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A Complete and Utter Refutation of Cold Hard Football Facts
For too long, the ridiculous Cold Hard Football Facts article entitled The Complete & Unabridged Guide to Why Tom Brady is better than Peyton Manning has been allowed to stand unchallenged. The purpose of this article is not to show that Manning is better than Brady. Though I believe it to be true, I’m not sure that question can be adequately answered at this point in time. Both players have the opportunity to build on or destroy their legends on the field of play. Ten years from now, we should have a better feel for this question. This article will instead show the logical and methodological flaws in the CHFF article. The reader will have to draw whatever conclusions may be reached for him or herself.
In life, it’s always a mistake to draw broad generalities from a small sample size. When we form concrete opinions with limited experience, we end up committing gross errors of judgment. Over the past several years we’ve seen Manning win a Super Bowl and complete one of the greatest comebacks in playoff history and we’ve seen Tom Brady laying on the field of battle with a look in his eyes that said “I don’t want any more”. According to CHFF, such a thing should have been impossible. How could they have been so colossally wrong? How did their assumptions miss the mark so thoroughly?
The premise of this article is that CHFF article is flawed for two reasons: 1. They intentionally skewed the statistics and facts to fit their conclusion, ignoring stats and facts that undermined it, and 2. they wrote the article too early in the game. Several of the premises that accompanied it have since been called into question by recent events. The original article was written for the 2005 Playoffs and then updated after the playoffs.
Thanks to Shake n Bake and Stan (as well as Bob M. after the fact) for their contributions to this article. Portions of this article previously appeared on Stampedeblue.com and in our article here. All stats are courtesy of pro-football-reference.com.
CHFF Argument #1 Brady is better in the post season than Manning
CHFF said: Brady’s superiority over Manning is built upon the stony, unyielding foundation of each player’s postseason performances. Quite simply, Manning, as we have long noted, is the Picasso of Choke Artists. Brady, meanwhile, has already proven to be one of the great clutch players in postseason history, a truly transcendent performer who reserves his greatest games for the biggest moments. He has the Super Bowl rings, Super Bowl records and Super Bowl MVP awards to prove it.
For all of Manning’s brilliant regular-season fireworks in recent years, he has simply failed to live up to expectations in the postseason – every single year that he’s been there. That’s right. Every year. Don’t believe us? Come, take a drive down Manning’s postseason memory lane. But roll up the windows and lock the doors. It’s an ugly neighborhood.
The boys at CHFF then list the playoff performances of Manning one by one:
2000 Colts lose 19-16 to Tennessee.
CHFF said: Manning’s 60.9 passer rating was his lowest of the entire season. Result: Manning chokes. Colts lose, 19-16.
The truth: There were lots of weird occurrences in this game, not the least of which was the Colts’ #3 receiver (E.G. Green…their #2 was Terrance Wilkins!) breaking his leg in the first quarter, and laying on the field for 15 minutes in the middle of a drive where the Colts were moving the ball. Ultimately, this game was not lost by Manning, but by Edgerrin James.
Compare the following stat lines:
Manning had a similar if not better day than the opposite QB (the stats here don’t list the 15 yard rushing TD he scored that day). But Eddie George blasted the Colts defense while Edgerrin James (the NFL rushing leader) couldn’t manage to break 3 YPC. No impartial observer could look at these facts and stats and conclude that the quarterback was to blame for the loss. CHFF, being neither impartial nor concerned with facts, made the claim because it suited their premise.
