Can of worms? After nerding out and comparing QB stats, as well as watching some footage, Joe Montana doesn’t look better than Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. Unfortunately, the eye test is the only way to differentiate leadership.
Manning and Brady have both been named Player of the Week 27 times each. Eventually, that will go to Brady. As of right now, Manning has played 2 more seasons, been named All-Pro 5 more times and voted a Pro Bowler 2 more times.
Also, for all the criticism thrown at today’s quarterbacks, Hall of Famer Dan Marino completed under 60% of his passes.
Before digging into this, I adopted the perspective to support quarterbacks. It’s really a team sport, beyond individual pros and cons. Russell Wilson had to adapt without Marshawn Lynch, yet his O-line wasn’t very good. Sam Bradford lost both offensive tackles and Adrian Peterson, a former MVP. Philip Rivers led the league in turnovers during a season where his defense allowed the 4th most points. Not to say that Rivers helped his own cause, putting the D in vulnerable spots as well.
Do you think something suddenly just clicked with Matt Ryan in 2016? They invested and committed to a defensive style that complimented Atlanta’s offense. Julio Jones has been there with him. They were last a playoff team when they had a good O-line and running game, back with Michael Turner. It took some time for them to build. They drafted left tackle Jake Matthews one year then signed Pro Bowl center Alex Mack last offseason.
So, when I say that Ryan Tannehill had a good year a few years ago ranking 8th in several major categories, and that I like his gradual progression under Adam Gase, I’m not pulling your leg whatsoever. The number one thing I took away from Matthew Stafford’s season doesn’t show up in the box scores, it was his improved leadership that stood out to me. It’s not an easy sport, far from the easiest position, and really, there is no easy position.
The QB, however, needs a cohesive unit in front of him to block, receivers to gain some separation, running backs to be decisive in an effort to balance the offense. A defense that can hold their own in the field position battle, to actually force turnovers from time to time. A lot has to go right, just look at a stud like Drew Brees, who carries his offense, completes 70% of his passes, but hasn’t made the postseason since 2013.
You don’t have to lay off Andrew Luck, but don’t ignore Eli Manning’s poor level of play despite his bling. The same can be said for Joe Flacco. Why pick on a rookie like Carson Wentz before you really look at how the Eagles’ season unfolded? A carousel along the O-line, at running back, and at wide receiver. A defense without a cornerback most of you can name. They finished 7-9 with him carrying the offense. Yes, carrying. How do you think they were able to milk the clock to protect that defense? His pre-snap ability, foot mobility, they just grinded out possessions and leaned on him to throw over 600 passes, which was over 150 more attempts than the run-heavy Cowboys. They didn’t need Dak Prescott to run things. I’m not a fan of calling guys game managers, but you get the picture when someone brings up Alex Smith.
It takes time for every player to learn a playbook, piece their athletic ability with the mental understanding to play more fluid, more natural. How to manage their lives off the field, the big time money, the people around them, how to be an adult, none of that goes away necessarily. You’re willing to see potential in a receiver after he has a 100-yard game when someone else was injured, yet disappointed you because he wasn’t the next Pro Bowler that you thought he would be. So, how can you not be 3x as patient with a freaking quarterback with that heavy load on their shoulders, managing everybody else?