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08 Feb 2016

Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl 50

compiled by Andrew Potter

During each game of the NFL playoffs, the FO staff sends around emails about the action. We share information, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about what we're watching. On Monday, we compile a digest of those emails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

While these emails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games. Though unlike the regular season we will cover every game, we may not cover every important play. We watch the games as fans rather than solely as analysts, so your favorite team might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Steelers or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Vikings fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors to cover every team, nor will we focus on a different team from the ones that we're personally interested in watching, just to ensure that Audibles covers every team equally.

Denver Broncos 24 vs. Carolina Panthers 10

Aaron Schatz: Denver surprisingly strong moving the ball on the opening drive. Josh Norman made a bad play, holding Andre Caldwell and then letting him go so he was open. Robert McClain made a good play, nearly getting a pick-six on an out where Peyton Manning just can't get enough strength on the throw anymore. So, that's an odd switch. The Broncos eventually get bogged down and kick a field goal.

Vince Verhei: Full credit to Phil Simms for pointing out that Panthers blitzed on first two plays of that drive and gave up two completions for first downs. Then they backed off, and that's when Denver's offense stalled and Robert McClain had a (slim) shot at a pick-six. Panthers blitzed about 28 percent of the time this season, which was in the middle of the pack, but they'll be better off with a more conservative game plan today.

Panthers go three-and-out on their first drive. On second down, Cam Newton had a clean pocket and a wide-open Corey Brown for what might have been a first down and certainly would have set up third-and-short, but overthrew him. Third down, Newton hits Greg Olsen, right at the sticks, but Aqib Talib makes a good tackle to force the punt.

Cian Fahey: Von Miller spying Cam on the first third down. I'm not sure if that's good or bad strategy. Miller is probably the second best option to do that behind T.J. Ward, but he's your best pass rusher. It's a question of value and a question that's pretty hard to answer, really.

Aaron Schatz: I don't usually feel like I know enough about how players think and feel to give emotional explanations for things, but wow that overthrow of Brown just screamed "I'm nervous it's my first Super Bowl!" Calm down, buddy.

Tom Gower: Gary Kubiak often does a nice job scripting the opening drive. You may recall the Broncos scoring a touchdown against the Patriots two weeks ago on it. He's also pass-heavy, often using motion to identify coverage looks for later in the game. Kubiak 101, but not everybody seems to know it. I thought Denver would have success on their first possession, but it's whether they can sustain that on other ones that decides how successful the offense will be.

Bad miss by Cam on second down, great tackle by Talib on Olsen to hold Carolina to three-and-out. In some alternate world, Ron Rivera does go for that. In some ways, that might be a better world.

Scott Kacsmar: It was probably closer to third-and-2 than third-and-1, but surprised Denver didn't run the ball there. Carolina actually ranked 32nd vs. short-yardage runs this season. Quick three-and-out drive.

Aaron Schatz: Well, the tackles are the weakness of the Carolina offensive line. Von Miller just whipped Mike Remmers and took down Newton for a strip-six to make it 10-0.

Andrew Healy: And I'm wary of getting in the business of reading facial expressions, but Newton looks a little nervous and joyless so far.

By the way, Thomas Davis' arm seems fine so far. Made two or three nice plays already, including one tackle that stopped a conversion.

Pretty surprising how good the protection has been for Manning, late first quarter.

Aaron Schatz: The Panthers' option handoffs also look really nervous, like Newton keeps leaving that ball in there an extra second because he's not sure if he should be handing it off or keeping it.

Vince Verhei: Two bad overthrows for Newton in the first quarter, the early one to Brown and then later on a seam route where Ted Ginn had beaten his man and looked set for a big play.

Really, except for Denver's success on their opening drive, the game has gone as we expected, I think. Denver got the turnover they needed to get ahead, but it's still anyone's game.

Andrew Healy: If Newton had been able to rip that ball out of Stewart's grasp on that last play of the first quarter, he would have had a one-on-one with T.J. Ward with a big gain there for the taking.

Andrew Healy: I'm sorry, but Aqib Talib should be ejected for that mauling of Philly Brown. Just a vicious torquing with the face mask. One day that will be an automatic ejection.

Andrew Potter: That day might be next season, if the "two personal fouls and you're out" rule is added. And yeah, no question that was deliberate to prevent any chance of a broken tackle. The soccer term is "professional foul."

Scott Kacsmar: So I guess Aqib Talib would be ejected already under Roger Goodell's new rule of two personal fouls = ejection. They'll have to write that one carefully. Things like a face mask or roughing the passer really shouldn't count. You want to avoid the stuff like Adam Jones in the playoffs or the post-whistle stuff between Josh Norman and Odell Beckham, but some of these personal fouls are just tough defensive plays.

Vince Verhei: Brown gets a catch for a first down inside the 5. Aqib Talib tackles him by the facemask, yanking him violently to the ground. Obvious penalty, but it goes from first-and-goal at the 2 to first-and-goal at the 1. Honestly, probably smart for Talib to commit that foul if that's what he had to do to guarantee the tackle.

Love Jonathan Stewart breaking out the hand jive from Grease on the touchdown.

After the game, we need to chart the "average time ball spends in the air" for Manning and Newton. I bet Manning's passes spend three times the, uh, time in midaiir.

Aaron Schatz: Ron Rivera just used his second challenge and we aren't even halfway through the second quarter. I think that's a mistake. He used it to get a few yards on a sack -- and he should get that overturned, and it will be a sack -- but you have to save that second challenge in case you need it to get an important first-down conversion, or there's a turnover that the officials missed or something. A more important play than this one.

Andrew Healy: Huge that Rivera lost the first challenge on the Jerricho Cotchery catch. He'll win this challenge, but he has 2-plus quarters now with no challenges. Wouldn't have blamed him for keeping the flag in the sock there.

Would have been neat if he'd taken the penalty on the extra point, too, to go for two, particularly down early.

Mike Kurtz: The first penalty was unsportsmanlike, not a personal foul.

And the AFC Championship Game showed us that there is nothing you can do during a live-ball period that will get you ejected.

Carolina's blocking has shored up tremendously since the first two drives. If Denver can't get consistent pressure, they're in a world of trouble.

Aaron Schatz: Well, I don't think I've quite seen a punt return like the one Denver just had. The return man didn't make a motion at all, but somehow both Panthers guys convinced themselves that he had called for a fair catch, and they both held back from a tackle at the last second to try to avoid a flag... that never would have been thrown because there was NO FAIR CATCH MOTION. So instead, the Broncos get into the red zone for free. That was WEIRD.

Vince Verhei: What's that? The Panthers are struggling with turf conditions and adjusting footwear so they don't slip so much? Seahawks fans know what they're going through. (And yes, the Denver players are doing the same thing.)

What the hell happened on that long Jordan Norwood punt return? He did nothing resembling a fair catch, but the Panthers all just watched as he ran by.

Tom Gower: The gunners close to him were so worried about kick catch interference (which they might've done anyway!) they didn't bother to tackle him, and apparently everybody else thought the gunners would have him. Weird, weird play. And Denver can't get 7, settling for the field goal after a holding call negates fourth-and-1 conversion.

Ben Muth: I think the one gunner saw the other jump out of the way to avoid him and assumed he saw a fair catch. Everyone else probably thought the gunners would make the play.

Scott Kacsmar: Halftime. So this looks like a bad offense, an overrated offense, and the two best defenses in the league. In other words, exactly what we expected. I think Denver did leave some more opportunities out there than Carolina did. The holding penalty on fourth-and-1 may have cost them four points. The Manning interception likely three points, so that's at least seven more there. Carolina did a poor job of managing the clock before the half and came away with nothing. I see Newton doing a lot of running again in the second half. He's not throwing it well at all and the receivers aren't getting open. He had a 24-yard gain by extending the play in the way we looked at this week, but that was about the only big pass play. Haven't seen much of anything from Manning since the first drive. Demaryius Thomas is still struggling and I'm not sure Emmanuel Sanders has done anything. I'd lean on Anderson and maybe get the tight ends involved. They can't be hanging on for dear life for another half unless they get another return score. But I think Denver's already exhausted the return score and the long punt return, and C.J. Anderson broke his one long run, which Manning wasted. Carolina fortunate to be hanging in there and getting the ball first.

Vince Verhei: Panthers have to feel about as good as a team down 13-7 at the half can feel. Partly because Denver has done almost nothing since their first drive. Partly because the most random plays in the game (the long punt return and the two lost fumbles) have all gone against them. If they get better breaks in the second half and keep playing as well as they have, they should still win.

Aaron Schatz: The Panthers' running game was completely shut down. They finally got a couple big runs on options... and Tolbert fumbled the ball away. And the Broncos' running game has been completely shut down except for that one huge Anderson run. The coverage is tight on both sides, the pass rush is intense on both sides. It's just a lot of defense.

Tom Gower: Surprises of the first half? Obviously the two random-ish big plays, the Von Miller strip sack turned defensive touchdown and the long punt return. Much of what else has happened has gone largely to form. Denver has struggled after getting points on the opening drive, and Carolina's pass catchers mostly have been unable to defeat Denver's cover players, when Cam Newton has had time to get the ball to them. The matchup that has gone Denver's way more than I expected coming in was how they handled Carolina's run game in general and option game specifically, and you could chalk that up to Stewart's injury if you wanted to.

Vince Verhei: Hey, if Gary Kubiak's script worked so well to start the game, why don't they go back to that script for their first drive of the second half?

Aaron Schatz: Boy, did Jerricho Cotchery wake up on the wrong side of the bed today. Just lost the ball when he should have had a first down, a drop/defensed where Von Miller was covering him (!) and barely got his hand in.

Vince Verhei: That Cotchery drop is a perfect example of why Newton won the MVP with mediocre numbers. Denver blitzes. Cotchery can't get open against Von Miller, but Newton makes an absolute dream of a throw, where only Cotchery could catch it. But Cotchery (who, I remind you, failed to get separation against a pass rusher) can't hold on to the ball. None of this is an anomaly. Cam has been handicapped by these guys all year.

Mike Kurtz: Kubiak is listening to you, Vince!

Vince Verhei: And the Panthers are using their first-drive strategy too of over blitzing, which is leaving Robert McClain in one-on-one coverage against Emmanuel Sanders. Which isn't going well.

(Ted Ginn lets a pass bounce off his hands for an interception.)

Cian Fahey: In my personal quarterback charting, Cam Newton had three interceptions during the regular season that weren't his fault. Only six quarterbacks had more (excluding Carson Palmer who is yet to be charted). Peyton Manning also had three.

Aaron Schatz: I can't believe Jim Nantz is on with this "Peyton Manning provided a spark in his Week 17 return" narrative. Knock it off. This is all defense. Defense, defense, defense. And a little bit special teams. And fumble luck.

And with that complaint, Manning gets strip-sacked and this time Carolina actually recovers.

Cian Fahey: Did the Panthers run power for the first time in the third quarter?

Vince Verhei: Newton hits Ted Ginn for what should be a first down in the red zone, but Ginn lets Bradley Roby knock the ball away and Panthers get a field goal instead. This after an earlier pass hit Ginn in the hands and Ginn tipped it into the air for an interception, also in the red zone. These receivers are so awful.

Aaron Schatz: I'm a little blown away by how little Manning is throwing to Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders has McClain on him, Demaryius Thomas has Josh Norman, and Sanders has also looked better than Thomas for weeks now.

Then I went and looked, and actually Sanders has six catches for 83 yards and Thomas' only catch is on a screen. So my eyes are deceiving me. This game is weird.

Andrew Healy: Can't think of a mediocre punter making a bigger difference in the playoffs than the bad Colquitt these last two games. 48.2 net on his first six punts. Tack on a couple of blocks in the back and Denver's punts have changed field position by more than 50 yards per punt.

Vince Verhei: I was arguing on Twitter that Colquitt had an MVP case, though Von Miller has pretty much changed that single-handedly here.

Aaron Schatz: Miller's strip-sack probably ends the game. Just crushing Mike Remmers tonight. Where are those seven-man protections we wrote about? They keep leaving Remmers alone and Miller has destroyed him all night. And I don't understand why Newton took a step back instead of diving for a loose ball in the FREAKING SUPER BOWL

Mike Kurtz: Rivera has really taken up the Reid-ian mantle this game. Sub-four minutes left, Denver has the ball at your 7, you wait until the second-down play to call time out. Plus the trainwreck at the end of the first half.

Also, Simms and Nantz criticizing Newton for not jumping on a pile on something that was very close to an incompletion is completely ... well, something I can't post in this column.

Vince Verhei: Panthers punt down two touchdowns with just over 2 minutes left and only two timeouts. I don't care that it was fourth-and-24, I don't care they were deep in their own end. They will not get the ball back with a chance to tie now. In fact, the punt killed the two-minute warning. Denver is actually running plays and I don't know why. Just take knees and punt and laugh.

Tom Gower: Why not take the intentional safety? 16 is still technically two scores, and onside recovery may be about as likely as fourth-and-24. I know, an All Options Really Suck scenario, but I do value trying.

Aaron Schatz: Mike, I hate Nantz and Simms too, and I'm sick of racist crap about Newton. But you've gotta go for the ball there when there's no whistle. It's the Super Bowl and if they recover that fumble the game is over. You have to go for it.

We have been writing all year about how great the Denver defense is. It's great. It's really great. And it turned the game up in the playoffs, like the Bears in 1985 and the Ravens in 2000. A reminder: the best offense in DVOA almost always is higher than the best defense. Only four years have been exceptions. This was one of them.

The others: 2008 (PIT -29.0% D, DEN 19.2% O); 1991 (PHI -42.4% D, WAS 27.2% O); and 1990 (PIT -21.6% D, BUF 20.9% O).

I should add, I don't think that Newton was "lazy" in not diving for the ball. I think he likely had a weird brain freeze.

Tom Gower: The shot's there, he can dive into the pile, possibly getting his banged-up left shoulder hurt worse, and there's already a player with his hands on the ball. Could he have done better overall there? Sure. But he's probably going to get ripped more than he should in my opinion.

Story of tonight's game for me? Von Miller is/should/will be MVP, and he was dominant, and a lot of the story will concentrate on how he and DeMarcus Ware beat Michael Oher and Mike Remmers all night while the defensive backs dominated Carolina's receivers. But we all knew that was likely to happen coming in. What got me is how the Broncos, who were just a really good run defense, really shut down the league's most multiple and difficult-to-defend run game, and one I thought had an edge over the defense in the physical/power game.

Andrew Healy: I know it almost certainly wouldn't matter, but Riverboat Ron punts on fourth-and-24 down two touchdowns with 2:08 left? Man oh man.

Kind of a weird day for the Panthers all around. An oddly unenergetic Cam, who didn't actually play all that bad despite that. Cotchery with two enormous drops. OK, that part wasn't weird, I guess. The first one led to the Broncos' first touchdown. The Panthers also tied the record for penalties in a Super Bowl with 12.

Let's dispense with the fairy tale ending talk for Manning, too. Does this even count in the legacy debate? 2.3 ANY/A for Manning today. He did what he could to lose -- just a brutal interception to Kony Ealy -- and the Broncos defense wouldn't let him.

And now someone is saying "a great sheriff's last dance." Sweet fancy Moses.

Vince Verhei: So, to back up my pregame claim that Peyton Manning would be the worst quarterback to win a Super Bowl in the DVOA era:

Trent Dilfer vs. Giants in Super Bowl XXXV: 12-25-153-1-0, three sacks, one fumble.

Peyton Manning vs. Panthers tonight: 13-23-141-0-1, five sacks, two fumbles.

Obviously, Manning was playing a better defense, but let's not pretend that Peyton Manning hasn't been lousy all year, or that he was especially good tonight.

Denver's defense was superb tonight. Yes, fumble luck went Denver's way for sure. But that pass rush was just suffocating.

Big edge for Denver in special teams too. Panthers finish with 3 punt return yards, and I'm sure that's deep into the negative yardage range once you account for the penalties. Plus, Denver made its field goals. Carolina had the only miss.

Scott Kacsmar: I think some FO commentators made a good point in how Denver's defense was not just No. 1 this year, but by a pretty good margin too. And it was definitely No. 1 tonight. I thought Ealy played very well to keep Carolina in it, but Miller and company were just outstanding again.

Tom Gower: Good point by Vince, Carolina really could've used something from special teams to flip the field and make things easier for the offense. I thought special teams would likely be a bit of a wash, since neither team was great in that area, but Colquitt had a great game and the coverage was outstanding when it needed to be as well.

Vince Verhei: Let's note that the Denver Broncos just finished beating MVP Cam Newton, four-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady, and two-time Super Bowl winner Ben Roethlisberger, allowing those three players to complete 51 percent of their passes for 6.8 yards per pass with one touchdown, three interceptions, and 14 sacks.

Rob Weintraub: Believe it or not, I had to fly to Florida during the game, making this year the first time I haven't watched the Super Bowl live since I was -- what? -- 7 years old, I think. You'd be amazed how many folks fly during the Bowl, by the way -- Atlanta airport was packed. Of course, it's always packed...

One or two thoughts to pile on:

Glad I watched on DVR -- seemed like that game would have dragged badly watching live. Denver scarcely seemed like it was trying to move the ball for large chunks of the game. Their defense was their offense.

Miller was awesome but I might have given some MVP consideration to Malik Jackson, Derek Wolfe, and Sylvester Williams. They dominated the game on the inside, and Carolina's inability to gain anything running between the tackles set up the perimeter nightmare. And the inside dudes got good pressure on Cam on passing downs as well throughout the night.

Clearly the key play in retrospect was the early completion that wasn't, even though replay confirmed the ball never touched the ground (right?). That set up the strip-sack touchdown, which probably wouldn't have happened if Carolina had been near midfield.

That strip-sack touchdown was a virtual replica of the one Miller had on Brady in the AFC title game, except Brady held on to the ball. On that play, Miller went to merely wallop the piss out of Tom Terrific. Looks like Son of Bum got in his ear and told him if had the opportunity with Cam to go for the ball and not the big blow, which was what happened, to deadly effect.
The recovery of their own interception by Danny Trevathan was a colossal play that was kinda passed over by the broadcast, I thought. 50-50 ball inside the 5, Panthers all around, and Denver comes up with it. That's the sort of play that proves it's your night.

Another small-but-big play -- Anderson converting that fourth-and-1, even though it was wiped out by penalty. But if he doesn't get it (and at first he appeared to be stopped before squirting forward in a nice effort), the hold is declined, Carolina gets the ball, and Denver doesn't get those three points. Turned out not to matter much, but if the game is closer who knows how it turns out?

Josh Norman had a couple of picks he could (not should, but could) have made that might well have been game-changers. He's gonna be replaying this game in his head for a long time.

My take on the "Cam gave up! See, we were right about him all along!!" play on the fumble was that at the last second it appeared the Denver defender was about to slap the ball between Cam's legs, so he had to stop awkwardly as though he was going to change direction. But then the ball skittered toward the goal line instead. There's no way he made a Deion-like "business decision" to not go for the ball -- he was wrong-footed.

I plied my columns at Sports On Earth with stats about great defenses winning Super Bowls, and teams that put up big points in the playoffs failing to repeat that performance in the following game, and all sorts of indicators pointing Denver's way -- and then picked Carolina anyway. My ass is dumb.

But you already knew that.

Posted by: Andrew Potter on 08 Feb 2016

489 comments, Last at 11 Mar 2016, 5:24pm by stanbrown


by theslothook :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 3:03am

Let me put up the disclaimer *** no irrational thread starting

I started watching football in 1999 and watched all of PM's career. The guy I saw today bore little resemblance to the man I saw in his prime. Same face, same calls, but totally different style. Yet he won the sb.

I won't make this a referendum on rings, legacy, postseason or whatever. I'm sort of just coming to grips that my favorite player is gone and that he got to end his career on a high note. I'm sure Elway fans can sympathize.

In the end, despite his winning, this wasn't even close to my favorite memory of his. Not even his first superbowl was. Some of them were regular season wins(his 2006 regular season victory over NE was my favorite performance of all). I just want more of the commentary to be about him the player and less about this sb. The sb wasn't his finest moment, but this was his last game and that's what I want most of us to think on.

by The Ninjalectual :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:00pm

Maybe the disclaimer should be in all caps next time...

by kamiyu206 :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:56am

"Does this even count in the legacy debate?"

To people who think number of SB rings is such an important factor when talking about quarterback's 'legacy', yes it counts. To others, who cares?

