Monday, January 21, 2008

Let's Talk Quarterbacks

Class of 83'
Looking back, people always talk about how great the class of 1983 was for quarterbacks. Well looking back they were dominant. The big "3" Marino, Elway, and Kelly all are in the Hall of Fame. But looking closer they totally dominated the AFC. Taking into consideration the years when at least two of the big three were still in the league (a span from 1983-1998) did you know that one of these quarterbacks represented the AFC in the Superbowl a mind-boggling 10 times(Elway-5, Kelly-4, and Marino-1). Over that span only 6 times was the AFC represented by a quarterback of any other class. That is crazy success. Look even closer at their representation in the AFC Championship:

1997-Elway(W)(Kelly retired after 1996 season)
1998-Elway(W)(Elway retires, Marino goes one more year)

That means 12 out of the 16 years one of the AFC championship teams was led by a QB of the 1983 class. Those three were dominant.

Class of 2004
Now I am unsure if any class will ever compare to the class of '83, but the class of 2004 is having some early success (not as much success as the class of 83). So far here are the stats of the big 3 of 1983 (E.Manning, Rivers, Roethlisberger).

Eli Manning-
(1) Conference Championship Appearance [Win], (1) Super Bowl Appearance [TBD]
Philip Rivers- (1) Conference Championship Appearance [Loss]
Ben Roethlisberger- (2) Conference Championship Appearances [Loss/Win], (1) Super Bowl Appearance [Win]

It is very early and well 2 of these QBs are at an extreme disadvantage of playing in the same conference as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, but the class of 2004 is shaping up to at least be talked about as one of the top drafts of successful QBs.

Tom Brady
I am a huge Tom Brady fan. All he does is win. Until this year he was not the statistical monster that Peyton Manning or Dan Marino were, but he was a successful QB like Joe Montana. Some people would kill me for even making the comparison between Montana and Brady, but folks if Brady wins it all this year with the Pats he will be just as successful as Montana with a chance to pass him in the years to come. (Pacifist Viking might not remember this, but back in the day I remember him praising Tom Brady and calling him the next Joe Montana). But lets look at their playoff success (for this purpose I am not counting Montana's time at Kansas City were he was 2-2 in the playoffs and made one AFC championship game-These will be listed in the years of the seasons not the year of the Super Bowl).

1982- Super Bowl Winner (3-0)
1983- Conference Championship Appearance (1-1)
1984- Super Bowl Winner (3-0)
1985- Wild Card (0-1)
1986- Division (0-1)
1987- Division (0-1)
1988- Super Bowl Winner (3-0)
1989- Super Bowl Winner (3-0)
1990- Conference Championship Appearance (1-1)

Total Playoff Accomplishments
Record-(14-5) [16-7 if you include KC]
Super Bowl Appearances- 4 (4-0)
Conference Championship Appearances- 6 (4-2) [7 if you include KC (4-3)]

2001- Super Bowl Winner (3-0)
2003- Super Bowl Winner (3-0)
2004- Super Bowl Winner (3-0)
2005- Division (1-1)
2006- Conference Championship Appearance (2-1)
2007- Super Bowl Appearance (2-0/TBD)

Total Playoff Accomplishments
Record- (14-2)
Super Bowl Appearances- 4 (3-0/TBD)
Conference Championship Appearances- 5 (4-1)

If Brady wins it this season it will no longer be wrong to call him as good as Joe Montana.


I spent last week defending Eli Manning as a "good" quarterback over at The Sports Flow. I was arguing that Eli Manning gets a bad rap because everyone expects/expected him to be at Peyton's level instantly rather than letting him develop into that realm. He was heaped on expectation that he could not live up to, but fact is Eli Manning is a good quarterback and now he is a Super Bowl appearance QB. His record in the playoffs is now 3-2. He has lead his team to the playoffs every year that he has been the full time starter. Eli Manning is a good and successful QB and now he may not be the statistical monster that Peyton Manning is, but he has had earlier playoff success than his brother did. Peyton's first 3 playoff appearances were one losses, while Eli's third playoff appearance has led to the Super Bowl. [Now I am not saying Eli is as good as Peyton and one must also remember that Peyton has had to contend with Tom Brady and the Patriots most of his career]. Eli Manning is a "good" quarterback and the Giants have to be happy. How much is his success this year to be attributed to Tiki Barber's retirement?

(All statistical information was accessed at pro-football-reference.com_


  1. Among Brady's playoff wins are three wins in 2001 when his team scored just one offensive touchdown in each game (and one of those was thrown by Drew Bledsoe), and a win in 2006 when he threw the clinching interception but the defensive back fumbled it.

