The Best Signal Caller Ever?
You be the Judge.
It’s simple to say that Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback in NFL history. Many notion for Joe Montana, Tom Brady, or even Ben Roethlisberger above the icon who wears the blue No. 18. Let me be the one, to point out a few things:
If You Take Them Away From Their Respective Teams
First of all, we have all witnessed what has happened if you take away Tom Brady away from the New England Patriots. Matt Cassel stepped up and led the Pats to an 11-5 record. Now if you tell me Brady is better than Manning one more time, I’ll laugh hysterically. You may point out that Brady has more Super Bowl rings, alright, we will get to that later in this article.
If you looked at clips of the San Francisco 49ers, they were really good. If you take away Joe Montana, they still have guys like Dwight Clark, Roger Craig, and of course Jerry Rice on the squad. They would at least finish 9-7.
We have all witnessed what has happened when Ben Roethlisberger was gone; multiple times actually. This proves the Pittsburgh Steelers are stacked. This season, when Big Ben was gone for four games, the Steelers finished 3-1. With Ben back, they are 2-1, currently standing at 5-2. Needless to say, the Steelers would at least finish 11-5 without Roethlisberger.
Then there is Peyton Manning. We have seen many times what has happened when Manning is gone during the end of the season, or the pre-season. Curtis Painter? The Colts were 14-0 and benched Manning for 75 % of the last two games of the season against the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills -and the Colts were terrible. Keep in mind, this also lowers the morale of the defense, too. The Colts would easily finish 2-14 or 3-13 without Manning.
Many have said that Manning has had a great supporting cast. To start off, the defense Manning has had to put up with would frustrate a lot of quarterbacks. Have you seen the 2006-07 Super Bowl Champion Colts? Manning finished with 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions, but the big thing was that the Colts had the worst rushing defense in the league. Everyone said the Colts will not make it to the Super Bowl, or even past the first round of the playoffs. The defense, along with Manning especially, stepped up and won the whole thing. If you tell me that the supporting cast of the defense was great, you must really be out of your mind. With a defense the Colts have right now this season, they would be 1-6. But here they are, still one of the best teams in the league.
But let’s get to the offense. Many would claim that he had Marvin Harrison. Harrison never had a 1,000-yard season until Manning came in and took over. If it weren’t for Manning, Harrison would probably have around 600 receptions. I read Indianapolis Colts’ columnist Ryan Michael’s article about why Manning is the greatest and he pointed out something very staggering.
Take a look at the averages per season Manning has had with his number one and number two receiver:
Indianapolis Colts Receiving Production (1998-2009 annual averages)
No. 1 receiver: 100 receptions for 1,345 yards and 11 touchdowns.
No. 2 receiver: 70 receptions for 862 yards and seven touchdowns.
The number two receiver equals the same amount of statistics David Boston had in 2003 and what Mike Sims-Walker had last season. When you compare Boston’s and Sim-Walkers’ statistics to the number-two receiver, it looks very very similar. So please don’t think Manning has a great receiving cast.
But many would complain the number two receiver had a great year as Michael pointed out in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2009. Michael made research and removed those season. Now take a look at the average:
Colts No. 2 receiver (1998-2003, 2007-2008)
62 receptions for 721 yards and six touchdowns
That was the production Manning put up with for almost two-thirds of his career, according to Mr. Michael. So did he really have two high all-star caliber receivers? Not necessarily. But when you really look at it, Manning made those receivers great.
Now, many would complain for Tom Brady having to make Deion Branch and Reche Caldwell good. Branch is by far one of the most underrated receivers in the league. Caldwell? Alright, the guy has butterfingers but many credit Brady for giving him 60 catches in ’06. It’s a 16-game season! Now if it were in less games like say twelve or so, I would give him credit. Also, take a look at the defense Brady played with. In at least every category, they were in the top ten.
Then there is Joe Montana. Montana by far had one of the best supporting casts. But he has been one of the bests and I can’t let his supporting cast receive all the credit. But he had at least ten superstars on his team that you could mention, maybe even more.
How about Ben Roethlisberger? Come on, the guy had Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward, Heath Miller, Antwaan Randel El as big time play makers on offense. Plus, the big part of the Steelers’ success comes from their defense, which has ranked in the top five since Big Ben joined the club. Out of all of these four quarterbacks, Manning, by far, has had the worst defense.
To fully conclude that Manning made his receivers great, look at what Ryan Michael wrote in the article, comparing Harrison before he met Manning and after he met Manning:
I excluded 2007-2008 because Harrison suffered from a knee injury that essentially ended his career.