I'm not surprised to see 'Patriots fan' Healy left that comment, though.

by Cythammer :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 4:03am

I think Healy proved in last week's audibles and the Choppin' Wood article that he's incapable of assessing Patriots games in a rational, non-crazy-lunatic-fan way. That weakness likely extends to Peyton Manning, famous rival of Tom Brady.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 6:23am

I don't really see anything even slightly objectionable about Healy's comment. All he's saying is that Manning's play this game and this season really aren't evidence of his greatness. He's an all time legend and my choice for GOAT, but praising him for winning a ring this year is just praising the right guy for the wrong reasons.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 10:19am

Unitas gets credit for Super Bowl V, right?

Regardless, PM now has that second ring to put in his other ear so he doesn't have hear guys like Healy anymore.

by ramirez :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 11:31am

The ironly of this discussion is that for years, Manning's fans have tried to discredit Brady by saying rings don't matter. Now Peyton gets a 2nd one, and suddenly winning another title clinches his legacy? But Manning was terrible against the Panthers. Compare Brady's stats in Super Bowls to Manning's. It's not even close. If you guys can't admit that Brady is at least as good as Manning over the course of their careers, then I would question whether you really like football.

The fact that Manning celebrated the win by hugging Papa John, and dropped a couple of Budweiser references in interviews, sums up his career.

by hscer :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 11:38am

No, the circumstances of his second one demonstrate once and for all that there's a lot more to quarterbacking than RINGZ.

What are the two best overall seasons of Manning's career?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 11:54am

2010 was about as good a year as I've seen an qb have. That roster was terrible. And soft as Phil Simms' head.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:55pm

Seconded. Manning dragged a roster with 2-14 talent to the playoffs with an atrophied throwing arm and injuries to all of his top receivers. No one has ever had a more impressive season that Manning's 2010.

Second place goes to 2004; that season changed the way people thought about quarterbacks, and about defensive football.

2013 was great and all, but it didn't feel anywhere near as dominant as 2004, more like Manning demonstrating, in a workmanlike manner, that these young pups putting up gaudy stats aren't such a much. More like a somewhat better Drew Brees season.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:36pm

His best year physically was 06. Their lower scoring totals was a function of poor field position and lack of drives.

His best year mentally was 09. 10 was close...but circumstances forced him to press too much.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 11:57am

04 and 06 were the two best. His absolute peak mentally and physically coinciding.

His 'best' in terms of 'how the hell did they win that many games with that roster and those injuries?' were probably 2009 and 2010.

by eagle97a :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 11:12pm

You can also add that there is a lot more to qb-ing than passing stats and RINGZ. RINGZ are the goal not necessarily a measure of qb ability. As for what really are the measures of qb ability/performance? Who knows? We might have a lot more data nowadays but we also have more questions including questions on how to use the data we have in assessing qb ability.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 11:50am

Excuse me, but don't be an ass. If you don't like the guy's career for some unfathomable reason, fine, but the he has left muscle, bone, and nerve tissue on the field for nearly 20 years, for our entertainment. No he isn't unique in this regard, but human beings who do that are deserving of some level of respect.

by Spoon :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 11:57am

You've got it backwards. Nobody's talking about Brady here, we're discussing Peyton on his own merits.

Literally the only charge left against Peyton was that his team didn't win enough in the postseason. He holds every meaningful record and has nothing left to prove on the field. Now his team has won another Super Bowl. Those of us who always believed Peyton was great don't need a second ring to justify that opinion. But those who judged Peyton throughout his career based on outcome rather than process can't choose now to dismiss this specific result because the performance was lacking. You don't get to control both sides of the argument.

by ramirez :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:07pm

How does Manning hold every meaningful record? What are you talking about? This is just more Manning myth-making. The point of my comment, which you didn't address, is that many Manning fans have always claimed that Brady was carried to his first 3 SB wins by his defense, and therefore they don't help Brady's legacy. That's not true, but that's what they've claimed. But last night, Manning was absolutely carried to the win by his defense. But suddenly, winning a SB with defense cements his legacy.

This whole discussion ignores the fact that Brady has throughly outperformed Manning in Super Bowls. Brady is the record holder for Super Bowl games, completions, yards, and touchdowns. Would you consider those records meaningful?

by Spoon :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:24pm

If you feel your comment wasn't properly addressed, it's because I've never made that claim. Brady is a great quarterback, maybe the best ever, though I would never use number of Super Bowls won as proof. Nor would I use a six-game sample of his performance in those Super Bowls. Peyton Manning is also a great quarterback, maybe the best ever, and that remains true whether his team had won last night or not.

by tunesmith :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 1:58am

Okay, I'll try to break it down for you. This is coming from more of a Broncos fan than a Manning fan, and I've never really had much of a dog in the Manning/Brady fight.

I am sure that many Manning fans may have claimed that Brady was carried to his first 3 SB wins by his defense, and therefore they don't help Brady's legacy. Sure. And here I'll step away from Manning/Brady comparison so I don't break rules, and this is really more about Manning anyway. The point is, the Manning supporters wouldn't make that argument in a vacuum. Why would they, unless someone asked them how Manning compared to so-and-so, and pointed out how so-and-so has more Super Bowl rings? It's only at that point that the argument has any relevance, it's a reaction to the point that so-and-so is "better because he has more rings".

The consistent point is, quarterbacks are *not* better than other quarterbacks because they have more rings. So-and-so is *not* better because he's won X super bowls. So-and-so may be better for other reasons or other arguments, but not because of super bowls.

And yet, it's the argument that doesn't die. Because Manning only won one super bowl, and kept losing in the playoffs otherwise. So there's this perpetual "Yeah, but only one super bowl." And it's annoying, because it's invalid.

So then Manning wins another super bowl, and the Manning supporters say, "Okay so now he's won two. Are you happy now, mouth-breather?" Even though honestly, the argument (from the Manning supporter) was *never* that the number of rings should determine his legacy. It's more throwing the dumbos a bone, and being glad to finally be rid of the false asterisk that never should have been there in the first place.

So yes, this year's super bowl victory *should* cement his legacy in the minds of the slow reasoners. For everyone else, his legacy has long been assured.

And no, again, I doubt most Manning supporters would consider those Super Bowl records hugely meaningful, because, again, that's not the point compared to his overall career performance.

Does that help make things clearer? Note that I didn't intend to insult you since I believe you are just representing the arguments of others.

by theslothook :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 2:05am

This has nothing to do with your post, but I was curious about something. If they didn't win the sb and manning had retired, would most bronco fans look at this 4 year run as impressive and been ok with it? Would they have viewed Manning's overall tenure with the broncos a success?

Second question, do you imagine bronco fans will look at Manning differently now that he has a ring? Ie - do most fans feel about him the way colts fans do? Obviously, the bulk of his career began in with Indy, but this four year stretch was better than any 4 year stretch of Manning in Indy(kind of sad to admit that).

by eagle97a :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 3:21am

I imagine any serious football fan would not view anything differently with regards to his career if he lost SB 50. As for his 4 year stretch in Denver being the best of his career I submit that circa 2003-2006 being better. His Denver run might have better raw totals but the 03-06 stretch had better efficiency numbers with roughly the same playoff and regular season success.

by tunesmith :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 7:03pm

Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm more a Broncos fan than a Manning fan. I see Manning as a Colt. Glad he was here for a while, but it sort of felt like we borrowed him. I actually warmed up to him a lot over the last few weeks when I saw how much he had adjusted to the time off.

On the other hand, I do definitely accept that the strength of Denver's defense right now is partially because of Manning, and people wanting to play on a team with him. So overall I'm really glad that he was/is here. But I am definitely looking forward to seeing a true Broncos offense again with a downhill runner, and a quarterback that can extend a play.

by theslothook :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 8:20pm

Are you saying you prefer the vintage days of run first offenses to the three years of elite passingg games the broncos had from 2012-2014? There are more than a few franchises that have never even fielded an offense anywhere near as good in any year of their history.

by tunesmith :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 6:27pm

Hmm, well there's the obvious answer that we got the trophy this year and not those years, but I recognize that's kind of a silly answer because of our defense.

But, the answer is somewhat yes - I would prefer an offense where you're somewhat confident that your running back and run-blocking line can extend the drive when you're ahead. I prefer successfully milking the clock up two scores, rather than going up three scores. I like run to set up pass and play action setting up a downfield passing game. In short, what the Broncos offense will hopefully look like when they get their offensive line squared away a bit better.

And despite all the talk about Manning's legacy being secured, I have to admit I still really do harbor beliefs that the Tom Moore offense's effectiveness falls off precipitously against tough opponents. Moreso than other offensive schemes. That's definitely not Manning's fault, though. (I believe Gase's offense with Manning was basically a Tom Moore offshoot.)

by theslothook :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 6:43pm

My closest friends have this view, ultimately believing the best offensive strategy involves running a vintage style denver/kc offense.

Here I would take the pains to point out, those manning led offenses produced some of the most fantastic scoring totals in league history. Do they underperform in the playoffs? Yes, but then so does everyone's offense. Carolina was hardly a wide open passing attack that got stomped.

by ramirez :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 2:32am

I appreciate you responding to me, and I"m not insulted. The point I think you're missing is, is that your entire post operates on the assumption that Manning deserves to rank ahead of Brady all time. I don't believe that. I think Brady deserves to rank ahead of Manning. And I don't believe that because I'm a shameless Brady homer, or because I'm crazy or don't understand football, or because I'm counting rings. I genuinely believe it, with no less conviction than you have for your beliefs. There are rational arguments for both players. As I've posted about elsewhere in this forum, I believe Manning and Brady are far closer in regular season statistics than many people realize. I also believe Brady has produced a bit more value in the playoffs.

I think a lot of people's positions on this issue are colored by the fact that once upon a time, in about 2003, Manning was far ahead of Brady statistically. But Brady has improved a lot since then, and has continued to win at a historic rate. I'm also not as impressed by Manning's career records for yards and TDs (because they're largely a product of longevity) and his many awards (because they're popularity contests, and I'm not convinced Manning deserved those awards in 2008 and 2009, for example). A lot of people present their case for Manning as though he's in some whole different stratosphere, statistically, from other QBs. And I just don't think that's true. I also find many, though not all, of the arguments made on Manning's behalf to be unconvincing.

by tunesmith :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 6:59pm

To clarify, no, I don't believe that Manning deserves to rank ahead of Brady all time. I also don't believe that Brady deserves to rank ahead of Manning all time. I seriously don't care. More than that, I think it's kind of unknowable, because it's impossible to extricate Brady's quality "in a vacuum" from the success of the Patriots' approach overall (see Matt Cassell). It's a little easier with Manning, but you need to be able to do both to really make a determination.

I also think the entire discussion is completely silly because it puts the cart before the horse. A group of fans cannot, by definition, agree on one quarterback being better than another, if they don't agree on ranking methodology first. And people can't even agree on that.

Besides, I think Elway is GOAT, because helicopter. :-)

by theslothook :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 8:21pm

On that last comment - Sage has him beat and beat handily!

by nat :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:08pm

Well, people usually talk about Peyton's playoffs in terms of W-L record and offensive performance together. It would be silly to look at either one without considering the other.

14-13 and 2-2 in the Super Bowl is about as close to average in the W-L category as you can get. But, hey, you have to consider how the offense did, too. Maybe he played far above average despite the average W-L results?

It turns out his offenses were mediocre when it counted, too. Check out his playoff drive stats and especially his playoff red zone stats (drive finishing stats and passing stats).

In the red zone, he's got a 82.3 passer rating. That's not bad. It's about average.

As for his offenses, they were below average in scoring TDs from the red zone, above average in scoring field goals, and overall below average at scoring points. (Source: Drive Finder at pro-football-reference.com)

You don't get to dismiss either side of the argument. Mediocre play in the red zone yields mediocre results in the win column. There's nothing unjust about pointing that out. It's how football works.

It's agreed that the topic here is Manning. But for comparison, since you mention him, Brady has a 96 red zone rating in the playoffs. His offense is well above average in scoring red zone TDs and red zone points in general. And, of course, we all know the result in terms of winning in the playoffs. Strong red zone QB play and offensive production yields a strong winning record.

Don't focus on the wins. Don't ignore them, either. Look at the QB and his offense and whether their play is consistent with the W-L record.

Literally the only charge left against Peyton was that his team didn't win enough in the postseason.
Nope. The "charge" is that he managed only average play in the playoffs, and that his average play is a major reason his teams got average results in the W-L record.

by t.d. :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:19pm

man. boston sports fans are craaaaaaaaaaaaaazy

by hscer :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:19pm

You neglected to mention that New England weather decreases Brady's effectiveness by 60%.

by ramirez :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:47pm

See what the Manning people come up with when they have no argument? Boston fans are crazy, and it's the cold weather! They're beaten, and they know it. Thanks for providing the red zone stats, a very stark illustration of the difference between Brady and Manning in the postseason.

by hscer :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:51pm

I'm referring to nat's tendency to explain away the eerily similar postseason stats by referring to weather without even putting a supposed number on the effect, even though Brady now has the same ANY/A in the playoffs as Steve Young, let alone Peyton Manning. It's something called sarcasm. But that's okay. I'm glad you decide to respond to *this*

May I ask again, what are Manning's two best seasons?

by The Ninjalectual :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:56pm

Wait why are you even talking about Rom Brady? Did he play yesterday? I'm almost certain he didn't throw a single pass for either team. How is this supposed to be relevant? I'm confused.

by t.d. :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:04pm


by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:16pm

I don't think there is much question - and I'm not sure they would question - that Manning has been a better quarterback throughout their respective careers. Brady's accomplishments and in particular his postseason accomplishments have been more impressive because he has played for the most competent organization the league has ever seen.

Manning played for a team without a defense (and in particular a run defense) for a lot of his career. The 2009 Colts may have been the least talented Super Bowl team of that decade. The 2010 Colts absolutely were the least talented (apart from quarterback) playoff team of any decade. Manning went 18 of 26 for 9 yards per attempt with no turnovers against the #1 pass defense in the league... and lost.

I don't have an opinion about whether he should retire; that's up to him, and his potential employers.

But he doesn't have anything left to prove. The only thing he could do now is push his counting stats out of reach of the younger quarterbacks benefiting from the pass-wacky '10's.

by Independent George :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:23pm

Here's a hint: when the opposite side consists of fans of multiple teams with no particular rooting interest in the teams discussed, while your side consists entirely of fans of your own team, you might want to consider the possibility that you're the one being unreasonable here.

It happens to the best of us, but you're really stretching the limits here.

by Joshua Northey :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 3:50pm

I am a Vikings fan 5%, and 95% a sports atheist who doesn't care about teams at all, just good football, and the NE fans on this website just regularly make complete idiots of themselves in the comments.

We get it you think Tom Brady is Jesus. Now go away and let the adults have a conversation.

AT this point the main thing hurting Brady's legacy is his fans.

by t.d. :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 2:31am

Its funny, before I found this website, I loved Tom Brady, Bill Belicheck, and the Pats. What's not to love? One of the greatest runs in football history, without question, the post-9/11 Cinderella championship, the phenomenal, innovative game-planning. And yet the fans here make me despise them. I swear, between booing Ted Williams, using racial slurs against Bill Russell, and now their crazy hatred for Peyton Manning, there must be something in the water up there

by RickD :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 5:52pm

I doubt anybody who booed Ted Williams or used racial slurs against Bill Russell is much of a factor these days. Anybody who remembers Russell play is his 50s at least, and Williams retired a decade earlier.

The emnity with Peyton Manning derives from the fact that he came into the NFL as a pre-packaged great and the media hype machine have never let up in telling us how much "class" he has. Some people actually wanted to vote for him as Super bowl MVP on Sunday!

In any case, it seems a bit nutty to tie together events separated by 50 years or more to somehow smear an entire region. Patriots fans don't like Manning. Broncos fans don't like Brady. Broncos fans booed Brady during the Super Bowl. Are you calling them crazy?

Fans boo the leaders of rival teams. That's nothing new. But I will say that when Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter retired, they got huge ovations in Boston. So did Kobe Bryant. Peyton Manning will probably get a big hand the next time he shows up, even though it probably won't be as a player.

by anotherpatsfan :: Thu, 02/11/2016 - 2:15am

Wow. Hyperbole much? You've seen a lot of booing of Williams and slurring of Russell? Nor have I. None of the behaviors you describe are typical of the average living Boston fan IMO. My guess is pretty much every Boston fan under age 65 thinks of Russell as the greatest defensive center ever who won a shit-ton of championships and thinks of Ted Williams as the greatest hitter who ever lived -- and he was a hero to boot, a guy who gave up 5 prime years of his career (and earnings)to serve in harm's way in WWII and Korea.

Here is an example of how Boston regarded Williams in 1999: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fku5SkZq6tI

So after booing Williams and slurring Russell, did Boston fans lay in wait to unleash hate on Manning 30 years later? Really not sure anyone here hates Manning (he is one of the GOAT if not THE GOAT); as is the case with the Manning fans, the more strident Brady backers may just like their guy better, which invariably leads to comparisons, which leads to irrational threads...

by theslothook :: Thu, 02/11/2016 - 4:20am

Much of my early hatred for Brady was because of the fans. As I've watched more, I appreciate tom brady's greatness and admitted to several people in my company(we have a boston branch) - if you want to argue brady is the best qb of all time, its a legitimate argument.

by mehllageman56 :: Thu, 02/11/2016 - 2:43pm

I used to loathe Brady, but it was all due to the Pats being a roadblock to the Jets, and trickled down from my hatred of Belichick. It started melting away a couple of years ago, when it became obvious the Rex Ryan Jets were falling apart, and new villains sprung up with even more reason to be hated (Pittsburgh). I started respecting Brady since a 2003 game, where the Jets sacked him 4 times in the first half, and he still led the Pats to a win.

by t.d. :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 2:33am


by Bright Blue Shorts :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:27pm

I'm not sure 14-13 is "average" in the playoffs.

Because the losses are the end of your season, it's not like the regular season where you'd then play another game to try and balance matters up.

I'm not sure what average would actually look like in the playoffs.

by jonsilver :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:09pm


by Bobman :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:15pm

As a generic W-L record, 14-13 looks average. But two things skew that interpretation. #1, that's 27 freakin' playoff games and 4 SBs. That ain't average.

#2 And of course, when 16 teams enter the playoffs, fifteen end with a loss--15 are GUARANTEED A LOSS, while only one wins out. That's what makes it so special.

Without getting into the higher math of it, because I am not qualified, what is the average record of all playoff teams? Well, 4 of them go 0-1 guaranteed wild card weekend. The next week, four lose and that can all be 1-1 records if home teams win, or 0-1 records if the home teams lose. That's possibly 0-8 for 8 teams and 2-0 for four teams. You can see how the losses stack up.

To simplify things, assume the home team wins all the time; here's how the records stack up after the SB: 4 WC teams are 01, 6 teams are 1-1, 1 #1 seed goes 2-1 and loses in the SB and one team goes 3-0. While all the wins and losses equal each other, the distribution is not bell shaped--1/4 of the field is winless. Half the field is "average" at 1-1, and only one team is undefeated. FOUR TIMES AS MANY TEAMS GO WINLESS than the number of teams that go undeafeated. Despite the middle 6 that go 1-1, that's somewhat unbalanced.

Further adding to the weirdness, what if the two best teams are in the same conference? I think we can agree this happens every so often--making the second best team in football "merely average" with a 1-1 playoff record.... That is hardly logical or honest.

Similarly, in a one-and-done tournament, the best team or hottest team will end up 3-0, while the second best team might well go 0-1, or an "average" 1-1. You can see how that disparity and small sample size is not exactly mathematically fair.

Tony Dungy claimed that the 05 Colts were his best team yet their playoff record was 0-1. I guess that large statistical sample makes the worst team ever.

I'll go one step farther--HFA is a pretty big deal here, especially if you look at the Brady/Manning AFCCGs, in which Manning has a 3-1 edge (last three in a row) all with home field. Two of those three, if played in Foxboro, probably would have turned the other way, and the first one in NE might have been different if it was in Indy.

But maybe that just means Brady sucks as an AFCCG QB (vs Manning teams, at least) while Manning is gold and that idiotic narrative is flipped in the SB with Brady posting a 4-2 record and Manning being merely average at 2-2.

by tunesmith :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 3:42am

On the other hand, a team can pile up multiple wins in the playoffs, but are limited to only one loss. So the greater likelihood of a loss (and elimination) is balanced out by the greater amount of wins that can be gathered. In any playoff season, there is an equal number of wins and losses.

by deus01 :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:28pm

If you assumed you had a 50% chance to win each game you would expect to have a losing playoff record due to the losses ending the season.

You can just work out the expected win/loss record as you step through the playoff tree.

by Pat :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:38pm

This is an interesting thought experiment.

