Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

03 Jun 2009

Brady-Manning Irrational Thread

Alright, so the thread may have lost some of its luster now that one of its inhabitants missed the 2008 season with an injury, but we're going to start up the forums with an old FO standby: Who would you rather have, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning?

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 03 Jun 2009

126 replies , Last at 03 Oct 2009, 12:59pm by Jim D

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Temo :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 1:31pm

Dan Orlovsky.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by greennogo (not verified) :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 7:43pm

I think that we can all say with confidence by now that Dan Orlovsky is a 'System Quarterback'.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Theo :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 4:25am

The best reaction to the Brady/Manning question.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Jacob Stevens (not verified) :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 1:53pm

I'll kill a snitch. I'm not saying I have, I'm not saying I haven't. You know what I mean. Whatever. You guys don't know shit.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Drunkmonkey :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 2:08pm

Favorite commercial EVER is Payton's Mastercard commercial where he's in all the different cities and the hotel employees are being jerks, but he thinks they're being nice. "Take a hike!"... "You know what, I think I will! The weather here is sweeeeet!"

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by roguerouge :: Fri, 06/05/2009 - 8:48am


Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Don the Unforgettable (not verified) :: Tue, 08/11/2009 - 8:27pm

that one was pretty great..the one with himself and eli against the williams sister was pretty good too

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by starzero :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 2:19pm

I want to see them go head-to-head on Dancing with the Stars. I think Manning would top Brady with the judges, but that pretty boy would get more audience votes.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by billsfan :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 2:20pm

I think Brady's been pretty clearly exposed as a system quarterback, so Peyton wins this one unless he gets hurt and Jim Sorgi goes 11-5.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Drunkmonkey :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 2:34pm

I'm not sure Brady has been "pretty clearly" exposed as a system quarterback.

I'll admit that the first few years he played I thought it was completely the system that gave him success, but I don't think it's just the system anymore. Sure, he's playing in a great scenario, but at the same time, it's not like Payton has been outside the system he plays in at any point in his career. I'm pretty sure that Brady has had more offensive coordinators up to this point in his NFL career than Payton has. That would make me think that Payton isn't anything but a system quarterback. (Yes, I know Payton will finally have a new offensive coordinator, and that pretty much the entire staff is going to be different, but as some other FO commenter stated a while back ago, when Moore retired: "Whose plays will Payton audible out of 3 times before the snap now?"... I think he'll be fine)

I'm not trying to say either QB is a system player, or even throw my two cents in for either guy, since I would kill to have either guy on my team, but I don't think that you can say Brady is a system QB anymore. Even if you claim that he didn't produce until he was given a lot of weapons and the Pats decided to throw the ball more than anything, it doesn't mean he is a system QB. It just means he could deliver what the team asked for. It's no different than Payton and Marvin in his prime. Or Payton and Wayne now. (On a side note, maybe LeBron should play for the Pats, since they seem to give their stars some weapons to work with)

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Insancipitory :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 4:05pm

That. The Patriots system is so effective it gets its backup qb AND quarterback from other teams traded for first round picks and change while Peyton is so good he gets other QBs drafted #1 overall based on name recognition. If ever there was a question, there isn't now. However, hard to argue with the wool Brady pulls. So he might be more enviable in that respect.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Jacob Stevens (not verified) :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 5:29pm

I'll take some bait on this. Click my name for the graph.

This could possibly be argued in both ways. But is simplicity at least in formation something that would lend a very capable QB that much more assistance in decision making, coverage reading, where to go on hot routes or depending on what the safety is doing, and just overall proficiency?

Second graph:


I don't think Hasselbeck is on the same tier as these two, by any means whatsoever. I do think it modestly speaks higher of him, to control a more complex offense, at least in this regard. I still think Peyton is the guy to take, and while Brady might've been hard pressed to break records like in 2007 without a spread offense, I don't think he's a system QB. But since "system" was brought up, if anything, the Colts' approach, which does demand a heady and capable QB, helps the heady & capable QB become even more proficient, so that would count against Manning at least as much as it would count against Brady.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by RickD :: Sun, 06/07/2009 - 3:47pm

A "system quarterback" set NFL records left and right in 2007?


Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Sifter :: Sun, 06/07/2009 - 5:34pm

Why not Rick? We are quick enough to hand out that term to college guys like Graham Harrell, Colt Brennan, Timmy Chang etc. It doesn't take much more stretching to talk about the NFL that way.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Independent George :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 3:05pm

Comparative Records vs. Eli Manning:

Manning: 1-0 (1.000)
Brady: 1-1 (0.500)

Therefore, Manning > Brady.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by panthersnbraves :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 3:26pm

The only fair thing to do is to take them and have them each play 6 games each with an decent but not dominant team (say the Panthers) and a struggling team (say the Raiders), and see how they do.

The extreme case of having them play for the Lions is just too cruel.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Parmenides :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 3:45pm

Either of them throwing to Steve Smith and having the running game of the panthers would probably make a dominant team pretty quickly.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by John (not verified) :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 4:23pm

My gut feeling is that either QB would look fairly average if thrown at a team with little prep time. I think Manning's genius is that he can mold the offense around him, but that takes time to achieve.

Brady's a solid quarterback, perhaps even in the very good to great range, but ultimately he's just a quarterback. Manning and the Colts offense are inseparable.

Or maybe I'm just a Colts homer. Can't rule out that possibility.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by dryheat (not verified) :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 3:37pm

Well, James Brady was White House Press Secretary under Reagan, but Daniel Manning was Secretary of the Treasury under Cleveland. A more prestigious job, plus he never got shot. Advantage Manning.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Temo :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 11:37am

Excellent post. Especially because Grover Cleveland is criminally underrated by the American Public as a president.

Wait... does this fall under the "no politics" rule?

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Telamon :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 6:14pm

I've seen Cleveland-inspired flame wars vicious enough to make a burn-ward doctor weep.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by dryheat (not verified) :: Fri, 06/05/2009 - 12:13pm

I was spanked by President Cleveland on two non-consecutive occasions.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by shake n bake :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 4:03pm

Peyton managed to have his wedding without anyone getting shot so I'd say Peyton.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Insancipitory :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 4:08pm

Difficulty: Marvin Harrison, and Plaxico Burress almost certainly and might have attended respectively. To me, that's what really makes that statistic impressive.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Monkey Business (not verified) :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 4:50pm

Patriots without Brady: 11-5
Colts with an injured Manning (first seven games of 09): 3-4

The Patriots are a better team, but Manning is the better quarterback.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by MJK :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 8:23pm

That's not apples to apples. Teams take time to adjust to their new QB. If you're only going to look at the first seven games of Colts with an injured Manning (and even that's not the same, because he was still in there), you have to only look at the first seven games of the Cassel-led Patriots (they were 5-2).

Still, the problem with arguments like this is that they would lead us to believe that Joe Montana wasn't any good, because Steve Young came in and played very well after Montana left.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by shake n bake :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 11:16pm

Since when do you have to compare apples to apples in an irrational thread?

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Bobman :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 1:34am

MJK, you are implying that Cassell is a future HOFer like Young?

And secondly... aaaah, Peytom Branning... has that whiff of fresh 2003 air. Good to be breathing it again.

And to you others, Cassell played well within the system (albeit against a pretty weak sked), but Manning IS the system. When Sorgi comes out on the field, a man who has been #2 and worn the headset for five years or more, do you think they run the same O? No. Maybe 75% of it, which is impressive. Last year it seemed that Cassell ran the same O as Brady and it got him, in the words of Rainier Wolfcastle, "a big pile of money." Randy Moss is the only reason this is even an interesting thread anymore.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by RickD :: Sun, 06/07/2009 - 3:48pm

Hadn't realized NFL football was not a team sport any longer.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Jim D (not verified) :: Sat, 10/03/2009 - 12:59pm

Thats been my point all along. When people talk about QB's being 'system' players, they act as if thats a put down. Every football player of any value (other than a kicker to some extent) is a system player. If he isnt a system player he is not good. The arguement I can see that seems to support the idea of a QB showing his worth by working outside the 'system' is as follows; The protection breaks down or a broken play results in the QB needing to buy time and find a reciever or run the ball. But even success in this situation depends on recievers responding by running different routes or picking up blocks down field. A good NFL QB is by definition a good system player.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by T. Diddy :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 4:53pm

Can we have a Brady-Manning Irrational Thread Irrational Thread, to debate whether this thread is better than the multi-hundred post original?

