New York Giants QB Eli Manning

Hall of Fame Debates: Eli Manning

It doesn't matter whether or not you think Eli Manning belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. My opinion does not matter, either. You may be surprised to learn that the current opinions of many of the Hall of Fame voters themselves also don't matter all that much.

When it comes to the Great Eli Manning Hall of Fame Debate, Bill Belichick's opinion is the one that matters.

At some point soon, a few of the senior voters on the selection committee, the aristocracy of my industry who have built strong relationships with the NFL's most important individuals, will solicit Belichick's opinion on Manning's candidacy. They will do so privately and off the record, so Belichick will feel comfortable speaking candidly.

Belichick might tell them something like this: Golly, Eli was so ever-so-tough to prepare for! His regular-season statistics don't really capture how often he put the Giants in the right situation, got the ball to the right receiver, and did all the little things that make a quarterback truly great. I had to pull out all the stops in Super Bowl XLII and XLVI just to keep those games close, and he still got the better of us!

If Belichick provides this type of endorsement, it will sway the opinions of the skeptics and doubters on the committee, and Manning will sail into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

I think it's more likely that Belichick will say something like this: C'mon, you saw those games. The Giants defense killed us, not Manning! He was no harder to prepare for than Jake Delhomme or Donovan McNabb in that first batch of Super Bowls. He was a fine quarterback, but he's no all-time great.

If Belichick's testimonial sounds like this, Manning will get back-burnered until the Senior Committee takes pity on his candidacy decades from now.

Belichick's opinion is not the only one the voters will solicit when Manning's case is on the docket. Wade Phillips, Ron Rivera, Brian Dawkins, and others who coached or played on the defenses that often faced Manning will be consulted. Giants teammates and coaches will also be asked for endorsements, and siblings will no doubt provide theirs, though I don't think committee members need more evidence that Tom Coughlin really liked Manning or that Peyton loves him.

All of these expert opinions will be gathered privately, not on television shows or podcasts where Old Coach X knows he must politely endorse Local Favorite Y. The reason selection committee debates are kept private is not so voters can say things like "That S.O.B. denied me an interview back in 1997, so there's no way in hell I am voting for him," but so frank, off-the-record opinions by old coaches and players can be freely shared. If a former coach's brutal off-the-record takedown of some hometown hero somehow ended up on Pro Football Talk, no old-timer would ever speak openly to a voter again.

Voters will carefully consider the opinions of Cowboys, Washington, and Eagles coaches and defenders of the late 2000s and early 2010s. But when it comes to the guy who led the Giants to two Super Bowl victories against the mighty Patriots, Belichick will be the mega-influencer.

And that's how it should be. Would you vote against Manning if Belichick himself told you he deserved enshrinement? Almost certainly not. Would you vote for Manning if Belichick ripped him? Maybe if Phillips and others begged to differ, but maybe not when faced with 14 other worthies on a finalist ballot. The voters will treat Belichick's testimony the same way.

Since I can't text Belichick and ask him what he thinks—and would not be allowed to share his remarks if I could—a deep dive into Manning's iffy statistics, playoff accomplishments, and historical comparisons would be entirely missing the point. So let's go in a more fruitful direction.

Straw Man Massacre

Eli Manning Hall of Fame arguments may be the most superficial, ill-informed, and dismissive conversations on the Internet, and that's saying something. Most of the discourse boils down to a speaker/blogger/poster assuring us that while smart people know Manning is not Hall of Fame-worthy, those stupid voters can't wait to enshrine him on the first ballot because they are obsessed with RINGZ, or are biased toward big-market players or quarterbacks, or are simply dazzled by famous names, or for some other arbitrary/silly criteria.

Let me address a few of these straw man arguments before they find their way onto the comment thread.

First, no voter seriously thinks: "Two Super Bowl RINGZ? We have no choice but to vote him in!" Most voters do, however, think: "Leading a team to two Super Bowl victories against a generational dynasty deserves at least some discussion," and I agree with them.

I get the impression from past comment threads that some readers don't think Super Bowls should count for a hill of beans, that Terry Bradshaw is no more deserving of a bust than Ken Anderson or Archie Manning, and so forth. It's as if players should not be rewarded for their accomplishments, but for what they might have been capable of doing under some experimental set of neutral circumstances. Frankly, I find that line of reasoning pedantic, contrarian, and a little weird. If Anderson is in your personal head-canon Hall but Troy Aikman isn't, then I suggest not trying to break ground on an actual exhibit.

Next, there is no New York bias in the Hall of Fame voting. Let me repeat this because it's such an important fact that so many people get wrong: THERE IS NO NEW YORK BIAS IN HALL OF FAME VOTING. If there's a New York bias, it's news to Joe Klecko, Phil Simms, Mark Gastineau, Tiki Barber, John Abraham, Leonard Marshall, and Mark Bavaro, to name a few recent examples of borderline players who would benefit from such a bias.

The Giants of the post-merger era are represented on the field by Bill Parcells, Lawrence Taylor, Harry Carson, Michael Strahan, and a bunch of guys like Fran Tarkenton and Kurt Warner who achieved greatness elsewhere. The Jets are represented by Parcells, Joe Namath, Curtis Martin, Kevin Mawae, and a similar set of Brett Favre/John Riggins characters. Do those lists suggest that either franchise benefitted from any sort of Big Apple bump?

I have no idea where the "New York bias" I am told about all the time on Twitter comes from. Maybe it comes from 20-somethings who just discovered Joe Namath's Pro Football Reference page and composed a scathing essay for some content farm about how he actually sucked. Maybe it's just sour grapes from Bengals and Falcons fans. At any rate, claiming a Giants or Jets player has some advantage is a great way to prove how little you know about the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Also, the "easier for quarterbacks" theory is also false. If anything, I think the criteria at quarterback is rather tough. Kurt Warner, whom I considered extremely qualified, got stuck at the finalist stage for two years. I'm less of a Ken Stabler fan, but he was an absolute superstar in the mid-1970s who waited 32 years to get in.

There are lots and lots of quarterbacks who were both successful and incredibly famous at their peaks who will receive serious consideration: Simms, Joe Theismann, Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb, Drew Bledsoe, Roman Gabriel, Boomer Esiason, Jim McMahon, John Hadl, Jim Hart, and so forth. Destined to join them are Tony Romo, Carson Palmer, Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, and others of our era. Many of these quarterbacks became announcers or remained in the public eye in other ways after retirement. That added fame did nothing for their candidacies. Charlie Conerly quarterbacked the Giants for a decade, led them to a championship, became the literal Marlboro Man and married a freakin' sportswriter but never got past the finalist stage. The famous, well-connected, New York quarterback with ringz thing isn't a thing, folks.

If it's easier for a quarterback to reach the Hall of Fame than a guard, that's because quarterbacks are far more important than guards, and the fifth-best quarterback in an era makes a far greater contribution to his team and the league than the second-best guard (unless it's 1922 or something). I think the Hall of Fame accurately reflects this reality.

Finally, the criteria used by voters is diverse and complex. Debates among the Hall of Fame committee are not barroom arguments. Testimonials are huge, but stats also matter (Aaron Schatz and I have both been consulted now and then), as does a certain degree of dead reckoning. And while some voters do indeed use subjective rules-of-thumb like "signature moments" or "telling the story of the NFL" when evaluating candidates, such criteria are not used by all voters, are not popular among some voters, and aren't the hobby horses they're sometimes portrayed as.

For example, it will soon be time to choose among Steve Smith, Anquan Boldin, Andre Johnson, and others at wide receiver, and I think Steve Smith's broken-arm touchdown catch is a "signature moment" which exemplifies something which sets him apart from some similar wide receivers. Similarly, the effort to get Don Coryell into the Hall of Fame has been based around the fact that you cannot "tell the story of the NFL" without his contributions to modern offense, even if that's not quite the way it's presented. That said, no one is putting Nick Foles in the Hall of Fame for the Philly Special, and Alan Faneca wasn't kept out because his contribution to football's grand narrative was minor. There's nothing wrong with voters using framing devices to determine what makes one candidate stand out among many.

Now let's circle back to Eli Manning. He won't be inducted simply because he's a successful New York quarterback. No one on the committee will jam a finger up their nose and say "duhhhh, he won ringz so he must be good." Stats, of course, will not get him in: we covered that in the Matt Ryan discussion. Manning's "signature moment" is a fourth-quarter drive marked by a near pick-six and a miracle catch; I don't think close examinations of those Super Bowls will make anyone cape very hard for Eli.

That leaves the story of the NFL, which is the bin Manning's accomplishments really fall into. The only 2007-2011 Giants enshrinee right now is Strahan, who retired after Super Bowl XLII. It feels as though a team that won two Super Bowls in five years should have more than half a Hall of Famer.

Tom Coughlin deserves serious consideration. Coughlin isn't popular among folks under AARP age for a variety of reasons, some of them legitimate. But if you don't think Manning was anything more than a pretty good quarterback, you're almost forced to assume that Coughlin had to be an all-time great coach to coax ordinary Giants rosters through two playoff runs. Throw in Coughlin's success with the expansion-era Jaguars and I believe he's a strong candidate. He came across as a buffoon late in his career, but so did Al Davis and Mike Ditka, among many others.

Justin Tuck should have won one of those Super Bowl MVP awards, but he's not a serious Hall of Famer. Perhaps Jason Pierre-Paul gets two more rings with Tom Brady and assembles a case. Search all you want, but the only serious candidates representing both the 2007 and 2011 Giants are Coughlin and Manning. If we want the Hall of Fame to tell "the story of the NFL," whatever the hell that means, we probably need Manning.

I don't find that argument compelling. But I do believe it adds a reason for Manning to get onto finalist lists so the committee can scour their sources for expert opinions. And even if those sources are lukewarm-at-best about Manning's credentials (as I feel they will be), the "story of the NFL" rationale could propel him into Canton many years from now, when memories of just about everything but Super Bowls has faded and young 'uns are calling us dumb boomers for keeping such an obviously amazing player out.

The Five-Year Itch

The Pro Football Hall of Fame administration has been slowly tweaking the voting process for several years. Ex-players, coaches, and execs have been added to the selection committee, first as observers but now as at-large voting members. Some folks I have spoken to believe media members will be increasingly replaced by former NFL personalities in the years to come.

It's tempting to think that former players and coaches will make better voters than media members. I believe just the opposite is true. Tony Dungy and Bill Polian are current voters. With all respect for their careers, how much do you really trust their judgment when voting for candidates? What does their presence on the committee mean for Reggie Wayne and Ronde Barber, who played for them? If Wayne and Barber benefit, players such as Torry Holt and LeRoy Butler could get back-burnered as a result. And this is before we start to worry about a candidate who affirms or contradicts some coach-turned-moralist's worldview.