Let's make it a bit simpler. Let's just look at Super Bowls, where Manning is 2-2. There have been 50 Super Bowls, so 100 starting opportunities, and 50 win opportunities.

First consider the multiple Super Bowl appearance players, since I can find a list of those guys easily on Wikipedia. :)

1 player has 6 total appearances and 4 total wins.
1 player has 5 total appearances and 2 total wins.
5 players have 20 total appearances (4 each) and 12 total wins.
5 players have 15 total appearances (3 each) and 8 total wins.
8 players have 16 total appearances (2 each) and 10 total wins.

So the 20 "multiple appearance" players have 62/100 starting opportunities, and 36/50 win opportunities. That means there are 38 "single appearance" quarterbacks, with 14 wins (and therefore 24 people with no wins). Total of 58 starting QBs.


The distribution of number of Super Bowl appearances then is, starting from 1: 38, 8, 5, 5, 1, 1. The average number of Super Bowl appearances for a QB in the Super Bowl is 1.72. The mode and median are both 1.

So Peyton (with 4) is clearly above the average, mode, and median in terms of number of appearances.


Of the multiple Super Bowl appearing QBs, 3 have no wins, joining the 24. 5 have 1 win, joining the 14. 8 have 2 wins, 1 has 3 wins, and 3 have 4 wins. So the distribution of Super Bowl wins, for a QB in the Super Bowl, is then, starting from 0: 27, 19, 8, 1, 3. So the average number of Super Bowl wins for a QB in the Super Bowl is 0.862. Mode is 0, median is 1.

So Peyton (with 2) is clearly above average, mode, and median in terms of number of wins.

-- WINNING PERCENTAGE (note: this one is stupid) --

6 of the multiple QBs have perfect records, joining the 14. So 20 players have a record of 100%. As mentioned before, 27 have a winning percentage of 0%. 1 has a winning percentage of 33%. 1 has a winning percentage of 40%. 6 have a winning percentage of 50%. And 3 have a winning percentage of 67%.

The average winning percentage is therefore 44.37%. Mode is 0. Median is 45.

So Peyton (at 50%) is above average, mode, and median in terms of winning percentage.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:49pm

Personally I'd be happy to accept that going 2-2 in SBs is an average record.

But you seem to have disproved that!!

by Pat :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 3:08pm

Just don't expect me to do the same with the playoffs. That'd be a pain in the neck. :)

It's actually interesting if you look at that data a bit: first, "multiple SB QBs" actually dominate the number of appearances. Not what I would've guessed. I would've expected that if you get to a Super Bowl, you're very unlikely to get back - not "34% get to a second Super Bowl."

Second, if you restrict yourself to *just* QBs who have shown up in multiple SBs, things change a little. Now the average winning percentage is 58.7%, and Manning becomes a "below average multiple Super Bowl QB." But so does Roger Staubach, and if Brady would get to another Super Bowl and lose, he'd be a "below average multiple Super Bowl QB" too.

Manning's still above average for number of wins, though: average number of wins for QBs with multiple Super Bowl starts is just 1.8.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 5:01pm

I may have missed something. How can the average winning percentage of all Super Bowl quarterbacks be less than 50%? Maybe I'm the sci-fi supercomputer that blows up when told that 2+2=5, but that doesn't make sense, does it?

Wait, I think I see it. You're weighting individuals equally, and therefore de-emphasizing players with multiple appearances. I don' think that makes sense either, as a means of evaluating players with multiple appearances, but oh well.

(Not meant to be a jerky comment, just working my way through it.)

by Eddo :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 5:08pm

I think he's doing that so as to see the distribution of QBs and their winning percentage.

by Pat :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 5:45pm

I may have missed something. How can the average winning percentage of all Super Bowl quarterbacks be less than 50%?

It's because the "multiple Super Bowl" quarterbacks won more than the "single Super Bowl" quarterbacks.

Which is actually somewhat interesting, and obviously what you'd expect: players who get to multiple Super Bowls are the ones who tend to win them.

Wait, I think I see it. You're weighting individuals equally

Right, exactly. It's not a "makes sense" or "doesn't make sense" thing. It's not even "de-emphasizing" anything. It's really simple. Take a list of all quarterbacks who have appeared in a Super Bowl. Take a list of all of their Super Bowl winning percentages. Average it. What do you get? 44%.

I never claimed it made sense as a way of evaluating anything (In fact, I don't believe it does). It's just the answer to "is Manning's 50% record above or below average?" It's above average.

by turbohappy :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:53pm

Add in PM getting a lot of byes as well, which complicates the math. For a constant DVOA, I would assume getting a bye hurts your playoff W-L (even though it helps your chances of getting the the CG).

by tunesmith :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 3:35am

Let's see.

First, in any round of playoffs, there will be an equal number of wins and losses. That's plain to see after considering for a moment. So whether over one season or many seasons, the average really will be .500.

So really we are talking about clustering. Yes, in any given playoffs, there will be only one undefeated team. All others will experience one loss; many of them 0-1.

So the question is, over many seasons, would we see the median record be significantly different than .500?

Well I just coded up a quick model that mimics our playoff structure, where seeds 3-6 play an extra game, and the median playoff record was exactly .500 for 100 years. Ensuing runs varied a little bit - sometimes 34-34, sometimes 33-35.5, sometimes 35.5-33, but still always around .500.

So, the answer appears to be that any clustering of playoff records above or below .500 has entirely to do with factors other than the playoff structure themselves. Seeding of drafts, a high quality team having a higher chance of making the playoffs the following season, home field advantage, etc.

So yes, 14-13 is just above average for teams that make the playoffs. And that's probably a roughly good record for the overall quality level of teams, coaches, and front offices that Manning has been a part of.

Still probably doesn't have much of a bearing on the overall quality level of any one particular player, though.

by Pat :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 12:18pm

Well, as much as I appreciate a back-of-the-envelope guess, I prefer to measure things. So I did! Thanks to PFR, of course.

From 1999-2015, the average QB playoff winning percentage is 32%. To specify, I took all playoff games in which a QB threw 10+ passes, and then attempted to weed out backups who came in as injury replacements. There are obviously edge effects here (Troy Aikman ends up with a 0% winning percentage) but there are probably more 'edge effects' from unfinished careers. You can't specify "QB who started the game," unfortunately. I might've missed one or two.

I actually doubt the long-term average will be much off from this - going back will improve some guys' records, like Aikman, but it will include lots more crap. I tried to actually go from the Super Bowl era but that's just too much of a mess.

Why is it so much lower than 50%? Because bad quarterbacks lose games and don't get back to the playoffs. So otherwise good teams, with bad quarterbacks, tend to show up in the playoffs repeatedly with different quarterbacks... and lose. Which pulls the whole average down, because the good QBs will hover around 50%.

Minnesota, for instance, has been in the playoffs a fair number of times over that span (9 games?) but they've had 6 different QBs, and unsurprisingly 3 of those guys went 0-1. So if you just look at Minnesota alone, they had a 4-6 QB (Favre, with multiple teams), a 2-2 QB (Culpepper), a 1-1 QB (George), and then 3 0-1 QBs. So you've got 0.4, 0.5, 0.5, 0, 0, 0, which gives you an average of 23%.

by nat :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 12:26pm

I checked, using the wikipedia article on starting QB playoff records.

215 different QBs have started playoffs games. Their aggregate record is 526-526, for an average record of 2.44-2.44. 50% wins, naturally. That's the quick and correct answer: the average winning percentage is 50%. 14-13 is a little better than that.

There is some clustering, as we would expect. Consequently, the median winning percentage among all QBs who have ever had a playoff game is 40%, not 50%. That ignores the likelihood of each QB to be in a playoff game, so take it with a grain of salt.

You can go farther, and continue to ignore the fact that playoff games are designed to feature the better players/teams by eliminating the weaker teams early, and just average the winning percentages as if all QBs who ever played a playoff game played the same number of games. That average is 35%. It's not a real average of wins and losses. But it's something.

The biggest issue with this approach is that it treats Peyton Manning as being no more representative of a playoff QB than Ryan Lindley or Matt Cassel. That's bogus, of course. Manning, Brady, Favre, Montana, and Elway account for more than 10% of all QB playoff starts in history. Just 40 QBs account for half of all playoff starts. That's the peer group we should probably be comparing to when we look at notable playoff careers. They win 59.5% of their playoff games, including any games they played each other in.

I also did look at the median record for a single playoff season, at least since Peyton has been in the playoffs. Not surprisingly, the median record is 1-1. Each year at least 4 teams go 0-1. But the teams with byes generally win, so having 6 or more teams go 0-1 is somewhat uncommon.

I hope that helps you get a picture of "average" in the playoffs. Joe Schmo quarterback who squeaks into the playoffs is going to lose a lot. But the QBs who make up most of the starts tend to win a lot. Overall, average is 50% winning, and 1-1 is par for the course in any one playoff season. But overall there are more Joe Schmos than Joe Montanas in the mix by far.

Let me conclude by reminding people that W-L records are just a part of the picture. They are the ultimate "Success" criteria, but just the first step in evaluating a QB's playoff career. 14-13 is a tiny bit above average for all QBs in playoff winning percentage, and below the average for the set of QBs who dominate playoff history, there's no denying that. But we really need to look beyond that to things like offensive drive stats to get a complete picture of a QB's playoff career.

by Pat :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 1:04pm

That's the quick and correct answer: the average winning percentage is 50%. 14-13 is a little better than that.

Mathematically, that's wrong. That's not the average winning percentage. That's the aggregate winning percentage. You might say this is being pedantic, but every other thing that we compare players with is really using averages, and gets affected with the same biases. Apples to apples and all.

It's like asking "what's the average number of wins a starting quarterback in the NFL had last year?" It's not 8. It's going to be less than 8, because on average, quarterbacks don't start 16 games. People try to simplify the game too much sometimes.

You can go farther, and continue to ignore the fact that playoff games are designed to feature the better players/teams by eliminating the weaker teams early, and just average the winning percentages as if all QBs who ever played a playoff game played the same number of games. That average is 35%. It's not a real average of wins and losses. But it's something.

That, mathematically, is the real average of winning percentages. And it's pretty consistent, surprisingly, assuming you went back over all the NFL. When I looked from just 1999-2015, you get about the same answer: ~33% or so.

Which is interesting. Numbers don't generally remain stable over time without a reason. Hmm.

But there's absolutely no getting around the fact that 14/27 is significantly above the "average" NFL playoff quarterback winning percentage. The 50% mark is meaningless as a benchmark for an individual.

Aggregate quantities, by definition, don't quantify a distribution at all because they eliminate any variation in the distribution.

The biggest issue with this approach is that it treats Peyton Manning as being no more representative of a playoff QB than Ryan Lindley or Matt Cassel.

Right, exactly. It is worth noting, however, that now you're saying that Manning is "about average" (14/27 isn't significantly below 59% considering counting statistics) among basically the top QBs of all time in terms of playoff performance.

So saying "he's about average in the playoffs among his peers" isn't actually a criticism.

by nat :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 4:06pm

I think you're mostly wrong in your points. For instance, we would never get the league average completion percentage by weighting Peyton Manning the same as a WR who threw and completed one pass, treating them as if they threw the same number of passes. We'd add up the attempts, add up the completions, and divide to get the league average completion percentage for the season. That WR would contribute one attempt and one completion to the average. That's the way league averages are computed. Really. You'd be nuts to do it any other way. Ditto for playoff winning percentages.

What you get right is that by averaging the way I do, I am comparing people more to the QBs who you would expect to be in the playoffs: the better QBs start more playoff games, and so contribute more games won (and lost) to the average. That sets the bar as "Average level of QB play you would expect to encounter" rather than "Level of play you would expect if QBs were forced to retire after one playoff game".

Let's agree to disagree about whether that's important.

Saying Peyton's about average for his wider peer group (all starts weighted equally) isn't a criticism. It just says he's not bad but nothing very special in winning playoff starts compared to the other QBs who we see in the playoffs. That puts him well above the average NFL QB, since most QBs miss the playoffs in any year.

Interesting, among those 40 QBs who make up a full half of all playoff starts? 27 of them have better winning percentages than Manning. That puts him in the bottom third of that historic peer group, the playoff icons. That remains true even if you think his 14-13 record is above average in some other sense.

The real playoff stars (by this measure - they play enough to be part of the 40 iconic playoff QBs who dominate playoff starts and they won twice as often as they lost) are these, ordered by number of playoff games played:

Brady (31 games, most played)
Montana (23)
Elway (21, 66.67%, edge of this criteria)
Bradshaw (19)
Aikman (15)
Flacco (15, 66.67%, edge of this criteria)
Warner (13)
Manning, Eli (11)
Starr (10, highest playoff win percentage at 90%)
Plunkett (10)
Wilson (10)
Unitas (8, edge of this criteria)
Theismann (8, edge of this criteria)

There are 15 others with winning records, but less than a 2-1 W-L ratio. Manning has the lowest winning percentage of this group, narrowly beating out...

...the 5 with 50% wins, and 7 with losing records, most famously Dan Marino. All fine or even great QBs, but none of whom we would consider a notable playoff success over his career. (Sorry Marino fans. 8-10 isn't a notable playoff success for a career)

Again: Winning percentages are just a first step. These are the QBs who set the bar for sustained career playoff success. You'd have to look at offensive stats (drive stats, passing stats, even running stats), accounting for era, stadium type, and other factors to get a more nuanced look at their role in that success.

by Eddo :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 4:50pm

"For instance, we would never get the league average completion percentage by weighting Peyton Manning the same as a WR who threw and completed one pass, treating them as if they threw the same number of passes."

Correct, but Pat's not looking for the league average; he's looking for the average quarterback's percentage.

by Pat :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 11:47pm

We'd add up the attempts, add up the completions, and divide to get the league average completion percentage for the season.

Again, that would be the aggregate completion percentage. It'd be asking "how often do passes in the NFL get completed?" Not "what's the average completion percentage of a person in the NFL?" Those are two different questions.

Most stats deal with the small-statistics problem by setting a minimum cutoff. Which you could do here, as well.

Although you could ask which do you cut on: minimum 10 starts in the playoffs, minimum 0.5 starts/year in the playoffs, or minimum 8 seasons in the playoffs?

I would be inclined to say that the last is the right number. That would eliminate a *lot* of improper comparisons, like Joe Flacco or Eli Manning.

It just says he's not bad but nothing very special in winning playoff starts compared to the other QBs who we see in the playoffs.

The problem here is that you're just being way too generic: saying "other QBs who we see in the playoffs" makes it sound as if you're comparing Manning to Joe Webb, or some other guy who's started a grand total of 1 playoff game.

You're comparing him to the 40 QBs who have started the most playoff games. That's not "other QBs who we see in the playoffs."

That puts him in the bottom third of that historic peer group, the playoff icons. That remains true even if you think his 14-13 record is above average in some other sense.
The real playoff stars (by this measure - they play enough to be part of the 40 iconic playoff QBs who dominate playoff starts and they won twice as often as they lost)

Well, the other problem here is of course the small statistics problem. 10/15 isn't really statistically different from 14/27.

Then, of course, the problem is here:

These are the QBs who set the bar for sustained career playoff success.

I don't think you can call it "sustained career playoff success." The problem is that if you win the Super Bowl twice, you could go 1-and-done for 3-4 years before you dip below that bar.

Brady's actually a good example there, in that before 2014, the narrative was starting to be that Brady was *failing* in the playoffs. Which was, of course, total garbage, but hey, his playoff winning percentage from 2001-2004 was 100%, and from 2005-2013, it's 60%.

Plus, seriously, you're going to say that Eli Manning belongs in the set of people who have set the bar for "sustained career playoff success"? Really?

by nat :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 11:51am

Wow. You'd disqualify Joe Flacco when looking at successful playoff careers?!?

That's true desperation.

Peyton's managed to win a playoff game in just 6 of 17 seasons. Joe Flacco has a playoff win in 6 of 8 seasons. He's one of a very small number of QBs with more playoff wins than seasons played. His playoff career is much more consistently successful than Peyton's career.

Eli's a better point for that definition of consistency. But repeat Super Bowl wins four years apart is not to be sneezed at. 8 playoff games won in 12 seasons isn't all that bad, either. Peyton had 9 at the same point in his career, and only one Super Bowl win.

Really, if you think it's somehow unfair to include Eli Manning and Joe Flacco in a review of great playoff careers, you're just stacking the deck. Neither one of them is one of my favorites for regular season play, and I have personal doubts about their maintaining that level of play, but they're both in the top 20 in all history
for number of playoff games started and have done quite well in those games.

by Pat :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 12:58pm

"He's one of a very small number of QBs with more playoff wins than seasons played."

And that's because it's small statistics. The vast majority of players who have more playoff wins than seasons played lose that status. Eli Manning was practically there in 2007. Obviously not anymore. Rodgers was there. Not anymore. That's the only reason I'd exclude Flacco, because the sample size is too short.

But that's because I think it's probably better to look at seasons, rather than games, because the number of games you get in a season is variable, whereas everyone gets at most 1 season/year.

But probably even more importantly than that, if you have 1 or 2 great seasons, that means you were probably on great teams. If you end up in the playoffs for 8+ seasons over a career, that means you were the one making the team great.

"Really, if you think it's somehow unfair to include Eli Manning and Joe Flacco in a review of great playoff careers, you're just stacking the deck."

I don't agree. Suppose Eli Manning never gets to another playoff game. Ditto for Joe Flacco. They both play, I dunno, 5-10 more years, and neither of them plays another playoff game. How do we rank that then? Eli, especially, had 2 Super Bowl seasons, and a bunch of 1-and-dones. Does that really compare to consistent playoff appearances practically every year?

Aaron Rodgers is another good example. Excluding his first 3 seasons when he wasn't starting, by 2010 people were talking about him being the best quarterback in the league. The Next Great QB. Since then, he's 3/8 in playoff games, and now you'd rank him as "mediocre," compared to Eli, even though Rodgers has been in the playoffs every year since 2009, and Eli hasn't been there in 4 years.

Putting a cut on "you have to make the playoff X number of years" at least makes sure that you're selecting elite quarterbacks, and not just quarterbacks on elite teams.

Really, I think in the modern era, there's really only 1 quarterback that I would say stands out from the rest in terms of playoff success, and that's Brady (which I think has *everything* to do with Belichick). Everyone else basically looks the same, with small sample size fluctuations.

by eagle97a :: Thu, 02/11/2016 - 4:18am

I totally agree with using drive stats (success rate, execution etc.) in the eval process. And I would add that a WP component would also be very helpful in evaluating playoff careers. With that said sample sizes are the big issue here and would really limit the evals to qbs with at least 10 playoff starts. In my very amateurish view there is no way to correct for that. In fact I advocate that drive stats should be used in reg. season evals as well. I'm a very huge proponent of using a drive stats based analysis with WP as a factor to quantify a qbs performance. And here the charting that FO does and PFF as well will really be helpful. I'm in the camp that PM performed well in the playoffs as a function of his contributions in playing that many PO games and his performance in the reg. season which put his teams into the playoffs. As for more detailed granular analysis I'm waiting for that somebody to put all of that data together and give us that "magic" stat.

by RickD :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 5:58pm

14-13 is as close to "average" as a QB can get in terms of playoff record, conditioned on having played 27 games.

Proof left to the reader.

As for "games played", the "average" playoff QB plays in 1.8333 games per season in the playoffs. As the number of playoff teams increases, this value will increase towards (but never reaching) 2. At least as long as the NFL runs a single-elimination tournament.

by Independent George :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 3:25pm

Does anybody else here get nat and Pat mixed-up in the comments?

by Joshua Northey :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 3:54pm

No Pat is the smarter one.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 4:11pm

Definitely not. One of them usually has something intelligent and worth reading to say, and the other is nat.

by Grendel13G :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 5:48pm

I just did!

It reminds me of this one:

Knott and Schott were in a duel. Knott was shot and Schott was not. It was better to be Schott than Knott.

by stanbrown :: Fri, 03/11/2016 - 5:24pm


by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:33pm

Nobody has ever tried to discredit Brady.

Only the notion that Brady was better, circa 2005, because of RINGS, which were, at the time, the only things that could be used to "justify"that discussion and preposterous conclusion.

Now that Manning has won one because of a superior roster, lots of people are having fun pointing that out. The same people that pointed to Super Bowl titles through 2007 are now saying "Oh, well his second one doesn't count because they won it with defense."

To some extent I do understand that it's natural to always overreact to a perceived slight - that sometimes to defend Manning it's sort of necessary to discredit Brady; and that those who support Brady and overdo the anti-Manning rhetoric likewise perceive Manning fans as over-defensive or overly attacking, even when they're not.

Etc etc.

