Tuesday, September 6, 2011

2 comments I'm Not Sure This Is the Most Effective Way to Compare Tom Brady and Peyton Manning

Michael Ventre has a brief article titled "Why Manning is more vital than Brady" for NBCSports. Apparently Ventre's brief articles are called "Trash Talk," which means he's edgy and will say things you believe but are just too damn afraid to say. Regardless, the Brady/Manning argument is a interesting one, but I am not sure the way Ventre compares these two is the best way to solve this argument. Basically he says because Peyton Manning's backups stink, that means Manning is a better quarterback than Tom Brady.

First of all, I’m of the opinion that Peyton Manning will be ready to go when the regular season starts,

I can’t hold this against Ventre because I am not 100% convinced the Colts very own Forrest Gump (southern drawl, doesn’t seem really smart…I'm possibly only one who thinks is funny) won’t be out there for the first game of the regular season.

even if he comes onto the field for the opener at Houston in a full-body cast designed to keep his neck stable. With a nurse in the backfield.

If the Colts had a nurse in the backfield, then the nurse could probably run the ball more effectively than the Colts running backs did last year!

(Searches for a high-five to give someone)

But the fact that the Indianapolis Colts could conceivably go from playoff contender to bottom feeders simply because of the presence or absence of one player tells you a lot about the value of Manning –

This just in: A franchise quarterback is valuable.

This just even more in: Peyton Manning is very important to the Colts.

So yes, the idea that Peyton Manning is very important to the Colts and his mere presence on the field could take the Colts from playoff contenders to one of the 10 worst teams in the NFL without him says a lot about Manning. It also says a lot about the Colts choice for a backup to Manning. If Matt Schaub was backing up Manning then the Colts may not struggle as much without Manning. Therein lies the rub with today’s Tom Brady-Peyton Manning comparison.

– and how he rates with Tom Brady.

Not at all. This is where a comparison between Manning and Brady should not be made based on what happens when each player not being his team’s starting quarterback. Simply because the Patriots have had decent backups in the past, and the Colts have stuck with Curtis Painter as Manning’s backup, doesn’t mean Manning is a better quarterback than Brady. It means the Colts have a worse backup quarterback than the Patriots do. It also potentially means Tom Brady has a better team around him than Peyton Manning has. It doesn’t necessarily mean Tom Brady isn’t as good of a quarterback as Peyton Manning or is a system quarterback any more than Manning is a system quarterback.

When Brady was out of the New England Patriots’ lineup in 2008 with a knee injury, Matt Cassel stepped in and led the team to an 11-5 record, although it missed the playoffs.

Now Cassel is the starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs. Matt Cassel put up a 93.0 quarterback rating (I refuse to use ESPN’s QB rating at this point), 3116 yards with 27 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Matt Cassel, and I have been critical of him in the past so it is possible I was wrong, was a pretty good starting quarterback last year. The Patriots had the luxury of a competent backup quarterback, which doesn’t necessarily say something about a Brady v. Manning quarterbacking discussion. It says the Patriots had a competent quarterback as their backup in 2008 when Tom Brady got injured.

Matt Cassel. I think Cassel is an able quarterback, and he might take the Kansas City Chiefs to the promised land someday. But at that time he was just a guy.

Cassel was “just a guy” until he stepped on the field and played for the Patriots that year. Much in the way every single NFL player is “just a guy” until he steps on the field and actually plays the game.

Is this the “Well, he wasn’t a good NFL player until he actually played in an NFL game” argument? If so, I haven’t ever heard this one before today.

His claim to fame while at USC was being Matt Leinart’s backup, and he also recovered a big onsides kick against UCLA once.

Ventre is desperately trying to demean Cassel in an attempt to call Tom Brady a system quarterback. Sorry I ruined the surprise of what follows. So the “Patriots’ system” is what caused a backup college quarterback who is only good for recovering onside kicks, a guy who wasn’t a good NFL quarterback until he got the chance to play the position in the NFL, and is the system that turned him into a capable starting quarterback in 2008? I guess the memories of his 2008 competence are what caused Cassel to have a good 2010 season as well? Did he just forget how to be a good “Patriots’ system” quarterback in 2009 and then remember how to run the Patriots system well in 2010 for the Chiefs? I am sure it was probably the Charlies Weis offense that did it.

Isn't nearly every quarterback is a system quarterback? Every quarterback runs one offense the best, but this doesn’t mean they can’t run other offensive systems well, just possibly not as well. Joe Montana? System quarterback in the West Coast offense. Steve Young? He didn’t do much in the NFL until he got in the West Coast offense. Are they system quarterbacks?

In other words, Cassel benefited from New England’s system.

Cassel had been in the system for a few years as Brady's backup. Any player would benefit from a system he has had 2 years to learn. So Tom Brady isn’t a great quarterback, he just runs a great NFL system? In the mind of Michael Ventre, the fact the Colts haven’t had a competent backup since Jim Sorgi left only proves how great Peyton Manning is. While the Patriots success with that long-haired, anti-American, model-marrying, non-focused-on-the-NFL guy, Tom Brady, isn't as impressive because the Patriots have better backup quarterbacks. These backup quarterbacks' success only goes to show what a system quarterback Tom Brady is.

That tells you that Brady – while still one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time – also is a product of Bill Belichick’s tutelage.

I take exception to this. Tom Brady can’t be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time if he is completely a product of his coach and his tutelage. I don’t know. Maybe he can be, but I am not sure I could consider a quarterback one of the greatest ever if he played in a different system and still wasn't one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time.