1999 Colts lose 23-17 in OT to the Dolphins
CHFF said: Manning struggled against the Dolphins and, in a game that lasted more than 70 minutes, was a non-factor. The Colts generated 11 points off Fiedler’s interceptions but put a total of just 17 on the board, 10 points fewer than their regular-season average. It was Indy’s second lowest scoring output of the season. Result: Manning chokes. Colts lose, 23-17, in overtime
The truth: THERE IS NO WAY THIS GAME WAS MANNING’S FAULT. Start with the fact that Manning’s numbers were decent (82 rating, 1 TD 0 INT), add to it the fact that Jerome Pathon dropped a TD pass in the first half that cost the Colts 4 points (had Pathon caught that pass that hit him in hands while he was wide open, Manning’s QB rating would have been around 96 and the Colts would have won). Continue thinking about the defense that gave up the lead late. Think about all that you still don’t have the full story. On 3 rd 10 from the Miami 41 in OT, Manning hit Harrison for a 9 yard strike to the 31. There was a 5 yard penalty on the play, so Jim Mora had a series of choices:
Mora chose option 2, thinking that Mike Vanderjagt would win the game. Vandy shanked the ball so far right that you had to wonder what set of goal posts he was aiming at. Miami got the ball back and rammed it down the defense for a TD and the win. Manning played well in this game (as did Edge). You can blame Pathon, the defense, Mora, Vandy, whoever, but only a moron would say that Manning lost them this game. CHFF ignores the statistical facts (Manning outplayed his counter part) and the context (a dropped TD, a 4 th quarter lead, a drive in OT into scoring position) and claims that Manning choked. This is simply an untrue ignorant claim.
2003 Colts lose 41-0 to the NY Jets
CHFF said:Manning played the single worst statistical game of his entire career (14 for 31, 137 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs and a career-low 31.2 passer rating) and failed to put a single point on the board. Result: Manning chokes. Colts lose, 41-0.
The truth: CHFF claims that Manning choked. They have the stats to ‘prove it’. They apparently didn’t watch that game.
Let’s recall the drive chart:
Before Manning ever got the ball back a second time (and remember that he drove the team downfield on the first possession), the Colts were losing 17-0. HOW WAS THIS HIS FAULT? He had nothing to do with any of those points. Again, only an idiot would say that the Colts lost this game because Manning choked. Since 1972 NO TEAM has come back from 17 down on the road. How can you say that Manning choked when his team put him in an impossible position? He did throw two ints in that game. ..IN THE FOURTH QUARTER WHEN THEY WERE DOWN 30. There was no choke here, at least not by Peyton. Could have put up better numbers? Possibly, but it’s hard to put up great numbers when you are down 17-0 on the road in the first quarter. Throw in the fact that Edgerrin James had only 9 carries for 13 yards. No honest observer of football would blame the quarterback for a loss like this.
2004 Colts lose 24-14 to the New England Patriots
CHFF said: But Manning, facing foul weather and a good defense, returned to his historic postseason form in the AFC title game against New England. Manning tossed four interceptions and posted the third lowest passer rating of his entire career (35.5). Result: Manning chokes. Colts lose, 24-14
The truth : Manning was horrible in this game. He made poor decisions and poor throws and the Colts lost. In fairness, however, this was on the heels of two of the best statistical games back to back by a QB in postseason history. No excuses, however. Manning played very poorly on a day when a good game would have put the Colts in the Super Bowl. I have no quibble with them on this point.
2005 Colts lose 20-3 to the New England Patriots
CHFF said: . Once again, Manning played his very worst game of the season in the playoffs, completing 27 of 42 passes for 238 yards with 0 TDs and 1 INT and a passer rating of 69.3, his lowest of the year. Result: Manning chokes. Colts lose, 20-3 .
The Truth: Two critical fumbles did the Colts in that day, but the real difference in the game was at the running back position: James carried 14 times for 39 yards. He had 10 first down carries for a total of 14 yards, consistently putting his quarterback in 2nd and long situations. Corey Dillon carried 23 times for 144, including a 42 yard run that set up a NE score.
The quarterbacks had similar days. Brady completed 66% of his passes, Manning 64%. Brady had a TD passing; Manning threw a meaningless pick in the final minute when the outcome had been decided. The quarterbacks didn’t decide this game, the run defenses did. It was snowing and conditions were poor. They favored New England’s style of play, and the better defense won. The Patriots played a ball control game, averaging 5.4 YPC and nearly a 2-1 advantage in T.o.P. Instead of lauding the Pats for a great game plan and a well constructed run attack, the guys at CHFF chose to ignore the facts and criticize the one Colt who actually played pretty well that day: Peyton Manning.