Anyway, I don't think anyone here - sane or otherwise - is actually saying "Manning is better now because of this." (If some looney WaPo narrative writer did, that's not our fault. Journalists are stupid and we should all know this.) Only that winning despite being that depleted a QB simply means that rings aren't a good way to judge.

by anotherpatsfan :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:59pm

Manning was Dilfer 2.0 yesterday.

Over his career, he is one of -if not the - GOAT. IMO, that status doesn't really change after yesterday, although the Denver victory definitely improved media perception about his GOAT status. Which is fine, because he has been an historically great QB.

I find "nobody has ever tried to discredit Brady" to be a bit inconsistent with what happens in comments here, but YMMV. Personally,I don't need Brady to be "better" than Manning - Brady also an all time great and as a fan I've really enjoyed the ride.

No fan of either player is ever going to look at any argument made here and say "you got me, the other guy is better." The only way to win the irrational thread game is not to play...

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:36pm

Excellent post. Agree with all of it.

I will say (and this is an entirely different discussion) that I think the difference is that Dilfer was just that guy, while I still view the Bronco offense and game plan and playcalling to have been like handcuffs. I think that had they been aggressive enough to want to put that game away in the first half, Manning could have done more. Not like a 75% 375 3/0 10YPA shredding, but more like 20-32 for 240 or thereabouts. But it was their goal to make him Dilfer, and it worked out for them.

by hscer :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:42pm

I think it's possible, but I posted his third down numbers elsewhere, and they were bad. He was actually okay on 1st and 2nd down. On 3rd down he had more turnovers than first downs.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:53pm

Yeah, though to my eyes a lot of those plays were doomed from the start... whether it was due to being failed completions/route designs (the 3rd and short one he tossed in the backfield to a guy without a prayer comes to mind as a terrible design) or failed runs on 1st and 2nd down.

Please don't think I'm trying to say he could've carried the team to a win; I just think that the same people in say, the Gase offense instead of a Kubiak, would've looked a hell of a lot better. And while Dilfering it was sufficient for that game and the two before it, it's not something that one should ever actually aspire to be, or do deliberately.

by Bobman :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:24pm

Nicely said, anotherpatsfan. Your access code for the irrational Peytom Branning thread has been terminated, of course, but well done and I couldn't agree more.

One thing I will add to Manning's credit yesterday that will not show up on the stat sheets--and Ninjalectual brought this up in the game discussion yesterday--how many high level FA players signed with the Broncos because Manning was there and they wanted a chance at a title?

With no Manning, do they sign Ward, Talib, and Ware in last two years, all of whom contributed mightily to that impressive defensive win? (Talib a little less so, cough cough.) Maybe... but probably not.

That is to say, Manning had a big positive effect even when not on the field. As a Colt fan I am glad to see that happening with Luck now, such as Andre Johnson and Frank Gore saying they signed for a chance to get a ring (if only they can take advantage of it, dammit).

Brady and Belichick get that as well, with guys like Moss, Dillon, Seau, etc deciding that they'd rather compete for a ring for a change. I've seen some Internet silliness about JJ Watt signing there someday and it would be for the same reason.

I guess the cliché there is success breeds success.

by t.d. :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 2:46am

...and Revis and Browner (or, the only reason Brady has had a ring post-2004)

by RickD :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 6:00pm

There's a reason this was called the "Irrational Brady/Manning thread".

In any case, it's clear that Manning is inferior, because he's a Poopy Head, while Brady is the Greatest American Hero.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 6:01pm

Well, how does him being a poopy head jive with fellow Pats fan Mr. Andrew Healy calling him 'The Admired Man'? Because that I need to know....

by doktarr :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:05pm

You question whether I like football??? What does that even mean?

Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time - basically any analysis of the numbers will get you to that conclusion. Manning is the GOAT, as most reasonable analyses of the numbers will tell you.

Brady has more rings because he played for the greatest coach of his generation and was generally on better teams than Manning was, plus some random breaks went his way in the playoffs slightly more often than they did for manning. It's a team sport with fairly random results sometimes, but hey, the uncertainty is part of what makes it fun to watch. (I actually like watching football!)

Yes, Manning was carried by his defense to this title. Brady rode defense-first teams to titles in 2001 and 2003. It's OK, sometimes that's how it works.

by ramirez :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:58pm

Here we go again. Almost everything you just wrote is either wrong or controversial.

"Manning is the GOAT, as most reasonable analyses of the numbers will tell you"

What stat analysis would that be? Please enlighten me, because I've looked at the stats, and I don't see that at all. Manning may be ahead of guys like Brady, Brees, Rodgers, and Montana, but it's close.

"Yes, Manning was carried by his defense to this title. Brady rode defense-first teams to titles in 2001 and 2003. It's OK, sometimes that's how it works".

Manning was carried to both of his SB wins by defense, though he was much better against the Bears. But are you sure that's true of Brady? In SB 36, Brady's defense blew a 14 pt lead in the 4th, and Brady produced the game winning drive in the final minute. In SB 38, Brady produced 18 4th quarter points and his defense gave up a bunch of points in the 4th. Again, Brady produced a GW drive in the final minute. How is that being "carried" to a SB win?

just because a guy has a good defense, doesn't mean he was carried to the win by that defense. As the other post in this forum shows, that discusses red zone stats in the playoffs, Brady has outperformed Manning in the playoffs, and his teams have put more points on the board. That's why Brady has more rings and SB appearances than Manning.

by The Ninjalectual :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:11pm

I like how you deny that Manning has the best stats of all time, then you admit that he actually is ahead of every other possible contender for GOAT, before you hand-wave it away because his best-of-all-time stats aren't the bestest-of-all-timeyist enough for you. (Sure he's the best ever. BARELY. Why should that count? 1 std deviation or GTFO!)

Honestly, isn't your gripe that people dismiss Brady unfairly, when all you're doing,is dismissing Manning unfairly? How does your brain work?

by deus01 :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:14pm

Manning had a (barely) higher playoff DVOA than Brady before this game. That kind of shoots down the argument that Brady has outplayed Manning in the playoffs.

If you're going to criticize people for cherry picking you should at least try to be aware when you do it yourself.

by doktarr :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:59pm

What stats say Manning is the GOAT?

PFR's weighted AV

Those are really about the only "achievement above baseline" career stats that are easy to find, so I consider them the gold standard. He's #1 in all of them by pretty large margins. Brady is #2 in weighted AV, FWIW.

As far as counting stats, you've got most game winning drives, most comebacks, most TDs and yards. Favre is ahead in completions.

As far as pure rate stats, Rodgers and Steve Young come out slightly ahead of Manning in ANYA+ and Rate+, although Manning wins NYA+ because his sack totals are so low. To some extent, both of them "benefit" from abbreviated careers without as many stats compiled in off-peak years (although Rodgers could still add those, obviously).

I don't see career DVOA anywhere, but I suspect the story is similar.


As far as carrying teams places, again, the case is quite simple. Literally every team of Manning's career until this year got more value out of the offense than they did out of defense and special teams. That was not true of either the 2001 or 2003 Patriots.

This is the part where you start complaining about supporting casts, despite the fact that with/without stats for their teams and for free agents doesn't support the idea that Manning had better teammates on offense.

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 4:12pm

Brady's average regular season game (everything but TDs/ints rounded)
22/35 for 258, 1.9 TDs, 0.7 ints

Manning's average regular season game
23/35 for 271, 2.0 TDs, 0.9 ints

Not seeing much of a difference here, aside from the 41 extra games played.

Brady's average playoff game
24/38 for 257, 1.8 TDs, 0.9 ints

Manning's average playoff game
24/38 for 271, 1.5 TDs, 0.9 ints

It should be pointed out that Manning's numbers benefit from 4 extra wild card opponents and 6 extra indoor games.

"This is the part where you start complaining about supporting casts, despite the fact that with/without stats for their teams and for free agents doesn't support the idea that Manning had better teammates on offense."

Considering the numbers above, this isn't even necessary. The numbers are virtually identical with Manning having a trivial edge in YPA and Brady maintaining a consistent edge in TD/INT ratio. It should also be pointed out that, for all its flaws, Brady has a higher passer rating outdoors *and* indoors. The latter despite most of Manning's being home games and most of Brady's being on the road. Manning's numbers just get an extra bump due to having significantly more dome games on his resume.

I must admit, though, to finding it odd that anyone would claim Brady had similar weaponry around him throughout their careers. Even the most ardent Manning apologists concede this fact, they just point out Brady's more rounded teams and better coaching, along with some cherry picked luck.

The long and short is this: there are plenty of numbers to support a case for Manning... but pretending it is a slam dunk is as inaccurate as any argument you might object to.

by hscer :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 4:21pm

That extra completion for 13 yards every game looks pretty useful, but more to the point, if you ignore sacks you are going to miss Manning's biggest advantage over Brady. Brady would have to drop back 4653 times without getting sacked to match Manning's career sack rate.

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 4:26pm

"That extra completion for 13 yards every game looks pretty useful"

Not nearly as valuable as Brady's 0.2 fewer picks, but if you want sacks numbers here you go.

1.8 sacks for 11 lost yards and 0.1 fumbles

1.1 sacks for 7 lost yards and 0.1 fumbles

by hscer :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 4:35pm

Wait, was that an effort to say Brady doesn't take significantly more sacks?

Making fumbles look equal is a neat trick too. Brady has 102 on 8,698 passes+runs+sacks and Manning has 77 on 10,114 plays. Brady will need to go 3284 plays without a fumble to match that rate.

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 4:54pm

"Wait, was that an effort to say Brady doesn't take significantly more sacks?"

It's an effort to post the actual data.

"Making fumbles look equal is a neat trick too."

The numbers were taken directly off NFL.com. They can be mistaken sometimes, so if you think they are wrong feel free to link to the correct numbers.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 4:39pm

Notice how I started the comments with no desire to fan the flaims of the irrational thread. And yet, because of trolls, its gone back in that direction. And not by any Manning fan boy taking pot shots at tom brady. Everytime I read Nat and Ramirez now, I think of Gore Vidal, "It is not enough that I should succeed but others must fail!"

To hear them discuss it, manning has always been a glorified game manager and put up pretty numbers against soft teams with no defenses while Brady was forced to hurl lasers through an eternal snowstorm against the 85 bears. And come postseason, we see what Manning really is - a choking loser who only wins when the other team screws up. And Brady, forced carry the handweight of lousy receivers and a poor o line through the finish line with aplomb.

Yep - that pretty much sums up their argument, doesn it?

by deus01 :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 4:52pm

I love this description of the argument.

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 4:55pm

I don't see why. It bears zero resemblance to even the most irrational pro-Brady argument.

by The Ninjalectual :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:14pm

I don't think zero means what you think it means. It was an intentional hyperbole, to emphasize the ridiculousness of said arguments. So you see, it bears a significant resemblance to what peopke are saying, it's simply exaggerated, since makingnthe same point with subtlety has proved to be inefficacious.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 4:55pm

Chase stuart put in some era adjustments to the stats along with av style calculations. Manning really came out ahead statistically. Once you adjust for depth of target and things like expected Yac, Manning really starts to take the lead. The yac issue still seems to generate a ton of controversy, so we may need more years to really suss its true meaning out.

That said, in the minds of most people - the two are close that choosing one over the other(given the sheer heights of their careers); is a lot of hair splitting.

It gets back to who the best qb is: There really isn't a single answer because no one team or style is the same. How does one compare Elway and Montana when neither played in the same system.

by Independent George :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 5:00pm

Heck, I'm not even willing to pick between Montana and Young, and they played for the same team/system.

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 5:18pm

"its almost always irrational pats fans who come out and deminish Manning for Brady. I think most of the readers here would agree."

I find the opposite to be true (edit: just look at doktarr's posts for an example). From my experience every number that supports Manning can be taken at face value and every number that supports Brady must be contextualized.

The biggest offense Pats fans make is placing too much emphasis on win/loss record. As I've pointed out in the past, though, there are reasons to not fully absolve Manning on this issue.

So, no, there is no disparity between the rationality of Manning supporters and Brady supporters. Both sides have the reasoned folk and both sides have some who bring out the worst in others. :)

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 5:27pm

Fair enough. I have had some great debates with pats fans that were totally rational, with good reasoned arguments(that in itself is a sign that the two are so equally matched). I guess the irrational fans really do ruin it.

For the record - I think Manning is better, but I can understand the argument the other way.

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 5:34pm

I have no objection to preferring Manning. My beef is with those who think it is a slam dunk.

by eagle97a :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 4:26am

If you followed Chase Stuarts' GQBOAT series thru the years it continually evolved and he tried factoring in SOS, weather, playoff performance adjustments etc. but he has expressed dissatisfaction at several points on how to account for all the variables involved. The last iteration came about after the 2013 season and the other posts about the series afterwards was a sort of wisdom of the crowds exercise done by one of the guest writers. I'm really interested in seeing the latest iteration which will include the last 2 seasons. I'm pretty sure Chase or some other guest writer will come up with something this off-season since that series started circa 2006 from the original pfr blog and has come out semi-regularly every 2 years.

by doktarr :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 5:03pm

As I said, most reasonable looks at the numbers tell you Manning is the GOAT. That's why I looked at the broad-based, most respected statistical measures we have.

Your response was to take a qualitative look at some per-game averages, and then try to cherry pick some splits. If that's your response I think it speaks for itself.

As for offensive weapons, complaining about Brady's support is so 2006. It's a decade now that he's had rather elite offensive weaponry, including one of the two greatest receivers of all time and the greatest tight end of all time, plus tons of great possession receivers. Additionally, the line play has been very consistently good through the majority of Brady's career, even if this year was an exception. Manning has overcome some qualitatively horrific lines - most obviously 2010 but plenty of other times too.

All in all, I think Brady is one of the three or four best QBs of all time, depending on how you're valuing career vs. peak and how much credit you give/take away for the environment he played in. It's not like I think the guy is bad, but if you put him over Manning you're either kind of playing tricks with stats, or just playing "count the ringzzz".

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 5:19pm

"Your response was to take a qualitative look at some per-game averages, and then try to cherry pick some splits."

Posting the actual numbers is cherry picking? What QB-centric data do you think I'm excluding?

"As for offensive weapons, complaining about Brady's support is so 2006."

Manning has never had a season with the dearth of receiving weapons Brady faced in 2013. Brady did get Moss... for one great season and one good one. Gronk is amazing, no doubt, and there is no question that he is more suited to Brady's game than a "deep threat" would be. That said, Gronk has also missed substantial time due to injuries, far more than any of Manning's top options have. You also overlook the point that, when looking at career numbers you must account for the entire career. I'd be happy to just look at Tom's 2007 numbers on vs. Manning if you think that is a fairer approach.

"you're either kind of playing tricks with stats"

Once again, pointing out that their per game numbers are remarkably similar is "playing tricks"? Or pointing out that Brady has superior numbers in domes despite a dramatic home/away advantage for Manning in that category is "playing tricks"?

It it hypocrisy at it's finest that you can say such drivel while accusing others of being disingenuous.

by doktarr :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 6:06pm

Yeah, it's playing tricks. The numbers still looked better for Manning even though you left out sacks and other things that help him. Again, the farther you step back, the more obvious the case is, which is why I was looking at career long advanced stats.

I mean, really, we're on the FO website here. Do I really have to explain that looking at career DYAR or career DVOA is more meaningful than taking some per game averages of a few selected passing stats and then saying "eh, they look kind of similar"?

When I referred to cherry picking, it was when you started doing split breakdowns, which is just silly. OMG, Brady's 18 game indoor sample is so meaningful compared to the 500 games we have to look at! I'll have you know that Brady can't take the heat like Manning - Manning's passer rating when the temperature at game start is over 80 degrees is 10 points higher than Brady's! Clearly this is the measure of the man!

Stop it. We're on an advanced stat site here. Take a step back and use the best tools available.

I don't believe you're being disingenuous. I think you have a legitimate blind spot and don't realize that you are starting with your conclusions and finding the numbers to support it, when the right approach is to decide what the important numbers are and then see what they say.

by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 2:33pm

"When I referred to cherry picking, it was when you started doing split breakdowns, which is just silly. OMG, Brady's 18 game indoor sample is so meaningful compared to the 500 games we have to look at! I'll have you know that Brady can't take the heat like Manning - Manning's passer rating when the temperature at game start is over 80 degrees is 10 points higher than Brady's! Clearly this is the measure of the man!"

The fact you feel a sample that specifically isolates non-home games for Brady and mostly home games for Manning is worth mockery indicates how unwilling you are to discuss this rationally.

"The numbers still looked better for Manning even though you left out sacks and other things that help him."

Sacks were added as soon as it was pointed out. The numbers only look better if you value 13 extra yards over a lower TD/INT ratio.

Distilling things down to per game averages (or per season, if you prefer, I really don't care either way) is incredibly useful because it corrects for Manning's additional time. I hate to repeat myself, but you not understanding this once again demonstrates are lack of rationality on your part.

"Do I really have to explain that looking at career DYAR or career DVOA is more meaningful than taking some per game averages of a few selected passing stats"

A few "selected passing stats"? If you think there are more stats than att/comp/yards (from which we can extrapolate comp% and ypa) TDs, ints and sacks, feel free to post them.

As for DYAR, no it is not useful since it is a counting stat and Manning has more time. DVOA is and I am fine with someone using that in the discussion. You seem to want to pretend that it is the only figure that has any relevance as well as discount Manning's additional games in a pass friendly environment and better receiving corps.

This is precisely what I mean when I said before that any data that favors Manning can be taken at face value and any data that supports Brady must be contextualized. Before you accuse others of unsound reasoning, you really need to look in the mirror first.

by doktarr :: Thu, 02/11/2016 - 4:05pm

"The fact you feel a sample that specifically isolates non-home games for Brady and mostly home games for Manning is worth mockery indicates how unwilling you are to discuss this rationally."

Of course it's worthy of ridicule. It's an 18 game sample for Brady! That's guaranteed to be a wildly high-variance measure, especially when it's smeared out over a 15 year career. The difference between them in that measure can be accounted by one good or bad game. And of course, this is a measure that doesn't account for opponent's strength.

I'd be much more interested in studies that tried to tease out the effect of domes on player numbers by looking at several league-wide full seasons of data, as opposed to assuming that Brady's 18 dome games tell us how Brady would have played if he had had a dome all the time.

"Sacks were added as soon as it was pointed out. The numbers only look better if you value 13 extra yards over a lower TD/INT ratio."

And fewer sacks. And again, no adjustment for opponents in those stats. This is a very weak measure to look at. And the rounding to the nearest decimal point bleached out quite a bit. There's no real meaningful way to look at those lines and actually figure anything out. You see what you want to see.

Between Manning and a terrible QB, sure, it's going to be obvious. But when comparing Manning to the second or third best QB of all time? Those numbers are just too close to see anything meaningful with a comparison like that. It's just not a useful exercise.

"Distilling things down to per game averages (or per season, if you prefer, I really don't care either way) is incredibly useful because it corrects for Manning's additional time. I hate to repeat myself, but you not understanding this once again demonstrates are lack of rationality on your part."

You don't hate to repeat yourself at all about this, apparently. This is evinced by how you repeat it despite the many times I've mentioned stats that are not counting stats.

I have repeatedly pointed out that Manning has a higher DVOA, higher ANYA, higher AV/season, higher weighted AV (which is basically apples to apples since the credit for Manning's additional seasons in weighted AV is almost negligible), higher ANYA+, etc. I've gone over the best efficiency stats repeatedly. I've repeatedly mentioned Aaron Rodgers and Steve Young, since they (not Brady) are the only players who come out ahead of Manning by any of these stats. No Rodgers or Young backers are trolling this thread, but I've argued that both of them basically missed the pre-peak and post-peak portions of their careers (although Rodgers could still have the latter of course).

(And FWIW, others pointed out that Manning had a higher playoff DVOA than Brady, at least before this season.)

This is why I deride trying to look qualitatively at some low sample size splits, or at per-game averages where we don't have any rigorous way of telling the difference. It's not a useful tool to figure anything out. Rather, it's just a weapon to use if you want to make your point and you feel like constructing something to help you.

"As for DYAR, no it is not useful since it is a counting stat and Manning has more time."

DYAR is counting above a baseline, which is not the same as a pure counting stat. I've said many times that I consider value above baseline to be the best way to measure a career; if we disagree on that then that's fine, but that's where I fall. At any rate, Manning has more DYAR/game, too.

"DVOA is and I am fine with someone using that in the discussion. You seem to want to pretend that it is the only figure that has any relevance"

Except for all the other efficiency stats I've mentioned, sure. Additionally Chase Stuart's alltime QB ranking stat (which I mentioned earlier) can easily be decomposed into a per-season stat as well. Manning would come out ahead there, too.