Adding more ex-players will actually result in a less-informed committee. Deion Sanders had no idea who Kevin Byard was one year after Byard led the NFL in interceptions, and Sanders is a freakin' television analyst. How much attention do you think Random Legend X is really paying to the current NFL? Do you really think they're watching and studying as closely as Peter King, Dan Pompei, Jarrett Bell, or Charean Williams? A former All-Pro isn't going to text 10 other All-Pros to ask their opinions. He'll go with his gut, which will sometimes mean shooting down a candidate who yanked his facemask once or gave up one touchdown he remembers. I've asked a few Hall of Famers about candidates in the past and heard things like "I don't think Ed Reed is a Hall of Famer" or "me and my teammates were far better than [insert recent all-time great position unit]." Old-timers offer these same opinions to voters, who curate out the fogeyism and act as a buffer between old grudges/favors and bad selections.

Instead of adding more old curmudgeons to the committee, the Hall administrators should be trying to clear the backlog of qualified candidates. That will generate more fan enthusiasm while addressing the credibility issues that come from annual high-profile "snubs."

I have proposed a simple fix both to voters (who have no power to change the process besides forwarding a suggestion to an administrator) and in past columns at other outlets. Let's call it the Five-Year Rule. Any fifth-time finalist is automatically put to a special vote. If a simple majority of the committee votes "yes," that individual gets in, and the new enshrinee does not count against that year's class of five. If a player cannot achieve a simple majority (which is unlikely), their case is remanded to the Senior Committee, where it's likely to marinate for quite a while.

To use last year's balloting as an example, Tony Boselli, Alan Faneca, and John Lynch would all be put to a separate vote. Most likely, all three would be inducted by simple majority. That would open up two more spots in the 2021 class, perhaps for Zach Thomas or LeRoy Butler, and clear Boselli off the 2022 ballot.

This simple fix would NOT open the floodgates for dozens of borderline candidates. It would lower the bar a bit. But despite the fact that many fans claim they prefer a "small hall," most intuitively want the bar lowered to the point where Zach Thomas doesn't have to wait four years.

My five-year rule would create a few classes with seven or eight inductees from the regular committee, all of them guys whom have been on the doorstep of induction for years. After a few years, the worst of the logjams would clear through, and the rule would only be applied to individual cases now and then.

My five-year rule would save the committee endless discussions about the same players. It also saves the candidates additional years of disappointment. It's important to remember that long-time finalists are human beings hoping to receive a major honor. Some are like Lynch and have plenty of other football-related things to do. For others, enshrinement could be one of the biggest things they are looking forward to in their lives, or it could help the family of a deceased player/coach preserve his legacy. Eight years of "close, but no cigar" is a rotten thing for longtime finalists, especially when the underlying issue isn't the individual's qualifications, but an arbitrary limit on inductees.

My five-year rule would eliminate the logjam and backlog discussions that I've talked about time and again throughout this series. It would make it easier to accept or reject borderline cases on their own terms immediately instead of shunting them to the back of the deli line. It would probably smooth the path to Canton for players such as Willie Anderson, Kevin Williams, Ronde Barber, Andre Johnson, and others we have talked about over the last six weeks.

It could even smooth the path for someone like Eli Manning. But for now, his path, appropriately enough, probably goes through Bill Belichick.

Comments

177 comments, Last at 22 Jul 2021, 10:05am

1 Saves them disappointment?!…

Saves them disappointment?! The disappointment is the best part! Watching Drew Pearson's dreams die in real time gets funnier EVERY TIME I SEE IT.

 

Manning spent most of his career as the third best QB in the division behind McNabb and Romo, two dudes who will absolutely not go into the Hall. Manning will get in with an "Ugh, I guess" and then we can spend the rest of our lives arguing about it.

17 Manning spent most of his…

Manning spent most of his career as the third best QB in the division behind McNabb and Romo

Second best behind Romo. McNabb was trash post-2009 (and not great in 2009) and Manning's career peak was around 2009-2012. And to be fair to Manning, it's not right to exclude his postseason performance - just the games alone are 12 games, at a season-equivalent pace of ~3700-yards against top teams. 

(But I don't disagree)

50 Romo

Romo is probably the best QB that will never make the hall.  Because the story on him was that he was a 'choke artist'.  Really, the Cowboys of the era were a basket case and Romo was the only thing holding them together.

THEN, the Boys somehow lucked into Prescott who is ALSO putting up HOF caliber performances for a terribely run organization.

20 years from now, assuming Prescott comes back near 100% from injury, I would not be suprised if Romo and Prescott are the two best QBs not in the HOF.

69 I don't think Romo was…

In reply to by gomer_rs

I don't think Romo was better than Rivers, and you could also make a pretty strong case that Ryan was better than Romo (he has way more volume, and also better peak seasons by Approximate Value). But I agree that Romo was a near-HoF player.

71 Yeah I'm not sure why Romo…

Yeah I'm not sure why Romo is considered better than Philip Rivers. It's certainly not for postseason reasons.

While I agree Romo was often carrying extremely flawed teams, including years where the offensive line and defense were awful, that was also true for Philip Rivers.

174 Poor Phil

Troy Brown doesn't get that strip of Marlon McCree  in 2006 and it seems near certain that the Chargers win the SB that year. Rivers would be strolling into the Hall. 

35 McNabb’s final two years…

McNabb’s final two years were awful, but his best years were better than Eli’s. Frankly, take out McNabb’s rushing stats and their career averages are shockingly similar. McNabb had a better coach (for all of Andy’s well known flaws) but Manning had MUCH better receivers, at least until DeSean Jackson showed up. 

36 Career averages are close,…

Career averages are close, but Manning's career totals are significantly larger and his postseason performance is pretty significantly better (at least by ANY/A and passer rating). And the postseason stuff isn't exactly negligible in both of their cases given the volume.

Don't get me wrong, they're both not serious Hall candidates in my opinion, but I'd give the edge to Manning there. Still way below where I'd put my bar, and in my opinion probably below where the committee does too.

64 Yeah, which is why you'd…

Yeah, which is why you'd give him the nod for better career (based on pure passing) over McNabb. Then in some sense it's just McNabb's rushing versus Eli's better postseason performance to make up the difference... and really, McNabb's rushing wasn't that impressive.

But really this is all pointless, as neither of them should really be serious Hall candidates. I mean, I really wish we'd been able to see McNabb with a better surrounding cast, but even with one, I don't think McNabb would've been at a Hall level anyway (but above Eli - which just stresses how far below the bar I think Eli is).

177 "Career averages are close"…

"Career averages are close"

Which is a strike against Manning, not a good thing. The bulk of McNabb's career occurred in a much more stingy offensive environment than Eli's did.

The average team threw for about 3300 yards and 21 TD/18.5 INT from '99 up until 2008. McNabb's entire career as a starter is basically in that window.

In 2010, it was up to 3600 yards and 23/16. 

In 2012 it was up to 3700 yards and 25/14.

in 2015 it was up to 3900 yards and 26/14. 

And it has roughly stabilized over the last couple years at 38-3900 yards, 27 TDs, and 13 Ints for the average QB. 

 

 

Adjust for environment, and McNabb's rate stats are drastically better than Eli's, and his career stats aren't as far off. 

 

37 Tanier wrote a walkthrough…

Tanier wrote a walkthrough article all about McNabb some years back defending his legacy and harshly rebuking the popular philly talkshows that had come to deride McNabb so thoroughly as to make him a city wide punching bag. Unthinkably, I get a sense that this view is now the defacto judgement of McNabb, which is wholly sad. Its one thing for people in Washingon, New York, or Dallas to believe he was mr McChoke; but its ridiculous for Philadelphia fans to view him that way. Its not as if he Ben Simmonsed himself in every playoff appearance. Just unbelievable. 

I will mantain, McNabb outside of a season and a half of TO had probably the worst extended period of sub par pass catchers of any QB who managed to play as long as he did. I mean seriously, the best non TO receiver is who? Brian Westbrook? Chad Lewis? Todd Pinkston? My god

41 It’s probably DeSean, who…

It’s probably DeSean, who had notable limitations. But you can make a good argument for Westbrook. And he only had half a season with TO before Roy Williams snapped his leg. Owens went nuts the next year. 

73 I feel like McNabb is the…

I feel like McNabb is the anti-Eli Manning. Which isn't surprising given the Eagles postseason failures and the Giants postseason success. They were both basically middling-to-good QBs on great teams.

I mean seriously, the best non TO receiver is who? Brian Westbrook?

It's not easy to separate McNabb from his receivers, because the worst period of McNabb's career (in terms of receivers) was the earliest, until 2003. So was it his receivers, or was it just him improving? Most QBs do take 3-4 years to hit peak. 2004+ he didn't have a steady top receiver, but the receivers he did have were solid. Owens, obviously, then the combination of Westbrook/Reggie Brown/Stallworth in 2006, and then Westbrook/Curtis, and then by 2008 DeSean Jackson showed up. Literally his receiving corps from any of those years were light years above the pre-2004 days, even if they changed frequently.

They still weren't good, mind you, but if you're comparing to, say, Eli - New York had a pretty strong receiver drought early on, too, with Manning throwing to the corpse of Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress whenever he was around. And then after that it was "who's healthy this year?" I mean, it's a bit funny. Until OBJ - at which point Manning was in decline - none of Eli's "leading receivers" ended up being a long-term success, and he had a pretty rotating cast of middling guys too.

So, I mean, without a doubt McNabb had terrible receivers, but in my opinion they weren't far and away worse than Manning's over a similar timespan. Manning of course got OBJ at the end, but by that point in McNabb's career he was nearly shot.

82 He mentioned the game of …

He mentioned the game of "Who's healthy this year?". Cruz was amazing for 1.5 seasons before getting derailed by injuries. Nicks was supremely gifted, but also seemingly always injured. For that matter, Plax also qualifies even before his self-inflicted injury. Any of them were way better than the Pinkston/FredEx Eagles receivers, but they never seemed to be on the field at the same time.

I'd also mention the 2008 Giants was easily the best of the Coughlin era, and they were a throwback run/run/run/bomb offense.

93 Any of them were way better…

Any of them were way better than the Pinkston/FredEx Eagles

Yeah, I'm not arguing that the 1999-2003 Eagles weren't utter and complete garbage in terms of WRs. But you can't just assume McNabb with a solid receiving threat would've been a top QB those years, since he was young. In McNabb's prime - say 2004-2009 - I don't think it's clear his targets were significantly worse than Eli's at his prime.

92 I'm not underrating Nicks…

I'm not underrating Nicks and Cruz, I'm saying we don't have any way to separate them from Eli. Both of them were guys who just had short term good years and then were out of the league.

And in the same vein, I think you're seriously underrating Westbrook. In 2007 he was easily the best running back in the league, leading all RBs in both rushing and receiving DYAR, and with heavy receiving usage. That's Hall of Fame level of performance if he had been able to sustain it longer.