Brady’s Postseason Review
In the same way that CHFF wears blinders with Manning, they wear rose-colored glasses with Brady. They laud Brady’s Super Bowl MVP performance in which he posted a rating of 86 (only four points higher than Manning vs Miami). They site the snow game with Oakland as one of Brady’s finest performances. He had a QB rating of 70 that day. True, NE won the game thanks to a pair of dramatic field goals by Adam Vinatieri, but note that Brady actually played WORSE in that game than Manning did the year before in the Miami game that the Colts lost. CHFF said that Manning choked. They said Brady was epic. In truth both men played well, and the games were ultimately decided by field goal kickers. Brady’s kicker nailed an all time clutch game winner in the snow. Manning’s yanked a game winner on a sunny field in Miami. If CHFF was consistent to the stats they love to quote, they would have concluded that both men were but players in a larger drama. They may respond, and rightly so, “but consider the context!”. In context, Brady’s average performances are great; but if context is to be considered, then Manning’s “pathetic” (their word) performances are more accurately understood as solid play that gave his team a chance to win but only to be let down by other players.
In fact in 4 of Brady’s WINNING playoff performances (2002 Oakland, 2002 Rams, 2004 Colts, 2007 Chargers) he actually posted a LOWER passer rating than Manning did in a game that CHFF described as a “choke”. Brady has had some epic performances to be sure, but Manning has as well. CHFF conveniently left off Manning’s amazing 2 game run in the 2004 playoffs. Since that article was written, Manning has won a Super Bowl, and Brady has suffered one of the worst 2nd half collapses in history (2007 AFC Championship), and managed to ‘choke’ (their word) away a perfect season by losing to one of the biggest underdogs in history, posting “his very worst game of the season in the playoffs”.
In summary:CHFF said “ In five playoff losses during the Manning era, the Colts have scored just 10.0 PPG. It’s got even worse in recent years. In the past three seasons, the Colts offense went down in a whimpering heap of postseason futility, scoring a woeful and inexcusable 5.7 PPG in its last three playoff losses – that’s a net difference of negative 21.8 PPG when compared with Indy’s scoring average over those same three regular seasons. Think the problem in Indy is a Swiss-cheese defense? Think again. In the playoffs, the problem is a pathetic offense and pathetic play at quarterback”
They were wrong then, ridiculously placing blame on Manning for things that were not his fault and attributing to Brady a ‘clutchness’ that often had more to do with the performance of other players than it did to the man himself. Recent history has balanced the scales somewhat. Nothing can detract from the amazing run the Patriots had in the early part of the decade. Nothing can change the frustration Colts fans had with their team, their coaches and on one very notable occasion, their QB. Overall the two QBs have posted very comparable playoff numbers:
Note that Manning has thrown 3 INTs at the end of games that were already decided (2 in the 2001 loss to the Jets, 1 in the 2005 loss to the Patriots). Brady has thrown one ‘meaningless pick' (Denver 2006). If those three picks are discounted, Manning’s passer rating rises to 86.99.
Brady has a slightly better rating overall, though hardly a significant edge given the small sample size. His completion % is nearly identical to Manning’s, though Peyton holds a significant edge in Yards Per Attempt. Brady has thrown 5 more scores in three more games, hardly a massive edge. Manning has thrown a higher number of picks than normal, but again, three of those came very late in games that were already decided. In fact, the number that Brady dominates very clearly is wins. Because of this, CHFF assumed that he was clearly the dominant postseason QB, when the numbers clearly show players that are very evenly matched. One has had consistently better teams, and most importantly, a consistently better kicker than the other. Ultimately, the sample sizes are far too small even now (they were even smaller then!) to draw any real conclusions. Another game or two could actually reverse the numbers completely. Brady's wins and Manning's losses say more about the relative quality of their teams at the time, than they do about the men running them.
