It's summer, and there isn't any real football news to talk about. That means it must be time to recycle old arguments. That leads me to Giants' quarterback Eli Manning and Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
In all honesty, I'm not going to argue about which guy is better. I have done it before, and I don't want to rehash my thoughts. Personally, I think they are both terrific. I'm thrilled with having Manning at the helm of the Giants. Steeler fans should be thrilled about having Big Ben taking snaps for their team. Both have shown they can win the big prize, and that should be good enough for everybody.
It's cool with me, though, if other people want to argue about it. That's precisely what ESPN football bloggers Matt Mosley and James Walker did the other day. Thanks, guys. Another summer day where I don't have to knock myself out figuring out what to write about.
Representing the AFC North, here is part of Walker's argument for Big Ben.
Roethlisberger has a higher completion percentage (62.4 to Manning's 55.9), more touchdowns (101 to 98), fewer interceptions (69 to 74), more victories (51 to 42) and a much better career passer rating (89.4 to 76.1) than Manning.
Did I mention Roethlisberger has twice as many championships? ...
Dealing in facts, Roethlisberger won 15 games as a rookie, including playoffs, and won his first Super Bowl in his second season. By the way, the Steelers already gave Roethlisberger a $100-plus million contract, because they knew early that Roethlisberger was the real deal. I find it interesting that the Giants haven't displayed the same level of confidence up to this point in their franchise quarterback.
Speaking of the Giants, let's discuss the Plaxico Burress factor. Burress leaves the Steelers and Roethlisberger becomes an even better player, winning a pair of Super Bowls including one immediately after Burress bolts Pittsburgh in 2005. Burress exits New York and the sky falls on Manning and he's never the same quarterback.
It's the same top-flight receiver. It's two quarterbacks put in a similar scenario. Yet Roethlisberger thrives and Manning crumbles. The "Plax factor" cannot be ignored in this debate. In fact, Manning would've never won his lone Super Bowl title without Burress. Roethlisberger is doing just fine without him.
And forget the argument that Manning does more with less. It's a farce. Manning has the best offensive line in football and two 1,000-yard rushers last season in Brandon Jacobs and former Giant Derrick Ward. Elite protection and an elite running game; what more can a quarterback want?
Meanwhile Roethlisberger has one of the NFL's worst offensive lines and no 1,000-yard rusher in 2008, yet found a way to win Super Bowl XLIII. If you gave Roethlisberger the best offensive line in football and two 1,000-yard rushers, there is no telling the damage the Steelers could do with Roethlisberger under center. ...
Manning is just 4-3 in the playoffs. If you take away his Super Bowl run following the 2007 season, Manning is 0-3 in the postseason. So who would you want under center in a must-win game: Roethlisberger or Manning?
Battling back for the NFC East, here is much of Mosley's retort.
Honestly I felt like James had me on the ropes right up until the time he said, "if you take away [Manning's] Super Bowl run following the 2007 season, Manning is 0-3 in the postseason." Is that one of the most misguided closing arguments in the history of blogging debates or am I being too harsh? For the sake of this argument, I'm hoping James will allow Manning to retain the crowning achievement of his career. What Manning did in the 2007 playoffs -- especially in the Super Bowl -- redefined him as a quarterback in this league. ...
Truth be told, James has a lot more ammunition in terms of numbers, including the two Super Bowl rings that Big Ben's wearing. But seriously, shouldn't you only get a pinky ring when you have a 22.6 passer rating in your first Super Bowl and depend heavily on some very questionable calls to beat the Seahawks? No? ...
Roethlisberger pads his stats against the dregs of the AFC North. With a couple of exceptions, the Bengals and Browns have been brutal during Roethlisberger's time in the league. And it's not like their best competition, the Ravens, have been a juggernaut. Since 2004, the Ravens have had seasons of 9-7, 6-10 and 5-11.
Give Manning a crack at those same teams every season, and his numbers would be dramatically different. He came along when the Eagles were a dominant team and the Cowboys and Redskins are much stronger than anything the Bengals and Browns were putting on the field. Yes, I know the Bengals (and even the Browns) had a good season apiece, so don't try to get me on a technicality.
And one more thing: The whole Burress argument was completely unfair. He wasn't the truly elite receiver in Pittsburgh that he became with the Giants. So of course Big Ben's not going to miss him as much as Manning did. And Roethlisberger had an entire offseason to adjust to life without Burress. It happended to Manning overnight.
The only other thing I can think of right now is that Manning handled both the Steelers and Ravens in '08.