Nate December 04, 2012 12:47 AM  

"Sorry, Nate, but that crap about tells had been getting done since the first days of film, and QBs have been making those on-the-line adjustments since the beginning of football.."

No scintan. they haven't. We're not talking about changing plays. We're talking about designing plays at the line.

It hasn't been done. Like the vast majority of people that disparage Manning... you not only don't know what he does... you don't even understand it when we explain it to you.

Consider this...

Phil Simms.. who was a cerebral QB in his own right... once said this of Manning... "He plays a position I am completely unfamiliar with."

Now you can assume Phil was just shooting his mouth off. But that was really just Phil telling you that Manning is doing things that no one else does... than no one else has ever done.

Anonymous rubbermallet December 04, 2012 10:24 AM  

Nate makes a good point. If you talk to the guys that played against today's qb's and also played against marino, favre, elway, and other greats of that era tell you its totally different with manning and he's near unstoppable. he knows what defense you are running just by looking at your face.

otto graham is the only qb that would of been able to do what the qb's from the last 30 years have been able to do. he was amazing. the position is different than it was years ago. guys today are conditioned totally different. guys back went up against defenses full of guys who were forklift drivers and construction workers 6 months out of the year.

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