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Jeff George (not verified) :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 5:30pm

This is a trick question. Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Independent George :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 6:04pm

Wrong. QB Eagles all the way!

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 6:07pm

My vote goes to Manning as better than Brady, Brady always got the 'he's won the superbowl more' and the 'he doesn't lose in overtime' lines of reasoning. Both reasons are retarded. Trent Dilfer has won more superbowls than Marino, is he a better player? No. The niners have won their last 8 overtime games are Alex Smith/Idiot O'Sullivan/ Shaun Hill/ Cody Pickett etc great qbs as a result? No. Plus the pats were cheating. Brady is to me just below HOF level (I'll qualify this by adding that for me there are lots of qbs in the Hall who have no business there, I fully acknowledge that Brady is better than Warren Moon for example) and Manning is closing in on the top five quarterbacks of all time.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by BigCheese :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 6:28pm

Not to mention his performance in the first two SBs was pretty much pedestrian, MVPa non-withstanding.

- Alvaro

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by RickD :: Sun, 06/07/2009 - 3:49pm

The win over the Rams was "pedestrian"?

Uh, ok.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by BigCheese :: Mon, 06/08/2009 - 2:58pm

No, as I clearly wrote, Brady's performance in said win was pedestrian. At best.

16-27 for 145 yds and 1 TD.

Seriously, those are MVP numbers?

The only reason NE won that game is because the Rams turned it over 3 times, a fact that Brady had no hand in.

- Alvaro

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by BigCheese :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 6:04pm

I think it's Manning and it's not even close, but we'll have proof this year.

Manning will have a completely overhauled coaching system. If he manages to keep up his production, we'll know what most of us suspect already from the way he runs games: he is able to run an offense by himself like no one since Johnny U.

If we took Bellichick away from Brady, I don't think they even make the playoffs. Sadly, unless the hooded one gets hit by a bus (and the sadly part does NOT referr to me wanting that to happen, just to the fact that we'll never know what if), we'll probably never see a Billicheck-less Brady.

- Alvaro

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by dryheat (not verified) :: Fri, 06/05/2009 - 12:16pm

What do you think would happen if we put Brady on the Colts? The Chargers? The Vikings? Are those teams Super Bowl contenders? If the Patriots and Panthers switch quarterbacks, which one is the better team, in your mind?

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by BigCheese :: Mon, 06/08/2009 - 3:14pm

In 2008? Because those teams we know.

On the Colts: Don't make the play-offs. Manning IS that offense. Put Brady in there and he'll be a good QB, with good WRs and a bad D, they'll be good, but have AT LEAST one less win than they did last year. And they miss the play-offs.

On the Chargers: Wins stay about the same. Phillip Rivers is really good. Brady's better than him, but not more than one win better IMHO.

Vikings: Reach the Superbowl. Put Brady on a team with the Williams Wall Jarred Allen, Purple Jesus and Bernard Berrian (mentioned because he's the deep threat that allows Brady to keep the opposition from stacking the box). That is one scary team. Of course, put Cutler, Brees, Phillips, Warner, Hasselbeck, Palmer, Romo, Shaub, Eli, Big Ben, Ryan, Flacco, or Rodgers, and they also reach the big game. Garrard, Leftwich, Bulger, Collins, Pennington, Cassel, and probably Leinart, Orton and Thigpen still make it far into the play-offs. The Vikings are squandering a terrific team on no QB and a horrible coach, which I'm happy to see.

If the Panthers and Patriots switch, the Panthers are probably the better team, seeing as how they have a better running game, and shocker, Brady is better than Delhomme. Here's the thing though, none of that addresses the point that Brady is a good QB who is helped greatly by a superb coach, tot he tune of three rings. Meanwhile, Manning is in the conversation with Unitas and Montana.

Brady wins with his good team (and in 07 puts up ridiculous numbers by having a superb receiving corps and a coach willing to run up the score and risk his starters to get him numbers). Manning MAKES his team good. In fact, he makes his team good enough to win without much of a defense.

- Alvaro

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Independent George :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 6:07pm

What about a debate on whether a punter could ever go #1 overall in the draft?

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 6:08pm

He'd have to be so good that he'd resemble some kind of automaton . . .

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Independent George :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 12:25am

Perhaps if he made a metaphorical deal with the devil. And by devil, I mean Robot Devil. And by metaphorical, I mean, go get your coat.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by BigCheese :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 6:26pm

I wonder if there's any reason why, unlike with article reply threads, new posts do not show up in yellow here. I have come to rely on that way too much to give it up!

- Alvaro

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by tuluse :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 8:04pm

Jay Cutler

/goes an hides in his homer corner where super bowl XX plays on loop

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Jimmy :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 7:03am

You beat me to the punch on that one. At least we Bears fans don't have to write Rex Grossman any more.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by MJK :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 8:29pm

I don't like system arguments. Saying some QB never did well outside a certain system and therefore isn't really that good is like saying Michael Phelps never won an olympic relay with any team other than the USA, and therefore the relay teams wins were due to the other players more than to Phelps.

All QB's play in systems. And in order to be successful, a QB needs more than to be good--he needs to be in a good system as well. In other words, people seem to think success is a sign that either the player is good or the system is good. I would argue that prolonged success (like Brady and Manning have enjoyed) is not an OR operator, but an AND operator. I.e. prolonged success requires a good system AND a great QB.

So the fact that Brady, or Manning, have had prolonged success argues that they are very good AND in good systems.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by John (not verified) :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 8:56pm

Absolutely. The key difference: Brady's in a system, Manning is the system.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Karma Coma :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 3:31pm

that might be the dumbest thing ever written on this site.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by John (not verified) :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 9:54pm

Aw, *blush*, you're too kind. There's no way that's the stupidest thing on this site. Not even in the top 10. Maybe the top 10%, but even that's probably too ambitious a statement.

It's just your average, run-of-the-mill stupid.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by RickD :: Sun, 06/07/2009 - 3:52pm

Don't sell yourself short!

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by c_f (not verified) :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 9:44pm

Brady over Manning in a heartbeat.


Danieal Manning (CHI) is a good KR but can't start at FS and is not particularly good at nickelback, thanks to his lapses in coverage and mediocre tackling ability, while Brady Quinn (still CLE) is still an untested but highly-drafted QB prospect who has the potential to be a starting-caliber QB. So there you go, Brady over Manning.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by TruFalcon (not verified) :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 10:41pm

I think it's embarrassing that a site which claims to be about football analysis refuses to discuss this question rationally. 'We look into the real reason teams win games*' *Unless it involves the Patriots.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Dice :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 11:04pm

I think both are excellent QBs and by no means can all of the blame for the Colts' post-season losses can be placed at Manning's feet. I think Manning is at least marginally the better QB and has played for years in a spectacular offense, but Brady on the better team overall. I'd take Brady as my QB tho, because I hate the Colts for sneaking out of Baltimore back when I was a kid.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by TruFalcon (not verified) :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 11:15pm

Oh and to address the question, I think the fact that one of the most inexperienced QBs in the history of the league can step in and put up the numbers he did shows what a great team they have in New England. It's not as if Brady calls every play at the line like Manning does.

Indy have had historically bad defenses at stages this decade, yet they have still managed to make the playoffs every year. I find it strange that we use DVOA as a tool to evaluate every other player, but shy away when it comes to Brady (unless discussing 2007). The fact is Manning has been better than Brady every year of their entire careers except for 07

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by shake n bake :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 11:20pm

I think it's more about us, the fans/readers, not being able to discuss it rationally.

Though I'm all for deciding it once and for all by totaling up the DYAR, or by DYAR per year. How do you feel about that idea Pats fans?

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by T. Diddy :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 11:45pm

Because, as every FO writer ever has always said, DYAR is the be-all and end-all of individual player comparisons.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Monkey Business (not verified) :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 12:35am

So, I crunched the numbers, and here's what I came up with.

I did a DYAR career comparison with four averages: standard average, average minus worst season, average minus best season, and average minus best/worst season.