"As well as discount Manning's additional games in a pass friendly environment and better receiving corps."

I dispute that his receiver corps over the course of his career is better by nearly as much as people often want to say. Most of Manning's elite receivers stopped looking elite without him. There are exceptions, but then, he's never had a receiver like Moss or Gronk.

Additionally, Brady has had much better offensive line play on average, and better coaching/game planning support. If we're going to talk about the environment around the player that led to the stats, it's not like we can ignore that one player has played for 5 coaches, and the other has played for the greatest coach of this era.

by t.d. :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 2:59am

Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez beg to differ. I said it elsewhere, but taking that 2009 roster and Caldwell to 14-0 and then the Super Bowl was unfathomable

by bmay :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 10:09am

I wish more of those no-name Colts receivers played for different teams so we could see how they performed when Manning wasn't throwing to them. Some left the game due to injuries, but my hunch is that a lot just weren't that good...

by doktarr :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 12:51pm

Yeah, the lack of "natural experiments" can be frustrating. And honestly, disentangling an offense and giving proper credit to the parts is probably the most important unsolved problem in football analytics. "Air Yards" are a big piece of it, but only a piece. (Note how PFR's AV stat sometimes gives the "best player on the team" title for a team with an explosive offense to one of the O-linemen. I mean... maybe Mankins was the best player on the 2009 and 2013 Patriots, but I kind of doubt it. I'm not saying this to indict AV, really, just saying that that stat has no clue how to divvy up the credit.)

Still, you can look at the Colts numbers in 2010 vs. 2011 (yikes!). 2012 can be thrown in as a sanity check, although the roster turned over significantly that offseason (understandably). You have to account for Painter being more replacement level than league average. Still, the drop-off is astounding, and really it was not surprising to those who had been arguing for years that Manning was covering for a mediocre offensive line and only a couple notable skill players.

The Patriots with/without comparison is easier, as you have Brady playing on both ends of his missing season, and Cassel was closer to a league average QB than a replacement level QB. Comparing 2008 to some average of 2007 and 2009 does give a decent snapshot of the talent on that roster. It was considerable.

You can also look at individual players in other places. Wes Welker is an obvious one since he played with both of them. He was obviously on the decline by the time NE got rid of him, but he had one good year in Denver before he really lost his speed. His DVOA was higher in 2013 than 2012, although he was more prolific in NE so his DYAR was higher there.

All in all, most skill position guys that played on either team produced very little when playing for another team. Randy Moss, Pierre Garcon, and Corey Dillon are the only exceptions that come to mind.

by RickD :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 6:04pm

I was going to say Garcon has done just fine as the Redskins' #2 WR.

Collie was driven from the game because of concussion issues. Else he would have had a longer career.

Anthony Gonzalez was a bust for the Colts, so it's not like we can pretend Manning made him better. In any case, IIRC, Reggie Wayne himself was still on those teams, a fact that always seems to disappear in this part of the discussion. If I get to ignore Randy Moss, I can pretend that Pats had really terrible receivers during those years.

by theslothook :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 6:50pm

One thing the patriots have seemingly always had is a reliable receiving back. Somehow, the rest of the league missed the memo of just how useful such players are in a passing offense.

by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 2:16pm

"Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez beg to differ."

As do Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and Pierre Garcon. I suspect most receiving corps look lousy when you omit the top three options.

by theslothook :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 2:32pm

I think we can agree - Manning has had better weapons for most of his career. But none of his weapons were in the realm of quality that is gronk or moss. It may seem like I'm saying this purely to discredit brady, but I truly believe neither moss nor gronk can be guarded on defense when both are trying/healthy.

Lost in that afc champ loss was the herculean effort gronk(and brady) made to get them with a chance to win.

by hscer :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 3:26pm

I was looking at Brady and Manning's receiver splits the other day, now possible at PFR. Brady has a 126.9 rating and 11.05 AY/A in 572 targets to Gronk, which is insane, bonkers, wild, etc. Gronk is by far the best target either QB has had. The next-best combos are Manning-Decker (117/9.96/256 targets) and Brady-Moss (112.9/9.76/320 targets), and then rating and AY/A start to disagree.

Manning did get to throw over 2,700 passes to Harrison and Wayne, but wasn't as efficient to them as he was to Decker, Thomas or--believe it or not--Stokley. Another interesting finding was 22-29 year old Troy Brown doing better with 21-28 year old Bledsoe (94.2/8.08/215 targets) than 30-35 year old Troy Brown (89.7/6.74/486 targets) did with 24-29 year old Brady.

by Tom Landrys Hat :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 4:35pm

Curious where those splits are I went looking for them and couldn't find them that is stuff I'd love to look at!

I'd also say that the fact that the 34 and 35 YO Troy Brown was still one of Brady's top targets says more about the other receivers than anything else he really couldn't get separation by that point.

by hscer :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 4:42pm

Click Pass Plays on any player page and it will take you to a link like this from their Play Finder (best used after 1998): http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/W/WaynRe00/receiving-plays...

Over half of Brown's targets from Brady came in 2001 and 2002, but he was the #3 option after Caldwell and Watson in 2006. Wow.

by Tom Landrys Hat :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 4:51pm

Thanks, that's good stuff

by bmay :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 4:37pm
by hscer :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 4:44pm

I think I have.

by doktarr :: Fri, 02/12/2016 - 12:58pm

I suspect the "true" talent level for Harrison and Wayne is about on par with guys like Herman Moore or Roddy White. Which is to say, they were both definitely very solid receivers. But Harrison never puts up those insane catch totals or sniffs the hall if he's not playing with Manning.

Really interesting idea to use those tools to isolate specific receiver combos. Nice work. Gronk is just unbelievable. Notable that the two big plays of the Pats final drive in the championship game were both "screw it, he's double covered but I'll throw to Gronk anyway" plays. I couldn't believe people were trying to argue that Edelman is more important.

As I've said a few times now, disentangling the QB from the rest of the offense is really the hardest part of this whole exercise. Despite the protestations otherwise, the case for Manning over Brady on the stats alone is really pretty clear (or at least, as clear as we could reasonably expect when comparing two QBs that are both indisputable all-time greats). It's only if you think that Brady deserves more credit for carrying worse receivers (or for playing more outdoor games) that it gets murky.*

The best tools we have are looking at what players and teams have done when they didn't have Brady/Manning. There's also stuff like "Air Yards", but it's still a work in progress. Over time we'll probably eventually develop better stats for measuring o-line play. My guess is that eventually we'll have something like NBA sportVU, and we'll start to get stats on things like blitz pickup percentage, and passer rating when the QB has X seconds with Y blockers. But right now, it's really mostly qualitative analysis and the "eye test", which means nobody can really point to something as proof of anything.

* Or if you want to bring up postseason results, I guess, but that's another can of worms. The folly of judging QBs by postseason results should have been clear for a while, but the results of this year really lay it bare for all to see.

by eagle97a :: Thu, 02/11/2016 - 5:11am

I agree that Moss and Gronk are transcendent and at a minimum demands double teams as a standard defense. But the question is would you choose having 1 transcendent receiver/TE with average receiver/s or 2 or more good to very good receivers which can defeat their one-on-one coverage more than half of the time regularly? Its a question of allocating defensive resources since doubling the elite talent will necessitate single coverage for the others and IMO scheming and executing a game plan against multiple very good receivers is a lot harder than accounting for one elite talent. This argument doesn't apply to the 2007 Pats since their #3 receiver Stallworth can be a legitimate #1 in other teams. But the 2009 Pats show that taking out Moss and Welker and being disciplined against the run will shutdown any GOAT level qb and GOAT level coach as they found out in that seasons playoffs. And yes I agree that the incredible last drive showed that an elite TE and elite qb isn't enough to win specially facing very good teams.

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 02/11/2016 - 11:48am

Welker wasn't in those playoffs

by eagle97a :: Thu, 02/11/2016 - 8:22pm

My bad I totally forgot that that Wes was injured the last game of the season. I think this observation was said by BB during one of the coaches meeting during the reg season and teams were doing that to them during the course of the season.

by Eddo :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 5:06pm

"Not seeing much of a difference here, aside from the 41 extra games played."

That's two and a half extra seasons' worth of games! That's a lot - it's over 18% of the career games (225) played by Brady!

Being just as good at a per-game value despite playing 18% more games is pretty valuable.

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 5:21pm

Yes, and it also means Manning's edge in accumulation stats must be discounted since Brady appears to still have those 40 games left in him. You can't play one card without playing the other.

by JIPanick :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 5:48pm

"Brady appears to still have those 40 games left in him."

Wait, what? Given his age and the usual point at which HoF QBs hit an age wall, Brady will be lucky if he has half that many games left.

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 5:58pm

If it were a 4-5 season gap I'd be pessimistic as well. Since it is only two seasons, I think it is no worse than 50/50 that Brady throws for something like 4,000 yards, 30 TDs and 12 picks in 2017.

That is actually about a 5-10% reduction from what he's done the past three years, two of which included significant injury issues to the OL and receiver positions.

by LyleNM :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 6:06pm

Two years ago, Peyton Manning had what some might call a pretty good season. When the cliff came, it was pretty steep. I would definitely bet the under on your projections.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 6:15pm

He will be 39 by the time he plays another real game. Favre had one his best seasons in the year he began at age 39. He was gone when the season began where he was 40. Manning was great until about 38 years, 8 months, and then he really wasn't good, all of a sudden.

I think there will be very little middle ground. He'll look normally great, and then, all of a sudden, it'll be over. I have no idea what odds to put on what month that will occur.

by deus01 :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 6:21pm

I really think it depends on injuries as you get older since they take longer to recover from and have more of an impact on your mechanics. If you're able to get through a season relatively injury free then the likelihood of having another good season I think goes up. Brady obviously took a beating in the AFCCG so Pats fans will have to hope that he won't have any nagging injuries carry over to next year.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 6:31pm

People forget but half way through the 2014 season, Manning was the lead mvp candidate. The second half decline(which pretty much continued into this season); was so rapid it felt like it happened overnight. Will is right, the decline can be so dramatic, there's almost no middle ground. Favre and now Manning are exhibit 1 and 1a. I don't think Brees is far behind and we don't really know when it will happen to Brady.

Either way, I think NE needs to start transitioning towards a run style approach. Another season of 400 + attempts plus the accompanying hits will eventually tire that arm out.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 6:31pm

People forget but half way through the 2014 season, Manning was the lead mvp candidate. The second half decline(which pretty much continued into this season); was so rapid it felt like it happened overnight. Will is right, the decline can be so dramatic, there's almost no middle ground. Favre and now Manning are exhibit 1 and 1a. I don't think Brees is far behind and we don't really know when it will happen to Brady.

Either way, I think NE needs to start transitioning towards a run style approach. Another season of 400 + attempts plus the accompanying hits will eventually tire that arm out.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 6:15pm

He will be 39 by the time he plays another real game. Favre had one his best seasons in the year he began at age 39. He was gone when the season began where he was 40. Manning was great until about 38 years, 8 months, and then he really wasn't good, all of a sudden.

I think there will be very little middle ground. He'll look normally great, and then, all of a sudden, it'll be over. I have no idea what odds to put on what month that will occur.

by ramirez :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 1:20am

Just wanted to give you a pat on the back, anon ymous. I've had many opportunities to debate this question, and I find that many of Manning's advocates are rude and sarcastic when confronted with facts they don't like. Manning and Brady are very close overall, but I don't understand the argument that Manning is significantly ahead of Brady. It's not 2003 anymore. You've done a good job of deflecting and responding to the other guys' attempts to discredit your arguments.

by RickD :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 6:22pm

I think it's clear that Brady is in better physical shape now than Manning was four years ago. When considering career trajectories, we should restrict our focus on players who have reached the same place. Jim Kelly was done at the age of 36. Marino started declining at 36 and was done at 38.

Tom Brady just finished his year 38 season and got MVP consideration. Clearly he's got better longevity than even the average Hall of Fame QB. He's even on a better arc than Favre was. Of course, he's throwing the ball a lot more than Favre did, so we need to be careful.

Brady says he wants to play 5 more years. My gut feeling is that 2 more years at a high level is realistic - anything more would be well into "unprecedented". Favre played at a very high level in his 40-year (his 2nd to last season, his first in Minnesota). I don't think it's unrealistic to think Brady can play at that level.

No, his arm is not as strong as Favre's, but on the other hand he's always been a better decision-maker.

I'm not counting on Brady to equal Manning's regular season numbers (though Brees might well do so). But he owns a ton of post-season records already.

Not sure where this thread is supposed to go. This seems like an unanswerable question. Life doesn't always make things that are easily comparable. Manning's had a great career and I applaud him for that. I'm going to be loyal to Brady but I'm not stupid when it comes to Manning. He's still the QB that scares me the most. He hasn't had a bad game versus the Patriots since Ty Law left, and I cannot think of any other QB (with a reasonably large number of games - sorry NFC greats Brees and Rodgers) that meets that standard.

I will cheer when he retires just like I cheered when Mariano Rivera retired - in both cases there are two things going on there.

by LyleNM :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 6:45pm

"Unrealistic?" No, it's not unrealistic. But it's also not the way to bet either.

by theslothook :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 6:47pm

Manning was the mid season mvp one season ago. Then it all came apart. Favre in 2009 was fantastic. One season later he was washed up. I'm not predicting that for Brady next year, but age dropoff feels like something you just don't see coming.

by t.d. :: Thu, 02/11/2016 - 12:19am

Last year, Manning still had great stats, was probably the mvp favorite at midseason, and led his team to a bye, but it seemed like his play fell off at midseason. Brady had the same season this year as Manning did last year

by Will Allen :: Thu, 02/11/2016 - 12:38am

The quality of throws that Brady made in the 4th quarter 18 days ago, after getting the snot beat out of him, would give me some confidence going into next year. Then again Favre really played extremely well in his last conference fonal, while getting brutalized, and was never the same again.

by t.d. :: Thu, 02/11/2016 - 1:15am

well, the big edge Brady has had over other recent great quarterbacks, belicheck, isn't going anywhere, and gronk's still around. i don't think brady's about to fall off a cliff (and if he did, belicheck would pull him), but, as you say, favre and manning were great until they weren't, and the effective strategy against old quarterbacks (and young ones, for that matter) is to beat the hell out of them

by ramirez :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 1:09am

I find a lot of these analytics people insufferable. They just KNOW they're so much smarter than you, and they never let any facts get in the way of believing that.

I questioned the notion that Manning is significantly ahead of people like Brady, Brees, Rodgers, and Montana statistically. I'm glad you brought up PFR's AV stat. Since Brady became a starter in 2001, Manning has an AV value of 224, Brady 223. Brady is also ahead of Manning for career weighted AV per game played. How does that suggest to you that Manning has Brady dominated? Because it suggests that they're almost equal to me. Here are the career leaders in ANYPA+ since 1970, which is adjusted for era, with 100 representing league average.

Young 123
Montana 121
Rodgers 121
Staubach 121
Manning 120
Marino 119
Brady 117

Brees is at 115. By passer rating+ it's even closer, with Manning at 118 and Brady at 117. And these numbers don't adjust for the fact that Manning has played far more dome games than Brady, has played less often in cold weather, and has been surrounded by elite backs and receivers almost his entire career. When you factor those things in, I see very little difference between Manning, Brady, Montana, and Brees. And it's clear to me that Brady has produced more value than Manning in the playoffs, with better numbers beyond the wild card round, and much better numbers in the Super Bowl. Brady has also produced more WPA than Manning in the playoffs, both in total and per game.

Stop trying to tell me that Manning is way ahead of Brady for regular season stats, because he isn't.

by theslothook :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 1:51am

I apologize for the length of this response.

Manning's career started in 1998, not 2001 and ignoring that leaves off several good years, including a year he led the league dvoa and dyar.

Some of the statistical attempts to look over Manning's career mostly come out with him leading the nfl pack. Here I'm referring to work done by 538, chase stuart, and FO - which attempt some corrections like weather, field position, opponents, etc etc. I'm not going to debate the specifics with you or which site should be trusted over the other. You can read them and decide for yourself.

All of this all beside the point anyways. I think most people agree that the two are very close and if you want to argue they are, like other sane pats fans do, those are legitimate points. If you want to argue brady maybe slightly ahead within the context of supporting casts, dome, etc etc - that's fine as well. There are plenty of statistical reasons why you might.

If you want to argue the playoffs are a referendum on the true character of the two players(something both you and Nat began with in the comment section when no one else even mentioned tom brady's name); that's when people start to roll their eyes.

Its been shown repeatedly, here, 538, the old pfr blog and others that the playoffs are a terrible way to assess things. Even Neil Payne, a patriots fan and writer at 538, has said as much to pats fans. The reasons why aren't complicated. Its a one and done format. Great players have poor games. Random stuff happens. SOmetimes your top defense doesn't show up. Sometimes your o line has a meltdown at the wrong time. Sometimes your qb just didn't play well on that particular day. I'm basically describing the problems of small sample size.

Every season, elite qbs have bad days. We don't remember them that much because they have the next week and the week after to show us why they are great players. If said qb happens to have that bad day in the playoffs - that's bad timing and probably a really good opponent, not some vague idea about inner fortitude.

Arguing brady is as good as manning or slightly better is fine. Bringing up nonsense like omitting wild card games or looking at performances in the sb(especially when at this stage, manning is a clearly inferior player) is a waste of time.

Lastly - it would also help if you were a bit more respectful in the comment section. I doubt I'm the only one who feels this way. I've engaged with a lot of the regular posters, including pats fans. We agree a lot of times, sometimes we really disagree. But never do I assume they are all in the tank and just out to bash my favorite team. Sometimes it really is just a difference of opinion in a very complicated, hard to tease out sport.

by ramirez :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 2:15am

Thank you for a well articulated response. I think we agree that whichever you rate higher, Brady and Manning are very close overall. However, I do think Brady has been better than Manning in the playoffs, and I think when evaluating players' careers, it's reasonable to use that as a significant part of the wider equation. Actually, I'd go further, and say that it makes no sense to me to treat postseason results like they don't matter. A big part of the case for Montana as the best of all time is his strong performance in the playoffs, and especially in Super Bowls, and I think that's appropriate.

Let me provide some stats that illustrate what I mean. Brady's stats are better than Manning's when you eliminate wild card games. I point this out not because wild card games don't count, but because it is a strong indicator of why Brady has advanced deeper into the playoffs more frequently than Manning. As for SB performance, I think that has to be included, because the goal for any contending team is to win the title. If we agree that Brady and Manning are close statistically in both the regular season and playoffs, is it unreasonable to use SB stats as a tiebreaker? I don't think it is.

Here are the numbers.

Brady, in 6 SB games: 95.3 passer rating, 6.19 adj net yds per att, and an 86.6 real qb rating, which includes sacks, rushing stats, and fumbles lost

Manning, in 4 SB games: 77.4 passer rating, 4.88 adj net yds per att and a 65.5 real qb rating.

But it's also the situations. Brady has produced 9 4th quarter scoring drive in Super Bowls, and each of his games went down to the wire. Manning has just one 4th quarter scoring drive in a SB, and that was in SB 50, after the Denver defense gave him the ball just 4 yards from the end zone. I'm sorry, but I just don't see those resumes as the same.

At the end of the day, I think most people would choose Brady's career over Manning's. But yes, they're both great players, and rather than fighting over who is better (I'm as guilty of this as anyone), we should probably just appreciate that they got to share the stage for so long.

by doktarr :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 1:28pm

Yes, it's unreasonable to use that for a tie-breaker, for two reasons:

1) While Brady is an all-time great with fantastic stats and is close to Manning by many measures, the very large majority of unbiased statistical analyses of their numbers do not call it a tie. They call it Manning #1 and Brady somewhere in the top 5 but not #1.

2) If it were a tie, SB performance or whatever is still fraught with the problems of small sample size and opponent adjustment.

Of course most people (myself included) would choose Brady's career over Manning's: he's got 4 rings and a decent shot at a 5th. But that's exactly the sort of post hoc, narrative-driven, results-oriented "analysis" that I go to this website to avoid.

by eagle97a :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 8:43pm

"The very large majority of unbiased statistical analyses of their numbers do not call it a tie." Operative words are "unbiased" and "tie". Whose to say these analyses are really unbiased? And I'm not saying personal biases, what I'm saying is unintentional biases by accounting only for PASSING performance and not qb performance in general. One of the other comments here mentioned the WP added by TB and PM during their playoff runs and TB came out ahead. I don't need to praise EP and WP since AFAIK these measures are one of the few stats that account for the running game and controlling the clock which is part of a qbs performance as well. And most efficiency stats call it a wash between the 2 for most passing stats by standard statistical measures both reg. season PO. PM is ahead of volume stats obviously because of more games played. I have hammered on this point before but I will again; PASSING performance is just one part of QB performance.

by doktarr :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 2:35pm

"One of the other comments here mentioned the WP added by TB and PM during their playoff runs and TB came out ahead. "

I haven't seen this, but it would be interesting to see. Of course, sample sizes are a huge issue for playoff stats, as others have said. If you are talking about raw WP, and not WP/game, then there's an obvious bias there, as Brady is literally the only QB in history with more playoff starts than Manning.

