Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No, Peyton Manning is still the best quarterback ever

Tom Brady is in the middle of the greatest season any quarterback has ever had, and this is not even disputable. He has completed 74% of his passes (off the top of my head, I can think of only three QBs who ever completed 70% in a season: Ken Anderson, Steve Young, and Sammy Baugh). Brady is averaging 305.9 passing yards per game--short of pace for Dan Marino's record 5,084, but still a stunning number. And he has an absolutely Super Tecmo Bowl like TD to INT ratio of 38 to 4. He'll likely shatter Peyton Manning's TD record of 49, and he might do it with 6 or 7 interceptions.

Combined with Peyton Manning's relative "struggles" this season, Brady's season may lead some, like Bill Simmons, to assume "the 'Brady vs. Manning' argument was settled over these past 11 weeks" (which Simmons throws in flippantly rather than seriously, I'm sure part of his continuing effort to annoy people outside of Boston).

But while all credit is due to Tom Brady for the greatest QB season ever, guess what?

Peyton Manning is better.

Let's set aside subjective discussion involving the impact of teammates on Mannings' and Brady's performances. Let's also set aside team success (since both have had it, though Brady much moreso in the playoffs). Let's just look at stats. Brady may be having a greater individual season than anybody has ever had, but Manning has slapped together multiple individual seasons that put just about every other quarterback to shame.

For his career, Manning still edges Brady in completion percentage (63.9% to 63.1%) and yards per attempt (7.7 to 7.1) And while Brady is having a better single season than Manning has ever had (though his 9.1 yards per attempt are still just behind Manning's 9.2 in 2004), it's absurd to claim that one spectacular season somehow negates the numerous superior seasons Manning has had.

Before this season, Brady's best single-season completion percentage was 63.9% in 2001. Manning topped that (significantly) five times, in 2002 (66.3), 2003 (67.0), 2004 (67.6), 2005 (67.3), and 2006 (65.0). Brady's 2007 season may blow Manning's best out of the water, but Manning has put together many more spectacular seasons than Brady has.

Tom Brady is likely to break Manning's TD record, but before this season, Brady's career high for TD passes was 28. Manning topped that four times.

Before this season, the most yards in a season Brady ever had was 4,110 in 2005. Manning topped that seven times.

Statistically, Tom Brady's 2007 season is going to go down as the absolute best ever. But do you really think one spectacular season makes one QB better than another QB? Look at the career Manning has had. More than a single season, and more than cumulative numbers, I respect players that are able to put together several outstanding seasons (which is why Brett Favre's eight seasons with 30+ TD passes is more impressive to me than his 433 total TD passes). Manning has never had fewer than 26 TD passes in a season. He's having his ninth season with 62% passing, and he's had five seasons with 65% passing. He's thrown over 4,100 yards seven times. Manning has compiled a long string of spectacular statistical seasons.

I think we're lucky: I believe Manning and Brady are among the five to ten best quarterbacks ever to play the game, and we get to watch them compete against each other. But while Brady is probably a top-five quarterback of all-time, Manning is a top-one quarterback of all-time.


  1. Anonymous1:10 PM

    I'll maybe get into this later, but do remember that Manning also has 3 more years of being a starter at the QB. Interestingly Manning's 49 TD year came at the same point of his career as Brady currently is in, and before that year he had only topped 28 TD's once.

    Either way they are both great. Brady is the better winner, Manning is the better stats guy.

  2. Consider this. Coming into this season, Brady has six seasons as starter, with five 10 win seasons and three 12 win seasons. Manning had nine seasons, with seven 10 win seasons and five 12 win seasons.

    This season Brady's already got another 10 win season, and will get to 12; Manning will get to 10, and could get another 12.

    Obviously, there are playoffs to consider: Brady's playoff record is 12-2, Manning's 7-6, and Brady has 3 Super Bowls, Manning has 1. But they've each been very successful winners.

  3. Anonymous1:48 PM

    I should have qualified my "better winner" statement. It was in reference to championships and playoff success.

    The year is still young, and Manning and the Colts could get over their injuries and win another Super Bowl. If they do then no matter how spectacular Brady's accomplishments are this year, Manning would have to be considered the better QB. But that is a big if.

  4. Anonymous2:54 PM

    Why don't you two pick up the phone and talk this over?