CHFF Argument #2-Mano a Mano
The entire premise of this argument is flawed as it assumes that Brady and Manning are playing against the same quality of defense or even more hilariously, that they are playing against each other. They compare Brady vs the awful Colts Ds of 2001-2004 against Manning vs the very good Pats Ds. The Pats Ds ranked, 1st, 2nd, 17th and 6th in those years, compared to 19th 20th, 7th, 31st for the Colts. The Colts D was better one year, every other year the Pats D ranked at least 18 spots higher. More importantly, the stats have changed since CHFF posted this article. CHFF noted back then:
* Brady: 121 for 180 (67.2%), 1,322 yards, 10 TDs, 4 INTs, 98.0 passer rating
* Manning: 137 for 234 (58.5%), 1,542 yards, 9 TDs, 10 INTs, 73.3 passer rating
The Manning/Brady tally now stands like this:
As you can see, Brady still has the edge in rating and comp %, but the numbers are now quite similar. The Patriots have won 7 of the 10 games played, but one can hardly look to the Brady/Manning split as the chief reason for that disparity. In fact, one excellent game by Manning and one average game by Brady would reverse all the advantages Brady currently has, while not reversing the records of the teams against one another. The sample size is just too small, and the competition too unequal to draw any firm conclusions. If anything, the similar stats with dissimilar records would suggest that in fact the Patriots simply had better teams than the Colts did for most of the past 8 years. That is a fact that no one disputes.
CHFF Argument #3 The Formative Years
The actual argument is unclear but essentially it appears that they claim that Brady was a better college player than Manning, or that Manning was incapable of winning “the big game”.
The Truth: Tom Brady went 20-5 in college and won two bowl games. He lost the big game against Ohio State in 1998, forcing the Wolverines into a share of the conference title and a lesser bowl.
Peyton Manning went 39-6 as a college starter. He went 3-1 in bowl games. He also led a huge comeback in the SEC Championship game as a senior (a 4-1 postseason record). He famously ‘struggled’ against Florida. Florida averaged 40.25 points in four games against Manning’s Tennessee teams (they never scored less than 31 points). Clearly, there were problems at Tennessee that went beyond the offense. CHFF also ripped Manning for not winning the Heisman. This letter from a reader sums up that case as well as anything could:
Watching ABC college football while listening to the Tennessee-Southern Miss game in November of 1997… [As I noted, I'm from Tennessee, although I never rooted for Heath Shuler or other Vols in the NFL. I went to Vandy Law School and family are Commodore Club boosters. Wasn't til 2003 that I really watched Manning as a pro.]
Anyway, it is halftime of the Vols game. Southern Miss is ranked in the top 25 on the strength of an awesome defense (Patrick Surtain and about 10 other defenders, starters and subs, who would play in the NFL). John Thompson was the up and coming def coordinator and he apparently came up with a weird, throw the sink-type defense which blitzed the house one play and only rushed two the next, etc. The Vols went three and out on their first series, but Peyton finished the half at 19-29 for 199 and a TD while adding a rushing TD. I'll never forget because I knew he'd been pretty good and the stats were announced on the radio right after John Saunders' televised orgasm.
ABC is doing a halftime scoreboard show by Saunders and he gets to highlights of Michigan-Penn St. He shows Woodson at WR line up in the slot, run straight to the post and catch an easy TD. It was obvious that Penn St blew a coverage and left him wide open. He didn't even make a move, simply ran straight to the post and caught an easy pass (a backup on a frat intramural team could have made the play). Saunders goes nuts. Absolutely bonkers. I think he wet himself. Just fell over himself praising the play. Then he looks meaningfully into the camera and says "And Peyton Manning is struggling today!" No highlights or stats, just that he was "struggling."
Silly me. I had thought 19-29, 199 and 2 TDs in just a half was pretty good coming against one of the best defenses in the country.
The problem for those who wanted to torpedo Manning's Heisman campaign was that it wasn't enough to talk about Woodson and exaggerate his abilities. They had to trash Peyton. And what could they say? He was, as Bob Griese said during the SEC title game broadcast, the best QB to come out of college in at least 15 years (Elway, Marino?). Note, Bob's son was the Michigan QB, and he had seen the propaganda campaign close up. He went on to say that it was a terrible disservice what the national media had done to Peyton. Thoughts echoed by Craig James, Lou Holtz and others. Note that they didn't just say that Peyton should have won, but that the national media had mounted a campaign to trash him.