Here's an interesting WP added analysis of their respective playoff careers:


"And most efficiency stats call it a wash between the 2 for most passing stats by standard statistical measures"

Again, this is just not the case. Manning is ahead in career numbers for basically every major category, even if we're just looking at efficiency and not volume. He is ahead of Brady in DVOA, Rating, NYA, ANYA, ANYA+, average AV, etc. About the only guys ahead of Manning in any of these stats are Rodgers and Steve Young, both of whom didn't play early in their careers and kind of jumped in at their primes. When you look at counting stats, obviously Manning is ahead on basically everything except a handful that Farve managed to hold on to.

As I said a while back, the gold standard stats for me are value added above a baseline. DYAR, AV (or weighted AV if you want to discount longevity a bit), etc. Manning is #1 all time in every one of these stats. Brady, again, is an all-time great, but not #1.

Chase Stuart's methodology seems really really solid to me - better than AV - and has the benefit of going much farther back than DYAR does. Here's his alltime rankings (Manning #1, Brady #2):


"I have hammered on this point before but I will again; PASSING performance is just one part of QB performance."

Totally agree. It's a super hard thing to disentangle though. As I said elsewhere, the best tool we really have is to look at how those teams did without those QBs.

The Pats had the #4 rushing offense (15.3% DVOA) in 2008.
The Colts had the #22 rushing offense (-7.3% DVOA) in 2011.

YMMV, but it seems like the Pats didn't depend on Brady to be effective on the ground.

by eagle97a :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 11:52pm

"Totally agree. It's a super hard thing to disentangle though"

Hard to disentangle but it doesn't mean using all passing efficiency stats you are referring to as a proxy for QB eval. Reason I like WP somewhat is takes into account time remaining ,time-outs etc. One of under rated qb skills is managing the clock. And before you take out the pitchforks and say the coaches are responsible for this consider that the qb controls the huddle, the cadence, the pace and has limited control on the different plays to be run which has different time frames in running them etc. Another advantage for WP is it is agnostic if you score a pass td or rush td while giving credit to fgs as well, same goes for yards.

"As I said elsewhere, the best tool we really have is to look at how those teams did without those QBs.

The Pats had the #4 rushing offense (15.3% DVOA) in 2008.
The Colts had the #22 rushing offense (-7.3% DVOA) in 2011.

YMMV, but it seems like the Pats didn't depend on Brady to be effective on the ground."

Forgive me using those years as some sort of neutral measure for the 2 qbs is absurd. I won't mention the numerous factors that make this very trivial as some sort of yardstick. The different match ups alone really doesn't make this some sort of apples to apples comparison.

As for Chase methodology I actually like it, its just that he himself is dissatisfied with it and is very aware of its numerous limitations and I speculate that its one of the reasons he let the latest GQBOAT iteration be made by a guest writer and became a wisdom of the crowds exercise last year.

I like the way the discussions here have been trending the past few years as I have been visiting for more than a decade and the nuance and understanding is really remarkable but it still bugs me a bit when some people equate passing performance to a measure of qb ability, it isn't though it maybe a significant part it still is a subset of qb performance.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 9:56am

I'm not sure why Brady should be rewarded for not being good enough to be a starter as a rookie (2001 season vs 2000 season), but that aside, if you want to use AV/game, you need to do that post-career. Manning generated 2 AV in 10 games this year, but his age 38 season was nearly identical to Brady's age 38 season.

Which is probably why Favre, Manning, and Brady have such high similarity scores.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 5:03pm

If Manning had the opportunity to play the 2000's Colts teams in the playoffs, he absolutely would have put up more points than he did in our special world.

by clipper :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 1:57pm

I disagree. The argument is always Brady is better because of the rings. Now Manning wins a SB and its about how it was won. Remember that Brady's first SB was pretty lame until the last drive while Manning's SB against NO was terrific EXCEPT one play. If you look at the drive chart for the NO SB, the Colts have FG, TD, Punt (after drop by Garcon on 3rd and 4 that should have been an easy first down), then Punt (after 3 straight rushes). Second half - lose a possession due to Baskett misplay on the onside kick, TD, Missed FG, INT (Porter play), turnover on downs after Wayne drops a pass in the endzone.

So, Manning throws for >330 yards, one INT when he was trying to bring his team back, and one TD. And if you watched that game you realize how much better Manning was then the stats indicated. The Colts punt twice in the first half and the Saints don't punt after the first quarter. This is a loss for Manning even though he played better than most winning SB QBs.

I have heard people refer to this a choke job by Manning.

So, if we are going to talk about the style of performance, then I would say Manning's legacy would only increase due to how he played in some of those losses.

by The Ninjalectual :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:15pm

You maybe could have worded that better. I mentioned this in the game thread, but do you think the Broncos had a chance to build this defense if Peyton wasn't there? Talib, Ward, and Ware all chose to sign with Denver at least partially because (and I would argue mainly because, though it's unprovable) they knew Peyton's team is going to contend for the super bowl, wherever that may be

You shouldn't praise him for his play on the field, but this team wouldn't be nearly as good without his presence there.

by deus01 :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:22pm

I think I recall mentioning that Ware specifically said a big part of the reason he came to Denver was to play on a team with Manning.

Peyton was apparently also the one who suggested they bring Brandon Marshall up from the practice squad which obviously worked out really well (though they likely may have done that eventually anyway).

by Paul R :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 10:22am

Announcer: "The MVP of Super Bowl 34, Kurt Warner."
Crowd: "Yay!"
Announcer: "The MVP of Super Bowl 35, Ray Lewis."
Crowd: "Yay!"
Announcer: "The MVP of Super Bowl 36, Tom Brady."
Crowd: "BOOOO!!"

That's the legacy.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 11:11am

The legacy is that Broncos fans are jerks?

by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:35pm

Huh. Funny, I was thinking that Panthers fans might not be Brady fans either for some reason.

by The Ninjalectual :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:43pm

EDIT: to be fair Deion Branch got booed too, so presumably it wasn't anything personal against Brady, people were booing the Patriots in general.

by ramirez :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 11:38am

Maybe Brady would have more fans if he had rubbed his genitals in a trainer's face, or used HGH to recover from neck surgery. And apparently, being accused of murder helps, too.

by The Ninjalectual :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:28pm

1 The probability that Peyton was actually using HGH is about the same as the probability that Brady intentionally had footballs deflated for some reason last year. That is to say it didn't happen.
2 I have absolutely no clue who you're referring to here
3 Can you show me ONE single fan who roots for a player BECAUSE they were accused of a felony? That's just a dumb claim, and you're posting usi,g emotions at this,point, rather than your head. Calm down and come back this afternoon, maybe?

by Bobman :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:42pm

Wow, this is getting way sillier than the original irrational thread. Almost PFT quality, and I've stopped reading that site because of the bias and stupidity of both writers (MDS excluded) and commenters.

Side note, as a longtime Manning fan, I would not be terribly surprised about the HGH thing. Basically, you are a GOAT quality pro football QB who can't feel your right fingers. You are out of football for the foreseeable future and your career--your very identity for the past two decades--may well be over. But you can grasp at straws ands try this one thing. I think trying that is just human.

And if he did, the smart money would be on him putting it just that way--hey my career was over as things stood, so it was a 50/50 chance anybody would ever care about the HGH. But I tried it and it helped. It's not like I still use it and it enhances my performance--it enabled me to heal before I turned 50 and get back on tot he field while I still had a few more productive years left.

And really, if you take steroids in a year you are out of the NFL to recover from an injury (not get all Barry Bonds physically distorted), then come back next year... I have no real problem with that. Then again, I've always felt that using those drugs to recover (as opposed to add to what you already have physically) was fine. It's the impossibility of policing the issue that makes it al all-or-nothing rule, IMO. ("Hey, I have a doctor's note that says I needed this to recover from a strained ab," says Laron Landry as his 42" biceps knock over a phone booth.)

If a guy is out for a year with an injury and requires a metal rod to be inserted into his bone... is that so different? Using medical science to try to repair something broken so you can play next year? It isn't making you better, just trying to get you back close to where you were before. Thomas Davis did that for the SB and he's lauded as a hero. If he used HGH, Manning didn't suddenly become a superstar because of it. It just enabled him to get back onto the field.

So if he took it to try to regenerate nerve growth, I find that to be wrong per the NFL rules (rules that I don't really agree with) but understandable and human. Did he really do it? He strikes me as a real Eagle Scout, plus the "big talking" pharmacist Sly recanted, so I'd say no, but it would not surprise me.

A lot of guys here find the NFL rules regarding marijuana use silly for similar reasons.

by Independent George :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:45pm

Plus, the Fivehead was already pretty physically distorted to start with...

by MTats :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 3:07pm

RE: HGH use

Let's say the HGH was indeed for his wife who was using it to get pregnant because of fertility issues which led to the birth of their twins that same year. Has anyone worked back the timeline of when the twins were born to when she received the shipment? Note - using HGH also increases the chances of having twins.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 1:20pm

If Peyton's son goes on to have a NFL career (like he & Eli did in following their father) - should his son be busted having been assisted into this lifetime by the use of HGH? ;-)

by Turtle :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 8:36pm

I agree you can't get too upset using when it looked like he probably wouldn't be able to play again.

However, the timing says if he did use HGH, which I believe he did, he got a lot of benefits from it.

He comes off a year without playing and three neck surgeries at the age of 36 to have one of the best years of his career?

He continues at that level for a year and a half more and then his play falls off a serious cliff and he looks old.

Guess what happened a couple weeks before his play nosedived?
The NFL started testing for HGH. It was always illegal, but they finally started testing for it.

by Tom Landrys Hat :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 10:27pm

Is this point about the HGH testing true? If so it is a remarkable coincidence.

by Turtle :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 10:46am

Here is the NFL.com note. By November, Manning was looking 'old' and had obviously lost 5 (or more) mph off his fastball. You might blame injuries, except he went through the off season and looked the same the next year.

NFL will begin testing for human growth hormone on Monday

Published: Oct. 3, 2014 at 09:53 p.m.
Updated: Oct. 4, 2014 at 09:58 p.m.

The NFL will begin testing for human growth hormone on Monday, according to NFL Media's Albert Breer, per a source briefed on the situation.

The league and the NFL Players Association announced an agreement on a new drug policy on Sept. 19 that included HGH testing for the first time ever.

"As you know, the new Performance Enhancing Substances Policy includes HGH testing. Testing for HGH will begin on Monday, October 6th," NFLPA president Eric Winston wrote in a letter to players. "Each week of the season, 5 players on 8 teams will be tested. No testing will occur on game days. We negotiated to ensure that the methodology of testing be conducted in the most professional and safest manner for players. Importantly, after three years of negotiating, players won the right to challenge any aspect of the science behind the HGH isoforms test in an appeal of a positive test."

It also stated that any positive test violations of both substances of abuse and performance enhancing drug policies -- which includes HGH -- will be handled by an independent arbitrator.

by ramirez :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 10:09pm

My post was sarcastic, ninjalectual.

by RickD :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 6:32pm

Two things:

One, the probability that Peyton actually used HGH would seem to be much higher. To believe Peyton, I have to believe his wife used drugs prescribed for her at a time when it might look to the casual outsider that her husband would be much more likely to use them. To think Brady is guilty, I have to suspend everything I know about math and science. The NFL investigation actually proved that nobody had tampered with the footballs. Then a lot of b.s. happened.

Two, the evidence against Peyton is very similar to the nature of the evidence against Brady. Which is to say that there is pretty much none. If Ashley and Peyton stick to their story and the medical records back them up (I'd bet good money that they do) then there's going to be no way to prove that he used HGH that was prescribed for her.

Given that all of this happened several years ago there's really no way to prove anything at this point.

I'm happy to give Manning a pass. I just find baffling the people who simultaneously insist Brady was proven guilty while Manning has been proven innocent. Neither is true. But I'm happy to abide by the custom of presuming innocence.

Regardless, I don't want Roger Goodell's office investigating anything. They've shown that they cannot be trusted to do any meaningful investigation of any off-the-field activity. So the best reasonably likely outcome here would be if they stopped pretending that they can do the job in a professional manner. Because they don't. They run investigations like a PR firm.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 5:10pm

I think there is a (possibly undeserved) perception that he cheated.

Also that, when he go caught, he threw subordinates under the bus.

Also that he has creepy new age views on things.

Not saying any of that is fair or unfair. The ball bounces how it bounces. Or doesn't (okay that WAS unfair).

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 5:27pm

The fact that he's been known to wear Uggs makes me reasonably suspect that he is the Spawn of Satan.

by deus01 :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 6:06pm

Brady may also be a fancy dog. You can find out more info by Googling that.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 6:17pm

His fancy dog probably wears Uggs, too.

by RickD :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 6:39pm

Brady didn't cheat, and this "perception" language is just a way for people to present their own opinions without standing up for them.

There is zero evidence of anybody cheating. Given that, I don't see how anybody with neurons could think Brady "threw subordinates under the bus." Usually that phrase is reserved for people who actually, actively blame people. If you want to say he was willing to let others "take the fall" that would be fairer language, but it would also be inaccurate as things played out.

[Aside: I still don't know why Jastremski got suspended. There's literally no evidence that he did anything. Punish McNally for taking the footballs into the bathroom if you like, but there isn't a single text or statement or measurement that implicates Jastremski of doing anything. All that happened was the NFL wrote a fiction that needed to somehow tie Brady to McNally, and when they saw there was no direct communication between the two, they wrote an elaborate story about how Jastremski was the middle man. Even though there's absolutely no evidence to support this.
Of course, the lack of evidence is why the NFL played the game of having the Patriots suspend him instead of doing so themselves. Everything was done in a manner to protect themselves from future lawsuits based on their own dubious acts - which they knew at the time were dubious.

by Mash Wilson :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 3:05am

It may just all spring from the thorough physical asskicking the Broncos front seven delivered, but my distinctest impression from the game (besides said asskicking) was that Ron Rivera--who I like, and who I hope gets another chance at the big one--did not have his team well prepared at all. Newton looked shaken, lost and at times confused; for the first three quarters the offense plodded along at such a methodical pace that you had to wonder if Andy Reid was involved somehow; the special teams were poor; Rivera himself wasted a timeout and burned both his challenges early in the game; the team played sloppy and turned the ball over repeatedly; the team made no discernible adjustments at halftime. (Granted that your options to "adjust" to your offensive line getting its ass kicked on almost every down are limited, as Mike Tomlin and Bill Belichick can attest, but the team didn't play any different or any better in the second half than the first.)

Cam Newton is getting the blame, and that's not wrong; there's no way to sugarcoat the fact that he sucked, and missed plays that were there to make on a few occasions that he wasn't under duress within a second of the snap. But he was far from the only part of his team that didn't seem ready.

Also, I predict Peyton Manning will not retire.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:19pm

If Manning doesn't retire, there go the chances of the Broncos repeating. Aside from his cap hit (perhaps they could shift things around, so they could still franchise Von Miller), Osweiler will be signing somewhere else then. Throw in regression to the mean on the defensive side, and the inevitable terrible quarterback play, say hello to your 2016 AFC West champions: the Raiders.

If Peyton's smart, he retires like Elway did.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:38pm

If I'm Andrew Luck's agent, I'm having a meeeting with Luck this week, to outline a battle plan to ensure he doesn't have to take another snap on a roster put together by Ryan Grigson, and one of my targets is to get on a roster put together by John Elway. The guy was able to make things function with Tim Freakin' Tebow, fer' cryin' out loud.

by Bobman :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:49pm

Boo! Boo! Go away, you bad man, and don't give them any ideas!

I can't fault your logic, but also can't believe they kept Grigson.

I really like that Luck kid, but really like the Colts, and can't *quite* see a happy ending there unless some real philosophical changes are made. Indy's D was actually decent this year, so maybe Pagano is not totally full of shit, but Elway built a giant monstrous D in just two years, while keeping significant parts of his top O from a couple years ago--not that either D Thomas or Manning produced much in the post season. Decker and J Thomas were good, but not crucial losses.

That's magic and yes, should help with FA recruiting for a decade to come. Instead of hometown discount (or Bill Belichick discount) high profile FAs may now be taking an Elway discount. And why not.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:56pm

Unfortunately for Colts fans, I think we may be seeing reversion to the mean for a professional sports franchise owned by a guy with severe substance abuse problems, without any real record of accomplishment outside of one fairly obvious hire, who inherited the team from a father who bought the team with stolen money, and was hated by his own mother.

by t.d. :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 3:14am

Oh I don't know, there was talk this season that maybe Harbaugh or Sabah might want to give things another spin in Indy, sometimes you get more bites at the 'obvious hire' apple than others (not that I'd be too excited to see Saban back in the NFL)

by RickD :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 6:41pm

...and was hated by his own mother.

Wow. I'm going to agree with the rest of what you say, but man, you're not pulling any punches are you.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 8:10pm

Hey, when a reporter who is a complete starnger calls a woman on the phone, and asks for quote about her son, and she tells the starnger that the son is no good, well, THAT'S something you don't see every day. Who knows how that sort of dynamic manifests itself down the road.

by Independent George :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 8:37pm

Will, I've respected your comments here since forever, but I'm with RickD on this one. I think that comment goes way beyond anything I'm comfortable with, and your supporting evidence is a stretch at best.

by theslothook :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 8:44pm

I view Irsay as a tragic figure than a vile human being personally.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 8:55pm

Hey, I just realized that my comment may have been misinterprted as an assertion that Jim Irsay was hated by his own mother. I was referring to Robert, and that being raised by someone as vile as Robert Irsay likely left some scars. I wouldn't refer to a rich guy who shafted the taxpayer for several hundred million dollars as "tragic", but he isn't the creep that his dad was.

That's pretty damning with faint praise, however. Short of murderers, sex offenders, armed robbers, and other violent criminals, Robert Irsay was about as bad as they come.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 8:57pm

A quote from the mother is a stretch?

Hey, to be clear, my most harsh commentary was directed at Jim Irsay's father.

by Independent George :: Thu, 02/11/2016 - 11:31am

'Hated' is a pretty strong word. One snippet of a cold-called telephone conversation with a reporter does not necessarily equal hatred. God knows I've vented worse things about miscellaneous relations at various times - all of which I've regretted and apologized for afterwards.

I agree with you on everything else about Robert Irsay, but "His own mother hated him"... it's so horrifying to me that I can't help but cringe at the mere thought of it. And if it's true... it actually makes me feel more sorry for him than it makes me loathe him.

Maybe I'm overreacting. Or maybe I'm just getting soft as I get older. As loathsome a human being as Irsay might be, everyone should have a mother who loves him - including the murderers, sex offenders, armed robbers, and violent criminals.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 02/11/2016 - 2:10pm

Yeah, it would have been better for me to write "His own mother was willing to denounce him as being no good, to a complete stranger who called her on the phone". Comments sections sometimes encourage excessive brevity.

Another interesting aspect of this to me is how ownership/management frequently pries into the family relations of players, especially draft propsepcts, in an effort to determine if there is something which indicates a lesser likelihood to excel as a professional football player. The idea of a player with some power turning the tables, saying, "Jim, I've read a lot of stuff about your family which concerns me. Would you go into detail about your relationship with your father, and how he raised you, and how he interacted with the rest of your family, and how you viewed his behavior, so as to give me some insight as to your ability to successfully manage the Indianapolis Colts?", is something I find supremely entertaining.

by Guest789 :: Thu, 02/11/2016 - 2:49pm

Also known as the Dez Bryant line of questioning.

by Independent George :: Thu, 02/11/2016 - 4:23pm

Mildly entertaining? That would be glorious.