He wasn’t himself after that injury; so it didn’t honestly capture the degree of productivity he was capable of when playing healthy.
Marvin Harrison (1996-1997, annual average)
69 receptions for 851 yards and seven touchdowns.
Marvin Harrison (1998-2006, annual average)
102 receptions for 1,379 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The differential is staggering.
That’s an average of 33 receptions, 528 yards, and five touchdowns per-season beyond his career averages prior to playing with Manning.
I’m not saying for a moment that Marvin Harrison wasn’t a phenomenal talent.
I’m simply saying there are some instances where it’s more about the receiver making the quarterback better and other instances where it’s more about the quarterback making the receiver better; and while both may be applicable with this instance, there was far more of the latter between Manning and Harrison.
From 1998, the Manning-Harrison combo would become the greatest quarterback-to-wide-receiver tandem in NFL history. Then, you have Manning and Wayne, who now are right up there with the duo and steadily gaining ground as we speak.
Now let’s get to the running games each QB possessed. Manning has had a great set of running backs in his career with Edgerrin James, Dominic Rhodes, and Joseph Addai. Well, first of all, take a look at Manning’s rushing support over the course of his career, thanks to Mr. Ryan Michael:
Indianapolis Colts running game (1998-2009)
423 carries for 1,652 yards (3.9) and 14 touchdowns.
Tom Brady has seen better for his career. In fact, in the 2009-10 season, it was way better than Manning’s career average:
New England Patriots running game (2009)
466 carries for 1,921 yards (4.1) and 19 touchdowns.
And we all know Montana and Big Ben’s rushing support, (ex: Jerome Bettis, Roger Craig, and a young, prime “Fast” Willie Parker).
Now how about the offensive line. Yeah, Manning’s lines have been spectacular, haven’t they been? Manning has only had two offensive linemen elected to the Pro Bowl in his career: Tarik Glenn and Jeff Saturday. That is all. Manning has had probably one of the worst offensive lines in the past three seasons, but yet, he hasn’t been sacked more than 15 times! On the other hand, Ben Roethlisberger has no excuse for his o-line, as Manning has put up with the same thing.
Take a look at Montana’s, Brady’s, or even Brett Favre’s offensive line and come back to me.
Many would say Manning is a choke-artist. Before we get to that, let me get this straight; Manning has already passed all of these guys in statistics and none of them will ever catch up to him unless Brady, Drew Brees, or Roethlisberger average at least 30-40 touchdowns a season from here on out. It’s highly unlikely.
Manning, so far, ranks in third place in at least every statistical category:
Yards: 52,044, TD-INT Ratio: 379-183, Comp. %: 64.9, Rating: 95.5
Career Wins: Ranks third all-time, MVP’s: 4 (1st)
There we go, that just shows Manning is the best statistical quarterback in NFL history. He has had only two seasons where he has thrown less than 4,000 yards in a season. While, Brady, Montana, and Roethlisberger have averaged only about 24 touchdowns a season.
Manning has been 9-9 in the post-season, but so what? He came out with a Super Bowl ring. He’s made a fool out of Brady before, hasn’t he? Since the 2005-06 season, Manning has done just that. He first went on a streak to beat the Pats when he beat them 40-21 in 2005-06, then he came back from a 21-3 deficit to beat him in the AFC Championship game in ’07, and after that then he came back from a 34-21 in deficit in the final five minutes of regulation to beat him last season.
One Super Bowl ring is all that counts to make Manning the best. People still consider Dan Marino the best quarterback ever due to statistics. How about Brett Favre? Many think he is one of the best ever and he only has one Super Bowl ring. If Super Bowls rings are what truly matter, then guys like Terry Bradshaw and Ken Stabler should be in the discussion of the top five greatest QB’s.
Speaking of Favre, he thinks Manning will in fact break all his records. Manning is already on pace with nearly 200 consecutive starts. At least 100 more, which he can easily do, and he’ll break Favre’s record.
When it’s all said and done, statistics do matter. It’s not always about the wins.
According to Michael, Manning has easily outperformed Brady in the post-season for their respective careers:
Peyton Manning (Post-Season Career)
435 of 692 (62.9) for 5,164 yards, 28 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.