113 From 2004 thru 2007…

From 2004 thru 2007 Westbrook averaged 985 yd/yr with 4.68 yd/carry, and 75 catches/yr with a (typical RB) ypc of 9.3 yards.  Without digging thru the numbers I'd guess he was top 5 for RB yards from scrimmage for those years.  2008 was a bit down and then he got hurt.  After TO, whose performance despite serious injury was amazing, Westbrook was easily the top skill position player for the Eagles in SB39, even though the Pats' D limited his rushing yards.

3 I guess I'll be the first to…

I appreciate that Tanier affirmed how serious the voters take the job. 

I can also doubly agree...ex NFL players, including hall of famers, might be the most misinformed people to talk to when it comes to judging current NFL players.

I will say this: Right now it feels like there's a tremendous groundswell in media to proclaim Eli an obvious hall of famer. I think that's actually a product of something more than his name or where he plays. If the media, writ large, has been selling the idea of clutch for years and years, then axiomatically, you have no choice but to proclaim Eli a legend. It's 2 SBs, two MVPs, slaying the greatest dynasty ever, BB the evil dungeon master, etc etc. At this point, it feels like it's been repeated ad nauseam that it's become a fact.

In that sense, I think the hall of fame will feel tremendous pressure to vote him in, BB testimonials notwithstanding. 

8 Bill James wrote that players were unreliable narrators

I appreciate that Tanier affirmed how serious the voters take the job. 

I can also doubly agree: ex NFL players, including hall of famers, might be the most misinformed people to talk to when it comes to judging current NFL players.

Bill James wrote very persuasively that, in baseball, ex-players were horribly unreliable narrators about the great players of their heyday.  Memories acquire a nostalgic halo; all their buddies were great; they hold grudges from their playing days; etc etc etc.  You cannot just ignore the testimony of the guys who were really there; but you have to treat their evidence very, very carefully.

Football might be a little different.  The players retire younger; you're generally not asking 70-yr olds about the Boys of Summer or whatever.  But there's still rivalries, still the problem of how a player saw themself vs how they saw opponents.  If Steve Smith tells us that a defensive back was a punk – well, does that mean the DB wasn't good, or just that he pissed Smitty off one time? 

11   I appreciate that Tanier…

 

I appreciate that Tanier affirmed how serious the voters take the job. 

I think the problem, overall, is that while I'm sure the voters do take the job seriously... no one has a clue what the job actually is. As in, what the goal of the Hall is. It just seems like their voting is much more "let's enshrine the stories that we actually made up in the first place." I mean, read your comment again - "the media, writ large, has been selling the idea of clutch for years and years," and hey, who are the people voting the players in? They're the media. So unless they've just been doin' it for the clicks, when it comes to voting... they're just going to support the narratives they created. To me, taking the job seriously would mean throwing out all of those narratives and starting from scratch to really tell the history of the game. Especially guys that they missed.

I'm not disparaging the voters in that sense. It's just a natural extension of the overall issue of how football is framed in the media, and people's eyes in general. You read about "Montana to Rice" and "Manning to Harrison" and "Brady to Gronk," and so that's what you get in the Hall. And for the most part, they're not totally wrong. Which is the thing.

The problem is that every once in a while you get a team that breaks that mold, but media keeps old narratives. Everyone knows who Manning threw that TD to, for instance, but the flurry of Giants defensive plays are just "Brady incomplete."

13 Well, I think it depends on…

Well, I think it depends on which members of the media are voting. Dr.Z, for example, was a very serious, very thoughtful writer. I suspect Tanier would be a good voter too. Maybe they both think clutch as a concept does exist in some capacity, but never fell into the clickbait torrent the way others make a living out of. God help us all if someone like Skip Bayless was a hall of fame voter.

Look, overall, I think the Hall does a pretty good job. I like it a lot more than the NBA hall of fame for example. And to be honest, offense and qb are always going to be easier to vote in because they touch the ball. Defense is and will always be a true team side of the ball thing which makes it a chore to segment out the hall of famers. I don't think that reality is avoidable. It explains why the Rams will have 4 hall of famers and the Ravens will cap at 2. Its probably not even wrong TBH. That Ravens defense had a lot of very good players. Ngata, Boulware, McCalister, Rolle, Trevor Pryce, Bart Scott, Adalius Thomas, etc etc. None of them put together a full career to suggest they were hall of famers. 

However, with respect to Manning, my point remains. The media narrative of clutch sells. It generates barstool debates. Peyton vs Tom began exclusively because of clutch.  FIrst take's popularity was almost entirely due to Tim Tebow and the clutch concept. And once successful, it was used for future Lebron vs Kobe, Lebron vs MJ, etc etc ongoing. If Lamar loses another playoff game, we will be hearing that next if it isn't a thing already.

 That's not all the media or maybe not even most of them. But it is definitely the most vocal, most influential, the argument that sings loudest. 

16   None of them put together…

 

None of them put together a full career to suggest they were hall of famers. 

And Warner did? What am I missing? Guy looks like super-all-time great when surrounded by 4 other Hall of Fame players. Take those away, and the Rams bench him for Bulger and ditch him, the Giants bench him for Eli Manning, cuz hey, couldn't do much worse, then they ditch him. The Cardinals pick him up and he has to duke it out with Matt Leinart, and he has one great (not epic) year with the Cardinals and suddenly that's a "full Hall career"? Whereas the Ravens hold onto Suggs for 15 years and it's "I'm not so sure about this guy..."?

Again I'm not disparaging Warner. If people want him to be a Hall QB, fine. But you do that, and it's hard to argue that QBs (and WRs, and previously RBs and likely in the future TEs) don't have an easier path. And then you just can't argue with a straight face that the Hall mostly isn't "guys who did fantasy football stuff."

And to be honest, offense and qb are always going to be easier to vote in because they touch the ball. Defense is and will always be a true team side of the ball thing 

Yeah, I ridiculously disagree. It's just easier to talk about offensive players because they have numbers you can point to and you don't have to watch the game. The idea that offense is somehow less of a team thing than defense makes zero sense to me.

18 Your last point. I think we…

Your last point. I think we almost agree. Yes, the numbers help justify the on field results that otherwise might get lose to time and memory.

As for offense vs defense, I think receiver and QB have more control over their production and impact on an offense than any two defenders might. aMaybe in terms of pass rush it could be argued, but part of it comes down to this: Offense is proactive and defense is reactive. So in that sense, an offensive player will have more control over their production than the defense. 

20  I think receiver and QB…

 I think receiver and QB have more control over their production and impact on an offense than any two defenders might. 

I mean, I'll buy QB. I actually kinda think QB should just be flat separated off at this point, like coaches/contributors are. Don't buy WR. And obviously, you're totally neglecting rushing, where the guy who gets the stats has far less control over his production than the guys who don't. Although, to be fair, I think "Hall of Fame RB" is going to be an endangered species soon, even if Jerome Bettis and Fred Taylor (double ugh) are guys who slipped in before people started realizing what offensive linemen do.

But I still don't buy the offense/defense issue. Teams don't just plug and play all positions on defense like they do with RB. It's not the same position on all teams (Philly couldn't give a crap about linebackers, for instance, while old Tampa 2 linebackers are life or death), but on good defenses there are always certain guys that are just lynchpins, and teams just don't let them go.

With non-stat guys, I get the difficulty, but... these guys are media. They're the same people who vote for All Pro stuff. If you vote the same guy best at his position in the league for like, 6 out of 7 years in a row, how do you not put him in right away, when the guys you are putting in you didn't vote for nearly as much? How is that not admitting that you have no idea how to vote on stuff like that?

87 Funny, at the time I thought Warner was great

And Warner did? What am I missing? Guy looks like super-all-time great when surrounded by 4 other Hall of Fame players. Take those away, and the Rams bench him for Bulger and ditch him

It's funny you see it that way.  When I was watching those Greatest Show On Turf Rams, it seemed to me that Isaac Bruce & Torry Holt (and Az Hakim & Ricky Proehl) were nothing particularly special individually; that Warner made those guys.  The passer who people most frequently invoked when talking about him was Dan Marino: amazing deep accuracy & touch.

I got no problem with the idea that Marshall Faulk or Orlando Pace were the best players on that Rams offense.  But I don't agree at all that Warner was just along for the ride.

Warner lost the middle of his career to finger and hand injuries.  It's a reasonable take that this long middle period of ordinariness should keep him out of the Hall.  But he bookended his career with great performances.  Wikipedia notes that thru 2008, Warner owned the three highest single-game passing yard totals in the SB (since surpassed).  Warner is one of only 4 QBs to make SB starts with two different teams.  They also note that each year that Warner started every game, his team went to the SB – a sad comment on Warner's durability, but a compliment to his effectiveness.  Only Warner & Tarkenton & Peyton have thrown a hundred TD passes for two different teams.

Warner is still the most recent player to be league MVP and Super Bowl MVP in the same seasonHere's the full list of players who in their career were ever named both league MVP and Super Bowl MVP:

  • Marcus Allen
  • Bradshaw
  • Brady
  • Terrell Davis
  • Elway
  • Mahomes
  • Peyton M
  • Montana
  • Rodgers
  • Emmitt
  • Starr
  • Warner
  • Steve Young

Every one of these players is in the Hall.  That makes intuitive sense to me.

(Confusingly, there's Larry Brown the Redskins RB who was named league MVP in 1972; and there's a corner named Larry Brown who played for the Cowboys and was named MVP of SB 30.  He had 2 INTs when the Cowboys beat Neil O'Donnell's Steelers for the 1995 championship.  Not the same guy!  Neither is in the Hall.  Redskins Brown is sometimes mentioned by Washington fans as a snub; his MVP and Offensive POYseason helped George Allen's team to the Super Bowl.  Cowboy Brown was a starter on all 3 of the Dallas championship teams of the 90s, never a Pro Bowler.)

94 Note this statement: …

Note this statement:

Warner is still the most recent player to be league MVP and Super Bowl MVP in the same season. [..] Every one of these players is in the Hall.  That makes intuitive sense to me.

Now read mine again:

If people want him to be a Hall QB, fine. But you do that, and it's hard to argue that QBs (and WRs, and previously RBs and likely in the future TEs) don't have an easier path.

League MVP and Super Bowl MVP are QB (by far) and WR/RB (if seriously necessary) awards. Again - I'm not saying Warner shouldn't be in the Hall. I'm saying if you let him in because you're so impressed by the league MVP and Super Bowl MVP, you have to admit it's easier for a QB (and WR and RB) to get in. Non-stat players aren't going to win those awards. Even if they deserve to. I sure as hell wouldn't've given last year's Super Bowl MVP to Brady, but you can't give a Super Bowl MVP to two linebackers.

102 Of course; but maybe

if you let him [Warner] in because you're so impressed by the league MVP and Super Bowl MVP, you have to admit it's easier for a QB (and WR and RB) to get in.

Yeah of course. For example, Guards practically have to levitate to get in. 

I think maybe I blundered into an argument you were having with someone else.
 

...but you can't give a Super Bowl MVP to two linebackers.

