Tom Brady is worse than Peyton Manning

Tom Brady is an elite quarterback, one of the best of all-time, but he is worse than Peyton Manning.

Two misleading points are used in Brady’s favor when arguing for his point as the better player: the three Super Bowl wins and his reputation as a clutch player. Before we get to those points, let’s take a look at a statistical comparison between the first-ballot hall of famers (starting with 2001, Brady’s first year as the full-time starter).

improved yardsManning is better by any statistical measurement and it’s not even close. Graphs for passing yards and touchdowns are the easiest way to digest quarterback performance, but it also felt redundant to make several graphs demonstrating that Brady is worse at everything.

improved tdSome will retort by explaining that Brady had worse weapons than Manning and the Patriots were not focused on scoring. The scribes of the Patriots’ narrative have written that it was not until the year of 2007 that our hero Tom “Terrific” Brady was given enough help to have an elite offense (while also omitting the footnote that the Patriots acquired said weapons in the offseason following Manning’s Super Bowl victory). Manning has an advantage in every single statistical category imaginable, except one: playoff losses, one of the dumbest stats we continue to keep track of.

After losing to the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, Manning has a record 12 playoff losses. Manning has been to the playoffs 13 times out of 15 seasons and won the Super Bowl once. Any quarterback who goes to the playoffs and does not win the Super Bowl will get a playoff loss. In other words, a quarterback’s legacy is less tarnished if they miss the playoffs.

This is incredibly misleading for people who like to spit out stats. For example, Ben Rothlisberger is 10-4 in the playoffs, including two Super Bowl wins, through 10 seasons as a pro which also means he missed the playoffs four times. This is not a diss to Rothlisberger. I only mean to point out that counting playoff losses is misleading. Brady, 36, has stated that he would like to play until he is 50 years old. Let’s say Tom Brady wins three more Super Bowls, makes the playoffs every year, and plays until his desired retirement age – he would retire with 19 playoff losses. Does that even mean anything?

Playoffs wins are just as dumb when counted for an individual player.

Playoff win-loss records are only mentioned when discussing quarterbacks even though plays like this occur all the time.

Playoff wins and losses are team achievements infused with luck and grit from all parties, refs included (*cough* Tuck Rule *cough*). Quarterbacks take the brunt of the criticism and most of the credit in the eyes of most fans and media pundits, but it’s never that simple. Joe Flacco has 9 playoff wins, the same dude with 19 touchdowns and 22 interceptions the season after winning the Super Bowl. Obviously, most of those wins were thanks to an amazing Ravens’ defense. Surprisingly, the same is true for the elite defenses that should be given more credit for Brady’s three Super Bowl rings.

In years with Super Bowl victories, the Patriots were ranked sixth (2001), first (2003), and second (2004) in points allowed. The Colts were ranked 23rd in points allowed when they won the Super Bowl in 2006. Tom Brady has not won a Super Bowl without an elite defense. Manning has. This must be taken into account.

A stat that might shock everyone is the all-time leader in fourth quarter comebacks. Most would likely assume Brady, Elway, or Montana lead the pack. I’ll be damned if it wasn’t Peyton Manning. Manning is apparently more clutch than the generic narrative we are fed might suggests. Bill Belichick certainly thinks so.

This is not the end of the discussion for Brady vs. Manning. Both guys have some time left to impress us all, but the narrative we are fed does not include the nuance necessary for fair debate. I didn’t even get into the fact that the Colts started 0-13 during the 2011 season without Manning, and the Patriots finished 11-5 without Tom Brady.

Everyone has their bias and it is what it is.

Agree or disagree with my take? Feel free to comment.

Oh, and go Vols!

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