Measuring Greatness

Comparing quarterbacks at different stages of the careers is difficult. So, to compare, we'll take a sample size from years four through eight to see how one quarterback stacks up against the two quarterbacks that defined the position over the past decade.

Tom Brady (2003-2007)

Peyton Manning (2001-2005)

Eli Manning (2007-2011)

Single season highs (amongst all three):

Attempts: 591 (Peyton Manning, 2002)

Completion percentage: 68.9 (Tom Brady, 2007)

Yards: 4,933 (Eli Manning, 2011)

Yards per attempt: 9.2 (Peyton Manning, 2004)

Touchdowns: 50 (Tom Brady, 2007)

Interceptions: 25 (Eli Manning, 2010)

Completions (20+): 68 (Peyton Manning, 2011)

Completions (40+): 18 (Eli Manning, 2011)

This does not say a whole lot. However, it sets up a point I'd like to make when we look at stats collectively over a five year sample.

Still, I find it impressive that Eli has completed more 40+ yard passes in 2011 with Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz than either of the other two have with Hall of Fame talent to throw to at some point in this sample.

Also, if you will note, each quarterback owns several different stats. This sample is not to obscure any of the accomplishments of Brady or big brother Peyton either, as you will note, both of their statistically most impressive seasons ('04 for Manning and '07 for Brady) are included.

Now, let's look at how each quarterback has fared over a combined five seasons.


Tom Brady: 2,625

Peyton Manning: 2,654

Eli Manning: 2,645


Tom Brady: 1,656

Peyton Manning: 1,755

Eli Manning: 1,601

(Completion Percentage)

Tom Brady: 63%

Peyton Manning: 66%

Eli Manning: 61%


Tom Brady: 19,757

Peyton Manning: 20,902

Eli Manning: 19,530

(Yards per attempt)

Tom Brady: 7.5

Peyton Manning: 7.9

Eli Manning: 7.4

Thus far, the numbers are so close that it's starting to get a little weird. Remember the disclaimer. This looks at the same years (4-8) in each of these quarterback's careers. There was no premeditation in this presentation. I am not picking and choosing numbers in the presentation to favor one quarterback over another.


Tom Brady: 151

Peyton Manning: 161

Eli Manning: 141


Tom Brady: 60

Peyton Manning: 72

Eli Manning: 85

This is the area that people will talk most about. Touchdown passes and interceptions, and as far as differential goes, Eli is a bit off the mark of the other two (+56). Tom Brady weighs in at +91, while big brother is up at +89.

The problem is, a touchdown pass versus interception differential does not exactly correlate. It's used all of the time as a measurement, for reasons that are based mostly on convenience.

But, other stats get us right back to where we were originally.

(Completions of 20+yards)

Tom Brady: 257

Peyton Manning: 264

Eli Manning: 252

(Completions of 40+ yards)

Tom Brady: 50

Peyton Manning: 50

Eli Manning: 47

These stats are about as on par between three quarterbacks as you'll ever see.

This last measure is not really much of a measure. But obviously a quarterback's numbers will be impacted by who he is throwing the ball to.

Tom Brady's leading receivers:

2003: Deion Branch, David Givens

2004: David Givens, David Patten

2005: Deion Branch, David Givens

2006: Reche Caldwell, Ben Watson

2007: Randy Moss, Wes Welker

Peyton Manning's leading receivers:

2001: Marvin Harrison, Marcus Pollard

2002: Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne

2003: Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne

2004: Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison

2005: Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne

Eli Manning's leading receivers:

2007: Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer

2008: Domenik Hixon, Amani Toomer

2009: Steve Smith, Mario Manningham

2010: Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham

2011: Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks

Does this make or break the argument? No. Peyton Manning enjoys the luxury of a pair of receivers that features one Hall of Fame lock (Harrison) and one who will likely fall just short (Wayne). Tom Brady played several years with no-name receivers, but he posted his monster season when he got some help (Moss and Welker). Eli has had quite the mixed bag at receiver and now finally has a really promising group in place. Despite this, he's right in the mix with Brady and Peyton on just about every stat.

Elite? Maybe.

FanPosts are written by community members. This is simply a way for community members to express opinions too long to be contained in a comment.

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