  5. Anonymous3:38 PM

    i like the argument. and i agree with your conclusion, but i arrive at it slightly differently. look at how both play, what both do well when they play. they both are extremely accurate, smart players. neither makes a ton of mistakes. both are prototypical size. neither is extremely mobile. both are proven leaders on the field.

    but what really separates manning from brady is the arm and the deep ball accuracy. manning's deep ball is amazingly accurate and something that we tend to take for granted because he doesn't rex grossman it out all the time. both qb's have done extremely well maximizing the skills that they were born with, but manning's innate ability, i.e. his cannon, gives him the edge in my mind... brady won out in the looks department so overall you could consider it a wash.

    but you're absolutely right about the consistency issue, too.

  6. With the first pick in the 2008 NFL draft of the entire NFL Easystreet selects Number 18 Peyton "Laser Rocket Arm" Manning

  7. Anonymous5:10 PM

    I guess one way to judge it is if you were starting a franchise who would you choose to be your QB. I guess I have to be honest and say that I would pick Peyton Manning.

  8. Anonymous5:12 PM


    If you know PV at all, then you would know that while he does have a cell-phone it still is hard to get him to answer it. So working it out over the phone is less likely than working it out in the comment section of this blog.

  9. It's all true. For days I won't even know where my phone is. Right now the ringer is off--I turned it off to go to a museum three weeks ago, and forgot to switch it back on. It vibrates now.

  10. Anonymous4:30 PM

    probably the most subjective statement you can make is "X is the greatest quarterback ever." you can always point to this or that and you can always go against this stat or that stat by arguing against the supporting cast (one way or the other). you like manning best. i don't think either of these guys could play with brett. my old man thinks unitas is the king of all time. once you get to the top 10 you can make a case for any of those guys.


  11. Anonymous1:45 PM

    My pick is Otto Graham, but you can't go wrong with Peyton Manning.

  12. Anonymous1:51 PM

    I will comment that they are both great quarterbacks. However, I will go with the argument that Manning has had much better receivers than Brady had until this year. Peyton to Harrison has been around for a long time. There have always been the really good complimentary recievers such as Stokely, Wayne, Pollard, Clark, and probably others I can't get off the top of my head.

    Brady had Troy Brown as his only regular guy, and the rest of his recievers were average at best. Look at what he had last year, and they were only one play away from going to the Super Bowl again. Now this year, Brady has the recievers, and is showing just what he can do with them. An embarrasment of riches, yes, but Manning has had riches of his own for a while longer.

  13. Anonymous5:44 PM

    Peyton wins. No question. I agree that one season doesn't make Brady better. He also has an all star WR staff, which is by far better than the Colts. Moss beats Harrison no problem. Welker is much more versatile than Wayne, Stallworth could be a #1 receiver on a team that didn't already have 2 amazing WR.. and there is no #3 receiver for Indy.. unless you want to compare him to Clark who is a tight end. Plus there are still all of the receivers from last season like Gaffney. I would also like to point out that if you put Clark or Wayne on a team that didn't have a god-sent QB like Manning then they would look like mediocre receivers, while all of Brady's receivers proved themselves with other QB's. Manning also calls all of his own plays and runs a no huttle offense all game. He out-coaches the other teams coaches.. Peyton has done to football what Tiger Woods did to golf. Tom Brady is just a spoiled QB who has half an arm and twice the team to back him up. The team was already established with Bledsoe there. But Manning took the Colts from pitiful a 2-14 season to being elite. The only thing that I think Brady is exceptional at is that he is basically numb when it comes to pressure situations, and being Bill's little bitch and running up the score to get stats..

  14. Anonymous9:51 PM

    Tom Brady has won 3 super bowls. Before this year he never had one reciever that was half as good as the recievers Manning had. Peyton may put up a lot of tremendous stats, but you could stick in Ryan Leaf in that offense and marvin, reggie, stokely (at one time), Edge (at one time), gonzo, clark, and now Addai would go and get it for you. Manning is a regular season god, but come play-off time he becomes human. Even with the super bowl mvp, his 210 yd 1 td performance didn't impress me the way Brady elevates his game on the big stage. It would be interesting to see how Manning would do with out one of the most impressive receiving corps in the NFL.