Peyton Manning
AVG: 1588
AVG-B: 1516
AVG-W: 1689
AVG-B/W: 1599

Tom Brady
AVG: 1038
AVG-B: 788
AVG-W: 1184
AVG-B/W: 917

Here is my conclusion:
Based on the FO provided numbers, AND ONLY THE NUMBERS, Peyton Manning is a better quarterback than Tom Brady. Remove Manning's best and worst seasons, and his numbers actually go UP. Remove Brady's best and worst seasons, and his numbers go down, which is what you'd expect. In terms of DVOA, Manning clocks in at 32.59%, and Brady at 19.46% (average only). So, both quarterbacks are better than the league average at their positions. However, Peyton Manning is over 30% better, whereas Tom Brady is slightly less than 20% better.

So, having demonstrated my evidence, provided by a neutral third party, I can now officially declare that Peyton Manning is a better quarterback than Tom Brady. Both of them are good quarterbacks, but Peyton is just better.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by tuluse :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 4:07am

Tom Brady is 20% better than the average QB, while playing behind the Patriots line, with Bellichick as his coach throwing to Deion Branch.

Peyton Manning is 30% better than the average QB while playing behind the Colts line with Tom Moore as his coach and throwing to Marvin Harrison.

Not to mention running backs, defenses, playing in a dome/outside, and all the other factors that can affect a player.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by greybeard :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 1:18am

Why don't we decide it based on number of super bowl wins. It is statistic that is factual and not made up by somebody based on what he thinks defines success on the football field.

Nobody here knows what DYAR really is. We are told about the principles behind it, but the formula that is used to calculate is secret. It is not verifiable, not reviewable, as a result not valuable. It is also another metric that is constantly updated based on how much it differs from the perceived quality of the players. That is why lots of FO metrics gets modified over time. There is always the desire to readjust this metrics to not make them go too far away from the common perception. Enter the weather adjustment, etc.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Bobman :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 1:46am

Because Superbowl wins involve (A) a seeding tree that might or might not favor one particular team in any given year (i.e it's all about matchups) and (B) TWO 53-man squads to decide. They are decidedly NOT a measure of an individual player's greatness or even comparable merit over another at the same position.

Just a couple examples to back this up: if SD beat NE three years ago, Indy might not have even gone to the SB, much less won it. Then they faced a mundane Bears squad and won it all and suddenly Manning "can win the big games." A load of rubbish. Big friggin' deal--it proves nothing about Manning's quality. His mind-boggling, consistent, high-level production does.

Regarding the "two squads determine the SB" argument, what happens if either Manning or Brady get to the SB only to find the opponent's best player is injured in the NFCCG? Say it's a 2,000 yd RB, or a 4,200 yd passer, or a 20 sack DE. Suddently their "big game" is a lot easier. Does that make them better for having won it? I believe Beethoven said it best: NEIN!

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by DGL :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 9:30am

Clearly, all we need to do is (1) invent a time machine; (2) go back in time and arrange for the Colts and Patriots to trade Manning and Brady, and (3) play out the 2001-2007 seasons with Manning on the Patriots and Brady on the Colts. We can then compare W-L records, DYAR, QB rating, or any other statistic to objectively determine who's the better QB.

Implementation of step 1 is left as an exercise to the reader.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by greybeard :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 1:09am

They went from 16-0 to 11-5. The difference is 5 games.

BTW, being inexperienced does not mean not good. This year we will see how good Cassel really is. Only then we can say whether Cassel succeeded because of the system or he was good.

His off-coor thought he was good and it was not (only) the system. You know the guy who would want to say that the system that he built is so good you can put Brady or someone with no experience and still get 11 wins, implicitly acknowledged that he thought it was QB as much as his system that resulted in (offensive) success.

Until Cassel proves that he is not a good QB, I would not hold against Brady that Patriots managed to win that many games without him.

And Manning does not call plays at the line. He chooses between 3 plays. Hasselback audibles all the time and with great success and nobody says Hasselback is calling the plays.

The irrationality of this thread is not that it would never end up with a consensus or even a mild majority. The irrationality is that people would bother to discuss this. All 32 teams would love to have either one. Who cares if one is slightly better than the other. That difference does not make the difference in winning the superbowls. It is unimportant relative to the rest of the differences, i.e. the other 52 players, coaches, trainers, etc.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by steelberger (not verified) :: Fri, 06/19/2009 - 12:07pm

"All 32 teams would love to have either one."

I disagree. I think the Steelers are quite happy with their 2 time SB winner, who happens to be quite a bit younger that either of them.

This is not to say that I think Roethlisberger is better or worse that those two, just challenging that statement.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by horn (not verified) :: Wed, 06/03/2009 - 11:30pm

Manning AINEC.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Bobman :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 1:49am

Agreed, tho BB, a consistently superior D in 2003 and 2004, and Randy Moss MIC. But then again, that expands the argument way beyond the stated bounds.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Keith (not verified) :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 9:41am

I think what people are missing is that not only does Manning audible at the line, but he directs almost every player on the offense with him. He identifies a block that a running back might have otherwise missed. He corrects routes when he recognizes a package and tries to get his guys in the best positions to succeed.

Brady is an excellent quarterback, top-3 worthy in his generation. But I am not sure if he has ever stepped to the line, identified a play, and directed 10 other guys to do something completely different, almost on a player-by-player basis, rather than just audible into a whole new play.

The difference between the two is that and only that. Both can make effectively every throw required of an NFL-caliber quarterback. Both have great vision, ball-handling skills (save the Tuck Rule), footwork, and the ability to avoid pressure (save the Giants D-line). But if I had to build a team with the uncertainty that my defense may or may not be great, or at the very least good, I would choose Manning. But it is basically a coin flip if you placed them on a team with Green Bay receivers and the Ravens defense and the Giants O-line.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by bsr (not verified) :: Fri, 06/12/2009 - 7:39pm

My goodness. Do you realize that what you described is done by most experienced quaterbacks? They all read defenses. They all make adjusstments. Just stop this, its pathetic. Your QB is number 2. Its proven now.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by parker (not verified) :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 11:27am

It's my opinion that Peyton's approach to the game takes away some of his advantage. His team routinely has the fewest drives in the league and this is done purposely. Wouldn't they win more games by pressing his advantage of being one of the top 10 qbs all time. He should aim to have the most drives in the league not the least.

Because of that backwards strategy I say Brady.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Monkey Business (not verified) :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 11:33am

That isn't the Colts game plan. It's a byproduct of the strategy teams use against the Colts. Manning has the fewest drives of any QB because other teams run run run run run to keep him off the field. Statistically speaking, the Colts are an extremely safe bet to score once they reach the Red Zone. Their success is based on efficiency, i.e. score every time you're inside the 20, rather than quantity, i.e. score every other time you're inside the 20, but get there a lot. Consequently, the only way to beat the Colts is to keep them out of the Red Zone.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by parker (not verified) :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 11:50am

So teams don't bother trying to keep Brady off the field? Didn't bother trying to keep Montana or Elway off the field? Its because the guy runs the clock down to 0 every chance he gets. I'm simply saying that he should not do that anymore because the more drives he gets the more he presses his advantage as a great qb.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by shake n bake :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 2:14pm

It's also because the Colts defense is both built on a budget and much more focused on stopping the pass (especially the deep pass) than the run.

Manning runs down the play clock so much because they've decided that getting the right play called with the right adjustments is more important than squeezing a bit more time out of the game. Watching the Colts you'll see that by getting to the line quickly, then waiting and using hard counts they'll force/trick the D into tipping it's hand pretty often.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by parker (not verified) :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 4:36pm

I understand that. My point is that while that strategy has been successful, maybe they are limiting there success. Maybe.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Monkey Business (not verified) :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 11:30am

Has anyone ever been able to accurately quantify the Randy Moss factor? As in, how much does he add to a given quarterback's production?

Super Bowl wins are a simplistic measure of success. They're a measure of a team, rather than individual players. First off, you have to be lucky with injuries. Second off, you have to have some good matchups. Finally, you've gotta be able to find that extra gear and keep it moving through the playoffs.

For an example: had the Broncos managed to win one more game last season, they would have played the Colts. The Chargers, who were actually a significantly better team than their record indicated, won instead. It's worth noting that the Colts beat the other 3 teams in the playoffs at that point: the Ravens, Steelers, and Titans.

I'm inclined to trust DYAR and DVOA because I've seen no indication of favoritism among the FO writers. The guys at CHFF are complete Pats homers, so when they write something I ignore it.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by shake n bake :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 2:05pm

I did very roughly a year and a half ago.


