Tom Brady's legacy after Super Bowl XLVI loss to Eli Manning and the Giants

As the Super Bowl dust settles, Tom Brady still emerges as the all-time greatest

2/8/12 in NFL   |   Pat   |   5229 respect

Some of the talk leading up to Super Bowl XLVI surrounded Tom Brady and Bill Belichick's legacy, and how it could be tarnished if they lost another Super Bowl to Eli Manning, Tom Coughlin and the Giants.

Now that we've not only seen the game, but also had a few days to digest it, that talk seems almost as foolish as the idea that Eli Manning is now somehow better than his brother Peyton.

Here's the bottom line, whether you want to admit it or not: Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback ever to grace the NFL with his presence. At the very worst, you can say that he and Joe Montana are 1 and 1a, but anything less than that is unfair, delusional and flat out wrong.

A lot of people have been throwing around Brady's recent TD-INT ratio and the Patriots W-L record in their recent Super Bowl "drought" and using that as a reason to attempt to discredit Brady.

The supposedly damning numbers: After winning the first 10 playoff games in the Tom Brady era, the Patriots have now gone 7-6, and Brady has thrown 27 TD and 17 INT. Those are the numbers that people use to attempt to paint Brady as "overrated."

Let's take a step back and look at this a little more intelligently. How many other active quarterbacks have a winning record in the postseason and a TD-INT ratio of 1.59 over the past 7 years, like Brady has done?

From 2005 to the present:
Drew Brees: 5 wins, 3 losses, 20 TD, 3 INT
Matt Hasselbeck: 5 wins, 4 losses, 16 TD, 7 INT
Eli Manning: 8 wins, 3 losses, 17 TD, 8 INT
Aaron Rodgers: 4 wins, 2 losses, 15 TD, 4 INT
Mark Sanchez: 4 wins, 2 losses, 9 TD, 4 INT

Those are the only quarterbacks in the entire NFL between 2005 and the present with numbers better than the ones for which people criticize Tom Brady. And that's after we've completely ignored the best part of Brady's playoff résumé. Add those 10 wins, 11 TD and 3 INT, and most of those other guys' numbers pale in comparison. Eli's W-L record is still outstanding, and Rodgers and Brees' TD-INT ratios are unreal, but Brady still has the overall edge over any of them, by a long shot.

In fact, Brady has the edge over anyone who has ever played the game in the Super Bowl era. Yes, even Montana.

For the record, I'm not trying to discredit Montana at all. If you tell me he's the best of all time, I'm not even going to argue. I'm merely going to remind you that you can't talk about his greatness without at least acknowledging that Brady is right there with him.

People love to quote the statistic that Montana never threw an interception in the Super Bowl. While that's outstanding in its own right, it's also worth mentioning that there was also a 3-year stretch in which he didn't throw a single touchdown, threw 4 INT, and had a combined QB rating of 50.5 in what resulted in 3 straight 49ers losses.

Yes, Montana was great, but he wasn't perfect. Nearly two decades after his career is over, do any of us remember those three games, and mention how they tarnish his legacy? Of course not. That would be ignorant. So why are people doing it to Brady?

SI's Michael Rosenberg has a lot more realistic take in his recent column, where he points out that Brady's legacy isn't tarnished at all by this loss. In fact, he ADDED to his legacy with his performance.

Yes, the Patriots lost the Super Bowl. Yes, Brady had some less than stellar moments. His lone interception was pretty badly underthrown, the safety was unacceptable and he threw a couple throws behind his receivers. But when you show me a QB who never makes a single mistake, I'll gladly concede the "greatest QB ever" title to him.

Tom Brady did enough to win. His incompletion to Wes Welker has been discussed ad nauseam, and you can blame whomever you'd like. Brady didn't make a perfect throw, but there's no denying that it was a catchable pass. As you can see in the picture to the right, it hit Welker right in both hands. It wouldn't have been an easy catch, but it's a catch that Wes Welker normally makes.