QB rating: 87.6
Surprising production for a post-season choke artist; but he’s still no Tom Brady…
Tom Brady (Post-Season Career)
395 of 637 (62.0) for 4,108 yards, 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
QB rating: 85.5
However, many would argue, siding with Brady, mentioning his record-breaking 50-touchdown season. First of all, Brady never had a season like that before. Nothing close to it. Right? In fact, Brady did not have Randy Moss, Wes Welker, or Donte Stallworth in 2006 like he did in 2007. In essence, this is how he got all his great mind-boggling statistics that season. Along with that, he had to actually “try” and “force” throw a bunch of touchdowns each game. Running up the score? I must say. As for Manning, he never have to do such a thing. It only took him like 13 or 14 games to break the record while it took Brady all 16 games, right?
On of top of that, Manning is probably the toughest quarterback in NFL history. Montana, Brady, and Roethlisberger all have missed games due to injury, while Manning hasn’t. In the 2008-09 season, Manning had his worst knee injury ever. According to Peter King of Sports Illustrated, Manning’s knee, which he had a couple of surgeries on, look liked a deformed brain.
At 3-4 during the ’08-09 season, Manning led the Colts to a nine-game winning-streak and made the playoffs. Michael reports the stats concerning that winning-streak:
Peyton Manning (2008: nine-game winning streak)
209 of 290 (72.1) for 2,248 yards, 17 touchdowns and three interceptions.
QB rating: 109.7
Perhaps the highlight of that streak came when he led his Colts to a victory over the eventual Super Bowl champion Steelers; in Pittsburgh, no less.
It was a game in which Manning threw three touchdowns and no interceptions against the league’s No. 1 ranked defense while Ben Roethlisberger (a man whom many considered to be “Mr. Clutch” by the end of the season) threw not a single touchdown, throwing three interceptions against a shaky Colts pass defense.
Was Manning really “Mr. Clutch” and Roethlisberger the “Choke Artist”?
Or did it not matter because it was during the wrong month of the calendar?
After all, we know the Steelers don’t give 100 percent of their effort during important home games in Pittsburgh, right?
Still during the course of this winning streak, Manning continued to break NFL records into December:
Peyton Manning (December 2008)
90 of 110 (81.9) for 1,054 yards, eight touchdowns and zero interceptions.
QB rating: 130.8
His 81.9 completion percentage is higher than what any quarterback has posted during a single month in the NFL’s 90-year history; and he did all of this under the pressure of knowing that each game had “season-ending” ramifications.
To conclude the 2008 campaign, Manning would be awarded the NFL’s MVP. In 2009 he won another MVP, just like he won back-to-back honors in 2003 and 2004. So he has had two back-to-back MVP award-crowning season. No player in NFL history has had four MVP awards. Doesn’t that also mean he could be the greatest player ever? Let’s not go that far, but what it does prove is this: he is the best QB ever.
Seriously, what more do you want?
Ryan Michael had more in his article:
*Most 300-yard passing games in post-season history (8).
*Most 400-yard passing games in post-season history (2).
*Most passing yards in 1st half of a post-season game (360).
*Most passing yards in a post-season game (458).
*Most post-season games with 20+ completions (14).
*Most post-season games with 30+ completions (4).
*Most completions in a single post-season (97 in 2006).
*One of only two QB’s to complete over 80% of their passes in two post-season games.
*One of only four QB’s to post a perfect QB rating in a post-season game.
*Led the biggest comeback in conference championship game history (Back from 18 points down in 2006 AFC championship game).
Ask any coach about Peyton Manning and they’ll tell you that if any quarterback has spent two weeks with him, they will seemingly know what it takes to be a professional QB on Sundays. Peyton has completely crossed the line between coaches and quarterbacks. Simply put: Manning is the “coach” of the offense. On the contrary, Montana, Roethlisberger, and Brady all had to share success with their “coach”.
With Manning, he made his coaches successful. He has played under three and has made them all look great; from Jim Mora to Tony Dungy, to now with Jim Caldwell. Manning calls his own plays, unlike any other quarterback in the league. He is the most unique, and the best at what he does at the line of scrimmage.
Manning is easily the most accurate, consistent, productive, statistical, and soon-to-be most winningest quarterback in NFL history. At 34, he easily has at least 7-10 more years to play at a high level. By that time, experts believe he can hit the 75,000 yard-career passing mark (some even consider 80,000!) and over 500 touchdown passes! At the very least ,450 TD passes. If you believe Favre has been doing quite well at 40, wait until you see Manning at that age!
Manning is the best quarterback right now. Watch his comebacks, in which he has a slew of come from behind victories in his career, and after you’re finished, you may come away considering him to be the “Michael Jordan of the NFL”. For the past decade plus, he has been the NFL’s best player. And, according to experts, he has been the best for many years.
And he continue to be the best for many more years to come.
Because he is the greatest quarterback in NFL History.