It's 1997 Vikings QBs vs 1998, 2004 Vikings QBs vs 2005, 2004 Raiders QBs vs 2005, 2006 Patriots QBs vs 2007. Small sample and plenty of other variables involved, but I came out with pretty sizable improvements.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by MJK :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 4:14pm

But if you're going to do that you have to also calculate the Reggie Wayne factor. Which is impossible, because, unlike Moss, he's never played for any team other than the Colts.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Monkey Business (not verified) :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 5:14pm

For as much of a Colts fan as I might be, Reggie Wayne isn't in the same stratosphere as a properly motivated Randy Moss. For as much of a Marvin Harrison fan as I am, I'll freely admit that a properly motivated Randy Moss is a better receiver.

Peyton Manning made Marvin and makes Reggie better than they are, because he gives them the best opportunity to succeed. Randy Moss makes Tom Brady look like a better quarterback than he is. He also makes Wes Welker look like a better slot guy than he is.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by MJK :: Fri, 06/05/2009 - 12:25pm

I'll grant that motivated Randy Moss > Reggie Wayne.

I'm not certain that Moss makes Welker look that much better, though. Welker's ypc (a flawed metric to be sure, but containing some information) in New England is pretty much the same as it was in Miami. He just gets targeted more in New England. And most of his catches are close to the line--he is exceptional at creating separation with precise moves coming out of a short break. So I think the fact that deep safeties shade to Moss's side have very little effect on how well Welker plays. Granted, some of his very good YAC may be due to playing with Moss (Moss takes so much coverage with him down the field that it means Welker typically only has to evade one DB and some LB's to get YAC), but I suspect that Welker would be very good even with Moss on the sidelines.

In fact, I would take Welker over Marvin Harrison in his prime (now we need an irrational Pats WR's versus Colts WR's thread?). His routes are just as precise, but I think he beats the jam better (of course, being a slot receiver helps), and is a better downfield blocker for screens and in the run game.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by tuluse :: Fri, 06/05/2009 - 2:03pm

Without Moss on the team, Welker would be covered by more talented players and more attention would be devoted to him.

He wouldn't have such a high number of targets because he wouldn't be open as much.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Guy #1 (not verified) :: Fri, 06/05/2009 - 8:32pm

Welker productive for Dolphins when he was best receiver on team

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Purds :: Tue, 07/14/2009 - 9:25pm

"In fact, I would take Welker over Marvin Harrison in his prime"?

MJK: I haven't posted in a while, but I used to think you were a very reasonable, though biased, Pats fan. This statement loses you much credibility. You want us to believe that Wes Welker is better now than Marvin in 2002? You'd rather have Welker than a wide receiver who had NO useful companion WR to take the pressure off him, yet if he had 8 catches for 105 yards in a game that season, it was a bad day, BELOW average for him?

You really don't know much about the Colts.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by MJK :: Thu, 07/16/2009 - 7:13pm

Thank you, Purds. I do think of myself as a very reasonable, though admittedly very biased Pats fan. It's our nature to be very biased towards the team that we know most about and cheer for.

Your last statement is a little off, though. I don't know much about the 2002 Colts. Remember, I've been a Pats fan for most of my life, and throughout the 80's and 90's (my formative NFL years), the Colts were varied between horrible and middle of the road. They were one of the few teams that the not-very-good-Pats in those years would beat from time to time, and there never was a huge rivalry with them, even though they were division opponents, as there was with Miami or the Jets. So I never payed much attention to them. They got good in '99 and '00, but that was the worse of the Pete Carrol years in New England, and I didn't have the heart to follow football that closely that year. Then in 2002 they got moved out of the AFCE entirely, the Pats didn't play them much, and I stopped giving them much thought. Oh, yeah, I knew they had a good QB and some good receivers, but that was before they started meeting New England in the playoffs every year, so they weren't really on my radar.

I just looked over the stats, and I'll concede that the 2002 Marvin Harrison must have been pretty phenomenal. So maybe my comment that I would take Welker over Harrison in his prime (which I would guess would be 1999-2002) isn't quite true.

However, the Harrison-Welker discussion brings to light the same issue I've been harping on with Brady-Manning in this thread. Harrison had a long a productive career (13 years), and we judge him based on all of it. Welker is still very young relative to Harrison--he's only had four seasons, and only two as a starter with a good team and a good QB throwing to him. Welker's two years with the Pats have been comparable to Harrison's first few years with the Colts, or maybe even a little better. If I was only allowed to look at the first four years of each of their careers, and choose which one I'd take, I'm not sure the choice is clear cut. Welker could still reach or surpass Harrison's level. And looking at the stats, after 2002 Harrison declined significantly (which, coincidentally, is right around the time I started paying attention to the Colts). Oh, he was still excellent, but not at the amazing level he had been at. Would I take the next four unknown years of Welker over the best four years of Harrison's career? Now that you point it out, no. Would I take the next four unknown years of Welker over any other four years of Marvin Harrison's career? Probably, because I'm not that risk-averse. I think Welker has a lot of upside, and that playing next to Moss might hurt him by taking away balls thrown his way as much as it helps him by drawing safeties deep.

I've argued before that Welker's strengths are his route running, hands, and ability to catch balls in traffic. I don't think having Moss opposite is the magic pill that everyone says it is.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by shake n bake :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 8:37pm

You can look at Stokley inside the Colts O vs with the Ravens at the start of his career and the Broncos since he left Indy. Though it is a little tough since he's only stayed healthy 5 of his 10 years in the league.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by MJK :: Fri, 06/05/2009 - 12:30pm

You can also do the same with a bunch of Pats recievers. David Givens David Patten, and Deion Branch have played a bunch of games with both Tom Brady and other QB's (well, in Givens' case, he tried to play with other QB's, but, like Stokley, was pretty injured for most of that time). And Donte Stallworth and Reche Caldwell both had at least one season with Tom Brady and seasons with other folks. And now we get to see how well Jabar Gaffney plays without Brady.

With the possible exception of Stallworth, all these guys looked better in New England than they did elsewhere, implying that Tom Brady has a little bit of that "makes receivers look better than they are" ability that Manning also undoubtably has.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by the silent speaker (not verified) :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 2:05pm

Manning, without question. He has played well for the Giants the last few yers, not great but well, culminating in a trip to the Super Bowl; whereas Brady has done absolutely nothing and indeed has yet to beat out Derek Anderson for the Browns' starting job.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by MJK :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 4:34pm

I don't think you can use anything as silly as SB wins or even W/L record to distinguish. SB wins is just silly and depends on too many other factors. W/L can be used to differentiate good QB's from bad QB's, but not Great QB's from really Great QB's, because it too depends on many factors.

Similarly, you have to be very very careful using DYAR. There is a known inverse correlation between offensive DYAR and quality of a team's defense. Basically, bad defenses force teams to win shootouts, so good offenses coupled with bad defenses result in the offense keeping the pedal to the metal and score, score, score. For most of Manning's tenure with the Colts, their defense has been average or below average, and predicated on capitalizing on opponents trailing and hence becoming one-dimensional (but that requires that the offense go hard to score to make the other team trail). Add to that the fact that the Colts play in a dome, where it is a lot easier to score a lot of points quickly, so they have to build bigger cushions before going ball control and running out the clock. On the other hand, for most of Brady's tenure with the Patriots, the Patriots defense has been above average, so there isn't this imperative to keep scoring like crazy. With the exception of 2007, where Belichick was trying to set records, once the Pats built a solid lead, they would go ball-control and try to burn the clock. This is especially true in foul New England weather. Hence it's not surprising that their offense would produce less cumulative DYAR.

As an example of this phenomenon, look at Brady's historical DYAR. The Pats have only had a *bad* defense two years that Brady has been there--2002, and 2008 (when he played less than 1 quarter). Brady's 2001 DYAR was something like 300. Then, in 2002, his DYAR jumps up to almost 800, and in 2003, it falls back to 500 and something. Just looking at DYAR says that Brady was better in 2002 than in 2003, which anyone who watches the Pats a lot will realize is ridiculous. The difference is that in 2002, Brady was forced to try to win shootouts (and indeed, he let the league in TD's that year). In 2003, the revamped defense with newly acquired Rodney Harrison clamped down on opponents, and Brady didn't have to do as much. So he played better, but produced less DYAR.