Maybe?  I wish the SB media'd had the balls to do it. 

There is precedent.  Harvey Martin & Randy White (DE and DT) were co-MVPs when the 1977 Cowboy's crushed the Orange Crush Broncos in the SB.  I thought the last Tampa win, after the '02 season, that the Bucs DBs could have been awarded as co-MVPs, but they singled out safety Dexter Jackson, who caught two of Gannon's 5 INTs.

Previous linebackers to be named SB MVP were Von Miller, Malcom Smith, Ray Lewis, and Chuck Howley (in a game his team lost!).

Seems to me they coulda done it.

124 Yeah, that's the difficult…

Yeah, that's the difficult part when talking about the Hall of Fame. And I sometimes wonder if the Hall voters have the same problem: with stat guys, there's so much supporting data that really, you can make an argument for practically anyone. I mean, seriously, people are making an argument here for Eli Manning. This is a guy who never - not once - was voted into an All Pro team. Not even 1st team All Pro, All Pro anything. And only two of his Pro Bowls are real. 14 seasons primary starter. Twice he was considered one of the top 3 in his conference. He's not even remotely a remarkable football player.

Whereas with non-stat guys, they have to be remarkable. It can't be about what they did (because... they don't know what he did) it has to be about vague ideas of what he was capable of. That's why I just disagree massively with Mike that stat-guys can't just freaking walk in. Yeah, laugh all you want about interior OL, whatever. But we just saw a Super Bowl that was decided by non-stat guys. Saying "meh, those guys aren't as important, they shouldn't get in" is just wacko. (And, in my opinion, Super Bowl LII was decided by the interior OL). 

There is precedent.  Harvey Martin & Randy White (DE and DT) were co-MVPs when the 1977 Cowboy's crushed the Orange Crush Broncos in the SB. 

I think the big problem there is that the Super Bowl MVP thing is practically a flowchart at this point.

  • Winning team QB over/around 300 yards? MVP. Otherwise,
  • Winning team WR over/around 100 yards? MVP. Otherwise,
  • Winning team RB well over 100 yards? MVP. Otherwise,
  • Did some defensive guy do something impressive stat-wise? MVP. Otherwise,
  • Please tell me some special teams guy scored a touchdown. Give it to him. Otherwise,
  • God this game sucked. Just give it to the winning team QB anyway.

Brady was going to get the MVP just because he had a good game, and the only thing David and White did was utterly shut down an elite offense. But no stat explosion by either.

135 That SB MVP flowchart has…

That SB MVP flowchart has been around longer than some might think. I'm still annoyed that Desmond Howard got the MVP over Reggie White in SB XXXI. Yes Howard had a great game and that TD in the 3rd quarter (that didn't matter), but White was a monster, especially in the 4th quarter. Loved watching him play and he wasn't as good in GB as he was in Philly. Peak JJ Watt (which sadly didn't last as long as any of us hoped) gave me Reggie flashbacks. While I think Donald is a better defender than Watt the differences in the responsibilities they have still make me enjoy seeing what Reggie and peak JJ did more, even if with some time and chance to watch it again I appreciate and Donald is doing more. Odd I know.
 

Of course I'm also annoyed about Brady getting the MVP last year when it was clearly the Bucs D. While it really was the combo of David and White shutting everything down in the short and intermediate passing game, White had the conventional stats that would have made giving him the MVP palatable for the masses. 12 tackles, 2 for losses, and an INT for the D that shut down that hyped KC offenses would have been easy for those with less in depth knowledge to understand. Though yes while those are good stats for a linebacker they aren't blow you out of the water stats either. But someone on that Bucs D should have gotten it, and they had a player who really was instrumental in what the D did with stats to back it, so giving it to Brady was a bad choice.

 

And all that is to mostly just agree with you that it just gets weird for the Hall with stats and that the no stat (and "low stat") guys really need to stand out more and that is all still tied in with the awards given out. So those don't necessarily clarify things because they are quite often just another symptom of the same problem.

 

Oh and the obligatory, put Butler in the Hall already! Coaches admitting they game planned around him, 4 time AP, easily passing the eye test, etc, etc.

146 I agree with the above with…

I agree with the above with one exception.  White earned the MVP over a special teamer with 3-4 great plays.  IMO, Brady was 1st half MVP by a small margin but the D was 2nd half MVP by a huge one.  The exception concerns whether the TD return "didn't matter".  Curtis Martin had just barged in for a 20-yard TD that made the score 27-21, the announcers were saying the Pack DL looked gassed in the overheated Superdome and we Pats fans were looking forward to a come-from-behind victory.  Howard, with plenty of teammate help, punctured that balloon in about 15 seconds, then Reggie and crew destroyed the Pats' offense the rest of the game.

148 I was 19 years old when I…

I was 19 years old when I watched that game on a 19" CRT television in the dorms with a bunch of Packer fans. When they announced Desmond Howard as the MVP over Reggie White, I remember wondering WTF the voters were thinking. I wasn't even a huge football fan yet back then - it was actually fourth for me, behind basketball, baseball, and tennis - but Reggie just dominated that game, and everyone around me agreed. It probably helped that I was a Giants fan who spent his formative years watching Reggie and LT, and went into the game with a greater appreciation for defensive football than the average fan. 

I think that might be the first moment I ever consciously saw through the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect (though I wouldn't actually learn the term until much, much later). It was also the early days of the internet, pre-social media, but I remember it being a pretty jarring realization that maybe all those slick and polished journalists don't actually know what they're doing. 

To bring this full circle, Eli deserved that second Super Bowl MVP, but the first one really should have gone to Justin Tuck. IIRC, the FO game thread was full of comments saying the same. 

149 Yeah, Howard was the reason…

Yeah, Howard was the reason I put that bullet point in. The "eff it, just give it to the QB" was for Brady in 2001. QB puts up 145 yards passing, defense forces 3 turnovers and scores and the QB gets the MVP. Um. What.

162 IMO, 95% of the rationale…

IMO, 95% of the rationale for naming Brady as MVP took place in the final 1:53.  That game-winning drive was a classic - deep in Pats territory and no TOs.  The rest of the game belonged to the Pats D as a whole, though Ty Law's lead-changing pick-six might've pointed the MVP toward him.

165 Actually, the even funnier…

Actually, the even funnier thing is that the only touchdown the Pats had also came in a 2-minute drill in the first half. Which means that literally over half of Brady's passing yardage (and half of his completions) came in under 4 minutes of play

2 minute drills were apparently literally the only thing Brady knew how to do at that point. Can you imagine what Law and the Pats D must've been thinking? They're in a slugfest with the Greatest Show on Turf, holding them to their lowest (net) point total of the year, I think. And this doofus young QB is doing nothing both halves. Only thing that's saving you is that your punter's having a hell of a day.. and then the end of half, everyone's like "yay, wow, Brady" and you're like "WTF dude, where was that all game." 

I mean, granted, it's probably Belichick who was like "don't you dare throw unless the guy's like 5 feet away" or something, until it didn't matter and he just let him go.

 

167 The only other drive where…

The only other drive where Brady accomplished much was his first.  It started at the NE 3 and finished at the 48 and 2 Brady passes totaling 31 yards were the major gains.  Pretty thin day, though he also took only one sack and protected the ball throughout.  Not messing up has value.

168 IDK where to jump into this but

The Rams defense was only allowing 17.1 PPG that year (8th in DSRS) and the Pats ended with 20 that game. 

Meanwhile, if we look at it QB vs QB, Brady came out on top in passer rating thanks to not throwing 2 INT like Warner. Like you said, not messing up has value. 

But going back to this year defending Brady, it's MVP, not MVsideoftheball. Just pick one player. I am not a fan of co-awards. Have the cojones to pick one. Yes, some years are going to be tough and close, while others not so much but please just think about it and pick one. I promise you it's not that serious if you flip later. 

But if we're going to bash the SB MVPs Brady got, we need to give them to Malcolm Butler and James White, not the other White (whose INT was not impressive like Butlers, and of course he racked up tackles he's a LB!) and whoever else (although Law may have a case).

170 The Rams defense was only…

The Rams defense was only allowing 17.1 PPG that year (8th in DSRS) and the Pats ended with 20 that game. 

13. The Patriots defense scored 7 of those. If you want to compare apples-to-apples, the Rams gave up 15.6 points/game on defense, Patriots scored 13. The other points the Rams gave up that year were kick returns and defensive scores. Patriots offense was well below the Rams average on yards/play, first downs/game, third down conversion %, yards/game.

But the Rams also scored 29 net points per game on offense and only scored net 10 that game. So in other words, the Patriots offense scored slightly worse than average, and the Patriots defense gave up crazy less than average. And, I mean, sure, not messing up has value. Fine. Give the MVP to Vinatieri, then. He didn't mess up either, and actually scored more points directly than Brady did!

Just pick one player. I am not a fan of co-awards. Have the cojones to pick one.

If it was a single person choosing, I'd say sure, fine. But with multiple people voting, when multiple people are really the best choice, it splits their votes and allows someone who's really not worthy to get it. I mean... see Hall voting. It's Arrow's impossibility theorem - without a dictatorial chooser, voting systems can't be fair. And simple majority especially can easily lead to the worst choice, the one actually preferred by the fewest voters over the other options.

But, I mean, if I'm the dictatorial chooser, Law's obviously a better candidate than Brady was.

176 Side Note

This season, I think we see the Pats really try to keep working that early-2000s, ball control, defense reliant strategy. It was handicapped last year by the all the COVID opt-outs, and Newton's propinquity for giving the ball to the other team. Won't matter if it's Cam or Jones starting. The Pats D is going to be a LOT better. The offense, well, if it's even average that's a huge improvement. 

127 League MVP and Super Bowl…

League MVP and Super Bowl MVP are QB (by far) and WR/RB (if seriously necessary) awards. Again - I'm not saying Warner shouldn't be in the Hall. I'm saying if you let him in because you're so impressed by the league MVP and Super Bowl MVP, you have to admit it's easier for a QB (and WR and RB) to get in

I don't think you are understanding the 'easier to get in' argument. Tanier is saying something like: QBs are 5x more important than skill position players, and 10x more important than non-skill position players, but QBs are only 3x and 7x more likely to get in, respectively, so relative to the importance of their position they have a harder path.

129 If that was his argument,…

If that was his argument, then he must think RBs are the most ludicrously easy position to get in, because there are *way* too many of them relative to the guys who are actually responsible for their success.

154 That is something close to…

That is something close to my argument. But it is not my position about RBs, for whom the bar in this century is incredibly high.

The (for lack of a concise term) "replaceability" of running backs is reflected in the fact that most have shorter careers. The running back position in the NFL is defined by players who are superstars for 2-3 year intervals, then fade well before they create a Hall of Fame level sustained body of work. I don't think the committee needs to concern itself with RB analytics too much when only one RB comes across their desks every 3 or 4 years. 

And please don't turn the previous statement into another tedious Terrell Davis conversation.