Not to continue picking on Montana, but the only thing separating Montana and Brady isn't what each QB did, it's what their teammates did around them.

The biggest difference between Montana and Brady is that Ronnie Lott never would have let David Tyree make the catch off his helmet in Super Bowl XLVI, and Jerry Rice never would have dropped that pass.

Brady took a downright terrible team to the Super Bowl. The defense was one of the worst I've ever seen in New England, the running game was almost a non-factor, and they had no legitimate deep threat receiver.

The craziest part is that Brady could still end up winning another Super Bowl. With two picks in each of the first two rounds of the 2012 Draft, the Patriots are in a position to reload for the future. At age 35, Brady still has another 3-5 solid years left. No matter what anyone tries to tell you, he's aging like a fine wine, and is still one of the best in the league.

Does he need another ring to justify my belief that he's the all-time best? Nope. Not at all. He could retire now, and he has already done enough to make his case. But this isn't the end.


A few additional Patriots/Giants notes:

Remember the incompletion to Welker that we discussed earlier? So does Pawngo, a Denver-based online pawn shop. Apparently still bitter about the Patriots' absolute dismantling of the Broncos earlier in the playoffs, they dropped off thousands of Butterfinger bars in the middle of Boston, with a sign thanking Welker. A**holes.


A couple people have taken issue with Patriots players Matt Light and Rob Gronkowski partying it up and dancing a few hours after the Patriots Super Bowl loss. I feel sorry for the miderable, petty people who even care about that. If anyone thinks that it's a sign that Gronk and Light didn't care, then I'm not going to waste my time explaining how absurdly ignorant that is. Once the clock hits zero, there's nothing you can do. The Patriots lost. One of the most important things an athlete needs is a short memory. You can't dwell on losses, and trust me... the Patriots will see enough of the game tape from this one to last them several lifetimes. Let them get drunk and find a distraction. If you have a problem with that, then you need to reevaluate your life.

After Gisele's rant towards Giants fans on her way out of the stadium, Giants RB Brandon Jacobs said "she just needs to continue to stay cute and shut up." Apparently, in Brandon Jacobs' world, women should be seen and not heard. Good to know, Mr. Jacobs. The thing is... Gisele had a point.

Giants DE Justin Tuck gave each of his teammates a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue. Those run for over $200 per bottle, and it usually costs $40-50 if you're ordering it in a drink at a bar. Fellow DE Dave Tollefson must not have known that. "Johnnie Walker is kind of a working man’s drink. Johnnie Walker and some Coke. It just speaks to the attitude of our team, and the type of guy he is." A working man's drink? A CEO's drink, perhaps. And you're going to mix your $200+ bottle of Blue with a $2 bottle of Coke? Quick, someone teach this man how to drink.

The folks over at the Aruba Tourism Authority feel bad for the Patriots, and are offering the entire team an all-expenses paid trip to the island. The rich get richer.

At UMass-Amherst, also known as ZooMass, they were going to riot whether the Patriots won or lost. But at least this kid took it like a champ when he got sucker punched in the back of the head. Video via Shutdown Corner.




And now let's never talk about this Super Bowl again, thank you very much.
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2/9/12   |   elevenbravo138again   |   1163 respect

I'd like to mention that Otto Graham played for 10 years, and won 7 championships.  He played one year in the NBA and won the title!  He was from a different era but a great one, he faced many great defenders.

Long before Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders received so much publicity for participating in two sports, there was Otto Graham. All he did as a Northwestern senior was earn first-team All-American honors in basketball and finish third in the Heisman Trophy voting in football. Then, in his first year as a professional, he played on championship teams in basketball for the Rochester Royals and football for the Cleveland Browns. After that season, he concentrated exclusively on football and led the Browns to six more championships.  He was a very good athlete, was perhaps the finest QB mind of the era, comparable with Unitas at the very least. 