The only improvement I can think of is if a clever agent were to start requiring reciprocal character clauses in his players' contracts, allowing them to walk away if the owner or management were to engage in certain prohibited behavior. To use a purely 100% hypothetical example whose resemblance to actual behavior is purely coincidental, if the owner were to be indicted for fraud, or get arrested for a DUI, players would have the option to declare themselves unrestricted free agents while holding on to the entirety of their signing bonuses.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 02/11/2016 - 4:29pm

Man, would that ever be great! And not impossible, if the qb (it would have to be a qb initially) was enough of an instigator to do it, and good enough to make it stick.

by mehllageman56 :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 8:08pm

If I'm Andrew Luck, I'm not asking to go to a team with a worse offensive line than the one I'm already subjected to. By the way, the Broncos' best offensive lineman, Mathis, is a free agent. Really, Luck should be talking about Oakland and it's 70 million dollars in cap room (of course, the Colts are second in cap room for 2016).

by The Ninjalectual :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:39pm

Why exactly is Osweiler signing elsewhere a problem for the Broncos? I think we've established he's not the next Aaron Rodgers. His performance ceiling doesn't appear to be all that high, though even the worst-case scenario probably isn't any worse thanleague average still (barring him puling a Kaepernick, which I can't imagine happening).

I really hope Denver is looking to do better. Even on draft day I thought he was a massive reach in the 2nd round (Russel Wilson and Kirk Cousins were both still available, and either would be a massive upgrade).

by Rick_and_Roll :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 8:56pm

Brock obviously isn't Rodgers, but he reminds me of a young Joe Flacco. Flacco was a game manager at the beginning of his career who evolved into something more and that seems like a reasonable ceiling for Brock. While Brock will likely never be elite, he's better than you describe and has a chance to be a solid second-tierl QB.

He had both good (clutch comebacks vs. NE & CIN) and bad (shut-out in 3 straight 2nd halves) moments, but what else are they going to do? It all depends on what his market demand will be, if LA or HOU push his salary north of $13-14M per year then they might have to move on...

Elway has his work cut out for him.

by tunesmith :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 3:52am

I'm not sure Osweiler is clearly less talented than Kirk Cousins. Russell Wilson, sure. Although Wilson wouldn't have seen playtime until this season, either!

by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 2:23pm

I don't necessarily think that looking like a young Joe Flacco is a good thing. Joe Flacco hasn't actually been very good outside of a ten-game stretch that happened to end in a Super Bowl. He is at best a league-average starter.

by theslothook :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 2:34pm

I think hes better than that. Its unfair to make flacco the poster child for the anti ringz argument

by Rick_and_Roll :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 2:10pm

It's not a bad thing either...

Flacco doesn't put up great stats and there are probably 10 QBs I'd take ahead of him, but he is essentially what Denver hopes for Brock to be, which is; a game manager who doesn't crap the bed in big games and has the ability to occasionally take over a game when needed.

The issue with Flacco is that he's paid like Aaron Rodgers when he should be paid like Alex Smith. Denver getting Brock for around $13M/year allows them to keep their defense together and assemble a quality offensive line.

by mehllageman56 :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 8:04pm

If Osweiler signs elsewhere, who quarterbacks the defending champions? Could Peyton survive another 16 games? If he retires, who do the Broncos sign: Ryan Fitzpatrick (possible), Cousins (doubtful, Washington will franchise him), Bradford? The best chance for the Broncos to repeat is for Brock to stay put. Now, would it be a long term disaster? No, but the Broncos would be wasting that nasty and now very expensive defense.

by Biebs :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 4:49pm

I'm not sure I understand this. Peyton Manning isn't playing for the Broncos next year even if he doesn't retire. His contract is for $16M, I don't remember if $0 or $2M is guaranteed, but either way, Broncos are going to move on without him.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 3:37am

This adds to the back of Healey's comment(he should look up Brady's ANYA for 2001): The legacy thing is a media creation, so why is FO double downing on it? No one thinks Manning was a great qb is his last sb anymore than him being a lesser qb when he lost. Yet its brought up in both situations?

Here at FO, commenters know enough that we shouldn't be wasting our breath on this silly debate. The anti manning crowd demanded two sbs to "validate" his legacy, so he has them. They can be ignored now.

Can we please just appreciate the career and the tremendous performance by the defense. I'm not sure its the best defense we've ever seen, but that was, in my mind, the best pass rush we've ever seen. They never let loose on energy despite drive after drive requiring to shutout the opponent. Miller is a hall of fame transcendent player. Ware is still a dominant pass rusher. Antonio Smith, Shaq Barrett and Ray make up a solid rotation. Jackson and Wolfe are good too. The secondary is deep and the linebackers and safeties are good too. This a defense with top line talent and top line depth.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 11:16am

"No one thinks Manning was a great qb is his last sb anymore than him being a lesser qb when he lost."

Au contraire.

The Washington Post had an obviously pre-written piece posted as soon as the game was over, arguing that PM's second ring clearly gave him the title of "best QB ever". Reportedly somebody was passing a memo around the press box referring to him as a "2-time Super Bowl MVP winner" - before the game was over.

This win is going to be used as evidence of something, even though he played at or below replacement level. The hype machine is literally incapable of giving credit to the defense instead of the QB.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 11:49am

It goes both ways. Brady is pumped up for his 4th, but he doesn't get a 4th without a 1st, and he was as much a part of the 2001 Patriots success as Manning was of the '15 Broncos.

Same with Elway in 1997 (his stats in that game are eerily similar to Manning's last night).

by ramirez :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 11:57am

"he was as much a part of the 2001 Patriots success as Manning was of the '15 Broncos."

Utter nonsense. Brady was 6th in passer rating in 2001, and the Pats offense was 6th in points scored. Manning was tied with Mallett for last in passer rating, and the Broncos were 19th in points scored, and just 24th in points per drive. Brady in SB 36 had 5.31 anypa, and produced the game winning drive in the final minute, after his defense blew a 14 point lead in the 4th quarter. Manning was at 2.11 anypa in SB 50, and fumbled in the 4th quarter, which nearly let the other team back into the game.

If you think Manning's 2015 performance was even close to 2001 Brady, you weren't watching. And 2001 may have been Brady's worst season.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:03pm

I meant in the playoffs.

Brady and the Patriots offense had one offensive TD in each game (Brady didn't lead the one in the AFCCG)

I'm not going any further with this. I don't want to play any further part in making this into a Brady v. Manning thread.

by ramirez :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:24pm

2001 Brady in the playoffs: 77.3 rating, 5.01 anypa
2015 Manning in playoffs: 75.4 rating, 4.54 anypa

So they're close, though Brady's numbers are a little better. But Brady won 2 games that year with late GWDs, against Oakland and St. Louis, and his numbers were hurt by the fact that he got injured against Pittsburgh.

I'm willing to let it go, but Brady is comfortably ahead of Manning if you look at their full postseason careers. It's not just the raw stats, it's the specific game situations. I find that manning's advocates love to cherry-pick stats in order to make peyton look good. I just wish people in forums like this one would be a little more consistent, and when I hear these statements people make about Manning, like "he has every significant record already" and "a 2nd SB ring was the only blemish on his otherwise spotless career" (I'm paraphrasing) it shows how desperate some of these people are to make Peyton into more than he's ever been. I believe Brady is just as good as Manning all-time, and probably slightly better. Nothing that happened in SB 50 changed my position on that.

by hscer :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:38pm

Hey, I'm glad to see you accept comprehensive per-play stats as the most important statistical measures for quarterbacks.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 4:16pm

"I'm not going any further with this. I don't want to play any further part in making this into a Brady v. Manning thread."

LOL. Is this a serious comment?

by Bobman :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:52pm

Yikes, I am sorry to hear that, RickD.

I guess the argument is that "nobody with his head screwed on right" will use this win as validation....

What you describe sounds like monkeys using wrenches to bang on piano keys--they're not actually playing the piano, but they ARE making sounds that other monkeys like to hear.

by RickD :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 6:44pm

I feared that story would be highlighed at the Post. But even though I saw the link on Twitter, I couldn't find a link to it on the main Sports page of the Post the next day. I take that as a sign that the editors thought it was silly and didn't need to be featured.

And, FWIW, I haven't seen much of that particular argument this week. The fandom world seems to have coalesced around the much saner narrative that the Broncos' defense was responsible for the victory.

by ramirez :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 11:49am

Brady's ANYPA against St. Louis: 5.31

Manning against Chicago: 5.49

And Manning was terrible against Carolina, while Brady was really good in his other SB wins. So what's your point? SB 36 was far from Brady's best performance, and he didn't deserve the MVP. But what was so special about Manning against the Bears? People were impressed by Brady's last-minute drive against the Rams. What's wrong with that?

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:41pm

Do we really need to point out opponent quality on this of all sites?

Your post up above was spot on regarding apples to apples and cherry picking and one game not changing a reasoned opinion. But let's just admit that you're guilty of it too.

(It's OK. It's human nature.)

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:41pm

The real flaw in all if your arguments is you are using small samples in a one and done format to assess the greatness of an individual player in a team sport. And since ur commenting oN FO message boards, it makes it all the more strange.

by Bobman :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:54pm


by ramirez :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 10:15pm

So we shouldn't even attempt to answer questions like "which of 2 quarterbacks had played better in Super Bowls?"

by theslothook :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 10:32pm


by theslothook :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 10:35pm

No. Its hard enough trying to compare two players on different teams w different players and coaches facing two different opponents. And to do that over a 4 game sample makes it a complete waste of time.

Why does a sb count more than any other playoff game? Its single elimination either way.

Finally...if one were going to take that approach seriously and was forced to be logically consistent, your left concluding that eli is better than tom and peyton. That flacco is better than elway and dilfer is better than marino. Are you really prepared to make such an argument?

Its also remarkable how inconsistent the rings crowd is with their rankings. Brady and montana are the best, but somehow aikman and bradshaw barely figure in despite 3 and 4 rings.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 10:37pm

You should do whatever you want.

by theslothook :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 3:28am

Just wondering...does the fact that the colts utterly imploded with one Manning injury vs the pats still being pretty good with a first time starter(who eventually proved to be a below avg qb) not change your opinion at all about the relative supporting casts having a say in who wins??

by Independent George :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 12:12pm

Let's be fair - there is some recency bias there. I think the 2009 and 2010 Colts were genuinely bad teams led by a great QB, they excellent (if flawed) in 2004-2006, and still pretty good in 2007-2008. It just looks worse in hindsight because age, poor drafting, and front-office ennui during that time led to the later collapse; it makes us believe it was always that bad, when it wasn't.

I'm agnostic on Brady vs. Manning, but what I find really interesting about comparing them is that Brady's most Manning-like seasons (2007-2012) all ended in Manning-like fashion (the precision offense getting ground into the dirt by a bunch of cavemen with clubs).

I don't know if it's correlation or causation, but the Pats seemed to shift back to a more balanced roster construction right around the time when they lost Hernandez. I wonder if it was a conscious decision, or it just shaped out that way, because the alt-universe Pats with the improved defense and a non-homicidal Hernandez on the roster seems like it'd be a historically great team.

by clipper :: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 5:34pm

One was under perfect conditions against a decent defence. The other was in horrible conditions (worst for any SB possibly) against a very good defence. Its easy to poke holes in any argument either way.

If I had to make an argument of why Brady was better, I would not point to single games but argue about the different types of offences he runs and the fact that he doesn't make as many mistakes. If I was to argue for Manning, I would say he's done it with four different coaches and subpar defences and special teams (until this year).

I prefer Manning, mainly because I think he changed the game and when he was on, he was unstoppable. There are some long passes in his prime that you could not have placed any better if you were standing by the receiver. But there's no conclusive way to say he's better over the long haul unless we had a time machine and could put Manning and Belicheck together and Brady in Indy.

by The Ninjalectual :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:32pm

I grant that I'm severely biased toward liking Shaq Barrett because he played for my college, but of the bench guys, I see him around the ball, making plays all the time. I can't recall ever seeing Shane Ray on the field even once though, and while I remember Antonio Smith doing a few nice things early in the season, I don't remember anything notable from him since week 5 or 6. Is this just selective attention, or did Barrett have the best year of the three by a huge margin?

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:40pm

Hard to compare shaq barrett with antonio smith, given the different roles. Barrett was great as a depth player.

That's the thing about this defense. I had this discussion with a friend of mine. On paper, the chiefs defense has a lot of the same kind of headline talent - hali, houston, poe, derrick johnson, marcus peters, and eric berry - all are really really good. But Denver's defense is in the stratosphere because they have so much depth.

In thinking about this Denver D relative to the other great one's of the last decade, I was surprised to learn that the 09 jets were 2nd only to the 02 bucs as the pass defense since the 2000 season. That's right, better than this denver d, the 2013 seahawks, 2008 steelers or any iteration of the ravens or patriots. And when you think about who was on that team, its hard to name that many headline players. Off the top of my head, I remember Revis, Chris Jenkins, and bart scott. Idk how the jets were so good.

by mehllageman56 :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 8:18pm

The 2009 Jets may have faced weaker pass offenses (Carolina before Cam, Tampa Bay when Freeman was a rookie), but they had Kerry Rhodes at safety, as well as Harris at linebacker. Jim Leonhard was solid at safety as well. Jenkins got hurt early on and Sione Pouha replaced him at nose tackle. Calvin Pace was their best edge rusher, but they relied on Rex's blitzes to force pressure and cause incompletions, and left Revis alone to take out the best receiver. Teams hadn't figured out Rex yet that first year.

by Grendel13G :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 9:10pm

Hey, you went/go to Colorado State? When? I was there 1998-2003, and my brother was there something like 2004-2009.

I thought Shaq had a good year, too, though I wasn't playing close enough attention to notice if he was more of a situational player making high-visibility plays, or was getting it done on every down.

Either way, my brother and I can't believe he went undrafted.

by tunesmith :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 3:59am

Shane Ray flashed a few times this season, had a pretty tough injury in the middle of the season, and is a rookie (Shaq isn't). But yeah, Barrett had an extremely good season, seemed like he had more flashes than either Malik Jackson or Derek Wolfe in their second years.

by mehllageman56 :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 8:12pm

I thought Ray had a hit on Newton on Sunday. Perhaps Cam, the announcers and me were seeing double from the onslaught of pass rushers.

by tunesmith :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 3:22am

I just think that if the people state and accept that he won a super bowl while playing badly, they have to simultaneously state and accept that he lost super bowls and playoff games while playing excellently. At any rate, I think the 13-12 (winning!) postseason record is a victory for regression to the mean. He's a winning playoff quarterback, no matter how you want to look at it. No more asterisks on the guy, and that's the way it should be.

by Joe Pancake :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:01pm

Exactly. This win really puts Peyton detractors in a logical bind, because if they don't want to give him credit for this win, then they open themselves up to all sorts of arguments about defenses and supporting casts that make Peyton look *better* overall, when compared to his "clutch" contemporaries like Brady and Roethlisberger (who was probably even worse in his first Super Bowl win than Manning was yesterday).

Of course this is assuming people care about logical consistency, which is highly questionable when it comes to those who insist Manning has been much worse in the postseason than other superstar QBs.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 3:27am

I forgot to mention: Congrats bronco fans. Its never easy to win a sb. Never. And you don't know when the next one will be. It could be 10 or even close to 50 years before your team wins another. Enjoy it. Really...because while they hand out a trophy ever year, there are still a slew of teams who've never tasted even one. That is one reason why a championship becomes so memorable.

by The Ninjalectual :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:35pm


by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 4:01am

I still think this is the worst Broncos team of the last 4 (2012 with a top 5 offense and defense was the best) and is yet another piece of evidence that the postseason is basically random and that the best way to win a Super Bowl is just to keep giving yourself chances (see also 2012 Ravens, and the 2006 Colts who were the worst Colts team from 2003 - 2007) and hope that one year everything breaks your way when it matters the most.

As for Manning, winning a ring in by far the worst season of his career should prove once and for all how idiotic "COUNT THE RINGZ!!!!111!!" are as a measure of QB play, but I suspect most here know that already. Still, if anyone deserved to get carried to a ring, it's him.

by tunesmith :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 4:44am

Maybe in terms of personnel, but those first three teams were hamstrung by coaching, and there's been a real improvement there this season. I hope this season rehabilitates Kubiak for many - the commitment level of the players is responsible for a lot of the extra success they had this season, and that was a quality ascribed to Kubiak even before he came to Denver. Meanwhile, with Fox there really was this sense of disconnectedness in the big moments. It was palpable in the week before SB48, and his coaching choices in the 2012 Baltimore game were arguably as responsible for the loss as Rahim Moore's misplay. (And, I'd still defend Moore there - it was a hell of a throw at an uncommon angle.)

by TimK :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:15am

Yes. I still hope, probably forlornly, that Kubiak can consider getting an OC who he lets run games (by all means use some of Kubiak's concepts, but a bit more variation & imagination at times would be nice). However his man management with all that has gone on this year seems to have been excellent in terms of keeping the team focussed and together. He even had the guts to admit after the KC debacle that he shouldn't have let Manning start I retrospect, which not many coaches do.

That said still greatful as a fan for John Fox coming in and providing a steady hand to pull things round from the McDaniels man-management fiasco (and he and his coordinators did an amazing job getting something out of Tebow). They just seemed less good at single game planning. Kubiak's scripted start giving Phillip's defence a foothold on the scorecard and the fact that the defence has been stepping up despite the offence and not giving up have been impressive this year.

by JimZipCode :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:50pm

I'm a big Ravens fan, and even I always felt a little guilty that we stole away Peyton's best chance at a second ring in 2012. I'm glad to see him get one this year. Would have been happy for Cam too, but as a fan I'm delighted that Manning has a chance to ride off into the sunset.
(Whether he takes that chance or not, is another question.)

by The Ninjalectual :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:43pm

Ha! That game hurts almost as much as the Seattle super bowl. I was so sure that 2012 squad was destined for the Lombardi. You might recall the Broncos starting 2-3 that year, and in week 6 they trailed San Diego 24-0 at halftime, yet eventually winning 35-24, then winning every game straight through (how can the football gods not reward the way that team came together?) until that damn Baltimore game. If the 2012 safeties were half as good as the 2015 unit...

by Grendel13G :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 9:18pm

Controlling for proximity to the Super Bowl, that Ravens playoff game was the worst Broncos loss in my lifetime. I'm glad I can look back at it now with something resembling closure, and tip my hat to the hot Ravens team and their Lombardi-stealing ways.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 1:24pm

That game crushed me. Just devestating. Easily the toughest loss in my lifetime - in any sport! At least I knew the Seahawks were a fantastic team. The Ravens blindsided me completely.

by Grendel13G :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 4:36pm

Excellent points all around, and I agree with your assessments of the Broncos and Colts teams. The playoffs are a brutal machine with many random elements; succeeding when the big stuff breaks your way (2015 Broncos) is an oddly cathartic way of balancing those times when the big stuff doesn't (2012 Broncos). Most teams don't get those repeated, sustained chances to balance things out, though. The machine is unforgiving.

by Herr Gauss Markov :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 12:51am

I'm a Bengals fan, so I can assure you: some teams get, and waste, repeated chances to balance things out.

by Subrata Sircar :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 4:12am

Von Miller was fantastic. In another world where all the breaks get reversed Ealy gets the MVP - both d-lines were crushing the opposition (although Schofield didn't look like he was turnstiling people - maybe the light has come on for him?) and yards were just not there most of the night.

That first challenge on the Cotchery play was interesting to me - the only point at which I was unsure he caught it was when he was recovering it as he went down and the nose of the ball goes out of sight behind his arm. If it touches the ground there I can see not calling it a catch, but I can't believe the refs had a better view than the hi-res slow-motion replay.

Newton definitely looked like he got wrong-footed and jumped back to avoid kicking the ball (or the guy on the ground in the hand), not that he made a choice to not dive into a pile. I think the "he didn't want to hurt himself" narrative is horse puckey and smacks of ulterior motives, although walking out of his post-game press conference won't help.

I'd have to look at the tape again, but Manning seemed to have more good throws than Newton, although that absolute laser that Cotchery couldn't come up with against really good coverage by Miller might have been the best throw all night.

The best defense in the league this year went out and conclusively demonstrated they were not overrated. As was mentioned above, they beat Big Ben, Tom Terrific and Superman in three straight games, dishing out enough punishment to turn lesser players into a fine paste. Wade Phillips did a great job this year.

by Dan :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 6:44am

On the Cotchery challenge, you are correct that we couldn't tell if the nose of the ball touched the ground when he mostly had his hand under it. Since Cotchery didn't have firm control of the ball at the time, if the nose of the ball did touch the ground then it would be an incomplete pass.

The refs couldn't tell either, which is why they said on review that the original call stands. (Note that they said the call "stands", not that it "is confirmed", which means that they were saying that they didn't have definitive evidence on video.)

by TimK :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:21am

There is enough doubt that the nose of the ball could have bounced back off the ground on the first impact (his hand was underneath towards the front, not wrapping the nose) that I couldn't see it being overturned with the rules as they are. This is as a Broncos fan who at the time said I'd be happy to call that a catch myself but it wasn't going to overturned. I think that doubt is more important to the decision than did it just touch a protruding blade of grass at the end (didn't see it do that myself).