Peyton finished his college career having won more games as a starter than any college QB in history. He had phenomenal stats. What could they use to trash him? So they had to seize on the fact that Spurrier's Gators had won all three games Manning started against them (on the way to a national championship and national runner-up). Didn't matter that Spurrier had put over 120 points on the board in those three games. Didn't matter that the Vols never used the draw or play action passes while Peyton was there (can you imagine Peyton without the draw or play action pass????!!!!) There was nothing else they could say to trash him. "Never won a big game" became a mantra. The SEC title (with a tremendous comeback when the rest of the Vols were horrible) didn't count. Going to Birmingham as a soph to break Alabama's 9 game unbeaten streak against the Vols by throwing an 80 yard bomb on the first play (remember, the Tide was Tenn's biggest rival and the game the South's most important rivalry for three quarters of a century)? Nope. Remember that Bear Bryant and General Neyland had both said many times that the true test of a player was how he played in the Alabama- Tennessee game. Didn't matter. It wasn't about truth, it was about propaganda. And the slander quickly circled the globe. I don't think truth even tried to get dressed on that one. The only big games Peyton ever played were the three starts against Florida, although some of the haters also blame for losing as a freshman on the bench. Same thing for his pro playoff games -- all losses were big games and all wins were not.
In Summary: Peyton Manning lost 6 games as a college starter. Apparently, according to CHFF 4 of those qualified as ‘big game losses’ (only one of those was a bowl game). None of his other regular season games (in the SEC!), none of his bowl game wins, nor his SEC Championship game win counted as “big games” in their eyes. Tom Brady on the other hand lost 1 fewer games in a 1.5 fewer seasons as a starter. He also failed to beat Ohio State in 1998, which would have secured a Rose Bowl spot for Michigan. Both men had excellent careers in college full of big wins and sprinkled lightly with tough losses. To over-glorify Brady’s career or vilify Manning’s as a failure would be ridiculous.
CHFF Argument #4 The Defense Issue
This argument seems to say that Tom Brady is better than Trent Dilfer. Though it may have been a popular argument at the time, I don’t know of anyone that would debate that issue today. It also claims that Manning had one Super Bowl caliber defense (the 2002 defense).
CHFF said : Meanwhile, Indy has had at least one Super Bowl caliber defense during the Manning era. In 2002, the Colts fielded a defensive unit that ranked 7 th in scoring and 8 th in total defense. It was, in other words, a unit that was statistically superior to New England’s 2001 Super Bowl winning defense, which ranked 6 th in scoring and 24 th in total defense – which, as we mentioned, was the lowest rated defense ever to win a Super Bowl.
The Truth: Tom Brady played with great defenses. Peyton Manning won a Super Bowl with the worst defense to win a Super Bowl in history (though in fairness, it played to a dominant level in the playoffs due to the miracle healing of Bob Sanders). The 2002 Colts’ defense is sighted by CHFF as being “Super Bowl caliber”. There is one big problem with that: the defense gave up 41 points in a playoff game. That defense put Manning in a 17-0 hole before the dust even settled. That defense may have been ‘Super Bowl caliber’ statistically, but in the one playoff game it had, it never even gave the offense a chance to be competitive. In the Manning era, the Colts have fielded two truly Super Bowl caliber defenses: 2005 and 2007. The 2005 team lost in the playoffs when the offensive line utterly collapsed. The 2007 defense never recovered from the loss of Dwight Freeney and gave up 28 points in the playoffs.
In fact, in the three Super Bowl runs the Patriots had, their defense yielded an average of 17.2 points a game. In Manning’s 7 postseason losses, the Colts’ defense gave up an average of 25 points a game. In his 7 wins, the defense gave up 18.6 points a game. Manning has simply not had the defensive support that Brady has had in the playoffs. To say otherwise is to ignore the facts.