156 But TD had a short... In…

But TD had a short... 

In all seriousness, this is something that is not receiving enough attention. One could easily envision Derrick Henry getting hurt next year and his career as a top rusher being essentially over. It seems to me if you want to have a long career as a running back, you need to be Alvin Kamara or Darren Sproles. Ie players who teams will platoon intentionally and then use a lot in the pass game. Tilt them too far as a rusher and they will get used up like Le'Veon Bell.

I feel like running back will be the new kicker in the hall of fame, one or two per decade. 

158 I'm just really confused by…

I'm just really confused by this idea. RB careers aren't getting shorter because we're like, smashing them harder with hammers or something. They're getting shorter because most of a running back's performance doesn't come from him, it comes from the line, and so obviously, they're only useful very near their peak, and teams are replacing them faster.

The Jaguars kept giving Fred Taylor carries even though Maurice Jones-Drew got better results. It's not that Jones-Drew was a better RB, just like Conner wasn't a better RB than Bell. It's just that Taylor had declined so much by then that any random RB would likely be better, or at least wouldn't be that much of a drop. But RBs have always declined that fast. It's just that teams kept giving those RBs carries because they had these huge contracts. Now, they're retaining the guys blocking, and so RBs are disposable.

I mean, why else would RB contract values be declining in relative value while guard/center/blocking tackle contracts are rising? And I mean, rising a ton - the only center pre-2010 who had a $10M+ (adjusted) contract was Hall of Famer Kevin Mawae, and there are seven active right now!

164 What? Gurley and Bell are…

What? Gurley and Bell are both out of the league because they demanded more money, their teams said "ha," and they let them go, and they bounced to other teams with bad offensive lines and it became flamingly obvious how not epic they were.

Why would running backs be declining faster? Sports science is better and they're being used less.

The biggest RB contracts in history are almost all giant failures: Barry Sanders, gone in a year. Terrell Davis, completely shot immediately after. Shaun Alexander, Larry Johnson. All late-career extensions that blew up in the team's faces. All that changed is that teams stopped being dumb and stopped paying those guys, which means they had to change teams, and poof goes their career once the line changes.

--

That being said... this is all only for guys who are old school, primarily rushers. Given the transition to more like hybrid WR/RB types, really the key for the Hall (and media in general!) will be trying to understand that. I mean, Alvin Kamara's absolutely on a Hall pace right now in a sane world, and depending on how McCaffrey comes back, he is, too. Those guys are putting up like 500 total DYAR in a year. Skip Cook, Elliot, Henry and Gurley, those guys are the best RBs in the league right now.

160 You mean...

And please don't turn the previous statement into another tedious Terrell Davis conversation.

Another AWESOME Terrell Davis conversation, you mean.

112 The statement that Bruce and…

The statement that Bruce and Holt were made by Warner is nuts. Bruce put up a 119-1781-13 season in 1995 and led the NFL in receiving yards in 1996 with mediocre QBs, then remained a productive WR long after Warner left St. Louis. Holt put up five straight 1100+ yard seasons from 2003-2007 catching passes from Marc Bulger, including his career 2003 season. The offense was certainly better when Warner was at starting at QB (see the 2000 season when they were on pace to be the best offense of all time before Warner was hurt and replaced by Trent Green), but Bruce and Holt are both HOF level talents who would have succeeded anywhere.  

161 Good point about Bruce

The statement that Bruce and Holt were made by Warner is nuts. Bruce put up a 119-1781-13 season in 1995 and led the NFL in receiving yards in 1996

Good point.  I was wrong to Bruce "nothing special".  I was trying to squeeze in the contemporary comp of Warner to Marino, but overstated my case.

166 For what it's worth...

...I compared Isaac Bruce to Larry Fitzgerald in terms of DVOA and DYAR (both totals and ranks) about 2-3 weeks ago in the Frank Gore article discussion and at least IMO, Bruce compares favorably on those metrics to Fitzgerald, probably even when one adjusts for team and quarterback quality.

104 How?

One of my favorite facts is that Kurt Warner is, statistically, Carson Palmer with a ring.

Would you say that they had similar peak values?

111 Kurt Warner is Ken Anderson…

In reply to by JimZipCode

Kurt Warner is Ken Anderson with a ring: two separate peaks surrounding an injury-plagued and mediocre middle career, outstanding stats helped by a groundbreaking offense.

I am 100% comfortable with Warner getting in large part because he led three teams to Super Bowls and Anderson being out for only leading one.

19 Slay?

“Slaying the greatest dynasty ever”?  If you think they were slain, You must have slept through 2014-2019.

I think EM is a litmus test for whether someone is philosophically a big hall or a small hall person.

since I am a don’t care about the hall person…I personally do not care if he gets in or not.

sigh.  Another week of great content, another week of crappy displays on my iPad.

173 Well, slain in those…

In reply to by Raiderfan

Well, slain in those particular seasons. And with the whole 16-0 and challenging the 72 Fins legacy thing on the line the first game.

 

It's easy to forget that in the mid-00s through 2014, many people thought the Pats dynasty was, in fact, completely over, and that the rings they did win were perceived as devalued, because Belichick couldn't quite get it done for so many years, after having to surrender his video camera.

 

 

108 The quotes in the article…

The quotes in the article are, in fact, not real.

I am certain that Belichick has made complimentary public comments about Eli in the past. What I am referring to in the article is the private opinions that are shared off the record between coaches/execs/old players and the veteran NFL writers they trust. 

4 "...that Terry Bradshaw is…

"...that Terry Bradshaw is no more deserving of a bust than Ken Anderson or Archie Manning, and so forth. It's as if players should not be rewarded for their accomplishments, but for what they might have been capable of doing under some experimental set of neutral circumstances." (checks to make sure the quote is correct)

I think this statement by itself is not what most of us are arguing. Joe Montana played with a bunch of hall of famers, but no one is suggesting, despite his favorable circumstances, that he isn't a hall of famer.

To me the above statement is characterizing context. If all Terry Bradshaw had to his name were four super bowls on defense heavy teams, it should be a discussion about how deserving HE himself is as a hall of famer. 

The neutral circumstances thought experiment serves as a way to answer the question about the player in a vacuum, which admittedly is a very imprecise measure but more informative to me than saying, "well he won a bunch of super bowls he's in."

 

32 Rings

I love Tanier's writing but I have to disagree with him and agree with theslothook.  Throw out Eli's Super Bowl wins and ask yourself, "Is he HoF worthy?"  To me, the answer is clear.  "No".    Eli is in the Hall of Very Good but not the HoF.

The NFL is the ultimate team sport.  While QB is the most important and valuable position on a team, a great QB cannot lead a lousy team to a championship (unlike the NBA).    So why do people put so much emphasis on SB wins?   It's really unfair to a lot of great players who played on lousy teams (and QBs who had lousy defenses).

 

 

43 Plunkett?

In reply to by CincySaint

Throw out Eli's Super Bowl wins and ask yourself, "Is he HoF worthy?"

Is this the right place to talk about Jim Plunkett?

45 You know whats funny? To…

In reply to by JimZipCode

You know whats funny? To this day, the single best qb playoff performance I have ever seen belongs to Joseph Vincent Flacco. Yes, Joe Freaken Flacco. 

47 Flacco and...

the single best qb playoff performance I have ever seen belongs to...

You and a few others, I think.  The 11 TD / 0 INT record that Flacco tied that post-season, belonged to Joe Montana (1989).

That game in Denver was a helluva game.  Kick return TDs!  INT return TDs!  Double overtime!  Unbelievable.

140 Nick Foles...

...would like a word with you about the 2017 NFCCG and Super Bowl 52.  (I personally think Foles played slightly better in the NFCCG against the Vikings than he did in the Super Bowl against the Patriots, mainly because the Eagles' offensive line played noticeably better in the latter game, but I'm probably in the minority in that opinion.)

One other thing I'll note - if the Broncos' Raheem Moore doesn't massively screw up in that divisional playoff game, you aren't writing that comment about Joe Flacco.  Flacco obviously deserves credit for playing the way he did in the playoffs after that particular play, but he did get a little lucky that he even had the opportunity to play in those games.

139 I think you are understating the importance of championships

In reply to by CincySaint

In all team sports, the ultimate goal is to win the overall championship.  That SHOULD count for something in a player's career, and multiple championships should carry additional weight.  Now in football especially, it SHOULDN'T be the defining characteristic; when it is it becomes the reason why guys like Lynn Swann* and John Stallworth* get selected for the PFHOF and why some Pittsburgh Steelers fans want to put in another 3-4 guys from the 1970s Steelers in the Hall of Fame.  (Those Steelers teams had a few great players and a few very good players who sometimes were made to look great by their teammates.  It is important to make that distinction when evaluating players for the Hall of Fame.)  But championships should count for something; to say they are a minor part of the story is to focus too much on the details and lose sight of the bigger story.

The issue with Eli Manning isn't that his two Super Bowl wins should be discounted; it is that without his two Super Bowl wins he has (at least IMO) nowhere near a Hall of Fame-caliber resume.  I think it is generous to say that Eli was a Hall of the Very Good quality player without his Super Bowl wins; I don't think he'd even come close to sniffing the Hall of Fame without those wins.  At least IMO, Eli was an average NFL quarterback when you look at his career as a whole.  He was very good for about a 4-5 year period (2008 to 2012) but he wasn't genuinely great during that period.  If Manning had played at that level for say 8-10 years (never truly great but very good for a long time) AND had the two Super Bowl wins, he's likely on the right side of the PFHOF cut line; it would be hard to keep him out of the Hall of Fame.  However, for most of the rest of his career outside of his 2008 to 2012 prime, Manning was up and down, arguably more down than up.  The two Super Bowl victories are what make him someone who at least merits Hall of Fame consideration, but his overall career is why (IMO) he shouldn't be in the PFHOF even with the two Super Bowl wins.  It is like a less extreme version of Jim Plunkett argument (who some people want to put in the PFHOF but has even less of a case than Eli Manning); winning playoff games and especially Super Bowls should carry more weight on a game-by-game basis than winning regular season games, but winning and performing well in the regular season is important too because teams rarely make even make the playoffs when they don't play well in the regular season.

*Regarding Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, it should be noted that people who actually remember Swann's career (I remember the tail end of it) know Swann WAS considered a great receiver, one of the top receivers in the NFL when healthy, when he was playing.  He was selected to the 1970s All-NFL Team for a reason.  However, even relative to his era (which was very run heavy for at least half of his career and tough for both quarterbacks and receivers), Swann did not have huge stats on a season by season basis.  Because his career was fairly short (9 seasons, 1974-1982) and he didn't have many/any truly MASSIVE statistical seasons even relative to his era, Swann probably falls short of the PFHOF standard in most people's opinions.