The big thing on that play is that it was a nice pass to a guy who should have caught it cleanly and then none of this would matter. I can certainly see how it was rules incomplete at full speed, and can't see how the replay could absolutely prove that was wrong the way rules are written.

by WeaponX :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 8:15am

Heh, that call was garbage.
Sometimes I even trip myself out.

by Sakic :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 11:01am

I always put replay reviews into 3 categories.

1) Obvious overturn
2) Obvious uphold
3) Not enough evidence either way so you go with the call on the field.

In my opinion, that one definitely fell into #3 so yeah, it was a bad decision to overturn it. Although I did find it hilarious to listen to Mike Carey make another bad replay call (even if he was right.)

by Joshua Northey :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:00pm

It wasn't an overturn, it was ruled incomplete.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 11:20am

It was clearly a catch. The ball didn't hit the ground. Replay official screwed that one up, giving too much deference to the on-field officials.

I have no idea why the on-field officials called that one an incompletion. But the sequence underscores that there's no substitute for having the initial calls be done correctly. Feels like officials far too often are lazy in that respect.

by deus01 :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 11:25am

I think that replay should be used to determine what the most likely outcome is rather than to overturn an incorrect call only if there is conclusive evidence it was incorrect.

by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:37pm

It looked to me like it very obviously and overtly touched the ground. There certainly wasn't conclusive evidence that it didn't, but it was an extremely close call.

by Pat :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 11:59am

I think you're missing another possibility there. You couldn't see on video if the nose of the ball touched the ground.

That doesn't mean the ref who called the pass incomplete didn't see it. And I think that's what a lot of people here are missing, and it's why I think they let the call stand, like you said. You couldn't tell from video, the ref said it was incomplete, so it's incomplete.

by Joe Pancake :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:13pm

I thought it was a catch, but if it is so close that even in super slow motion on an HD screen, reasonable, unbiased people can't really tell, then neither side has a legitimate gripe when it doesn't go their way.

On a broader, related note, one thing that bothers me about the whole "you can't tell what a catch is anymore" complaint is that people seem to want a standard that is close to 100% consistent, and you are never going to have that no matter how many tweaks are made to the rule, because there are always going to be plays like this where neutral observers see it differently. That's just how human perception works -- I think we all need to just accept that instead of thinking this ambiguity would go away if NFL rule makers weren't so incompetent.

by Joshua Northey :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:59pm

Yeah that was my immediately thought after the replay. That is a catch, but since it was ruled incomplete it is going to be hard to overturn since it is a little ambiguous.

I do think how it is hilarious how in situations like that probably 85% of DEN are positive it is not a catch and 85% of CAR fans are positive it is, and they both can't seem to get our of their own asses and do some critical thinking about the situation. But then again fandom and its accompanying tribal stupidity is my least favorite part of sports.

by coremill :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 10:21am

Holy hell was Ealy good: 3 sacks, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery. As good as Miller was, Ealy might have been better. It's hard for a D-lineman to have a better game than that.

by The Ninjalectual :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:59pm

Statwise, you could make a case. But the difference to me is the way Miller (and pals, of course) have been rattling quarterbacks, especially in the last 2 games. Whether they got a sack or not, Brady's internal clock was all screwed up, and poor Cam was so shaken up he didn't seem to be having fun at all out there. Miller has been dominating games like no one since... who else? Lawrence Taylor or Derrick Thomas? They were before my time, but from stories people tell, maybe.

Von Miller and Sean Taylor (RIP) are the only two defenders I can recall at the moment to have singlehandedly taken over games, because even when they aren't there, the offense constantly thinks they are, and end up playing scared as a resjlt.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 8:15pm

I've seen a few players do it, but it is rare. Julius Peppers vs the Vikes in 09. I thought jared Allen tore through the bears in 2010(i believe). Hell, Khalil Mack did it against the broncos this year

As a football theoriest(I like the term); I've always been fascinated by pass defense - is it pass rush or coverage. Statistically, its really hard to tease out and this defense does not help either. We all know their pass rush destroyed people, but the coverage took away brady's quick throws and they all but eliminated olsen from the receiving game. And then there was the GB game where the broncos defense covered all the receivers for 5+ seconds.

by The Ninjalectual :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 8:31pm

Nice, I've also been studying the great pass defenses recently. I wouldn't put Khalil Mack in the same category as Miller and Taylor (and maybe the guys you mentioned). Mack dominated directly, in a way that the stat sheet reflects ckearly. That domination is no less effective, but much more commonly seen.

In contrast, I remember some Washington games (most notably against the Eagles, I don't remember the year but 04 or 05 I'd guess) where opposing receivers were literally scared to complete a pass, and instea of just alligator arming it, they would consistently pull up 2-3 steps short of the ball, just because they had beem slammed by Sean Taylor so hard and so often, they were focusing on him instead of on catching the ball. It's harf to complete a pass if you're too scared to finish your routes! You wouldn't be able to tell what happened from the stat sheet alone, you had to watch the game to understand why it went the way it did.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 8:37pm

I thought we were just talking individual games.

Its hard not to be a prisoner of the moment. Von was so dominating, its tempting to call him the best edge rusher I've seen. But then James Harrison looked so good. Demarcus Ware in his prime was scary. So was Allen. And freeney in his heyday had that spin move that would make Jon Ogden look silly.

Definitely forgetting some others. Strahan was great too.

by Grendel13G :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 9:27pm

There were some games in the past few years where Von Miller disappeared so completely I expected to see his picture on the back of a milk carton the next week. (Which could just reflect the difficulty of trying to do something that other highly-paid professionals are trying to stop you from doing -- some of those guys have transcendent games, too!) But this postseason run was one for the ages.

by JIPanick :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 10:29pm

This was my favorite Demarcus Ware game:


Three sacks, three fumbles.

by tunesmith :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 4:40am

This really does make me wonder about elite defenses and how hard it might be to judge how good they are when they aren't playing playoff-caliber opponents. Mostly just because, why didn't more people expect such a dominant performance by the Broncos defense? I'm not talking about fumble luck, it's more that Carolina was never really out of this game, but you just got the feeling that Denver consistently and regularly just flat-out beat that offense, drive after drive. Carolina just looked outclassed - it didn't look like the kind of game where Denver's defense would only play that way 4 out of 10 games. Maybe it has something to do with what success for a defense look like - a defense really can't play much better than simply preventing the other team from executing pretty consistently. Maybe this mutes the effects of how good a defense is in some circumstances.

It might just be as simple as using season stats when Denver had a varying level of safety quality. Ward and Stewart, Bruton and Bolden, Keo and Bush. Top-shelf, extremely solid, and street free agents. Bruton and Bolden have been out or limited for a while, so when Ward and Stewart got injured, they were basically a different defense. And then when they came back at (pretty much) full power, the defense was far better than most people remembered.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 11:22am

I thought the problem was that the Panthers' offense hadn't really played a defense as good as the Broncos. And part of that problem was their very weak schedule. Yes, they played the Seahawks, twice, but somehow that wasn't enough.

by Independent George :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 11:34am

If they played the 2013 Seahawks, it'd have been good prep for them. The 2015 version is still very good, but not at the same level.

That said, you can only play the teams on your schedule, and it's not like they snuck through the playoffs. They dominated two very good teams (I'm still calling the divisional round a dominant win, even though they turtled int he 2nd half). They just got beat by a crazy good squad this time around. It happens, and more importantly, it happens to everybody sooner or later.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:25pm

The closest anyone came to playing a defense the caliber of the 2015 Broncos this year was the 2015 Panthers. And the Panthers only play them in practice, and they're not really that close.

by rj1 :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 11:44am

Part of it can also be if you have coaching superiority (in this case, Wade Phillips, not Gary Kubiak), the 2-week break gives you a lot more time than you normally have in a season to develop a gameplan.

by The Ninjalectual :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 8:16pm

Even as a Denver fan, I was worried that Carolina had unique offensive personnel (QB built like an FB, plus actual FB Mike Tolbert) and a run-biased philosophy that could theoretically make Denver's edge rushers work against them. Fortunately, Carolina didn't seem to do much of anything to optimize for attacking the unique threats posed by this defense. They just did what they've been doing, and even after seeing that their gameplan wasn't going to work, they still didn't make any major adjustments.

Remember what Rivera said at halftime? The team with the ladt possession will win? Ron you're thinking of an offensive shootout. He and his offense were simply unprepared, confused, and totally out of ideas. In contrast, Phillips had his unit ready for anything the Panthers might throw at them. They weren't surprised, and they were in control. Well maybe not Talib

by doktarr :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 9:56pm

I agree totally; biggest surprise of the game. I thought when they ran legit option stuff and designed QB runs, they did OK. I'm not saying they should have gone to that completely, but it seems like they should have tried to freeze Ware a couple times.

by Grendel13G :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 12:33am

Yeah, their TD drive looked like what I thought their whole offensive gameplan would/should look like.

by Cythammer :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 4:54am

I'm not sure I buy the idea that this game was mostly settled by fumble luck and a few wacky plays. Even throw out two Denver turnovers to even things up and they might've still won. The Panthers had the advantage in yards per play, but that's significantly influenced by the Broncos playing conservatively late in the game (their last four drives they were doing almost nothing but running for very short gains). Denver probably left more points on the field than Carolina too, considering how many drives got stalled out in Panther territory. A slightly more effective offense in a few places and Denver could've won quite easily.

Newton's going to get too much blame, no surprise. That's the way it is for QBs: way too much credit when they win, similarly excessive blame if they lose. He was hurt by the Panther's designed run game being totally stoned, and by his receivers being mostly incapable of getting open. He also had a couple of incompletions that were actually great plays, since just getting away from the pass rush enough to get rid of the ball was an achievement. The huge total of bad penalties and two terrible special teams plays weren't his fault either. I don't know if he played better than Peyton, though, since the Panther's defense is plenty good itself. Neither were as bad the stats would indicate.

Carolina got away with having bad receivers most of the year, but they obviously need to upgrade there a lot. It's still sort of absurd they let go of Steve Smith a few years ago. The whole time since they could really have used him.

I wonder what John Fox is thinking. It doesn't seem like Kubiak did anything this year that Fox couldn't have done just as well… Although I guess you have to credit Kubiak for bringing in Wade Phillips, which appears to have been important indeed. But Kubiak's offense wasn't a success at all under eithe QB. Overall it's remarkable how much of Denver's season was spent in crisis and melodrama mode considering how it ended.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 10:24am

Reasons why Carolina had more yards:

1. Starting field position.

Denver had a defensive score, and started two drives in the red zone (PR, TO).

It's hard to rack up yardage when three drives can, at most, net 20 yards. (They ultimately netted 5, and 15 of 18 possible points)

by nat :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 11:30am


Averaging 17 yards per drive for drives starting in their own territory indicates that short fields didn't actually steal much yardage from the Broncos. Having two fewer drives accounts for a little bit of yardage, for sure. All told, it's maybe 30-50 yards they didn't get for those reasons.

But more likely, the reason is that the Panthers got 21 first downs to the Broncos' 11. They had more plays mostly because of that. They also had more yards per play.

The reason the Panthers had more yardage was that they were better at moving the ball. The reason that didn't ultimately matter is that fumbles, fumble recoveries, and special teams play are all part of the game, too.

But don't fool yourself about the two offenses' ability to move the ball.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:33pm

Carolina actually had more 3 and outs than Denver did (8 vs 7), although both had a couple of extra 4 and 5 play drives that were basically just limousine 3 and outs.

Carolina had more "successful" drives -- 7 to 4, but Denver scored on two of their 3-4 play drives (1 FG, 1 TD+1), and one of Carolina's drives was that 8 play, 26 yard (1:55) drive where Denver was happy to trade yardage for time.

So I'm not seeing how the difference wasn't mostly field position and location of turnovers. Neither team could drive the ball, and made most of their successful yardage in single big chunk plays.

by Bobman :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 3:00pm

"limousine 3 and outs"

Good God, that is my new favorite phrase.

by Grendel13G :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 5:31pm

I like it!

by RickD :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 11:34am

That's really not a sufficient explanation. Denver had 11 first downs and Carolina had 21. After their first drive they simply didn't have any extended drives. They had 3.7 yards per pass and 3.2 yards per run.

Let me repeat that: they had 3.7 yards per pass! Peyton Manning finished the postseason with the fewest yards per attempt of the 12 starters. (Cam finished with the most.) In the regular season, every single qualifying QB had at least 6 yards per attempt.

Carolina had a huge advantage in terms of yards from scrimmage. The differences were in the turnovers (3 fumbles and 1 pick to 1 fumble and 1 pick) and the penalties. Carolina lost 102 yards to penalties and the Broncos lost 51 yards, almost all of which were in the three early penalties to Talib.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:47pm

Denver had 11 first downs in large part because for most of the game after the first drive they didn't even seem particularly interested in getting first downs.

But I agree that that's not a sufficient explanation. Field position "robbed" them of the opportunities for more total yards, but let's not pretend that they'd have been likely to gain them even if they had longer fields in front of them.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:06pm


Were those games where TOs and field position (and offensive strategy) had nothing to do with the disparity in yardage and 1st downs? Neither were particularly close games.

These two are a hapless offense exploiting TOs and wasted opportunities by the other side. I have no idea how San Diego won that game.

This one probably is a field-position game, as a result of TOs. Denver had more 1st downs, but half the yardage, and the game was a blowout.

Then there's this. Hard to argue 2010 New Orleans had a bad offense.

Only two of these teams were probably unable to generate more offense. The rest are a mix of unwilling and unnecessary. Those first two teams were clearly running the crap out of the ball.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 5:18am

Per usual,I had to do more socializing during the SB, than I normally do when watching a game, when I usually go back and forth on a lot of plays, with the DVR. As a result, I have more general impressions than firm conclusions.

I, too, think Newton was very nervous at the start, and like one of the FO writers noted above, my impression is that Shula really didn't do much to take advantage of his qb's skill set in the 1st half, which gave me the sense that Phillips was kicking Shula's ass.

As long as the Panthers were trying to knock Miller and Ware back a half step, I thought they should have been happy with a 3-3 halftime score, or even a 6-3 deficit, which means I really hated having Newton drop back to his goal line on third and long. When your opponent has one path to victory, don't help him get started in that direction.

As much as the Broncos were able to play a style of game which was ideal for them, the Panthers may easily have won, if their receivers had caught the ball, and their kicker makes a pretty simple one, or if the Panthers had simply had a little better luck.

The under was a pretty obvious play, of course.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 5:46am

Denver won by two scores so I don't think it had that much impact in the end but on the strip sack that lead to the defensive TD Miller whomped Newton right in the face on his way to the strip, shouldn't that have been an instant roughing call? (I'm genuinely not sure of the exact rule)

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 6:43am

I thought the same thing, but dunno.

Also the grabby Broncos secondary was called for 0 PI's or holdings. Whistles were swallowed (or the Panthers WRs are so bad that no holding is necessary).

by Joe Pancake :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:26pm

The refs called very little holding period -- just three total calls including zero against the Panthers O-line, which is pretty remarkable given that they were getting beat all night. There was one play -- an against-the-grain pass to Olsen I believe -- where it looked like DeMarcus Ware got flat-out dragged down and it didn't draw a flag.

Given that the game already had a lot of penalties, I'm glad the refs didn't call a bunch of holding.

by deus01 :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:36pm

The same strategy applies to the O-line and the corners. Hold a lot and hope the refs swallow their whistles.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:41pm

Again, I really think the way to go would be to allow contact within 10 yards, but be really strict on any contact which resembles a hold.

by Mash Wilson :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 9:45am

I commented at the time that if the teams had been reversed and Ealy had laid that exact same hit on Manning, it would have been 15 yards. And it would have.

Hitting the quarterback in the head is by rule automatically roughing the passer. But RTP rules have always been overlooked when it comes to big strong quarterbacks that are known for being hard to sack, Newton and Roethlisberger being the most notable examples.

by jtr :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 9:50am

I also thought the hit in the end zone after Newton threw the ball away was exactly the kind of borderline RTP that gets called every time for Brady or Manning but Newton "isn't old enough" for.

by big10freak :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 10:17am

Brady was mauled 2 weeks ago and nary a flag. I think folks overstate how often roughing actually gets called and against whom.

by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 10:30am

There are a couple of big ones that are ticky-tack every year, but overall it feels like the number of big RTP calls is down from a few years ago.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 6:09pm

Newton is growing up fast. His mock-incredulity upon getting up from the ground was almost as emphatic as Mr. Brady's Oscar-winning efforts.

by deus01 :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 10:30am

It's only roughing if the quarterback has already released the ball. Incidental contact that leads to a strip is never going to be called. He would have had to grab the facemask for it to be a penalty.

by coremill :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 10:42am

Ahmad Brooks wishes this were true.

by ammek :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 5:54am

I couldn't watch too many games like that, where the defenses totally dominate and the passing games go nowhere, but I did enjoy it. I haven't seen a team tackle as well as Denver in a long time. It's kind of apt that the 2016 season ends with overwhelmed offensive linemen false starting and committing personal fouls; with receivers dropping passes; and with poor clock management and dubious challenges from the sidelines. It was that kind of year.

I'm sure I'm not the only person who couldn't care less about Manning's legacy. He just became the dilferest champion of all.

So this is the payoff for John Elway's strategy of signing veterans like Ware, Talib and Daniels in order to make a push for a championship before Manning's arm fell off. It was quite a risk; it shouldn't have worked, and I don't know if it's a model that can be replicated. In any case, as a Packer fan, I'm in no danger of seeing it infect Ted Thompson's thinking.

by t.d. :: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 3:44am

Charles Woodson, Julius Peppers... Vets chasing rings can be a good thing (as the last two champs can attest)

by A_Dederer :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 6:14am

Looked like Newton got wrong-footed on the second fumble. He looked to be ready to dive, but jumped back when he saw a helmet heading for his knee. That got him so out of sorts that the play was dead before he got back into balance. I don't think it was calculation that kept him upright, it was reflexes.

by TimK :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:30am

It also looked like the ball was coming towards him and was almost too close to dive in, much hard to dive down at your feet than actually forwards a bit. I think he was trying to think what to do, and the given the battering he'd taken and the situation, quite possibly second guessing himself a bit as the moment passed.

I'd guess the John Elway knows how Newton feels as well as anyone right now... Hope to see Newton get another chance, he did miss a couple of throws high, but he was also under huge pressure - felt he was made to look bad rather being completely self inflicted, hope the narrative over the next months reflects that, the number of sacks he somehow avoided even only throw the ball away on the way down. Sometimes all you can get out of something is the least worst outcome.

by SFC B :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 10:02am

Agreed on Newton not diving for the ball. It looked like her just got caught between a couple different options, either froze or tried to change what he was going to do, and it resulted in him not making a play on it at all. It didn't look like he was ambivalent to recovering it like Hillman was on the backward pass fumble in the AFCCG.

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 11:48am

Next year Carolina is going to want their game balls painted to look like laptops

The standard is the standard!

by TomC :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:44pm

If you're going to be an asshole, at least please be funny.

by TomC :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:44pm


by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 4:32pm

Take your own advice.

The standard is the standard!

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:34pm

Newton will probably get plenty of chances. The Panthers lost their no. 1 receiver from an already weak corps, signed the Blind Side guy off the scrap heap for a left tackle, had weak tackles, and went 15-1 to lose in the Super Bowl. The Saints are in cap hell, the Bucs fired Lovie Smith, so the Falcons are their only divisional competition who seem competent at the moment.

If I'm the Panthers, I draft the best player available but if Conklin, Decker or Spriggs are there, I take them.

by Pat :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:02pm

I have to say, I hate that people are criticizing Newton for not diving after the ball.

I mean, I'm not sure he knew where the ball was. The way his head was moving, I kinda think he stepped back because he couldn't locate it.

by big10freak :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:08pm

It just looked bad. Like he was afraid of getting into the scrum.

Not saying that is what happened. Just that it was horrible 'optics'

by deus01 :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:08pm

Footballs also bounce in weird ways. I've seen a strange bounce make many football/rugby players look silly. The suggestion that he just didn't want it enough is absurd and just another case of the media looking for a simple talking point for the masses.

by Independent George :: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:16pm

My feeling (going strictly off memory here) was that he was too close for a dive, so he stepped back to try and slide... and then the ball got punched away from the pile.

If he dove headfirst but overshot the ball (as seemed likely), he'd get credit for the effort even if it actually hurt his team's chances more than taking a step back before trying to recover it.