DVOA is a more reliable indicator of which QB is "better" (even though it is still flawed, as it includes so many other mitigating factors), because, as a rate stat rather than a cumulative stat, it removes some of the effects of a team having to run aggressive offense more to make up for a bad defense. And DVOA does imply that Manning is better, although not by as much a margin as DYAR. I would actually agree with that. SB rings aside, I think for much of their respective careers, Manning was just a little bit better than Brady. However, we're not trying to decide which QB was better for most of his career...the question is who would you rather have now?

My answer, as a Pats fan: I don't know.

In previous years, I would have said Manning's ability to throw downfield was better than Brady's, but Brady's ability to shift in the pocket and buy time was better. Then Manning learned to move his feet, and Brady worked on his deep ball (and actually got some WR's), and each QB neutralized their biggest weakness.

Now, I don't see either QB as having a critical weakness. Last year it looked like Manning was starting to slow down, but it turns out that it was just lingering effects of an injury.

Brady is a couple of years younger than Manning, and normally that would give him the edge of who I would want right now, but he is coming off a catastrophic knee injury which overwhelms any age-related uncertainty.

My heart says I would prefer Brady, but that's loyalty to the home town team. My head says, at least in the short term, Manning would be a safer choice, at least until we see how Brady's knee is really doing, and how Manning functions without Moore. Obviously, things can change if Brady looks fine and Manning looks lost...

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Monkey Business (not verified) :: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 5:22pm

DYAR indicates the amount of effort a particular QB puts in to having to win the game themselves. Brady has had an above average defense for most of his career. Manning has not. You would expect Manning to have a higher DYAR. However, looking at his career averages, you can't say that you'd rather have Brady's 3200 yards, 25 TDs, and 63% completion rate to Manning's 4100 yards, 30 TDs, and 65% completion rate.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Sifter :: Fri, 06/05/2009 - 3:34am

Nice post MJK, pretty balanced - given your a Pats guy ;)

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Guy #1 (not verified) :: Fri, 06/05/2009 - 8:41pm

I think this question goes to the heart of what I don't like about FO: too much emphasis on certainty/finality/who's "really" better. This is the kind of question which MUST be based on subjective evaluation, because so many variables exist for each individual player. And, rely as one might on statistics, usually people only bring in the stats if they confirm what the speaker already believes (in other words even you stat guys are making your judgments subjectively first, I suspect).

I will say this because as far as I've seen nobody has brought it up: Brady's a better leader. Again, subjective, but there just isn't a statistic for that.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Uknflfan (not verified) :: Sun, 06/07/2009 - 7:40am

Amazing how many of you would take a QB who sh*ts the bed in the playoffs every year, except the one time when his defense bailed him out, over a QB who shreds the best defenses in the league pretty much every time he appears in the playoffs.

Still, your loss.

Funny how, after years of ha ving mediocre receivers, the one year Brady was given quality receiving talent, he broke Manning and Marino's records.

Yeah, that some system QB!

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by shake n bake :: Sun, 06/07/2009 - 10:50am

That Tom Brady sure ripped up that Giants defense with his quality receiving talent.

You want to talk about choke. Undefeated, playing a team you beat just a few weeks earlier, in the superbowl and you LOSE. CHOKE CHOKE CHOKE.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Guy #1 (not verified) :: Mon, 06/08/2009 - 5:50pm

The Rams Walkthrough Tape farce of a story broke THE DAY BEFORE THE SUPERBOWL. Year of distractions and they were still 3 pts away from perfection, and then they had a 1st round pick taken away and a season-ending injury to their best player and still won 11. NFL's model franchise without a doubt, and it's all because of the people in the organization. Like Brady.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by shake n bake :: Mon, 06/08/2009 - 6:45pm

That's some twisted logic. They cheated so they are awesome.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by bsr (not verified) :: Fri, 06/12/2009 - 7:45pm

How about you look at their entire playoff careers and not just one game? There is no ifs ands or buts about who the better playoff QB has been. Why people continue to even question it is beyond me.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Purds :: Tue, 07/14/2009 - 9:42pm

How about we look at the fact that after Brady's first Super Bowl, he was such a good quarterback that he couldn't even get his team back into the playoffs? Sure, he didn't lose a playoff game that year, but that's because he couldn't even get into the playoffs.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Anonymous42 (not verified) :: Sun, 06/07/2009 - 3:36pm

Now the real question is Brady vs Manning vs Federer. Who would you take in the decathlon?

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by nat :: Mon, 06/08/2009 - 11:07am

DVOA says that Brady was better in their last year, even giving Manning two tries (2007, 2008) to beat Brady's last year (2007). The arguments against that conclusion are (1) 1 year is a fluke, (2) Brady (2007) had a (vastly? moderately?) better receiving corps than Manning did in either 2007 or 2008.

DVOA also says that Manning was better in their last five years (the length of the period is arbitrary). The argument against that conclusion is (1) Manning had a (hugely!) better receiving corps (primarily Harrison, Wayne, Clark) than Brady (three 50+ pass seasons from Branch and Givens, two from Troy Brown, seven players with one 50+ season each: 1 great, 2 good, 2 ok, 2 bad).

So, is the Harrison/Wayne/Clark receiver corps closer in skill to Moss/Welker/Stallworth/Gaffney or to Branch/Givens/Brown? The answer is obvious: Harrison/Wayne/Clark may be the best ever over an extended period, while Branch and Givens have shown themselves to be be mediocre or very bad, and Brown, while a fan favorite, was always a second-tier player with a big heart.

So I would take Brady, based on the most recent data and his first-ever access to a really good receiver corps. We can only imagine how Brady's career would have gone with the Colts offensive line and with Harrison/Wayne/Clark to throw to year after year after year.

Your mileage may vary. But Manning and Brady are closer in skill than the 2007 season would indicate, and they're closer than the five year or career numbers would indicate.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Sifter :: Mon, 06/08/2009 - 4:45pm

Ah yes but we do know how well Peyton did without good receivers. Look at 2007, with Marvin Harrison out most of the year. Do Wayne & Clark, Gonzalez and others (Craphonso...) make a good WR team? NOW they make a decent group, but at the time it was not so cool. Has there been an article done on Manning with and without his WRs?

I don't have any greatly insightful data, only going by the QB pages.
Manning 06: 51% DVOA
Manning 07: 40.6% DVOA
Manning 08: 36.1% DVOA

So 2007 was the injury riddled year where Harrison was gone most of the year and Gonzalez and Clark were also not there for short periods of the season too. Yet his DVOA in '07 was higher than in '08.

If anyone has some better game by game stuff to enhance the data it could be interesting. But generally I think Manning made Harrison and Wayne great, not the other way around. Sure there is a need for good WRs, but it's generally overstated IMHO. Brady + Moss = ZOMG awesome, is always the counter argument. But I think in that case Moss just added the crucial piece that made that offense amazingly effective. If they had added Anquan Boldin instead, I don't think the scheme is as effective, despite Anquan being a pretty good WR.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by MJK :: Mon, 06/08/2009 - 8:58pm

I would say, yes, Wayne, Clark, and Gonzalez in 2007 are at least as good as the best WR's that Brady had pre-Moss. I would say the best WR year, pre-Moss, that the Pats had was either 2005 (Branch, Givens, and Troy Brown top receivers) or 2004 (Givens, Patten, and Branch on top). And I would take 2007 Wayne, Clark, and Gonzalez over either of those triads in a heartbeat. Branch is a good receiver, but not quite in Wayne's league. Plus, like your argument with Wayne, Brady made him look even better than he is...he certainly hasn't done much when Seneca Wallace was throwing to him! Troy Brown is awesome, but he's probably not as good a slot receiver as Dallas Clark (who is a TE in name only). Givens and Patten have done absolutely nothing when Brady wasn't throwing them the ball...if anything, BRADY made them look as good as they did.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Sifter :: Tue, 06/09/2009 - 5:55pm

Agree with most of that, but we kinda can't go much further because we haven't seen Wayne, Clark or Gonzalez without Manning to truly judge his influence on their numbers. We might see Harrison without Manning, but it won't count for much given his current level of play.