I also find it interesting that Ventre holds this opinion while Peyton Manning has played with far superior receivers during his career compared to Tom Brady. Only lately, when the Patriots haven’t won the Super Bowl (because of the curse of Spygate, why else would this happen?) has Brady had great receivers.

So I am not sure how you can compare two quarterbacks, both of whom have played in nearly the same offense system their entire career, and say Player X is superior to Player Y because Player Y’s backup performed well when starting for the team. To me, that says Player Y’s backup is a good quarterback and may not necessarily say anything about Player Y and his quarterbacking abilities.

Manning is different. You could plug Manning into any offense and he would raise that team’s fortunes exponentially.

So Manning is different because Ventre’s pure speculation that Manning could run any offensive system well says so? Fine, I say you could plug Tom Brady into any NFL offense and he would raise that team's fortunes exponentially. The truth is that Manning really hasn’t played in a different offensive system during his career than the one he currently plays in. So this is pure speculation that he could be plugged into any offensive system and succeed, while Brady could not.

His skills transcend any system.

Again, there is no proof his skills transcend any system more than Brady’s do.

That’s why the prospect of his absence is so dire that tweets from Colts owner Jim Irsay about being in Hattiesburg, Miss., hometown of Brett Favre, are making news.

No, those Tweets are not making news because Manning’s skills transcend any offensive system better than Brady’s skills do. Those Tweets are making news because the Colts current backups have looked horrible in the preseason and they are Tweets about Brett Favre. I’m not sure why Ventre, who seems like a smart guy, can’t seem to understand the Colts have terrible backups and that’s the reason the Colts freaked out enough to pay $4 million for Kerry Collins to be the starter.

The Colts’ current backups – Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky and Nate Davis – are completely inadequate replacements for Manning.

Oh, so he does realize they are terrible. So the terrible backups on the Colts roster makes Manning a better player, while the competent backup on the Patriots roster in 2008 makes Brady a product of Belichick’s system.

But I have to think that if one of them had to step in for Tom Brady in New England, they’d at least have a prayer.

Again, you can think this, but there really isn’t any proof this statement is true. The fact Matt Cassel stepped in for Brady in 2008 and has performed adequately since leaving the Patriots would attest to the fact he may have been a quality quarterback and his success isn’t a reflection Tom Brady’s success. Dennis Dixon could step in for Ben Roethlisberger and go 14-2 with the Steelers, but it doesn’t mean Roethlisberger is not as good of a quarterback as Mike Vick if he gets injured and the Eagles go 6-10 with Vince Young starting.

All of this discussion can be averted, of course, if Manning makes a speedy recovery. So put some ice on it, Peyton

So if Kerry Collins plays the entire season and the Colts go 9-7, does that mean Peyton Manning is a system quarterback? I would think it means Kerry Collins is a competent backup quarterback.


rich said...

The problem with comparing football players is that unlike other sports (namely baseball), coaching has a very, very tangible effect on the game. In baseball (and to a good extent basketball), "greatness" is pretty universal.

Kobe Bryant would be great if he were on the Raptors, Roy Halladay would be great if he were on the Nationals, etc.

Football though? A player can thrive in one system and be absolutely useless in another. Look at the number of defensive lineman who move from a 3-4 to a 4-3 (or vice versa) and just absolutely fall off the face of the earth.

QBs are the same way. In NE's system, Brady is the best. In Indianapolis' system, Peyton is the best. To try to put the two of them in a vacuum and say "X is better than Y" is impossible, but that's the fun of it.

On the one hand you can point to Brady having pretty much a group of unknowns playing with him and winning three rings; on the other, you can point to the fact that Peyton basically is the Colts offense.

I will agree with you BGF that comparing backups and how the team would perform is a bad argument; what if we compared an average player?

For example, what if Cassel were the backup in Indy? I don't think the Colts sniff double digit wins. Even then though, a part of that is the fact that Indy's system is not geared towards Cassel's skill set.

I will say this: Peyton Manning is absolutely irreplaceable, but not necessarily better.

The reason I say this is because if you look at the way the Colts play offense, it's all on Peyton. He calls the plays and a good chunk of the playbook is geared towards not only the way Peyton plays, but the way he thinks.

NE's offense really isn't that tailored to Brady. You can replace Brady with a Matt Cassel and be okay.

Basically, Petyon has a skillset that I don't think any QB in the league has, including Brady. However, while Brady doesn't quite have the breadth of skills that Peyton has, there are some things that Brady is better at.

The question then is: do you want a guy who can be a coach on the field and back up it up with his play or do you rely more on your actual coaching staff and have a guy who can execute the coaching staff's plan to near perfection?

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, that is a pretty good breakdown. I had thought this through, even from the Cassel on the Colts angle, and think I would agree with you. The Colts probably wouldn't be a great team with Cassel on the team. Though I would say they probably could sniff double digit wins if he were on the team for 2 years to learn the offense like he was in New England.

Debating football players isn't a very easy debate and that does make it fun. Would Peyton thrive in a system where he didn't have complete control? Probably not as much, but I also don't know why a team wouldn't give him complete control.

So I will agree with you. I think Peyton is more irreplaceable than Tom Brady, but I am not sure that makes him better. I don't know if I want a quarterback that is the offense. I would rather a quarterback who executes the offense well and still has say in the offense. I like Peyton Manning, but I am not a huge fan of letting the QB be the offense.

It's a tough debate and one that can't really be decided b/c of who a team has as its backup QB. I think Peyton has been blessed with more weapons, which he needs, because the system he plays in is much more player-skill dependent than NE's.