He was rated the league's top passer twice and led in completion percentage three times and in yardage twice. His 8.63 yards per attempt remains an NFL record. In his 10 pro seasons, he completed 1,464 of 2,626 attempts (55.8 percentage) for 23,584 yards and 174 touchdowns with 135 interceptions.  Let's remember this was a time when a 1-1 TD-INT ratio was considered good and defenders could ride receivers all over the field.

Graham, nicknamed "Automatic Otto" for his precision passing, was four-for-four when it came to All-American Football Conference championships (1946-49). Then, after Cleveland and two other AAFC teams were admitted to the National Football League in 1950, Graham shut up the cynics who said the Browns couldn't compete in the more established league. His pinpoint passing led them to three NFL titles, including the championship that first year. 

He had one truly poor championship performance in the 17-16 loss to Detroit in the 1953 title game he was 2-of-15.  Graham won his second MVP, completing 98 of 185 passes for 1,721 yards with 15 touchdowns and only eight interceptions as Cleveland went a league-best 9-2-1. Throwing for two touchdowns and running for two more, he went out a winner as Cleveland routed the Rams 38-10 for the 1955 championship.

It's difficult to compare Montana to Brady, with the vast changes in the way the game is played, in fact nearly impossible to do so. However  when examining players like Unitas, Baugh,
these are players who excelled when it was clearly more difficult.  Even Dan Fouts the first quarterback to pass for over 4,000 yards three consecutive seasons, was selected two times All-Pro, and two times second team All-Pro.  He passed for over 40,000 yards and also won NFL Offensive Player of the Year.  Let's consider Fran Tarkenton who passed for 47,003 yards and 342 TDs. He was selected to nine Pro Bowls, was league MVP in 1975, and was All-Pro two times. Only one problem: no championships.  But let's remember Dilfer and the wildly overrated Namath have rings, the fact is that teams win games.  QBs aren't starting pitchers or hockey goalies they are one, very important, part of a unit. 

 

2/9/12   |   Pat   |   5229 respect

johnnieizumi wrote:
 Here is a comparison of stats that aren't cumulative but are averages between Brady and Rodgers. This more than likely will go down as they go past their prime.

Passer rating - Brady 4th, Rodgers 1st
Passing yards per game - Brady 6th, Rodgers 5th
Yard per completion - Brady 163rd, Rodgers 91st
Passes completed per game - Brady 9th Rodgers 4th
Passing td % - Brady 23rd, Rogers 10th. 

So based on this I'd say Rogers is the better QB. As for career stats we will only know obviously once both their careers are done.

So who's on crack? 

I acknowledge that Aaron Rodgers is an outstanding QB so far, and there's definitely a chance that he could someday be the greatest ever, but his sample size is a little too small right now. Through 4 years as a starter, he's better than anyone else had been after their first 4 years, but that's not enough to call him the GOAT.

Also, not sure that you've really made any sort of legitimate case for or against anyone's drug usage here. Not sure why you keep bringing that up. It's possible for someone to disagree with you without having taken illegal drugs to reach such a conclusion.

Are you saying Rodgers is the greatest ever? Because if that's the case, I counter with Matt Flynn. By your logic, he's a valid choice as well.

But seriously... if not Brady, then who?

2/9/12   |   johnnieizumi

 Ah I missed one stat. The only non cumulative stat that Brady beats Rodgers in and that is % of interceptions where Rodgers is 1st and Brady is 3rd.


So lets see some non cumulative stats that Brady leads in.

2/9/12   |   johnnieizumi

 Here is a comparison of stats that aren't cumulative but are averages between Brady and Rodgers. This more than likely will go down as they go past their prime.

Passer rating - Brady 4th, Rodgers 1st
Passing yards per game - Brady 6th, Rodgers 5th
Yard per completion - Brady 163rd, Rodgers 91st
Passes completed per game - Brady 9th Rodgers 4th
Passing td % - Brady 23rd, Rogers 10th. 

So based on this I'd say Rogers is the better QB. As for career stats we will only know obviously once both their careers are done.

So who's on crack? 