CHFF Argument #5 The Talent issue
CHFF said: Indianapolis might have a better shot at winning a Super Bowl should it put more emphasis on defense. But the organization has made a strategic decision to sacrifice defense in an effort to surround Manning with the greatest talent possible and to sell tickets to a fan base that desires high-scoring games.
The argument is that Manning has had more offensive talent around him than Tom Brady has. According to CHFF this was a strategic error.
The Truth: The talent ‘imbalance’ on offense between the Patriots and Colts has long been over played. First, let’s examine the line:
New England ’s offensive line in 2004 featured a second-round draft pick (Matt Light), two fifth rounders (Dan Koppen and Russ Hochstein), a seventh-round pick (Brandon Gorin) and three undrafted free agents (Stephen Neal, Joe Andruzzi and Tom Ashworth) Two of their undrafteds are backups who started a combined 8 games.
The Colts line is similarly constructed. Tarik Glenn first rounder, Ryan Lilja undrafted, Jeff Saturday undrafted, Jake Scott 5th round, Ryan Diem 4th round and backups Tupe Peko 7th round and Makoa Freitas 6th round.
Verdict: Neither team has invested a lot of high picks in the O line, so this issue must be about the running backs and receivers. The CHFF piece seems to ignore the fact that Tom Brady, while not throwing to a first rounder like Reggie Wayne, was throwing to a second rounder who was traded for a first round pick after winning the Super Bowl MVP award (Deion Branch). Manning has had the advantage of throwing to a future Hall of Fame WR in Marvin Harrison, a luxury that Brady didn’t have until this past season. The piece also ignores the fact that Reggie Wayne wasn't a significant factor until the 2003 season. Before that, Manning was throwing to Wilkins, EG Green and Jerome Pathon. The presence of James ironically might have been part of Manning's undoing. He was often over used and worn down come playoff time. When the Colts switched to a two back set in 2006, the backs both had phenomenal postseasons. In this case, the presence of a Hall of Famer might have worked against Manning.
The real problem with this point is two fold: 1. it assumes that the Colts drafted poorly, and 2. it blames Manning for the Colts draft record. If Manning was truly to blame for the Colts drafts over the first several years of his career, he should also go to the Hall of Fame for being one of the most brilliant player/GMs imaginable. Pro-football-reference recently rated the Colts as the BEST drafting team in the NFL during that period.
In Summary: This point is partially true, but overblown. Manning had a similar line, one great receiver, and a player in Reggie Wayne that was comparable in draft position and early production at the time to Deion Branch. Manning has had better RBs, but note that Edgerrin James often failed to produce in the postseason. Most importantly, the premise of this charge is wrong. The premise is that the Colts erred in drafting as they did. This is clearly not true. CHFF fails to suggest even one defensive player the Colts should have drafted ahead of Reggie Wayne. Now with four more years of hindsight, the suggestion that Indianapolis was building a team for show and not for wins has been revealed as ludicrous. Perhaps the argument can be made that in general Brady has had inferior offensive talent, but the gap is not nearly as pronounced as CHFF has made it appear, nor does it stem from some flawed draft strategy traceable to Manning himself.
CHFF Argument #6 Manning’s stats are not markedly better than Brady’s
CHFF said: The glaring disparity between supporting offensive talent has not stopped Brady from putting up highly comparable, and in many instance outright better, statistics than one Peyton Manning. In fact, at this point in his career, Brady has posted a better passer rating than Manning did at the same point in his career.
The Truth: CHFF deliberately compared apples to oranges. They traced Manning and Brady’s stats through their first five seasons, and noted how similar they were. Of course, they intentionally count Manning’s ‘trial by fire’ rookie year (with a terrible team) the same as Tom Brady’s ‘sit on the bench and scratch his butt’ year. Manning’s rookie year was far and away his worst statistically, and its inclusion is the only thing that makes the two QB’s stats appear similar.
