Si.com just recently posted a joint article with four regular writers (Don Banks, Jim Trotter, Ross Tucker, and John Mullin) exploring the issue of which QB is more set up for success this season. I thought for a little while how I would approach this article, and finally decided that instead of boring you by just flat-out giving you my straight opinion, I will reproduce the article below and add in my thoughts, quips, opinions, and sarcastic comments sporadically. Enjoy! (And don't forget to weigh in with your opinion. It's the end of May. I'm bored!)
• DON BANKS: First off, there are no "losers'' in this particular facet of our decade-long Manning vs. Brady debate -- at least not when 30 other NFL teams wouldn't kill to be saddled with either situation this season.
I'm not sure about 30 other teams (I think at least the Ravens and Falcons like their quarterbacks and would prefer Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco to an iffy Brady, but I digress), but that is an important distinction. Both the Colts and Patriots love their quarterback situation right now.
It's not an issue of whether you'd want a completely healthy Manning or a still-rehabilitating Brady. It's a case of whether you'd want a resilient Colts team that went 12-4 but lost its playoff opener with Manning playing all year, or a resourceful Patriots team that finished just a tick behind them at 11-5 with Brady on the field for less than 15 minutes of the season.
I think he shortchanged the Colts a little bit here. First, Peyton wasn't healthy all year, so you can't count the 12-4 season as full-strength for the Colts, and he also neglects the details of the playoff loss (massive injuries, an underrated Chargers team, horrible O-line...etc.). Just saying last year is a comparison between a full-strength Colts team and a fatally crippled Pats team is lazy and doesn't do the issue justice.
Ask yourself how far the Colts would have advanced last year if Manning had gone down in the opening quarter of the season.
OK...2-14. So what?
That gives you get a pretty good estimation of how much deeper the Patriots' talent pool goes.
No, all it says is that Brady had a very competent QB behind him as his backup. You know him as Matt Cassel. We have Jim Sorgi, for better or for worse. So, you could only say from that that the Patriots had a deeper "talent pool" at QB. Brady going down didn't magically take out anybody else on the team. Unfortunately for the Patriots, Cassel went off to a much bigger payday in Kansas City with Scott Pioli this offseason. So, that's no excuse this season. Now the backup QB situation is Sorgi/Painter for the Colts, and Kevin O'Connell/Matt Gutierrez/Brian Hoyer for the Patriots. We'll call it even.
And don't forget, the Patriots and Matt Cassel almost beat the Colts in Indy without Brady in Week 9.
Awwww, woulda, coulda, shoulda. You can't say that since Cassel almost beat us that Brady would have beaten us. I absolutely hate that retroactive reasoning. Ugh.
Without Brady, New England didn't collapse, far from it. It proved once and for all that Bill Belichick's team is built on more than just the remarkable winning talents of No. 12, and that even the most "irreplaceable'' of all their roster's interchangeable parts can be lived without -- at least for a time.
I think any Colts fan who watched those 2 playoff losses in 2003 and 2004 know that the secret to the Patriots' success has always been a suffocating defense. Brady has never been as crucial as the media hypes him out to be. However, for reasons too detailed to spell out here, I don't think the Pats' defense will be very good this year (age, crucial parts like Elias Hobbes leaving, LB situation...etc.).
And while I don't see either team falling off the radar screen in the AFC playoff chase this season, it's the Patriots, with a Brady who in all likelihood will return to his Pro Bowl-level play, who look the most improved. Running back Fred Taylor, receiver Joey Galloway, tight end Chris Baker and cornerbacks Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden are all upgrades, and this year's examples of the kind of quality veteran acquisition the Patriots have excelled at this decade. Near the top of its draft, New England took at least two potential contributors in cornerback Darius Butler and defensive tackle Ron Brace.
I agree, neither team will fall off of the face of the Earth. I even predict that there will be a 2007-like frenzy surrounding the Colts-Pats matchup this here. However, Banks' reasoning here is absurd. First, there is absolutely no guarantee of Brady returning to Pro Bowl level. ACL tears are tricky and very hard to come back from, especially with the trouble he has had with it. Also, Fred Taylor and Joey Galloway are old, tired veterans who really cannot contribute much. I don't know much about the other players (I'm not a huge research guy, that's Shake's department), but it doesn't fill many holes or answer all the questions surrounding the D and the RB situations.
The Patriots have reloaded, and Brady will be back. Even without Tony Dungy, there's no need to cry for the Colts and Manning. But New England remains the team that the rest of the AFC measures itself by.