The only time I can think of to analyse is when Sorgi is in the games in week 17, but that probably isn't good data to use given the mindset of the team for those games.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by tuluse :: Wed, 06/10/2009 - 2:33am

We've seen Harrison pre-Manning, and he was pretty good.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by nat :: Wed, 06/10/2009 - 10:53am

Brady's main receivers, and what they've done since or before (in order of appearance):

Patten - washout
Branch - disappointment at Seattle, his DVOA was a drag on the team's passing DVOA
Brown - got old, lost his starting job to washouts, retired
Givens - washout
Caldwell - washout
Gabriel - washout
Moss - traded to Patriots for a 4th round pick (deemed uncoachable by almost all teams)
Welker - traded to Patriots for a 2nd and 7th round pick
Stallworth - washout, DUI
Gaffney - went to DEN as free agent

Before Moss's arrival, none of Brady's receivers have proved themselves elsewhere, and all but Brown have strong signs of being positively bad. Brady's actual skill at the QB position is therefore higher than his career DVOA numbers would indicate. Much higher.

For Manning, we have nothing to tell us whether Harrison/Wayne/Clark should get none, some, or almost all of the credit for the Colts passing game and Manning's career DVOA. But there is not a person in the world who thinks that any of them was a fraud who would have washed out in an average offense. Manning's actual skill at QB is therefore lower than his career DVOA indicates. Much lower.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by steelberger (not verified) :: Fri, 06/19/2009 - 12:38pm

This post is pretty laughable. Unless your theory is that Brady's magic ability is to keep his receivers from getting injured...then Branch, Patten, and Givens are pretty useless as a comparison.

Brown never played anywhere else, Caldwell had better numbers because he never even started anywhere else, Gabriel sucked everywhere he went but his best years were in Oakland before he went to NE, Moss and Welker obviously had success before NE (and with another QB in NE), Gaffney did just as well in Houston before he went to NE.

And as for Stallworth, he had far superior numbers everywhere else he has played.

So basically, your argument is flawed. And for what it's worth, I dont have a dog in this fight.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by nat :: Fri, 06/19/2009 - 11:18pm

Sorry, you are wrong about this one, dog or no dog.

I'm not arguing from total production (DYAR) but from per-play level of skill (DVOA). Branch, Patten, Givens, Caldwell, Gabriel all demonstrated fair to awful DVOA after leaving the Pats. There is more than enough data for DVOA. And DVOA is not lowered for missing games with an injury, so that's a red herring.

Brown, as you say, never played anywhere else.

As for Moss, Welker, Stallwoth, and Gaffney: they didn't have impact until 2007. In 2007, Brady, for the first time in his career, had an above-average receiver corps. The results were fair to middling, wouldn't ya say?

So, laugh if you want, but you can't name a single receiver who left a major role with Brady's Patriots to (non-financial) success. I can name Givens, Caldwell, Gabriel, Patten , and Branch (hey, and Stallworth now, too) who left to various degrees of failure. It comes to this: before 2007, Brady never had a good or even average receiver corps.

In short: Brady earned his 2001-2006 numbers in spite of his receivers, not because of them. You don't really believe otherwise. Stop pretending that you do.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by steelberger (not verified) :: Mon, 06/22/2009 - 1:21pm

"I'm not arguing from total production (DYAR) but from per-play level of skill (DVOA)."

I see, you only want to use the numbers that support your argument while ignoring those that dont. Got it. In that case, you win.

And to say that his 2007 recieving corps was merely "above average" is also laughable. That receiving corps made a QB who hadnt thrown a pass in 8 years look like a probowler, wouldnt ya say?

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by nat :: Mon, 06/22/2009 - 2:06pm

DYAR is not a rate stat. Furthermore, it uses "replacement level" rather than "average" as a baseline. If you think it can be used to compare per-play skill to an average receiver, you are woefully misinformed. I don't use DYAR because it's the wrong stat. You need to do your homework.

BTW, Branch's DYAR went down a lot after leaving Brady and the Patriots. In fact, in 2008, he was negative. That is to say, he was worse than a typical replacement hired off the street. Although DYAR is not the right stat to use, sometimes a player is so unproductive that DYAR tells you a lot about his per-play skill.

As for "above average", you realize the point was that before 2007, the Patriots receivers were below average. I, too, think Moss and company were well above average. They might (or might not) even be as good as Harrison, Wayne, Clark and company were a few years ago.

It's just not relevant to the discussion.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by MJK :: Wed, 06/10/2009 - 1:03pm

I wouldn't say that Manning's skill at QB is "Much lower" than his DVOA indicates. I would maintain that, regardless of your receiver's skills, a QB needs pretty good skills to maintain a high DVOA.

One important piece of the debate that a lot of people overlook is that Manning has FOUR more seasons than Brady in the league (well, two more, plus he didn't lose a season to injury as Brady did, and spend a season sitting on the bench behind three other QB's). Part of the reason so many folks think of Manning as so much better than Brady is that he's been doing it longer, so that stereotype that Manning is better than Brady has been built up in people's minds. Indeed, in any particular year, Manning has been better than Brady more often, but he got started sooner.

Here's Brady's and Manning's career DVOA as a function of years played:

Year Manning Brady
1 +4.3 +0.3 Essentially equal
2 +29.5 +8.6 Manning Outplayed Brady
3 +35.1 +5.4 Manning Outplayed Brady
4 +10.9 +33.2 Brady outplayed Manning
5 +16.2 +27.8 Brady outplayed Manning
6 +33.5 +17.4 Manning outplayed Brady
7 +60.9 +56.9 Essentially equal
8 +40.4
9 +51.0
10 +40.6
11 +36.1

The two career paths are eerily similar. Both QB's started out with pedestrian performances in their first year. Manning had an immediate spike for a couple of years, followed by a couple year fall off (from exceptional to merely very good), while Brady took a couple of years to ramp up from merely good to exceptional. and then was exceptional for a couple of years. Then, in their seventh year, both of them had amazing career years. Over the first seven years of each of their careers, they performed very similarly. Manning's DVOA was slightly higher on average over this period, but I think most folks accept that he had a better supporting cast than Brady did over that amount of time. So I think it's a fair statement to say that through the first seven years of his career, Brady has rivaled Manning.

Since year 7, Manning has consistently performed excellently, and people include this body of work when thinking about his greatness. Brady hasn't had more than seven years, so in a way, it's too early to compare his career to Manning's. If he has four more years posting ~30-40% DVOA's, then the two are basically equal over their entire careers. On the other hand, if he regresses and has four years of ~0 DVOA's, then I think it's pretty clear that Manning would have had the better career.

Interestingly, there have been exactly TWO QB's who have come into the league since DVOA started in 1995 and thrown more than 100 passes per season for more than Manning's 11 seasons (Kerry Collins and Steven McNair -- 12 seasons each), and only four that have even reached 11 seasons (Brad Johnson is the fourth). McNair retired after 12 seasons, and while Collins and Johnson may have a season left each, it's doubtful they have more than 1. This underscores how good Manning has been, but also is ominous for Colts fans. Since his phenomenal Year 7, Manning's DVOA has been very high, but trending downwards. I wonder how many years he has left. Probably not more than 2 or 3 at the most, at least while performing at a high level. Bill's question, posed above, is not "who has the better career", but "who would you rather have?", presumably right now. Given that Manning has four more years of wear on his tires and is reaching a longevity that a tiny handful of QB's reach, I think I would take Brady over Manning right now even if I was convinced that Manning is slightly better, with the caveat that I want to make sure Brady's knee is OK first.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by nat :: Wed, 06/10/2009 - 1:56pm

"Much lower" is still quite high, in Manning's case.

We have just about as much statistical evidence of Manning's greatness as we do of the Harrison/Wayne/Clark triad. So I'd guess a 50-50 split in credit for the passing DVOA is reasonable. I would laugh at anyone who thought Manning should get three times the credit as his receiver greats (a 75% - 25% split). For all we know, the split in impact could actually be the other way (25% - 75%) although I would chuckle at that, too.

For Brady, on the other hand, we have direct, strong evidence that his pre-2007 receivers were bad, bad, bad. The best of them (Branch) is a drag on his new team, a down-grade from an average starting WR. The others are worse, some of them complete failures. So Brady is responsible, not only for all of the positive passing DVOA, but for overcoming some negative DVOA, too. In other words, for all of his career except 2007, Brady would have done better with a dead-average receiver corps. Perhaps much better. You can't get much worse than the Patriots 2006 soon-to-washout receivers.

I do like your career trajectory analysis. One thing that would make the whole story clearer would be to list the relevant main receivers next to each line. After all, passing DVOA doesn't measure the QB only, but the QB in combination with the receivers, the OL, the running threat.....

Year 6 is especially telling. Manning (with Harrison/Wayne/Clark) managed to beat Brady (with Caldwell/Gabriel/aging Brown) by only 16.1% passing DVOA. Does anyone really think H/W/C is only a 16% DVOA advantage over C/G/old Brown?

