The Manning Debate: Peyton

It’s tough for me to say, being that I am a Patriots fan and all, that Peyton Manning is probably the best quarterback to play in the NFL. Is Tom Brady right there near him? Obviously, and well exceeds his talents in the amazingly handsome, I wish I could have his babies category. But we are talking about football here and, more importantly, the complexities of sibling rivalries. Namely the one between Peyton and Eli and who will best the other in having their father be more proud of them when all is said in done.

Here is why Archie will build a statue of Peyton in his backyard causing millions, okay hundreds, of Colts fans to visit his house on the opening day of training camps.

There is pretty much no doubt that everyone looks up to Peyton and his abilities. With few faults, which I will address, he has risen above and beyond the expectations of the NFL and has become the best pure passing quarterback since Dan Marino. He was well on his way to matching something else Marino has done, not win a Superbowl, but luckily Manning did get his, solidifying his legacy and put into the annals with the likes of Brett Favre. These Quarterbacks are the best for a reason, they win, they are extremely accurate (Favre? Okay, you’re right), pass for a ton of touchdowns and are leaders by example. Secondaries fear them and linebackers are frozen in their tracks because if they are rushing the QB chances are they just left a guy open for 3 or 4 strides and they will not miss him, even if it means getting tossed to the ground. (Peyton? Okay, you’re right)

Peyton led the charge in the early 2000s in taking the quarterback position back and putting it in the forefront as the most valuable asset on offense. In his earlier years the NFL was known as a running league, which changes seemingly every year now (making fantasy drafts suck), and passing was only done in long yardage situations or when the offensive coordinator saw the safeties creeping up and called an audible. Because of his accuracy, and great pocket presence, Peyton could check off the coverage giving his receiver the step or two he needed to create separation and a good chunk of yardage. This ability, coupled with the great running backs the colts had in those years, would open up the down field threats and allow Peyton to become the player he is today and who he will be remembered once he rides out his career as a Bronco, hopefully not.

Aside from being an obvious game changer, making the NFL adapt to him, his stats clearly don’t lie. I would type out every single award he has but Wikipedia has done that for me and you can click here to read them. Below are some of the more impressive ones, in my opinion of course. (in no particular order)

Most seasons with at least 4,000 passing yards: 11
Most consecutive seasons with at least 4,000 passing yards: 6
Largest career TD-INT differential: 201
Most games with at least 400 yards passing and no interceptions: 4
Most games with at least 5 touchdown passes and no interceptions, career: 4
Most seasons with 12+ wins as a starter (regular season only): 8
Only QB with at least 12 wins as a starter in 7 consecutive seasons

And trust me there are a ton more, these are just my personal, “wow, that’s really f***in’ amazing” records. One more, that I forgot Tom Brady broke in 2007, was the most touchdowns in a season (49) which happened in 2004, previously held by Marino.

You can seriously go through sheets and sheets of data to prove the case that Peyton is the best quarterback to play the game, but that’s not really my style. Since this is mostly a battle between big brother and little brother, the biggest key factor in choosing Peyton is what he did in 2004, aside from breaking the all time touchdown record. His season, only being eclipsed (again by Brady), in 2004 is probably up there in the top 5 best seasons any quarterback has ever put together.

I lied, here are some stats:
Record: 12-4 (wild card berth)
Pass Yards: 4,557
TD: 49
Interceptions: 10

That is 4.9 touchdowns for every interception, mind boggling. Especially when considering those 10 interceptions only made up 2% of his pass attempts. No doubt this is one of the best years to be recorded in NFL history, further solidifying his stance as the best quarterback in the league. This season also came together on a year when he threw the ball 497 times, 2nd lowest in his career so far. By the way 9.86% of his attempts were touchdowns, 14.6% of his completions were touchdowns.

With the evidence above it would be hard for someone to argue against Peyton as being the better of the two spawn of Archie. However, despite astronomical and sometimes inconceivable regular season numbers, the elder brother often times comes up short come playoff time.

His playoff record is a sub-par 9-10 and has only reached the AFC championship game three times, the super bowl once and has been bounced out of the playoffs in the first round 7 times in 11 trips. In his Superbowl winning year he had, arguably, the worst statistical playoffs in his career, but I’m with the general public in this case and say, “who cares? They f***ing won.” A theme that will come up in the Eli argument.

The playoffs are a microcosm of a players entire career yet they hold a very valuable key to the legacy a player will have. Marino cannot be mentioned without adding “but didn’t win a Superbowl”, but we don’t hear that about Favre and Manning any more. Sure when his career is finally over, some will argue it is what with him joining the abysmal Denver Broncos, people may say “yeah but Peyton only won one Superbowl” but most of all people will remember his amazing ability to stun crowds, defenses and even the players around him. Eli may have more rings but Peyton is the king of the quarterback, plus his TV ads are damn funny.

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