To me, it seems like ol' Donnie here is still sporting his infamous crush on the 2007 Patriots and feels that it would be just Brady returning to the same team with a couple new parts. That's a naive position to have that ignores the uncertainty surrounding Brady, the horrible RB situation with Maroney/Taylor, and the rapidly aging, full-of-holes defense. The only thing going for them offensive-wise is Randy Moss.
• JIM TROTTER: The correct answer is they'll both be great because they have immense talent and terrific supporting casts.
I can buy that.
But for the sake of this argument, give me Manning over Brady -- which in no way reflects my opinion on which one is the better quarterback. That distinction goes to Brady, hands down.
(chokes on Diet Sunkist and spews it over the screen) Excuse me there. Brady is hands down the better quarterback? That is patently ridiculous.
However, based on the criteria we've been given, I have to go with Manning in this instance. He's fully healthy, plays an easier schedule and should have a stronger running game with the arrival of first-round pick Donald Brown.
All perfectly good reasons to feel confident about the Colts (that have been dissected here immensely). It should also be noted that while everyone likes to mention the Patriots acquiring Fred Taylor and Joey Galloway, Trotter here is the only one to mention "UPS."
The Chicken Littles who believe doom and gloom are ahead because the Colts made six coaching changes this offseason ultimately will realize the current staff is extremely competent. I would go so far as to say that the Colts might be better on offense and defense than they were a year ago.
I completely (and hesitantly) agree with that. And we still may have the old coordinators too (Apparently, nobody knows yet.). Just sayin'.
Picking against Brady hurts because he holds a spot on my Mount Rushmore of quarterbacks.
I sure hope that you are talking about active quarterbacks, because I believe Joe Montana, Steve Young, Johnny Unitas, Otto Graham, Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, Troy Aikman, and Peyton Manning all would have something to say about ranking him in the top 4 all-time.
He has new weapons in running back Fred Taylor and wideout Joey Galloway, whose presence should soften the blow of coordinator Josh McDaniels leaving for Denver.
Can somebody get the definition of "weapon" for me please. I'm not sure he's using the word correctly. Ah, here it is:
1. any instrument or device for use in attack or defense in combat, fighting, or war, as a sword, rifle, or cannon.
2. An extremely old addition that will help you in absolutely no way even though everybody is fawning over it.
Oh, never mind. He's using that word correctly.
Still, I can't escape the fact that Brady is coming off major reconstructive knee injury. If he's unable to plant his left foot with authority, his throws could lack their customary velocity and possibly result in more incompletions and turnovers.
This is something that we ("we," as in Colts fans) have been pointing to since the beginning of the offseason. And with what we experienced with Peyton last year, we actually know what we're talking about. It's still speculation (along with just about everything else we do on blogs), but Brady might not get to 80-90% until Week 8. That is a HUGE question mark.
I did not rely on statistical data to support my position because stats can be twisted to support either side.
Yeah. Just ask CHFF. That's typically my style, as you may know by now. I'm always much more anecdotal and memory-oriented than researching facts, mgrex-style. Not that there's anything wrong with that, 'cuz I love the "Finding the Winning Factors" series. But I digress.
The bottom line for me is health, and that advantage goes to Manning.
I agree, although there are many more things to consider than just health.
• ROSS TUCKER: Brady. He is already back on the practice field, fully recovered from his knee surgery.
Really? Do you have any information that I should know about? Because last time I checked, being on the practice field ≠ being fully recovered. A lot of NFL players have practiced once or twice in the week before a game, but been unable to play in the game. It could be from further injuring themselves, a relapse, or just being in too much pain during that practice. You cannot just say that Brady is fully recovered.
If the Pats were concerned about his knee at all they never would have traded Matt Cassel.
They would if they were more concerned about possibly carrying two very expensive quarterbacks. They also could really like Kevin O'Connell. I personally believe that it's a combination of the 2. Once again, horrible justification from Ross Tucker.
The Pats will certainly miss Josh McDaniels on offense,
Not as much as the Broncos fans wish he was back in New England.
but their receiving corps returns intact and should be even better than it was in 2007 because of their familiarity with both the offense and each other.
And, sadly I have to agree with that. They have freakin' Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Those guys are absolute beasts and a terror to any defense. Moss going deep and Welker going 15 yards out scares the living crap out of me.
Couple that with Belichick adding some new toys for Brady in Joey Galloway and Fred Taylor, and it is pretty clear why the Pats think they may accomplish even more in 2009 than they did in 2007.
First of all, it would be really, REALLY hard for the Pats to accomplish more than they did in 2007 (except maybe win the Super Bowl), so that's a pretty far out there statement right there. Also, as I've mentioned before, all of these writers are pointing to these 2 dinosaurs as reasons the Pats' offense will improve while completely ignoring UPS and Collie as reasons the Colts' offense will improve.