2/9/12   |   johnnieizumi

 Heck there are plenty of stats there that aren't compilation where he's certainly not in the top 5. Just look at any of the per game or % stats. 

I think we will see when Aaron Rodgers career is over he will be at or near the top at all of those stats. 

Not that I'm a Packers fan. 


2/9/12   |   Pat   |   5229 respect

johnnieizumi wrote:
 Your out of your freaking mind or you're smoking crack. Take a look at any career stat that QB's are rated on and you will see Tom in the top 5 only 3 times. Heck there are several you won't even find him in the top 10.

 The one stat he does best in is career pass interception % where he's ranked 3rd.

Look it up here yourself you moron
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/leaders/

 

 Those are almost all compilation stats, and can't truly be measured until his career is over. 5th in passing TD, and he's still got 3-5 years left? And you think that's a bad thing?

It's funny that you think I'm out of my mind (or on crack), yet you used career pass attempts in a discussion about who is the greatest QB of all time.

Also, it's easy to pretend that those numbers aren't that good, without any context, but whose overall numbers are better? Who's YOUR #1? I bet Brady beats him in an awful lot of stats, no matter who it is.

2/9/12   |   johnnieizumi

 Your out of your freaking mind or you're smoking crack. Take a look at any career stat that QB's are rated on and you will see Tom in the top 5 only 3 times. Heck there are several you won't even find him in the top 10.

 The one stat he does best in is career pass interception % where he's ranked 3rd.

Look it up here yourself you moron
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/leaders/

 

2/8/12   |   ML31   |   3671 respect

imaji wrote:
 Niners had a cap in the 80s. they creatively exploited loopholes in it, but it was there. JUST LIKE the Pats exploited the "unlikely to be achieved" bonuses that didn't count against the cap for most of the early/mid 00s, since closed. SAME THING. Nice try tho.

ps pretty sure brady is 6-6 post spygate, not 7-6

NFL salary cap began in 1994.  Well after the Montana era for the 49ers.

2/8/12   |   goblueSD

(Edited by goblueSD)

I think that If you are going to use injury as a crutch for Montana (which is fine) then it should be noted Brady's performance changed a lot after Tuck crushed his already sprained shoulder.  Ben Roethlisberger this year showed how much playing with a high ankle sprain hampers your performance and yet people say that Brady who had the same injury in 07 "just isn't tough" for allowing it to affect his performance.  He even played through a Sports Hernia in 2005 when he had one of his worst playoff games.  Both Montana and Brady became more injury prone later in their careers as they got older as one would expect.  


Anthony Carter may have torched the 49er Defense in that '87 Viking game but Montana played like crap the whole first half (throwing a pick six if i remember correctly) and got benched.  Only in the second half when Young came in did the offense start to come back, just a bad day at the office for Joe.  In those three years 85-87 he managed 9 points in 3 playoff starts and had the greatest WR to play the game and a HOF back in each.  Even the greatest players have bad years/stretches.

Brady actually had better numbers this Superbowl than many other quarterbacks who have been named the game's MVP (including himself and Eli).  The long ball to Gronk was dumb and he will be kicking himself for that one, young Brady probably does not take a shot like that and would have gone underneath but older Brady takes a few more chances and gets burned sometimes (Gronk once again shows high ankle sprains suck). 

He is in the argument for best ever and I think that is all that matters.  Hardly any "best ever" debate has a clear answer save some exceptions.  He has played 10 years as a starter and 5 of them he has been in the superbowl with three wins.  I would still give an edge to Montana over everyone else (his 89 season was just ridiculous) but Brady is right there in the mix.  

2/8/12   |   imaji   |   1 respect

Pat wrote:
1) I used those numbers because those are the ones that are most widely used to criticize Brady. I honestly don't think that they're that bad.

2) Those aren't post-SpyGate numbers, they're post-3 SB rings numbers. Basically, everything except those first 10 playoff wins.