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Sifter :: Wed, 06/10/2009 - 6:19pm

If you think WRs are more important than QBs, Donovan McNabb should be the greatest QB ever. But more seriously, McNabb's DVOA with Owens (in '04 and some of '05) was 28.9% and 9.0%, but BOTH McNabb and TO missed a few games in '05, so I'll be generous and only count that for half a season. Before Owens, in 2002 and 2003 McNabb was -1.0% and 1.4% DVOA, after TO in '06 and '07 he was 18.7% and 8.2%. So the 4 surrounding seasons without Owens he's got 27.3% DVOA (6.825% per year average), 1.5 seasons with Owens he's got 37.9% DVOA (25.27% per year). So replacing possibly the worst starting WR in the NFL (James Thrash) with arguably the best at the time (TO), got him less than 20% DVOA improvement and if I was being a bit more biased, I could just count the post Owens years for the average DVOA (13.45% the 2 years after TO), so it's probably somewhere between a 10-20% improvement for replacing an awful WR with an awesome one. At least in McNabb's little world. Now if you replaced ALL your awful receives with awesome ones you might get a 20-35% range, taking into account diminishing returns because you won't get the same benefit for every awesome receiver you add. So given the year 6 difference of 16.1% DVOA between PM and TB, I'd say it's probably offset by the difference in WRs, maybe with a little advantage to Brady - but not much. I'd call it a wash.

Next, while it's easy to chart how bad the Patriots receivers have been since they've left, it doesn't necessarily mean they played badly for NE. Sure Deion Branch failed, but he got traded for a 1st round pick correct? So he can't have looked too bad then can he? And a pretty decent coach (Holmgren) obviously thought he had enough talent to give up the pick for. Who's to say it's not the Seahawks/injuries screwing him up and that if he played somewhere else or back at the Patriots he'd be good? I'm sure you'll try, but I don't have to agree, it's pretty subjective. I personally think the Patriots would take him back if they could (without stupid salaries of course) and he'd probably play quite well in the current offense.

On Brees: Drew Brees is another example of QBs (or probably Offensive system)>WRs. Who would have thought a receiving group of 7th-rounder Colston, the inconsistent Devery Henderson and some guy called Lance Moore would have made Brees a DVOA and yardage machine? Not I, and until it was actually done for a few games 99% of people thought it was impossible with those scrubs at WR.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by nat :: Fri, 06/12/2009 - 11:16am

If you think WRs are more important than QBs...

Well, that premise is wrong. My guess was a 50-50 split between a QB and all of his main receivers.

...diminishing returns...

That's not right. Remember all the noise about how Welker only looked great because Moss was there? Good receivers improve each other's numbers. You only get diminishing returns when you have too many good receivers to put on the field at one time, and noone needs a rest or gets injured. Before that point, adding good receivers means that the guy in single coverage is a better receiver, and the defense is more likely to blow coverages because they don't know who to focus on.

...it doesn't necessarily mean they played badly for NE...

True. In fact, they didn't play badly, or at least did not get bad results. But they only seem to play well when Brady is their QB, so I give credit for their good results to Brady. The alternative is to assume that they all intentionally got worse when they left, or all got injured or sick, or all moved to terrible offenses. None of those options seem supported by the facts.

Speculation that the Seahawks have a secret anti-sauce that ruins Branch but doesn't hurt other receivers are a bit wacky. But I'll admit, it could happen once. But why would other teams also have even more potent secret anti-sauce for their ex-Pat receivers? Maybe Belichick uses a time-release neurotoxin on his players?

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by shake n bake :: Wed, 06/10/2009 - 5:42pm

The flip side of the Manning's been around longer, is that his career rate stats are dragged down by his rookie year, when he was thrown into a 3-13 team from day one, while Tom Brady got to learn on the bench for a year before starting to compile stats.

Here is the same data but by years in league
1 +4.3 XX Brady Rode Bench
2 +29.5 +0.3 Manning Outplayed Brady
3 +35.1 +8.6 Manning Outplayed Brady
4 +10.9 +5.4 Manning Outplayed Brady
5 +16.2 +33.2 Brady outplayed Manning
6 +33.5 +27.8 Manning Outplayed Brady
7 +60.9 +17.4 Manning outplayed Brady
8 +40.4 +56.9 Brady outplayed Manning
9 +51.0 XX Brady Missed Season
10 +40.6
11 +36.1

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by MJK :: Wed, 06/10/2009 - 7:32pm

I was trying to decide how to treat years on the bench. I don't think it's right to count a year on the bench as a year that he could learn and get good. Matt Cassel is proof of that...after 3 years on the bench (two of them as the #2 QB, so getting a lot of pre-season and practice reps) he still looked like a rookie when he came in. Actual game experience is what's key. I think all being on the bench for 3 years did for Cassel was help him have a steeper learning curve, so that he was able to process actual experience a little faster than a rookie would. But he still needed to get it.

And remember, Brady's year on the bench wasn't a year on the bench like Carson Palmer had, where he was a 1st round pick being carefully groomed to take the reins from the incumbent starter. Brady in 2000 was a 6th round flyer who was the #4 QB on the roster (yes, the 2000 Patriots were so bad that they could afford to consume a roster spot for a developmental QB 4th on the depth chart). As such, he got almost no reps in preseason, I would think (I confess I haven't actually checked), and probably very limited reps even in practice. And Drew Bledsoe is hardly noted as a great mentor of young QB's behind him on the depth chart.

So while I agree that it's not quite fair to consider Brady and Manning's first year of actual play in the same light, and that spending a year before starting might have given Brady a leg up over Manning, I really don't think you can consider 2000 to be a significant year in Brady's career. In fact, one could even consider having that year to be a disadvantage for Brady, because Manning got to go straight from playing meaningful games in college to getting meaningful experience in the Pros, while Brady was forced to spend a year getting no reps and getting rusty in between college and playing meaningful games in the pros.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by MJK :: Wed, 06/10/2009 - 1:12pm

One other fun fact. When you look at DVOA as a function of year played (where a year only counts if the player attempted more than 100 passes), then it stands out that there is only one other active player who is even in Brady and Manning's league. Only one other player has maintained their level of excellence over a significant portion of time (unlike players like Roethlisberger, Hasselbeck, or Palmer who had spells of greatness over a couple of years but didn't maintin them).

This player had a pedestrian year 1 (like Brady and Manning), an awful year 2, matched Manning in Year 3, matched the average of Brady and Manning in years 4-6, then had a career year (DVOAwise) in year 7, just as Brady and Manning did (but not as amazing a career year as each of them did). Like Brady, he has only had seven significant seasons, but if he maintains his current ability, he would unquestioningly be in their league, although probably ranked just slightly below them because of his bad year 2 and failure to reach their heights in year 7 (still lightyears above every other active QB right now).

That player: Drew Brees. Funny how his name often gets forgotten when people discuss the "best QB's in the game" right now. Also funny how his original team cast him off, and Miami didn't want him.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by nat :: Wed, 06/10/2009 - 2:00pm

Brees would have been my guess. But this is the irrational thread. Stop being reasonable.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by roguerouge :: Sat, 06/20/2009 - 12:46pm

Are the Patriots noted for their line play? If we're going to talk Defenses and WRs, we ought to be irrational about the line play as well.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by MJK :: Sun, 06/21/2009 - 12:18am

Hard to say. They are noted for taking no-name scrubs and low-round draft picks and making them into a decent line, but they're not exactly noted for having an exceptional line. Except in 2007, their linemen NEVER go to Pro-bowls (and in 2007, their three pro-bowlers were probably overrated and didn't actually deserve to go...except perhaps Mankins).

They're pretty good at blocking for the screen pass, decent but not amazing at pass protection (Brady and McDaniels' playcalling made them look better than they were), and slightly below average at run blocking...although they run trap plays fairly well.