  15. Anonymous10:51 AM

    Look. I don't even know why this is an argument. Doesn anyone deny Brady has had better teams (not better WR) his entire career? It should always go back to this: Tom Brady would have 0 Superbowl wins with the Colts and Peyton would have god knows how many with the Pats. We can have this argument as soon as Tom Brady can start calling his own plays at the line of scrimmage. No offense to Tony as a head coach, but he doesn't hold a candle to Bill. In conclusion, both are great QB's, but Peyton is ALL TIME great.

  16. Peyton is simply the best. Can you blame the guy for having consistent recievers over the years? Whats he gonna do do, tell Bill Polian to trade Harrison and Wayne. It's also nice to note that Manning had 49 TD's in 15 games(sitting out the 16th after a couple snaps), and it took brady 16 to get to 49. Of course, Manning is a much higher class act than Brady, seeing how he and his coach don't run up the score for stats a la Belichek and Brady. Manning could have played the last game of the season and thrown 2 TD's and have 51, but Manning and Dungy have class and brains. Why risk an injury when ur seed is locked up?

  17. Anonymous7:37 PM

    # 18 FAN said...
    Without a doubt Peyton Manning is much better than Tom Brady. Peyton Manning wins in every category. Tom Brady only gets those super bowl wins because his team is great he is not. Peyton Manning has been carrying the colts on his shoulders for years. Don't get me wrong,Tom Brady is pretty good but he is not in Peyton Manning's League. Peyton Manning has almost 50,000 career passing yards while Tom Brady only has 27,000 passing yards. Peyton Manning has 333 touchdown passes while Tom Brady has 197 touchdown passes.Without a doubt Peyton Manning will go down as the best quarterback of all time. Do still need more proof.

  18. Anonymous7:43 PM

    # 18 FAN
    sorry typing error at the end of my last blog it's supposed to say do you still need more proof.

  19. Anonymous6:12 PM

    Sometimes i wonder if people watch sports. I absolutely hate the Patriots, but even i cannot deny the fact that Brady is the reason Patriots are winning. Look at the number of wins Bill had as coach, and the number of wins the patriots had before Brady got there.

    # Bill Belichick was 42-58 as a head coach before Brady. He’s 100-26 since.
    # The Patriots organization won just 98 football games in the 14 seasons from 1987 to 2000. They’ve won 100 in the seven years since.
    # The Patriots won seven postseason games in the 41 seasons from 1960 to 2000. They’ve won 14 postseason games in the seven years since.
    # The Patriots did not win a single championship in their first 41 seasons. They’re on the verge of their fourth in the past seven seasons.

    Still need proof?

  20. Anonymous10:31 PM

    I agree with Peyton being better, but on top of everything you said Peyton is the youngest Quarterback to ever throw 300 touchdown passes in 11 seasons I think it was. Tom Brady will not break that record because of his injury unless he throws 103 TDs this season. Also Peyton Manning had 497 pass attempts in 2004 when he threw 49 TD passes with an average of 1 TD in every 10 passes. Brady thew 578 passes in 2007 when he threw 50 TD passes with an average of 1 TD in every 11.5 passes. So Peyton Manning with 81 more pass attempts he would have gotten 57 at the pace he was going. So it isn't so clear that Tom had the better season. And I know this has been mentioned before but Brady has had a great defense his whole career while Manning has had a mediocre at best defense, and that would explain the Patriots sucess against the Colts earlier this decade, but now with the Colts having Pro Bowlers on D like Bob Sanders, Dwight Freeney, and Robert Mathis the Colts have had sucess against the Patriots winning 3 of the last 4 including the greatest AFC Championship Game comeback in the history of the NFL. We would have not won that game or the Ravens and Cheifs in the playoffs that year if Indy's D didn't wake up.

    That's my argument and I'm sticking to it.

  21. Anonymous4:38 AM

    I think you have to consider the systems they're in. Look at what Matt Cassel did stepping in for Brady, compared to Matt Cassel's performance now. Granted, the difference in the two teams (Patriots vs. Chiefs) factors into it, but that in itself gives testament to the Patriot's team as a whole kind of breeding a 'winning' situation from the QB position. Tom Brady is still a beast, but I think he's a product of a team more-so than individual strengths as a player; which he has, but how much of it has to be attributed to those around him? Just my two cents. Either way it's fun seeing two of the best all time. And Hell, as a Cowboys fan I'd be glad to take either over poor Romo.