Manning, on the other hand, lost his longtime safety valve in Marvin Harrison, leaving him a weapon short unless one of the youngsters can make a big leap forward in 2009.
Marvin was pretty much abducted 2 years ago and replaced with a competent #3 receiver. So, that's all we need out of one of our guys (Garcon, Hall, Collie, or Giguere). A solid, #3 receiver season.
Manning also appears to be flustered by what happened with long-time Indy assistant coaches Tom Moore and Howard Mudd.
So are we bud, but it appears that Mudd and Moore are in fact coming back (making it an issue of when, not if).
Even if they return as consultants, will things be the same and run as smoothly as always? Not even Manning knows the answer to that.
IMO, when Mudd and Moore come back, they will do exactly the same things that they did as OC and O-line Coordinator, while the coaches-in-waiting-with-long-and-complicated-names will assume their old duties until Mudd and Moore re-retire, then they will become the new coordinators. That would be a pretty much seamless process and one that I believe Polian is aiming at here.
• JOHN MULLIN: Brady returns to the No. 8 scoring offense, a unit that added receivers Joey Galloway and Greg Lewis, plus Fred Taylor in the offseason.
Ugh. Read what I wrote above, rinse, and repeat.
Manning's Colts kept Pro Bowl center and security blanket Jeff Saturday and they used the 27th pick of the draft on UConn's Donald Brown to complement (replace?) tailback Joseph Addai. Anthony Gonzalez had more receiving yards and a higher per-catch average than outgoing Marvin Harrison.
That sounds like a pretty fair assessment of our offseason. I would also add the drafting of Collie, but I'm just nitpicking now since I'm near the end.
Sure, I'll compromise on this one, but I still want to give a little of an advantage to the Colts. I'm always in a good mood at 3:00 in the morning.
The Indianapolis coaching situation is not in chaos, Manning's comments notwithstanding, and after all, this is May.
Ding-Ding-Ding, we have a winner! Media people, it's May. It's not time for panic. Armageddon doesn't occur until August 2nd.
Assistant head coach Clyde Christiansen will call plays, which he did last season for third downs, where the Colts were the only team to convert 50 percent of its opportunities, and for the red zone, where the Colts were the NFL's best.
Well, I don't know who is calling the plays this year, but I do like that 3rd down stat. We've been the best at that stat for a while.
There is no coaching issue in New England for this reason: Bill Belichick.
Well, the Pats did lose Josh McDaniels, although they may get him back before the offseason is over. They also lost Scott Pioli, but it may soon be discovered that he is made of wood and has strings stretching out from his hollow shell all the way to a certain hooded sweatshirt.
Spot on with giving the Pats this one, especially when Mullin left out the part about Dungy retiring. I still consider that a huge deal.
Divisionally speaking, the non-Patriots AFC East was a game tougher (27-21) last season than the non-Colts AFC South (26-22), and that was with Tennessee and Albert Haynesworth winning 13. That will not happen again.
Well, I don't know exactly how well the Titans will do next year, but I also have a feeling that they will miss Haynesworth considerably. I could see them as a solid wild-card team next year.
Brady has six games against Miami, Buffalo and the Jets, all improved.
Eh, maybe. The Jets lost Favre and gained Sanchez, so we don't know what the tradoff there will be yet. Buffalo can play brillantly one week and abysmal the next. Which one shows up against the Patriots is anyone's guess. It's just a gut feeling, but I'm not convinced of Miami's improvement. I just think that they're going to be that Super Bowl disapointment that happens every year (like the Jags were last year). Anyway, the chances that all 3 of the AFC East opponents will improve next year is iffy at best, no chance in hell at worst.
Nope, nope, nope. The easier division goes to the Pats. We have the solid to crazy good Titans and the still-improving-but-extremely-dangerous Texans while the Pats have, well, themselves.
The real tipping point, injury, involves severity and location. Manning's bursa sac surgery was in his plant/left leg, but oh did he look rusty in his first couple of games back. He still passed for 4,002 yards last season, didn't throw an interception in the last five games and had passer ratings of 90 or better in nine of the last 10.
Yep. Imagine what Peyton will do with a whole season healthy, because I'm pretty confident that Brady won't have that luxary.
Brady's torn ACL was in his plant/left leg as well, and the potential is there for too many passes off the back foot, which can translate into lost velocity and sailing throws. Mobility may be a concern.
Yep again. I seem to be agreeing the most with John Mullin here.
New England was 26th in sacks per pass play last season, Indianapolis third.
Now that's an important statistic that I didn't know. Brady better start buying his linemen some watches, or he might he walking off the field with a fatal limp again this season.
Double advantage, and overall edge: Manning.
Yay, another writer who chose Peyton. The right choice.