Once Swann was inducted, it became hard to keep Stallworth out of the Hall of Fame, even though Stallworth was considered the Steelers' #2 WR behind Swann for most of the first nine years of his career.  (Stallworth and Swann both entered the NFL in 1974.)  Both guys played important roles on a team that won four Super Bowls (though Swann was a key contributor on three of those teams and Stallworth was a key contributor on only two of those teams), both were considered standout receivers at their best, but Stallworth had much better career stats than Swann because he played five additional years.  It didn't make logical sense when you look at the stats to have Swann in the Hall of Fame and Stallworth NOT in the Hall of Fame.

I'll note that if Stallworth had been inducted into the HOF first, it would have quickly led to Swann's induction as well because the argument would have been if the #2 WR on a team that won four Super Bowls is in the HOF, why isn't the #1 WR from those same teams, who was generally considered a better player at the time both guys played, NOT in the HOF?

155 There is a LOT here, but I…

There is a LOT here, but I just want to confirm that, yes, Stallworth is indeed the iffier choice than Swann, who received ringing endorsements from opposing coaches and defenders. 

And also: the committee when Swann and Stallworth were inducted did not include the same members as this committee, didn't have the same resources, etc. I get a little testy when I see things like "those dumb voters picked Swann" as if the same committee has been in cryostasis like Bucky for the last 20 years. 

 

6 Why five players?

Is there a rule that "5" is the max number of inductees in any year?  Why?

For fun I looked at the number Hall Of Famers who were on the field in each Super Bowl.  From 1980 to 2005, an average of 5 Hall of Famers played in each Super Bowl: 3 on the winners and 2.2 on the losers.  The low was 2: Redskins-Broncos, Darrell Green & Elway (I think Russ Grimm was hurt?).  Also Pats-Panthers with Brady & Ty Law, but that number could change.  The high was 9, when the Cowboys played the Bills.  I focused on starters, so I could very well have missed situations similar to Terrell Suggs drafting along with the Chiefs to another ring; the average per year could be higher than 5.  
(Before 1980 it was a completely different Hall environment – the avg was double in 1966-80.)

My simplistic question is, if we know that there are approximately five Hall of Famers on the field most every year just in the SB, then how can 5 be an appropriate annual limit for HOF inductions?

I get how the question is over simplistic – the Super Bowl Hall of Famers don't just vanish after playing in that game, many play in multiple SBs – but still those rosters are only 1/16th of the league.  In any year there are HOF-caliber players who don't even make the SB.  The backlog is real. 

How can 5 be the right limit?  Do voters agree that 5 is probably too low a limit?  Who makes the rule about 5?  Can that rule be changed?

10 Da' Rulez for years was only…

In reply to by JimZipCode

Da' Rulez for years was only 5 from the selection committee, while the Seniors could add others. And the selection committee voted on players, coaches, execs, owners and groundskeepers if they came up.

There was also a final vote on the "5," who needed I think a 75% majority from the floor to be officially enshrined. Decades ago, it appears that some guys didn't make it through on that final vote, so there were classes of 4 guys, at a time when they were still trying to process Steel Curtain and Lombardi Packers types. That only made the current situation worse by knock-along. The final vote disappeared years ago. Not sure how many.

Coaches and execs were also moved to a separate category just a few years ago. So now it is five PLAYERS, with the headseats and suits separate, so Alan Faneca no longer had to split votes with Tony Dungy and Don Coryell in recent years.

So now we can and will see some 7-to-9 person classes, but with a Seniors guy and some coaches/execs. It's still just five PLAYERS from the general committee.

I think voters have different opinions on whether or not they would want expanded classes. But most of the ones I talked to would be happy if the backlog of obvious candidates were waved in so they could at least start somewhat fresh,

15 I think voters have…

I think voters have different opinions on whether or not they would want expanded classes

I really think the class that should be expanded is the senior committee. And then maybe it'd even be better if they could "refer" a candidate to the Senior Committee after like, 20 years or so to clear the ballot faster, because they seriously don't like making final decisions on guys (of course your 'Five Year Rule' is similar to that, and maybe better - but I think expanding the number of senior candidates and allowing referral better matches my idea of what the Hall should be). It's pretty clear that there are some guys that the regular voters just aren't sure about but there were enough people who are adamant about him to let him get to finalist for visibility. And that's just silly-pants: with only 5 slots to get in and 15 finalists, there aren't enough slots to burn on publicity stunts. And I'm sure the voters had to have gotten sick of debating Kuechenberg for basically a decade.

Plus, there have been several guys that the Senior Committee let in really quickly, so if there are players who they do consider locks, it should be possible to fast-track them to ensure they and their family are around to be inducted.  

The Senior Committee's got a far longer backlog, after all.

I do agree that going with "NFL guys" is a challenge - it's a fraternity, after all. But I think using active media guys doesn't help much, because they're just going to push the narratives they themselves created. Honestly I don't know of a good solution there. In some sense I like the idea of the Senior Committee being "guys who know more about football than typical media."

31 Yeah, but the senior…

Yeah, but the senior nominees are a near-lock. I get why you needed someone to reach back 25 years when the Hall was founded in the early 60s, but I’m not sure it’s necessary now. It seems to exist mostly to give a free pass to borderline candidates. 

33 The senior committee…

The senior committee nominees are a lock at the full committee because there's effectively a huge backlog (which we don't see any process for) to become a senior nominee. The senior committee just dumped 19 guys last year, and there's still multiple guys who were multi-time finalists who aren't in. Plus you just added Clay Matthews, good chance Mills gets added next year, Joe Jacoby's been there a while, Everson Walls got a push, plus Roger Craig, Cliff Branch, etc.

24 The hundred-year class was a good idea; but

I think voters have different opinions on whether or not they would want expanded classes. But most of the ones I talked to would be happy if the backlog of obvious candidates were waved in so they could at least start somewhat fresh,

The hundred-year class was helpful; but it seems like we would need to do something like it at least once or twice more, for them to be able to start somewhat fresh.

The arbitrary cap seems harsh & unnecessary to me.  Bad process.  It shouldn't be a zero-sum game whether (say) Kevin Mawae or Steve Hutchinson get in.  As an institution, either you trust your voters or you don't.

7  Also, the "easier for…

 

Also, the "easier for quarterbacks" theory is also false. If anything, I think the criteria at quarterback is rather tough.

Wake me when a QB who was All Pro for 45% of his major seasons as a starter and Pro Bowl for 70% isn't a walk-in first ballot Hall of Famer. That's like saying Dan Marino doesn't get in right away.

I'm sorry, saying "but... Kurt Warner had to wait 2 years!"? Really? Faneca and Hutchinson are there going "AYFKM?" And Patrick Willis and Zach Thomas are just glaring. Kurt Warner was a finalist his first year of eligibility. There was no question that they were going to put him in - it was just a logistical issue. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if Kuechly or Wagner weren't first-ballot. That might seem nuts, but, well, Kevin Williams wasn't, and that's nuts to me too.

I mean, you just had an article that said Suggs might not get in because the Ravens story could be told by Lewis and Reed - as if that weren't identically true with the Rams and Faulk, Bruce, and Holt. The Greatest Show on Turf is going to have 4 guys in the Hall, but somehow the late 2010s Ravens defense only deserves 2, yet it's not easier for QBs. Huh.

I don't disagree that QB isn't the easiest way in (that's WR, in my opinion) but I'd probably put it second, now that RB seems like it's going to be way more difficult. And any of the offensive skill positions are just cakewalks comparatively.

27 WR?  Really?  WR is rapidly…

WR?  Really?  WR is rapidly becoming the backloggiest of backlogs.  Torry Holt, Jimmy Smith, Reggie Wayne, and a few others can be kicked around, and that's without the pending candidacies for Steve Smith, Anquan Boldin, Andre Johnson, and who knows how many other WRs in the future as passing totals keep creeping up.

12 So do you think Eli will…

So do you think Eli will ultimately be voted in? And do you think he should? I didn't see an answer to either question in the article, though perhaps the latter question is an implied "no."

 

23 I don't consider Eli a Hall…

I don't consider Eli a Hall of Famer but could be swayed by expert opinions to the contrary.

I think Eli will be back-burnered by the committee unless he gets amazing testimonials. But as I stated in the article, I could see him being inducted many years down the road, when the particulars of his career have faded, perhaps by the Seniors committee, in much the same way that Ken Stabler got in. 

26 Since one of my favorite…

Since one of my favorite counterfactuals that I've written about here is Archie Manning and Terry Bradshaw swapping birthdays, and my strong suspicion that it results in Archie being 1st ballot HoFer, and Terry being a local New Orleans celebrity, let me be clear: in this dimension, Terry belongs in the HoF, and Archie does not. 

88 Archie had better natural…

Archie had better natural throwing talent than Peyton, along with being very mobile, and had Peyton's emotional maturity, whereas it took a few years for Bradshaw to really become a level-headed professional. It's just that the worst run NFL franchises of today are miles ahead of the dysfunction of the Saints in the 1970s, and once Noll was joined to the Rooneys, the Steelers were the the best run franchise of the 1970s. Put Archie with Noll, with that crowd of HOFers, and all those very smart players, from the beginning? I'm very sure the Steelers would have not suffered any drop-off. I don't think Bradshaw would have played to 1980 in New Orleans.

29 I don't think Eli Manning is…

I don't think Eli Manning is a HoFer, but I have to say that after I saw him against the Niners in the 2011 NFCCG, I thought he had about a 70-80% chance of eventually being worthy, because I thought a guy who was so great in a game like that would very likely have 5 more great seasons. The Niners front 7 just annihilated the Giants o-line in that game, but immobile Eli was just great, great, great. One of my favorite qb performances ever. 

38 Yeah, Eli's 2007 and 2011…

Yeah, Eli's 2007 and 2011 postseason performances were really very good, against some really good defenses, too. Manning put up 479 DYAR in 4 games in 2011. That's a full-season pace that would've been behind only Brees, Rodgers and Brady that year. And that put him 6th all time in postseason DYAR at that point. 

I'm with you that Eli's well off from Hall of Fame level, but he was a much better QB than people remember now.

81 I would have been right…

I would have been right there with you. But then looking at his numbers he had already basically proven what he was by that point: a consistently above-average, but never elite QB. After his rookie year, and outside of a down year in 2007(!), he had ranked between #8 and #15 in DYAR every regular season from 2005-2011. Objectively, the odds would have been against him suddenly elevating his game going into his 9th year. 

As it was, he followed it up with another good-not-great year in 2012 (#10 in DYAR), a wretched year in 2013 (which looks like an outlier led somewhat by bad INT luck), a further solid year in 2014, and then a decline into consistent sub-mediocrity in his mid/late 30s. 

It's really quite a boring, predictable career path once you strip out the post-season runs, and certainly lacking a 'signature' season or two that you might at the very least expect from a HOFer. 

83 His signature seasons were…

His signature seasons were 2008 (when the Giants rushed for 2,500 yards), and 2011 (Cruuuuuuz!). Not great by DVOA/DYAR standards, but subjectively, I thought he played much better than his stats indicate. 

