When news breaks… we think about it. Chris Simms, former NFL quarterback and son of Phil Simms, says “Brady Not Top 5” and there is instant reaction. Does the media member have a point? Or is he guilty of not looking at the evidence?
Who is the best quarterback in the NFL? Perhaps no football topic sparks more debate. A case can be made that Aaron Rodgers merits the top spot today; the 31-year old Green Bay Packers signal caller is at his peak, as evidenced by his six-touchdown performance against the Chicago Bears. Maybe the answer is the same as it ever was: Peyton Manning. Or Tom Brady. But certainly one of them, at least… right?
Chris Simms, son of CBS analyst and former Super Bowl winning quarterback Phil Simms, has given his opinion on not one but two different platforms: first in this week’s Monday Morning Quarterback column by Peter King, and again this morning during a live broadcast of The Dan Patrick Show. Here’s what Simms told King:
“I hate how everybody just says Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are the best two quarterbacks in football. They’re not. Are they gonna be 65 years old and we’ll all be saying, ‘Brady and Manning are still the best?’ Tom Brady’s not in my top five. I mean, he’s still really good, but I like other guys better. I’d go Aaron Rodgers one, Andrew Luck two, Ben Roethlisberger three, Russell Wilson four and Peyton five.”
Yes, you read that correctly: Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger, and Russell Wilson are all currently better quarterbacks than Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
Today, after having had a full work week to ruminate over his comments, Simms dug in his heels:
“I’ve really been saying this for, like, over a year … Yes, Brady, one of the three best quarterbacks of all time? No doubt about it. To say he’s a top-five quarterback in the NFL right now, in year sixteen? No! I mean, Shrek’s not real, Dan. Year sixteen!”
Simms continued, discussing Brady and Manning collectively:
“They’re up there in years. They are not physically elite anymore. Tom and Peyton are doing it more with their brains. They’re still good throwers of the football, but they are not elite throwers of the football. Peyton has issues pushing the ball down the field. Tom, the past few years, has been one of the worst deep-ball throwers in football as far as throws outside the numbers or throws over 20 yards.”
Simms went on:
“The other thing I get sick of hearing is ‘He has no weapons.’ I hate that, because last time I checked, Rob Gronkowski‘s probably the best tight end in football. Julian Edelman is one of the best slot receivers in football – better than Wes Welker; Bill Belichick thought so. And [Brandon] LaFell and some of those other guys, they are good, solid players. They’ve got a good offensive line.”
There are plenty of justifiable responses to this viewpoint, including laughter and derision. But perhaps some facts will be sufficient. As Simms did not take issue with the historical brilliance of either Brady or Manning, let’s just examine the recent ledger:
|QB||TD||INT||TD/INT Ratio||QB Rating||QBR||ANY/A||YPA||Sack %|
Rodgers is better than Manning in most categories, but not appreciably so. He leads the pack in TD/INT ratio, QB rating, ESPN’s QBR, ANY/A (a weighted stat measuring passing yards, passing touchdowns, interceptions thrown, times sacked and yards lost to being sacked) and YPA (yards per attempt). The only thing Manning does better is avoid sacks, but he is a consistent number two in every category except TD/INT ratio.
The case can be made that Luck, Roethlisberger, or Brady ranks #3. The differences in their respective ANY/A, QB rating and QBR are negligible; Brady and Luck are more adept at avoiding sacks and Brady has been masterful in avoiding interceptions, whereas Roethlisberger and Luck own better YPA. Any combination of these signal callers in spots 3 through 5 is justifiable.
Simms’s inclusion of Wilson is outright lunacy. The sack rates are significant considering the 26-year-old Seattle quarterback’s calling card is superior mobility (an NFL-best 7.6 yards per carry on QB rushes), yet he hasn’t been able to avoid takedowns for losses on a relative scale. He lags far behind the others in every important statistical category. Wilson was deservedly lauded for leading the Seahawks to a Super Bowl title, but it appears he has become thoroughly overrated by pundits like Simms.
There is definitely a bit of “Brady-Manning” fatigue present in Simms’s comments. They are older and, yes, they have slipped from their peaks. But to suggest that Russell Wilson deserves to be higher on a list of 2014’s best quarterbacks simply is not supportable. To wit, in his last five games, Brady has thrown for 18 touchdowns with only one interception; Wilson has completed just three TD passes since October 6 ‒ with four picks.
The only result that can kill a team’s fortunes with more certainty than a sack is a turnover. Avoidance of both is not the sole domain of youthful athleticism; experience and intelligence ‒ the very reliance upon brains that Simms minimizes in importance ‒ are the real keys. That Brady and Manning demonstrate the wisdom to take a loss of down over a loss of yardage or possession is clearly a point in their favor as elite quarterbacks.
Perhaps if Chris Simms had played in the NFL longer, he would have learned this.
Follow Mark on Twitter @mabrowndog.