Originally Posted by rodderick
Even excluding the fact that those quarterbacks played before the salary cap and free agency era, Tom Brady's numbers are considerably better than both Marino's and Bradshaw's, even when adjusting for the era they played in. For instance, Brady's career passer rating is 19% better than the NFL average passer rating in the period he has played in, while Dan Marino's is just 13% better. Joe Montana is a guy who's adjusted stats mirror Brady's almost perfectly, but he essentially played with a super team, full of stars at pretty much every position.
I still think Joe is the greatest ever, but if Brady wins a fourth ring and has better volume passing stats, holds every significant playoff record, and wins more football games, it's be hard to make an argument against him.
One thing to consider about Montana who I've always believed to be the best. In his time, he was the only QB using the west coast offense, which emphasizes passing efficiency through the use of short passes. That kind of explains the disparity between his passing efficiency numbers and that of his peers who played for teams that had not yet adapted.
Today, the principles of that offense have been absorbed within every team's offensive system. This is a very large contributing factor in why QB ratings have shot through the roof over the past 15-20 years. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense that passing efficiency ratings would soar after an emphasis is placed on increasing the efficiency of the passing game.
Every QB who played for the 49ers in that era (Montana, Young, Bono, Grbac) benefited from that system, along with playing with players like Jerry Rice of course.
I mention this b/c offensive systems do play a large role in a players success. I'm convinced that NO QB succeeds in a vacuum. How much young talent has been wasted simply b/c they were drafted by teams with mediocre or poor offensive coaching personnel? I believe that number is pretty large.
Tom Brady, like Montana, benefits from a very creative/adaptable offensive system. Unlike his critics though, I don't believe that's a knock on him. The coaching he's received at this level allowed him to make up whatever gap existed between himself and the Mannings of the world.
Peyton benefited from having a Heisman trophy winning father who played QB in the NFL for a long time. That allowed him to begin his NFL career at a much higher level than Brady. To Brady's credit though, Brady's work ethic and ability to absorb the coaching he's received in New England has allowed him to skyrocket upwards and not only catch Manning but surpass him as well....I would argue by a lot actually.
I don't think this is really all that surprising. Imagine two star pupils. Pupil A has a much better teacher for the first 20 years of his life and appears to be the better pupil. Then pupil B begins learning from not only a great teacher but perhaps one of the greatest teachers ever. Suddenly pupil B's trajectory spikes upwards. After four years some people start thinking pupil B has caught up to pupil A but most still believe pupil A has the advantage. But pupil B doesn't stop working with that amazing teacher. Instead he continues to study with him for 10+ more years. At some point in that time, pupil B passes pupil A.
While some critics will unwisely spin this as some kind of detraction of Brady's greatness, I believe their logic is upside down. The reason that this doesn't detract from Brady's greatness is because once you learn from the best, the knowledge and skills gained becomes your own. In other words, its impossible to take away all that he's already learned.
In my opinion its not just a coincidence that the two best QB's in NFL history (Brady/Montana) were both coached by individuals who not only stood atop the NFL's coaching fraternity but were also renowned for their abilities as teachers.