Forget Brady vs. Manning: How About Brees Vs. Roethlisberger?

Josh BAnalyst IDecember 20, 2016

Right behind Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger in the fight for best quarterback.

While Brees and Roethlisberger are arguably not the third or fourth best quarterbacks in the NFL, it is similar to the Brady-Manning debacle.

Brees is considered more of a "stats" guy while Roethlisberger is considered more of a "winning" guy.

Brees nearly broke a record for passing yards in a season. Roethlisberger is a game away from his second Super Bowl.

I know I'm not the only one tired of Brady vs. Manning or Kobe vs. LeBron. So here's a comparison of two great players who aren't compared as much.

Stats through first 72 games: We know that Brees has better numbers right now, but Roethlisberger has only played 72 games.

  • Roethlisberger yards: 14974
  • Brees yards: 16384
  • Roethlisberger Comp. %: 62.4
  • Brees Comp. %: 62.6
  • Roethlisberger TD's: 101
  • Brees Comp. %: 106
  • Roethlisberger INT's: 69
  • Brees INT's: 64

The only statistic that stands out is Brees having 1310 more yards than Roethlisberger, but that's only a difference of 19 yards per game.

To determine who is better based off those numbers would be nitpicking. And it would also be unfair to not take into account that Brees' best years have been his last two, which weren't counted.

Receiving core: Here's a new stat for you. I call it DOBR: dependence on best receiver. I just made it up as I was writing this, so I have no idea if it's credible at all.

DOBR measures the percentage of passing yards of the leading receiver. I'm aware that this stat has a flaw because of quarterbacks with two great receivers. It's also flawed because YAC isn't taken into account. But there is no other way I can think of to use statistics to prove dependence on a receiver.

But in this case, it seems fare enough when comparing the two players because neither have ever had two amazing receivers.

Brees' DOBR, year by year (leading WR in parenthesis):

  • 2002: 25.9% (Curtis Conway)
  • 2003: 41.7% (David Boston)
  • 2004: 30.5% (Antonio Gates)
  • 2005: 30.7% (Gates)
  • 2006: 23.5% (Marques Colston)
  • 2007: 27.1% (Colston)
  • 2008: 18.3% (Lance Moore)

Roethlisberger's DOBR:

  • 2004: 38.3% (Hines Ward)
  • 2005: 40.8% (Ward)
  • 2006: 27.6% (Ward)
  • 2007: 29.9% (Santonio Holmes)
  • 2008: 31.6% (Ward)

Brees career DOBR: 28.2%

Roethlisberger career DOBR: 33.6%

Again, like any stat, this one has its flaws. This stat also didn't take into account how the second leading receiver did, but it's the best I can do with statistics.

Defense: Brees probably would have won MVP this season if he had a good defense. Defenses have held him back in the past, but let's see how fair that statement is when comparing.

Roethlisberger's defenses (games won in parenthesis):

  • 2004: First in yards, 11th in points (15)
  • 2005: Fourth in yards, third in points (11)
  • 2006: Ninth in yards, 11th in points (8)
  • 2007: First in yards, second in points (10)
  • 2008: First in yards, First in points (12)

Brees' defenses:

  • 2002: 30th in yards, 22nd in points (8)
  • 2003: 27th in yards, 31st in points (4)
  • 2004: 18th in yards, 11th in points (12)
  • 2005: 13th in yards, 13th in points (9)
  • 2006: 11th in yards, 13th in points (10)
  • 2007: 26th in yards, 25th in points (7)
  • 2008: 23rd in yards, 26th in points (8)

The analysis seems to show that a better defense will win you more games. But this isn't a perfect way to show that as this would assume that the offense remains constant and the game would completely depend on the performance of the defense.

Playoffs: This is partly where the winning part comes in. In Roethlisberger's short career, he has been very successful in the playoffs. Brees has generally had trouble making the playoffs, only making it twice.

Roethlisberger has won a Super Bowl and could make his second one. Brees is 1-2 in the playoffs.

Roethlisberger has made it to three conference championships. Brees has made it to one.

Roethlisberger's team has scored 20 points in every playoff game. Brees' offense has scored 20 points once.

As a more proven winner in the playoffs, Roethlisberger is the best of the two in the postseason until Brees can prove otherwise.

Conclusion: Well, there is none. It basically proves what I stated at the beginning. Brees is the stats guy, Roethlisberger is the winner guy. It depends on what you value in a quarterback.

I tried my best to maintain a neutral tone in the article, so I'm not gonna pick anyone. That's for the readers to decide.

While you may not think they are the third and fourth best quarterbacks in football, I know this one definitely stumped me and I hope it gets you thinking.


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