CHFF compares the numbers of the two QBs over their first five seasons (with Manning’s rookie year and Brady’s included). They claimed that the early years of their careers prove that Brady is better. But note how those numbers change if you only count the more similar (in terms of playing time and circumstance) years 2-5 of their careers:
Manning was clearly the better quarterback statistically. He was more accurate, and his YPA was much higher. Remember that this was pre-Reggie Wayne as well. In 1999, for instance, Manning’s #2 receiver was Terrance Wilkins. He did have Marvin Harrison during this stretch, but the overall talent level at WR was not the vast gulf that CHFF would have you believe. Jerome Pathon and EG Green were not appreciably better than the wideouts that Brady had.
In fact, it’s amazing how dependent comparisons between Brady and Manning are on Manning’s rookie year to even the score. The following charts show Manning and Brady’s career stats through various stages of their careers.
Manning vs. Brady years 2-7 (Brady is in his 7th year, Manning in his 9th overall)
Through seven years (all of Brady’s career verses Manning’s 2nd through 7th year), Manning has produced nearly 3000 more yards at a better completion %, with a better YPA, and has a rating nearly four points higher than Brady’s. Both are excellent quarterbacks, but there can be no equivocation as to which QB has better stats. Manning averaged only about 20 more throws than Brady per season (just slightly more than one extra throw per game). This would refute the CHFF claim that Manning’s numbers were inflated by a pass happy offense.
Both Manning and Brady have been fortunate to have a single season that ranked among the greatest of all time. It could be argued that such a season skews the numbers. What follows is a comparison of the quarterbacks’ ‘normal seasons’. Again, Manning’s rookie year has been omitted from consideration due to the lack of a comparable situation for Brady.
Manning vs. Brady Average Season (with best season removed)
Brady (2001-2006) Average season
Again, note that Manning averaged only 32 passes per season more than Brady. Manning is significantly better in all areas except interception percentage, in which Brady holds a miniscule 2.55 to 2.66 lead. That essentially means that Manning will throw one more pick out of every 1000 attempts. Manning offsets that with a better TD percentage. Again, let’s be clear. Tom Brady posts excellent numbers. They are NOT, however, as good as Manning’s stats. The CHFF assertion that they are is simply false. Any valid comparison of the two quarterbacks shows that Manning has been superior statistically. Note that the differences in stats are significant because they pertain to multiple seasons of play. In the previous statistical comparisons between Manning and Brady in the playoffs and head to head competition, the gaps could be erased by one game either way. Stats become inherently more valuable as sample sizes grow. This makes statistical comparisons between players useful when played out over multiple seasons instead of only a handful of games.
Summary: Manning’s stats over similar periods of their careers are superior to Tom Brady’s. There is simply no other way to read the data. Despite playing in a more vertical offense than Brady, Manning has posted consistently higher completion percentages. Brady has slightly lower interception rates, but lags behind in every other significant category. Manning has thrown more passes per season, but not many more. In fact, other than his 2007 campaign, Tom Brady has never achieved Manning’s average (WITHOUT 2004) numbers in any given season. Simply put, an average Peyton Manning statistical season has been superior to any non-Randy Moss season that Brady can muster.
The arguments by CHFF simply don’t hold up to scrutiny. In fairness, they were written before all the facts were in, thus illustrating the folly of trying to prove that one of these two brilliant players is better than the other at this stage. The original CHFF piece was biased and distorted the facts and statistics. They cited context when it suited them (to praise Brady for his heroics in the snow), but ignored it when it would serve to vindicate Manning. The original piece was deeply flawed and is essentially of no value. It was not incorrect in all it asserted, but even when it got something right (Brady has had less offensive talent around him for certain stretches of his career) the importance and degree of the claims was over-stated. In fairness to them, they have already eaten a lot of crow over the assumptions they made. This article serves as a way of showing exactly how unnecessary those mistakes were. There may well be a valid case to rank Brady ahead of Manning, but this article completely fails to make it. We now can plainly see that Manning has been a markedly superior regular season quarterback, and while Brady has had more post season success in terms of wins and losses, the difference in their actual numbers is not great enough to say that Brady clearly played better than Manning, just that he had a better team most post-seasons than Manning did.
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