    In the playoffs, Montana has much better yards per attempt and yards per completion than Brady, more yards per game, and more touchdown passers per game.

    Oh, Brady is in his league as a playoff QB, but I'm not convinced Montana isn't the best playoff QB ever--so far.

  2. Anonymous3:43 PM

    In 85 the Patriots played the Bears with Tony Eason starting at quarterback from the same '83 draft class.

    Eason was 'injured' and later replaced by Steve Grogan.

  3. Anonymous4:53 PM


    Good point, I forgot about the others of the 83 draft.


    Through the same point in his career, Montana had 2 Super Bowl wins and had a playoff record of 7-3. I am ready to claim Brady is the greatest playoff QB of all time, and I have a firm belief that his success will continue and people will be forever talking about Brady as the greatest playoff QB of all time when his career is over.

  4. Anonymous5:04 PM

    I won't get into a debate over it, but Montana had better receivers over his championships so it would make sense that he would have better YPC, Yards, and TD passes. Now the big thing is the fact that is debatable. Who makes the WR successful the QB or is it the other way around. Either way, Montana for most of those TD passes had a combo of Rice/Taylor, until this year Brady had Troy Brown or Deion Branch.

  5. Montana won two Super Bowls before the 49ers drafted Jerry Rice. And my point is, teams win playoff games. Yes, they win them in large part on the play of their quarterbacks. But you have to look at factors besides the team's playoff record--the Patriots have had great defenses, too.

  6. John Elway would probably like to say hello here, too. The numbers and playoff record aren't as good, but he's been to five Super Bowls, and I think he dragged some Bronco teams that weren't that great to three Super Bowls before the Terrell Davis years.

    And we can't even compare QBs before the merger, because a) there were so few playoff games for them to play and build up a record and b) a lot of good teams--with good QBs--didn't even get the chance to win playoff games a lot of years. We could be bringing up Otto Graham, Johnny Unitas, Bobby Layne, Sid Luckman--but we really can't because they don't have the playoff numbers of the moderns.

    Roger Staubach might want to say hello, too.

  7. Not to mention if we're just basing it on "playoff record as starter," Terry Bradshaw was 14-5 as a starter, 13-2 over one six year stretch.

    And Bart Starr was 9-1. Troy Aikman was 11-5. Jim freaking Plunkett was 8-2.

    So if you're just going by record (which isn't entirely justified), there are QBs that compare with Brady. But you have to look closer at other numbers, and that's where Montana licks Brady.

  8. How about this: during one stretch of Aikman's playoff career, the Cowboys won 11 of 12 games, averaging 34 points per game and never scoring fewer than 27.

  9. When you look at the stats and the team points per game and record, you could make an argument for Troy Aikman as the greatest playoff quarterback.


  11. Anonymous7:40 PM

    That is true PV, we can't really compare the greats like Graham and Unitas, etc.

    However, in terms of Montana. Dwight Clark was no crap WR, I would say he was much like Troy Brown of 2001. When Montana won his first Super Bowl look at Clark's numbers.

    Now lets compare the Super Bowl teams of Montana and Brady.


    Year Ranks (Off PT/YD) (Def Pt/YD)
    1981 (7/13) (2/2)
    1984 (2/2) (1/10)
    1989 (1/1) (3/4)
    1990 (8/2) (2/3)


    2001 (6/19) (6/24)
    2003 (12/17) (1/7)
    2004 (4/7) (2/9)
    *2007 (1/1) (4/4)

    That is giving the fact that the Patriots could win this year. The more and more we compare, the more and more Brady and Montana look crazy similar. Looking at one other comparison

    Ranks (T/G) (+/-Pts) (+/-YDS)

    1981 (1) (3) (3)
    1984 (3) (1) (4)
    1989 (2) (1) (1)
    1990 (9) (3) (1)

    2001 (9) (7) (25)
    2003 (2) (6) (14)
    2004 (8) (1) (4)
    *2007 (1) (1) (1)

    Once again they are pretty much similar, with the slight edge going to the better differential of the 49ers. The key is Turnovers per game of which it shows Montana had superb defenses, relatively speaking better than Brady's. Does this prove anything? No, but it shows more and more how similar Montana and Brady are and how I don't think anyone could be lambasted for calling Brady the greatest "modern" (i will make that exception) day playoff QB.

  12. Anonymous7:44 PM

    How about the fact that Brady began his playoff career by going 10-0? or the fact that currently he is 14-2 as a starter and if he wins this year he will be 15-2 (better than Bradshaw). Tom Brady has matched every stretch you state. (well except the offensive prowess of Aikman with his two hall of famer supporters Emmitt and Michael)