I would not classify anything about Eli as 'boring' or 'predictable'. He was a really good, really inconsistent QB whose best days happened to cluster around Super Bowl runs. Not a HOFer, but still much better than his detractors claim. 

86 Sure - 'boring' and …

Sure - 'boring' and 'predictable' were meant to describe his overall career arc, rather than his style of play. I wasn't meaning to detract from what was a good, and often entertaining career overall. 

2011 does indeed stand out, once you factor in the post-season. Still, it falls well short compared to somebody like Matt Ryan - who has an MVP - or Ben Roethlisberger - who has #1 place finish in DYAR - on their resume. 

95 he had ranked between #8 and…

he had ranked between #8 and #15 in DYAR every regular season from 2005-2011. Objectively, the odds would have been against him suddenly elevating his game going into his 9th year. 

In 2008 and 2011, he was #8 in DYAR both years. That's age 27-30, the effective quarterback peak. But quarterback aging curves have slowed dramatically. It's not that they don't decline - they still do - it's just far slower than the rise up to 26, which is extremely fast. You wouldn't have expected Manning to decline as far as he did. His peak was around ~1000 DYAR per season. You would've expected him to decline to around ~400-500 by the end of his career, not ~100.

137 Yep. His decline definitely…

Yep. His decline definitely came sooner than you would expect in this era. If he had tacked on a few more seasons in the #8-16 range I could see a more convincing case, with the Super Bowl narrative masking the lack of individual accolades. As it is, his peak was relatively brief, and not especially high. Definitely not befitting of a HOFer. 

152 Seriously, it's not even…

Seriously, it's not even that he was that high. Manning was just a totally ordinary QB. There were a bajillion others like him in NFL history, with the slight caveat that he has a longer career because QB careers are getting longer. But that's not an insult, because those guys are rare. That's what it means that "QBs are more valuable" - you need an ordinary QB to succeed. But what, because QBs are rare we're just gonna put in every one now? Huh?

The Giants won two Super Bowls. Both of them were extremely balanced games between offense/defense, but obviously New England was far better offensively than defensively both games. Manning does not help you tell that story, not any more than any other player on the Giants offense.

61 I remember that game. Eli…

I remember that game. Eli actually put up some good passing numbers in the mud in the first half, before Justin Smith decided he'd had enough and went WWE on Eli for the rest of the game.

Speaking of, what's Justin Smith's reputation around the league? As a no-stat guy who spent his physical peak in Cincinnati, he's not in the HOF conversation, but I can't help but play the "what-if" game when I think of what a monster he was in his 30s when surrounded with talent and a good coach. 

68 Being drafted by Mike Brown…

Being drafted by Mike Brown is a large impediment to ever getting to the HOF. Looking at the other teams drafting in the top 10 that year, you have the Patriots (wonder how Belichik had Smith ranked compared to Seymour, who was taken 2 spots later) Chicago (franchise which sends lots of defensive players to HOF) Green Bay (a terrific spot to build career accomplishments for the past 30 years), San Diego (being with Schotty for 5 years, Rivera for 3 would have been good)& Seattle ( Holmgren then Carroll). All would have been landing spots more conducive to getting to HOF.

With regard to Eli's NFCCG against the Niners, I always say don't tell me what a qb did when the protection was terrfic, the receivers good, the qb's defense keeping his team from ever falling behind. Tell me what a guy did when his protection sucked, the receivers were substandard or hobbled, and his defense lets the opponent get the lead. Giants receivers were good in that game iirc, but the other conditions applied, the first especially. It's really, really, hard to win a playoff game on the road, while passing 52 times, when your pass protection and run blocking is really, really, awful, and you fall behind a couple times. Eli (and fumbles by Niners special teams, to be sure) had a lot to do with that.

70 I'm going to be honest, I'm…

I'm going to be honest, I'm not sure why Justin Smith isn't being touted as a Hall of famer.

He was an above average defensive end in Cincinnati and then otherworldly monster in San Francisco. He was the gold standard for all 3-4 defensive ends until JJ Watt showed up. In fact, outside of JJ Watt I'm not sure I can name a better 3-4 defensive end since I've been watching.

This may sound controversial, but the best defender on those early 2010 49ers was not Patrick Willis. It was Justin Smith and and by a non-trivial amount imo. Aldon Smith, a terrific player in his own right when he's not self-sabotaging, owes a big chunk of his visible production to Justin Smith.

 

 

 

72 It's because he was a two…

It's because he was a two-gap DE without a pile of sacks, and spent his 20s playing for mediocre Bengals teams. If he got drafted by the Pats, Belichick would be waxing rhapsodic about how essential he was to the defense, and we'd be talking about him the way we talk about Vince Wilfork or Richard Seymour. But since he doesn't have gaudy sack numbers, and he played for the Bengals, he's out of the running.

He's exactly the type of player the senior committee is supposed to induct, but never does. Funny enough, I think his SF teammate, Bryant Young, is in the same category.

74 What is Justin Smith's…

What is Justin Smith's reputation around the league and among fans? Always thought he was held in incredible esteem, but you're making me think most people can't distinguish between him and Jay Ratliff.

78 Among fans who have accounts…

Among fans who have accounts at FO and think about adjustments for era, or among fans who play fantasy football and think purely in terms of counting stats?

Outside of SF, I'd bet the latter don't even remember Justin Smith. Within SF, I'd bet they're still a distinct minority. 

110 While Justin Smith has some…

While Justin Smith has some HoF characteristics/qualifications, I can't imagine a real campaign taking off around him. Anyone willing to cape for him would be better off putting their muscle behind Willis. 

115 And both Bengals and 49ers…

And both Bengals and 49ers fans have higher priorities than Smith, even if you just look at the defensive side of the ball: Patrick Willis and Bryant Young in San Francisco; Lemar Parrish in Cincinnati.

Smith will probably have to settle for being a dual ring of honor guy.

120 I think I'd agree that Smith…

I think I'd agree that Smith was the best 49ers' defender in 2011, and that was the best defense of the Harbaugh era by DVOA.  You could make a strong argument for 2010, as well.  Without Smith, the 49ers' defense doesn't hum; it was his pressure that allowed Aldon Smith to rack up so many sacks; and his ability to destroy gaps that let the rest of the 49ers' D focus on stopping the pass.  That defense wouldn't have worked with even just an above-average player in his slot; they needed Justin Smith there; just look at the two games he missed in 2012 for some evidence.

But overall, no, I'd have to side with Willis.  I swear, Willis could just teleport to wherever he needed to be on the field; I'm not sure he was ever out of position.  Smith dominated his corner of the field; Willis was everywhere.  Willis wasn't just the best linebacker in football, I'd argue he was the best defender in football over the course of his career.  HOF voters clearly don't agree with me, or he'd be in already!

I'd take Smith over Navorro Bowman, despite Bowman's lead in first-team All-Pros, so by that metric, you could argue that Smith was underrated.

75 Like I said, Justin Smith…

Like I said, Justin Smith isn't being touted much because he played for the Bengals in the 1st half of his career. Guys who don't get accolades while with a crappy organization for their first 7 years continue to be underrated when they get to a better place, and their dominance starts to get noticed. I saw Smith whip Steve Hutchinson's ass in 2009, and thought, "Sacred feces, why haven't I been paying attention to this guy?!". It's ridiculous that he only has 1 All Pro selection.

134 " Guys who don't get…

" Guys who don't get accolades while with a crappy organization for their first 7 years continue to be underrated when they get to a better place"

 

Also known as the Aeneas Williams rule. He didn't get recognition until he played for the Gsot Rams which got him in the HOF. You can include Rodney Harrison in that list too. Hell even Lavonte David needs to get mentioned if bringing Brady equals a new Bucs organization.

150 Aeneas Williams, during the…

Aeneas Williams, during the Cardinals portion of his career, made 6 Pro Bowls and was a 2x AP 1st team All Pro, and was named to the NFL All-Decade team for the 1990s. He might not have made the HoF if he had retired after 2000, but then again maybe he still would have. In any case, he clearly got a lot of recognition while with the Cards.

Lavonte David is a special case, because ever since the mid-2000s or so, it's been extremely hard to make the Pro Bowl as a non-pass-rushing OLB. Derrick Brooks and Lance Briggs managed it, but after them, pretty much every OLB who makes the Pro-Bowl is a rushbacker.

Rodney Harrison is probably a good example of this phenomenon. Maybe Simeon Rice is another.

131 I think he was generally…

I think he was generally regarded as a very good player on a bad team. But, there was a vocal minority that complained about him being a dirty player, because he exploited the fact that referees basically never call defensive holding.

39 During his career I…

During his career I maintained that Eli Manning was Elvis Grbac with a longer career. Here is how they stack up:

Comp%:

Grbac: 59.1%

E. Manning 60.3%

 

Int%:
Grbac: 3.3%

E. Manning 3.0%

 

ANY/A:

Grbac: 5.2

E. Manning: 5.92

Sack%:
Grbac: 5.0%

E. Manning 4.8%

 

I still think it's a good comp, considering Manning played in a more passer-friendly era.

46 my dad's an old, disabled…

my dad's an old, disabled Giants fan, and Eli Manning gave me two incredible gifts as a football fan, watching those SBs with my dad is a memory I'll always cherish;  having said that, I'd be shocked if he makes it  (back when Andy Benoit used to write for the site, he made a pretty convincing (to me, at least) argument that stats are overrated, particularly for quarterbacks, who have vastly different things asked of them, depending on the system they play in- football's already so complicated, but there are really useful skills that'll only show up on tape)

51 This is the ultimate consistency v. variability comparison

Matt Ryan has a VERY HIGH floor, his floor is so high that it's basically top 15 QB in the NFL.  His ceiling is basically Top 8 QB in the NFL.

Eli's floor is 'leading the league in INTs and INT %, when Ryan Fitzpatrick is starting somewhere in the league.'   His ceiling is '60 minutes of the most amazing football at the position ever played'.  Eli spent more time in the trench then the stratosphere, but his high was so good that it made him a very solid QB overall.

If I'm drafting a team, let alone making a HOF selection, give me Matt Ryan any day of the week and 3 times on Sunday.  A GM and coach really have to f*** up a roster to keep a Matt Ryan caliber QB out of the playoffs in any given year.

56 To be fair

Checking, Eli never led in INT%, BUT leading the league in total INTs while not leading in attempts is still pretty bad!

Crazy how if you asked an average fan they'd be the exact and utter opposite of their confidence of Eli over Ryan. And I have a feeling the voters are the same! Even though it's kinda objectively wrong. 

114 The problem with a player like;

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

The problem with a player comparison like Eli and Ryan is the way our focus naturally intensifies on novelty.

Every Eli performance was novel.  You never knew what you were going to get.  Because of this, Eli could score shockingly big wins; it was just how he played that day.

