Sunday, January 16, 2005

I love being right
By Zach

Earlier this year, Ben and I stayed up until 5 am debating who was the better quarterback, Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. Ben's argument: Manning was in the midst of throwing for more touchdowns in a season than any other quarterback, that he was a big, tall, strong armed quarterback who could make all the throws. My arguements: Brady had won two Super Bowls, was 7-0 in the playoffs, and managed the game better than anyone since Joe Montana. Manning, meanwhile, had never won a significant game in his life. He never beat Flordia in four years at Tennessee. Since joining the NFL, the Colts have won 2 playoff games, both over terrible Broncos teams.
Good defense? Bad weather? Playoffs? Yeah, that's what I thought.

As the season progressed, more and more people jumped on the Manning bandwagon, apparently choosing to completely ignore his history, and focus instead on the impressive numbers he was putting up against bad defenses. Nevermind the fact that he wouldn't be playing the Houston Texans, Chicago Bears, or the Detroit Lions in the playoffs (he threw 15 TDs against them, plus 14 more against Kansas City, Minnesota, and Green Bay...terrible defensive teams all). He was Peyton Manning, the God of Passing, and could not, would not be stopped. Until he faced the Ravens and the Chargers, who actually could play D. Yes, the Colts won both games. But Manning threw just 3 TDs, and completed just over 60% of his passes. Good numbers? Sure. But great numbers, best QB in the league numbers? Nope.

Still, heading into today's game against the Patriots, all you heard or saw was how Manning was going to pick apart a bruised and battered Pat secondary. How Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, and Brandon Stokley, the so-called greatest WR trio in history (or at the least the only to each have over 1000 yards receiving and 10 TDs in the same season) were going to run wild, how Manning would be able to check down to Dallas Clark, Marcus Pollard, and Edgerrin James with ease. Sure, Manning threw 4 picks the last time he played the Patriots in the playoffs, and sure, he had that whole "never wins a big game thing," but that was last year. 49 Touchdowns!

So what happened today? He ran into two things. One, the fact that the Patriots are the defending Super Bowl champions, have the best coach in the NFL (and one of the best ever), are nearly unbeatable at home, have a great defense, oh, and have the beset quarterbacks in the NFL. Two, whenever he plays against a great defense, Manning tends to get out of his rhythm. Last year, it manifested itself in him throwing the ball into confusing coverages, and Ty Law's hands. This year, it was him being too willing to dump the ball off, not taking chances down the field. The Patriots took advantage of the fact that as prolific as the Colts offense was, it couldn't control the ball. The run game was inconsistant all year, and when the ball is being throw to James, Clark, Pollard, and James Mungro, the Colts aren't doing what they do best. Plus, Harrison and Stokley were basically non-existant, and Wayne got stripped on what would have been a last-gasp drive.

Plus, listening to Manning during the post-game press conference, you can tell that he doesn't believe he can win in New England.

The truth is, I like Peyton. He's a great player. He's a good guy. He's interesting and articulate and honest. He knows and cares about the history of the sport.
The best quarterback in the NFL.
I just don't think he's a winner, not in the ultimate sense. Plus, with his monstrous contract, he inhibits Indy's ability to add quality defensive players to supplement the potent offense.

The true question is, will he be Dan Marino, with all the number and none of the rings, or will he be Elway, a guy who can't get it done early in his career, then limps to a title or two in the twilight. My money's on Marino.

Brady, on the other hand, has a great chance to win his third Super Bowl in four years, a feat which, if accomplished would rank among the greatest of all time. He's also still just 27. He'll get plenty of additional chances. And maybe now people will start seeing the light.


Blogger salas said...


10:53 PM  

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