[title_box title=”Rocky Topics: Would another Super Bowl victory make Manning the greatest quarterback ever?”]
Co-written by Dominic LoBianco
This week, staff writers David Bradford and Dominic LoBianco debate whether a Super Bowl victory launches Vols legend Peyton Manning to the top of the all-time greatest quarterback list.
Bradford: Ranking the greatest quarterbacks of all-time will be a debate that rages on forever because everyone has a different criteria. Right away, I want to say that Super Bowl victories are not my central criteria, but how you performed in the biggest games is huge, as well as career statistics and overall value to a team. So if Peyton Manning wins his second ring, it absolutely does NOT make him the greatest quarterback of all-time. Both Tom Brady and Joe Montana have better credentials.
LoBianco: Well how are we defining credentials? Because with a win this Sunday, Peyton Manning arguably has the best résumé of any quarterback in the history of the NFL. If you judge your quarterbacks by statistics, he’s your man. Manning holds the record for career touchdown passes and passing yards. What if you judge your quarterbacks by awards and accolades? Well, then you would be inclined to pick the play-caller with the most MVPs, which is also Peyton Manning.
Bradford: The credentials are a personal preference. So taking everything into account, if Peyton wins the Super Bowl, do you believe Peyton is the greatest of all-time? And if so, why? What puts him ahead of Brady and Montana and other great quarterbacks?
LoBianco: Simply put, yes. Manning is the archetype of what you look for in a quarterback. The great part about Manning is his unprecedented dedication to prepare in the film room. He spends so much time preparing for games that by the time he is calling the plays he knows what the defense is doing before they do it. His career accolades don’t happen by accident either. He has been consistently great his entire career despite changing circumstances throughout. On the other hand, Brady has relied on the crutch and stability of Bill Belicheck and those wonderful defenses during their glory years. Manning carried most of those Indianapolis teams to greatness on his shoulders.
Bradford: Manning’s preparation is to be admired, but why is it that he can put up monster stats in the regular season, but when he takes that preparation into the postseason, he has largely seen mixed results? He has a 13-13 playoff record (not all his fault), and is 1-2 in Super Bowls where he has thrown just three touchdowns to four interceptions. Remember Super Bowl 44 against New Orleans? Manning threw an awful pick six that sealed the Saints victory. What about Super Bowl 48 against Seattle? Three turnovers for Peyton, only able to muster up eight points as an offense. Brady threw for 328 yards and four touchdowns against that same defense. Montana threw eleven touchdowns with zero interceptions in the Super Bowl.
It’s also unfair to discredit Brady because he has had the same head coach. He hasn’t had the same weaponry consistently, while Manning has spent years upon years with all-pro talent at wide receiver. Despite the ever-changing offense around him, Brady has led the Patriots to 10 AFC Title Games, six Super Bowl appearances, and four Super Bowl victories since 2001.
As for defenses, Manning has played with top-five scoring defenses four times during his career. In the 2006 Super Bowl run, it was the defense, not Manning, who deserved the majority of the credit for the Colts eventual Super Bowl victory. Just look at this season. The Broncos are carrying Manning more than any defense carried Brady. Brady took the NFL’s No. 31 defense in 2011 and brought them to the Super Bowl.
Brady can also play any kind of game. In the cold. In a dome. In fact, Brady has a 16-7 record when he throws 50 or more passes in a game, the only quarterback with a winning record and significantly better than Manning’s 4-13 record in such games. It just proves that Brady is every bit the passer that Manning is.
LoBianco: What about the year Brady tore his ACL and the Patriots didn’t miss a beat? Tom Brady goes down, yet New England wins 11 games behind Matt Cassel? Manning has received a fair share of criticism in the playoffs. But remember this, if Peyton Manning wins on Sunday he will be the only quarterback in NFL history with two Super Bowl Rings and five MVP awards. Also consider the Brady and Manning head-to-head matchup. While Tom Brady did dominate the series early, he has never beaten Peyton Manning away from home in the playoffs. Also, Brady hasn’t claimed a victory of Manning in the playoffs in 11 years. People say Brady has never had great receivers in his tenure, but Randy Moss had the most touchdown catches in a single season in New England and Rob Gronkowski is on pace to be the best tight end of all time.
This is a debate that will continue to be had as long as sports are discussed, but just know that with a win Sunday, Peyton Manning would have the most decorated résumé in the history of the NFL.
Bradford: Manning has also never beat Brady in the postseason away from home, and Brady holds the overall series lead 11-6. Yes, Manning has all-time great credentials, but even with a second Super Bowl ring, his credentials will never match Brady or Montana. Both have two MVP awards. Both have four Super Bowl victories. Both won three Super Bowl MVP awards. It takes a team to win a Super Bowl, but no position has more of an impact on the game than a quarterback. Brady and Montana had greater impacts on their teams, which is proven through their consistent regular season and postseason success. Brady is two miracle catches and two unfortunate drops by his own teammates from having six rings. If you want historic stats, Peyton is your guy. If you want a quarterback who consistently makes the throws when they are needed, and has great stats, then Brady and Montana are your guys.
Featured image courtesy of Creative Commons
Edited by Cody McClure