Ryan is pretty soundly the opposite.  By week 3 you basically know how Ryan is going to perform in every game for the rest of the season with only minor deviation.  And when a Falcons game does have a shocking, thus memorable, outcome it is rarely because of the offense.  The offense and Ryan just preformed to their level and the Defense and Special Teams either did something amazing or terrible.

52 The funny thing about Ryan…

The funny thing about Ryan vs. Eli is that, for all the talk of "Mr. Clutch" Eli, Ryan's postseason numbers are better in virtually every major category.

Completion %: 67.5 for Ryan; 60.5 for Eli

TD %: 5.7 for Ryan; 4.5 for Eli

INT %: 2.0 for Ryan; 2.3 for Eli

Y/A: 7.6 for Ryan; 7.0 for Eli

ANY/A: 6.92 for Ryan; 6.12 for Eli

QB Rating: 100.8 for Ryan; 87.4 for Eli

Yet, in the minds of many, Eli is "more clutch" than Ryan, simply because Eli's defense could stop Brady when it counted, while Ryan's could not.

55 Even if we try to era adjust

And limit it to when they played at the same time (08-19):

Completion %: 67.5 for Ryan; 61 for Eli

TD per game: 2.1 for Ryan (0.1 from rush); 1.7 for Eli

INT per game: 0.7 for Ryan; 0.7 for Eli

Y/A: 7.6 for Ryan; 7.1 for Eli

ANY/A: 6.92 for Ryan; 6.54 for Eli

QB Rating: 100.8 for Ryan; 89.8 for Eli

Heck we could just look simply at the the Falcons scoring 28 in the first 3 quarters of their SB while the Giants only got to 17 and 21 in both his entire SBs, if we want to be basic.

Heck if you want "clutch" Ryan lead the league in GWD and 4QC twice ('10 & '15). Eli only once ('11)!  And Ryan has more total too.

You're so right. 

57 I agree... but.... most…

I agree... but.... most people's definition of "clutch" would ignore overall performance, and focus on "coming through when it really counts". I.e. if it's a tight game, or there's a late score, that gets inordinate weight in the minds of clutch fans. 

Which is a general problem with the focus on clutch-ness... for instance, if

1) Ryan goes out and performs steadily according to his usual stats, and the Falcons win by 14 and

2) Eli goes out and performs to his usual stats, and throws a last minute TD after dodging a pass rusher

who gets elevated more in the minds of fans or HoF voters?

59 It's really all the 2016…

It's really all the 2016 postseason that's doing that, though. It's pretty unbelievable how good Ryan was in 2016. And really surprising how far he's fallen. I mean, the 2016 postseason he had practically 100 attempts with 0 interceptions, completing at over 70%. (And I think you grabbed the wrong number for ANY/A for Ryan, it's actually 7.85 - which is wacko).

simply because Eli's defense could stop Brady when it counted, while Ryan's could not.

Yeah, I mean, I'm not gonna feed into this weird narrative that it was totally Ryan's defense's fault. Ryan had multiple back-breaking sacks at the end of the Super Bowl, and definitely the last one I have to imagine that he's got to take the blame for that one.

(Don't disagree with your overall point regarding Eli, of course.)

62 Not just the sack, or even…

Not just the sack, or even the sack-fumble, but the fact that he was repeatedly snapping the ball with two digits on the play clock was a much bigger brain fart than throwing bad INTs while being chased by angry fat men. 

96 A lot of things have to…

A lot of things have to stack and compound on each other to collapse the way they did, but the clock management was the worst because it was the only truly unforced error.

Passing with the lead? I'm actually 100% ok with that if you see the defense stacked against the run. Taking a sack? Not ideal, but sometimes you get beat, and it's better to take the sack than throw incomplete or INT. Sack/fumble? That's the worst possible outcome, but sometimes you just get beat. All of those things are just the chaos of the game, and all involve defensive participation forcing the action.

Snapping the ball with 10 seconds remaining on the clock while protecting the lead? It's not as obvious as throwing a game-ending pick, but I'd argue that's an even bigger mental error because it's literally 100% on the offense. And it happened multiple times

98 Kyle Shanahan and Dan Quinn…

Kyle Shanahan and Dan Quinn carry that load, too, unless they explicitly told Ryan to play more intelligently, and like Marty with fumbling ints late in the game, Ryan just ignored them.

100 That's not the only…

That's not the only possibility - they also could've known that Ryan isn't the kind of QB that can handle paying attention to that much at the same time, and so chose to have him focus on playing well, which he had been doing. Of course, if that's what they did, it backfired, obviously (because he didn't) - but it's still a totally logical choice. I've had the same argument with people who argue against Reid's time management - pointing out that the instant that Reid got a top-end QB who can adapt and change things quickly, suddenly his time management becomes excellent. Meaning maybe poor time management isn't independent of the QB.

I mean, just like a coach can't just ask a WR "please can you run faster than this guy" it's not nuts to say that a coach saying "hey can you please pay attention to like 10 different things now" might not be beneficial either.

105 For all I know it happened…

For all I know it happened the way you hypothesize, and if so, I'm gonna strongly think Ryan is not a HOFer (a proposition which up to now I've devoted very little thought). A qb who I can't count on (for fear of significantly degrading his performance) to reliably call the snap count at the best time, while with a big 2nd half lead, thus keeping the opposing HOF qb off the field as much as possible, and giving my defense more rest, is not a guy I'm inclined to put in the HOF.

118 Agreed.  And 3 straight…

Agreed.  And 3 straight disastrous possessions (starting with the onside kick recovery followed by going backwards) when the game appeared well in hand kind of taints his nice PS stats.

119 See Hoodie last year

> 'Meaning maybe poor time management isn't independent of the QB.'

See some of the Patriots clock management last season for further confirmation of this

138 It wasn't all 2016.  Ryan's…

It wasn't all 2016.  Ryan's numbers in 2012 were also very good (even though he threw 3 INTs, his overall numbers were better in 2012 than Eli's in either of the SB runs).  And those 2 years (2016 and 2012) encompass 5 of Ryan's 10 postseason games.  So, he has been very good to excellent for half of his postseason career.  There have been very few QBs who have played well in every (or almost every) postseason of their career (Montana and Warner are about the only ones I can remember).  Eli has certainly had some postseason stinkers of his own, as have almost all QBs with any significant number of postseason appearances.

Also, the attempt to blame the SB loss on Ryan reminds me of the game in 2013 when Peyton's Broncos beat Romo's Cowboys 51-48, and all the media wanted to talk about was Romo taking a sack and throwing a pick on the Cowboys' last drive.  I remember saying at the time, if the offense scores 48 and loses, that's all on the defense.  And I would say the same thing about Ryan's performance in that Super Bowl:  When you have a 25 point lead with 23 minutes to play, and then lose, that's all on the defense. Just get one stop! Is that too much to ask?

141 The 1987 Minnesota Vikings...

...would like to have a word with you about Joe Montana never playing poorly in playoff games.

Also, the New York Giants would probably say "we don't care how well Joe Montana plays in playoff games, we'll just knock him out of the game!"  (Mind you, Montana played the Giants in the playoffs five times - 1981, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1990 - and he was only knocked out of the game twice.)

153 I don't see any evidence…

I don't see any evidence that certain teams are better than others at consistently having QBs manage the clock well. Andy Reid's lambasted for years and then Mahomes comes in and they literally might be the best time-constrained team in the league. New England's fantastic for years, Brady leaves and suddenly Bill Belichick's having to answer questions about a total gaffe that might've netted his team a losing record.

I've pretty much come entirely around to the idea that clock management's almost entirely a QB skill, and I think by the time you reach the NFL level it's not easy to be taught it.

145 Especially since the…

Especially since the defensive failure is at least partly a function of the offense not giving them time to recover. That maligned defense helped build that big lead with aggressive man coverage, and they were absolutely gassed by the 4th. Having a five minute drill actually last five minutes would have helped tremendously.

Again, you don't blow a lead like that without cascading failures, and I'm not laying it all at the feet of Ryan. But I distinctly remember yelling at the screen, because (1) exactly like a false start penalty, the premature snapulation were totally unforced errors with no help from the defense, and (2) they did over and over. On separate drives, so it's not like the coaches didn't get a chance to take ten seconds and tell him to take an extra ten seconds.

147 Or taking a couple steps to…

Or taking a couple steps to his right for a throwaway instead of retreating backward into a 12-yard sack.  He would've needed an instant decision but after seeing the play numerous times I think there was enough time, barely, for the dodge.

And as Indy George noted, the Falcons' D had little left.  By the end of regulation they'd been on the field for about 85 plays.  The personnel were good but apparently thin on backups.

53 Ed Reed

I’m sorry, someone really thought Ed Reed didn’t belong in the Hall?!

60 Reed was obviously great and…

In reply to by KaosTheory

Reed was obviously great and deserves to go in. But, I can sort of see how a guy like Brian Dawkins or Adrian Wilson or whoever wouldn’t appreciate how the media built Reed up as an all-time great coverage safety based on flashy INT returns when there’s so much more that goes into playing the position. 

63 I doubt it was someone at…

I doubt it was someone at the position. Safety in general had been incredibly underrepresented in the Hall, so it's more likely that it was someone who (like many) have been way down on safeties in general. There weren't any modern-ish defensive backs who didn't get into the Hall without playing some corner, for instance. I mean, late in their careers there were questions as to whether any of Reed, Dawkins, Polamalu would get in, which is just a special kind of nuts, and is plenty obvious by the fact that all 3 of them were either 1st or 2nd ballot.

The number of modern-ish safeties inducted into the Hall in the past like, 5 years is insane. Reed, Dawkins, Polamalu, Lynch, Atwater, Harris, Shell, all in the past 5 years. Safety and tackle are the only positions post-merger that got 2 people in on the senior ballot in the 2020 expanded class. It's like the senior committee got that opportunity and was like "yeah, these guys are nuts" and just backfilled the obvious missed guys.

(And of course LeRoy Butler's still sitting there being like "guys? guys?")

65 To be fair, safety is a very…

To be fair, safety is a very hard position to judge. Conventional statistics and advanced statistics have a hard time capturing the value they bring on the field.

Too often, people rely on all pros and probowls when determining if a safety is deserving. But here I have concerns as well. How much of their awards are inflated by reputation accrued early in their careers? One can imagine a Vic Beasley like situation but for safety.

Let's take an example. How good was Steve Atwater really? Or Butler? How do we know how good they were? You would need careful film study, lots of testimonials, and then some form of subjective era comparison relative to average. That's just a much, much harder exercise than looking at Tory Holt for Curtis Martin for example.

 

66 How much of this is also due…

How much of this is also due to how rosters were constructed in the 2000s compared to previous eras? The league was still pretty run-heavy in the 90s, and safeties were still largely thought of as either small linebackers, or aging corners who got too slow to play the outside. I also note that safeties as a cornerstone of the defense started to take shape just as CB salaries exploded, and teams noticed it was more efficient to pay for good/great safeties supported by decent corners than the other way around.