Other teams have much better O-lines, but the Pats' aren't awful. I would say it's kind of a wash. Indy has probably had a better O-line, on average, over the years, but not amazingly so.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by td (not verified) :: Sun, 06/21/2009 - 3:05am

I don't think the argument is relevent any more. This was the hot issue in the league five years ago, but the Colts are nearing the end of their run. The Pats haven't won a Super Bowl in five years. They may still be the best two qbs in the league, but its far from a foregone conclusion. Roethlisberger, Rivers, Brees, heck, even Warner have been in the conversation the past couple of years. Why hasn't someone taken Simmons idea of the NBA trade value column and applied it to football? (I know-too many players, nobody ever gets traded in the NFL, but it's a fascinating idea) As far as the actual argument goes, it seems to me that prior to 2007, the Pats' offense wasn't the kind of overwhelming force that teams had to change what they did and gameplan for to the extent that teams have always had to do against the Colts, but the Pats 2007 offense was easily the best in football history. Moss's 2007 level of productivity is unsustainable long term even if Brady comes back 100% (it dropped in 2007 from the first half of the season to the second half), but if Brady is healthy, the Pats should still have the best offense in the league.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by tuluse :: Sun, 06/21/2009 - 4:29am

the Pats 2007 offense was easily the best in football history

No it wasn't.

DVOA wise they were about equal to the 2004 Colts.

Then you have the greatest show on turf, the Walsh 49ers, the Air Coryell Chargers, the t-formation Bears. Maybe even some of the Cowboy teams from the 90s.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by td (not verified) :: Mon, 06/22/2009 - 12:25am

They were 10% better than the 2004 Colts according to dvoa. 10% of a huge number seems like a significant difference to me. Pretty sure noone comes close to their 42.8 dvoa. They also scored the most points in football history. Sure, there have been other good offenses. Just none that were that good.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by tuluse :: Mon, 06/22/2009 - 2:03am

Patriots 2007 Offense DVOA = 42.6%
Colts 2004 Offense DVOA = 39.8%

Also, you have to adjust for era and rules changes. Like the NFL cracking down on pass interference after 2003 that has lead to the two best offenses of the DVOA era.

Edit: If you look at weighted DVOA the Colts actually come out better.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by td (not verified) :: Mon, 06/22/2009 - 5:01am

So you're saying the Patriots offense was better

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by MJK :: Sun, 06/21/2009 - 7:19pm

They may still be the best two qbs in the league, but its far from a foregone conclusion. Roethlisberger, Rivers, Brees, heck, even Warner have been in the conversation the past couple of years.

Various QB's have been in the conversation for the past couple of years, but that's exactly why Brady and Manning are the best. They're in the conversation EVERY year.

A number of years back, the consensus top QB's (in no particular order) were Brady, Manning, Hasselbeck, and Culpepper. Then Brady, Manning, Palmer, and Brees. Then Brady, Manning, Roethlisberger, and Rivers. Last year (going into the season, before Brady got hurt and it was known about Manning's injury) folks were saying Brady, Manning, Rivers, and Cutler. Notice a couple of constants about these lists?

I've been working on a project where I chart the season-by-season performance of every active (or recently active) QB (according to DVOA, instead of DYAR, so as to avoide rate stat accumulation that comes from having a bad defense) as a function of years played in the league. Every QB has an occasional spike of a year or two where they play really well. Only three QB's have had sustained excellence over more than about a 2-year period--Manning, Brady, and Drew Brees. No other QB is even in their league.

Roethlisberger could get there if he plays amazingly well for the next couple of seasons, as could Rivers, but it's still too early to see if they're going to be a Brady or Manning or simply a Griese or Garcia. But the only QB that deserves to be in the same discussion as Brady or Manning right now is Drew Brees.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by td (not verified) :: Mon, 06/22/2009 - 12:38am

I don't agree that other quarterbacks were in the conversation previously. From 2003 on, Manning had the best stats, and Brady had the 'winner' label. There was a gulf between them and the field. That's why there is a thread dedicated to this debate.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by Dan :: Tue, 06/23/2009 - 6:33pm

If you're going by DVOA no one comes close to Manning. In the past decade (1999-2008, min. 200 attempts), Manning has 7 of the top 15 DVOA seasons (#s 1, 3, 4, 6, 9, 11, and 15); no other QB has more than 1. By DVOA, Manning's 7th best season is better than any other recent QB's 2nd best season.

There have been 25 QB seasons in the past decade with at least a 30% DVOA (in 200+ att); Manning has those 7, and no other QB has more than 2 (Brady, Brees, Warner, and Roethlisberger each have 2). There have been 54 QB seasons with at least a 20% DVOA: 8 for Manning (add #26 to the list), 5 for Green (29, 32, 38, 39, 43), 4 for Warner (17, 23, 40, 48), 3 each for Brady (2, 16, 31), Brees (14, 18, 42), Pennington (5, 35, 36), and Palmer (20, 52, 54), and 2 each for Roethlisberger (12, 19), Culpepper (8, 33), McNair (22, 47), Favre (30, 34), Griese (21, 53), and Plummer (41, 49).

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by nat :: Wed, 06/24/2009 - 8:26am

If you're going by DVOA...

While what you say is statistically true (I trust), it misinterprets what a QB's passing DVOA is all about. DVOA is adjusted for opponent and situation, but not for quality of the player's teammates. Manning's passing DVOA is really the DVOA of Manning passing to his receivers with the his OL and running game.

"QB's passing DVOA" is shorthand way of saying "Team's Passing DVOA with QB throwing the ball". Unless we have strong, independent evidence of the quality of the rest of the offense, it is impossible to separate the QB's contribution from that of his teammates.

So, I would happily say that in the past decade, the Colts had the most consistently great passing offense. No one comes close... may be the right way to describe it.

But it's a large step to go from that to giving all the credit to Manning. That's not much better than giving Brady all the credit for having a better winning percentage than Manning. In fact, it may be worse. Brady amassed his wins with a boatload of personnel changes on offense and defense throughout his career. Manning achieved his passing DVOA numbers with only minimal turnover in his passing offense.

I don't really advocate using winning percentage to compare QBs. I do believe that the quality and consistency of a team's OL and receivers (and to a lesser extent, RBs) have a huge impact on a team's passing DVOA.

Re: Brady-Manning Irrational Thread
by MJK :: Wed, 06/24/2009 - 8:46pm

This is absolutely true, but you're highlighting a point I was making. Manning has actually been relatively long-lived for a QB. Manning has had 11 seasons as a starter where he had 200+ attempts. Only 2 other QB's who are active have had so many (Kerry COllins and Brad Johnson), and even if you include QB's who have recently retired, the list only gets two names longer, by my count (Steve McNair and Princess). And four of Manning's seven 30%+ DVOA seaons have been in years 8-11.

By comparison, Brady and Brees have each only had seven seasons where they were starting and had the opportunity to throw 200+ passes. (And yes, you can argue that that's partially because Brady essentially missed two seasons, but you really can't hold an injury against him, and you also really can't expect a rookie 6th round pick to beat out an established, popular, former 1st round pick QB with a winning record who's playing in his prime). As I was saying before, DVOA-wise, to date Brady's career has been almost a clone of Manning's (just slightly less impressive).

Using your metric of 30%+ DVOA:

Manning's first 30%+ DVOA season was in his third year, Brady's first was in his fourth. Both had a 30%+ seaons in their seventh year. Through their first seven years (where they threw 200+ passes), Manning had 3 (almost 4) 30%+ DVOA seasons, and Brady had 2 (almost 3). Neither ever had a sub-0% year (which is actually just as important to look at as how many good years a player has had...it's what takes guys like Warner and Roethlisberger out of the discussion).

My point is that Manning gets credit (as he should) for playing at a level of excellence consistently for a very long time. But it is too early to say whether Brady or Brees will do the same.

Through the first seven years of actual starting, Manning played slightly better than Brady by DVOA, but also had a more consistent surrounding cast and unquestionably better receivers (until at least until year 7). No one can argue this...the only issue is whether cast stability and better receivers accounts for Manning's better play during this period or whether the difference is large enough that we can attribute some of it to Manning versus Brady themselves.

However, I will agree that, in order for Brady (or Brees) to remain in this discussion, he needs to continue to perform extremely well for at least three or more years. If Brady descends to Kerry Collins levels for the latter half of his career, then I (a Patriots fan) will be the first to admit that Peyton Manning is/was the greatest QB of the modern era. On the other hand, if Brady performs at the level Manning has for the next four years, then it's still a dead heat in my mind, and the debate can rage on.

Of course, this still highlights an important point. A great QB has probably 12-14 seasons at most of good play in him. Manning has already used up 11. Brady (and Brees) has only used up 7. If you had to pick a guy today that had to last you more than just this season, assuming Brady's knee is all right, I think most folks would pick Brady.

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