3) Those aren't guys with better numbers than Brady, per se, they're guys with a winning record in the postseason since 2005, and at least a 1.59 TD-INT ratio. I wasn't saying that those are the top 5 QBs in the league, it was more a way to point out that Brady's "crappy" numbers are still better than a vast majority of his peers.

4) Keep in mind that those numbers completely ignore the best part of his career. And when you evaluate his place in history, you have to look at the entire picture. Care to look at Montana's numbers, and discount his 4 Super Bowl runs? Because that's basically the equivalent.

 2) Those aren't post-SpyGate numbers, they're post-3 SB rings numbers. Basically, everything except those first 10 playoff wins.

is that not the exact same period?

i'm not bashing brady either. he's top 5, maybe 6, with time to move up. i'm just keeping ya honest. i don't buy the aging like wine bit, but he has done a great job of adapting himself to his personnel, which has declined since they were winning titles.  have moss, bomb to moss, have gronk, drill the middle of the field short. never has had a *great* back, but he did have a veryvery good defense for the winning years (as did montana).  I just think overall body of work, joe, unitas, elway, for now. others would argue peyton/marino/favre/bradshaw/aikman/etc (I'd even make a case for Starr if paid to do so), but they'd have a LOT of work to do. numbers aren't everything. rings aren't everything. 'intangibles' aren't everything. the three i named (and yes, brady) have a great balance of everything. easier cases to make for sure. and I get that part of writing is to be opinionated and provoking.  but best ever, at this point, is borderline skip bayless. =)

2/8/12   |   Pat   |   5229 respect

Also, keep in mind... I'm not trying to discredit Montana. I'm merely saying that if you look past the final score and truly evaluate individual play, then you can't deny the case that exists for Brady.

2/8/12   |   Pat   |   5229 respect

imaji wrote:
 "Those are the only quarterbacks in the entire NFL between 2005 and the present with numbers better than the ones for which people criticize Tom Brady."

when Hasselbeck and Sanchize are on your list as having better numbers in the postseason than the "best ever", you make a laughingstock of yourself. Just sayin'...

1) I used those numbers because those are the ones that are most widely used to criticize Brady. I honestly don't think that they're that bad.

2) Those aren't post-SpyGate numbers, they're post-3 SB rings numbers. Basically, everything except those first 10 playoff wins.

3) Those aren't guys with better numbers than Brady, per se, they're guys with a winning record in the postseason since 2005, and at least a 1.59 TD-INT ratio. I wasn't saying that those are the top 5 QBs in the league, it was more a way to point out that Brady's "crappy" numbers are still better than a vast majority of his peers.

4) Keep in mind that those numbers completely ignore the best part of his career. And when you evaluate his place in history, you have to look at the entire picture. Care to look at Montana's numbers, and discount his 4 Super Bowl runs? Because that's basically the equivalent.

2/8/12   |   imaji   |   1 respect

Pat wrote:
Let me know where I went wrong, and I'll be more than happy to acknowledge it. My rooting interest doesn't change the facts.

 "Let me know where I went wrong, and I'll be more than happy to acknowledge it. My rooting interest doesn't change the facts."

ok, I'm done now. feel free to acknowledge the facts i've posted, and to treat them as fairly as your facts. =)

2/8/12   |   imaji   |   1 respect

 "People love to quote the statistic that Montana never threw an interception in the Super Bowl. While that's outstanding in its own right, it's also worth mentioning that there was also a 3-year stretch in which he didn't throw a single touchdown, threw 4 INT, and had a combined QB rating of 50.5 in what resulted in 3 straight 49ers losses."
(year 2 of the 3)
When the 1986 season began, the 49ers were off and running with a 31-7 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on opening day. But the win was costly; Joe Montana injured his back and was out for two months. Jeff Kemp became the starting quarterback, and the 49ers went 4-3-1 in September and October. Upon Montana's return, the 49ers caught fire, winning 6 of the last 8 games, including a 24-14 win over the Los Angeles Rams, to clinch the NFC West title. However, the New York Giants defeated them again in the playoffs, 49-3. Montana was injured in the first half by a hit from the Giants' Jim Burt.

