BOSTON (CBS) — The Internet has produced some kooky, whacked-out arguments, but this one may take the cake.
With the NFL’s playoff field whittled down to just eight remaining teams, Vinnie Iyer of The Sporting News set out to determine which remaining quarterback is best, complete with a points system and official ranking. And there, at the very bottom of that list, is none other than Tom Brady.
Using the criteria of arm strength, accuracy/delivery, mobility/athleticism, pocket presence/awareness and intangibles and ranking the QBs one through eight in each, Brady scored just 15 points, good enough for last place. Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson tied for first with 28 points, Drew Brees ranked fourth with 22 points, Cam Newton was fifth with 21 points, and Philip Rivers and Colin Kaepernick shared a tie for sixth place with 19 points.
(Internal debate: Now, does time really need to be spent to break down why such a silly ranking system is foolish? It seems pretty self-evident, people don’t really need it spelled out for them. But … oh, well, fine. But it’s going to be quick.)
OK, where to start? How about intangibles? Brady has won three Super Bowls, which is more than the other seven quarterbacks … combined. Brees has one, Manning has one, and that’s it. You may say that Brady’s came a decade ago, which is fine. But then you remember that he lost his favorite receiver to free agency, lost one star tight end to injury and lost another one to homicide charges, and yet he still led his team to a 12-4 record, a first-round bye, and the home playoff game that he’ll be playing in come Saturday night.
Yet Brady — the NFL’s all-time leader in postseason victories for a quarterback — ranked fifth in intangibles, behind Manning (that’s fine), Wilson (why?), Brees (sure) and Luck (what?). Good call there.
Let’s move on to what is the worst rating of all: pocket presence/awareness. Everyone and their grandma knows that Tom Brady can’t run. He looks like a three-legged dog gone loose at the park on the rare occasion that he does take off for a QB run. Yet it’s just as commonly known that one of the skills that has set Brady apart from his peers for so long is his ability to slide in the pocket — whether it be forward, backward, left or right — ever so slightly to buy himself time and space, all while continuing to scan the field.
This ability is a huge reason why Brady will go down as one of the best three quarterbacks to ever play the sport … and yet, Iyer ranked him sixth. The explanation? Well, there was none. But there was this: “Given that Manning is the least athletic of this group and still was sacked fewer times than any starting QB in the league (18) — without left tackle Ryan Clady — is a testament that fundamental footwork is still more important that [sic] fleet feet.” Actually, it’s a testament to him being the smartest pre-snap quarterback the game’s ever seen, and therefore it’s an indication of how quickly he is able to deliver passes when he recognizes blitzes.
“Through this inexact science and given the rough property that QB = SB, this should tell us that Manning’s Broncos or Luck’s Colts will face Wilson’s Seahawks in this year’s Super Bowl,” the article concluded, rather absurdly.
Joe Flacco won the Super Bowl last year, beating No. 1’s Manning and Luck (and No. 8 Brady) along the way, and he’d probably rank as the ninth-best quarterback in any list of eight. Ranking quarterbacks based solely on statistics is a useless endeavor, and it leads to lists where you rank future Hall of Famers behind second- and third-year players who may or may not go on to win anything. (It also leads to spelling the name Newton as “Netwon” in the final list, but we’ll kind of let that slide for now. It’s the least egregious mistake in the story.)
Brady had a “down year” statistically, but it’s because he had to work with an entirely new set of receivers in an offense that completely changed its identity from the previous three years. This article in The Sporting News claims that Brady is the worst remaining quarterback, but if you asked the seven other GMs who are still alive in the playoffs (and their fanbases, for that matter) if they’d secretly like to have Brady taking snaps for them this weekend, Brady might receive a slightly more favorable response.