so hurt, missed half the season, came back, rallied them into the playoffs, hurt in the first half, and lost to one of the top 10 single-season defenses of all time.  Not a huge blemish. Not like he lost to, oh, I dunno, a 9-7 team that was outscored, or to Sanchize, or Flaccid Flacco, or Peyton's little brother in his "o-fer" streak.  I can't defend the Minnesota loss in 87, but it should be noted that Anthony Carter set a record for ps yards in that game, 220+. defense let them down. notice the scores of the slide...defense surrendered 49 in 86, 36 to the Vikes in 87 (also a year where the league was shut down by a labor stoppage). So if you wanna talk losing streaks, Brady's is FAR, far worse.

2/8/12   |   beerstudk   |   1538 respect

Pat wrote:
Let me know where I went wrong, and I'll be more than happy to acknowledge it. My rooting interest doesn't change the facts.

I don't necissarily think you're wrong, I just don't buy into a defined ranking system because it's impossible to separate emotion from it.  This is just the type of article I would expect from a guy that lives in the Boston area and is an acknowledged Pats fan.  My comment was more 'poking fun' than telling you you're wrong.

Having said that, you can make an argument for a handful of guys as GOAT and not be wrong.  You could make the argument that it's just as much Belichick as it is Brady.  In the season Brady was injured the Pats still went someting like 10-6 while this season the Colts went 2-14 w/o Peyton.  Then again, you could make an argument for Favre and Marino because they put up stats that no-one else has.  Or Elway who has more wins than any QB in NFL history, more Super Bowl starts (which I think Brady just tied) and also has two rings.

2/8/12   |   imaji   |   1 respect

 "No matter what anyone tries to tell you, he's aging like a fine wine, and is still one of the best in the league."

well, see, the numbers YOU
 posted suggest he's aging more like cheese. let's not forget that NE did _not_ beat a team that had a winning record until Baltimore, and that wouldn't have happened without a dropped td by Evans and a missed fg (overtime, who knows...but wasn't trending well for the Pats). And the team that beat him in the SB was outscored by their season opponents and finished a meager 9-7. And, oh yeah, the much reviled Pats d gave up a TOTAL of what, 41 points in 3 postseason games?  The offense is why they lost, dude. They didn't score enough to win. You can't have your cake and eat it too on my watch. Your case is passionate, but baseless and horribly flawed.

2/8/12   |   imaji   |   1 respect

 "Those are the only quarterbacks in the entire NFL between 2005 and the present with numbers better than the ones for which people criticize Tom Brady."

when Hasselbeck and Sanchize are on your list as having better numbers in the postseason than the "best ever", you make a laughingstock of yourself. Just sayin'...

2/8/12   |   imaji   |   1 respect

(Edited by imaji)

 Niners had a cap in the 80s. they creatively exploited loopholes in it, but it was there. JUST LIKE the Pats exploited the "unlikely to be achieved" bonuses that didn't count against the cap for most of the early/mid 00s, since closed. SAME THING. Nice try tho.

ps pretty sure brady is 6-6 post spygate, not 7-6

2/8/12   |   Pat   |   5229 respect

beerstudk wrote:
You are SUCH a homer Pat...

Let me know where I went wrong, and I'll be more than happy to acknowledge it. My rooting interest doesn't change the facts.

2/8/12   |   beerstudk   |   1538 respect

You are SUCH a homer Pat...

2/8/12   |   ML31   |   3671 respect

Another factor that think puts the Patriots era as a team ahead of the 49ers era is that they are doing it in the era of salary caps.  The 49'ers did it with an owner who did nothing but throw as much money at players as he bloody well wanted. 

I'll never understand this idea that the quarterback gets major credit for super bowl wins.  Yes, the QB is the most important position on the field but if his teammates don't come through how is that the QB's fault?  Suppose Taylor drops that late pass from Montana in superbowl whatever the number it was?  Would Montana being 3-1 in title game make him less of a QB than him being 4-0?