Tom Brady's Battle: Is the Patriots Star the Best Quarterback of All Time?

Ben AshunContributor IDecember 1, 2010

Tom Brady going to work.
Tom Brady going to work.Donald Miralle/Getty Images

On Nov. 25, Tom Brady achieved his second career game with the perfect passer rating of 158.3. Since the creation of this odd stat used to measure a quarterback’s efficiency, only 35 different passers have achieved this feat. So this got me thinking... is Tom Brady actually the best quarterback of all time? I am an avid Bills and Colts fan, so my hatred for the Patriots is undying, but I can’t help putting Brady up there on my all-time greats list. To analyze this, we’d have to evaluate three key components: stats, competition, and championships.

Tom Brady was a Super Bowl-winning quarterback before New England triggered a draft weekend deal to acquire mercurial wide receiver Randy Moss. But he was never a huge stat guy. You could pencil him in for 25+ TD’s and 12-14 INT’s each year- he wasn’t going to wow you statistically, but he was going to get you wins. Enter 2007 season. Brady breaks Manning’s record for most touchdowns in a season (50), as his receiving buddy Moss broke Jerry Rice’s record for most touchdown receptions in a season. Before this, Brady had never thrown for more than 28 touchdowns in a season. He showed what he was capable of when surrounded by high class talent, instead of the likes of Reche Caldwell and Deion Branch.

As of week 12 of the 2010 season, Brady has 23 touchdowns to only four interceptions, putting him on pace for about 33 TD’s and six INT’s. Very gaudy numbers considering outside of Wes Welker and Deion Branch, the Pats receiving corps is as thin as paper. On the all-time list, Brady’s numbers are nothing special though. He is still behind the likes of Donovan McNabb, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees in terms of passing yardage (Brady ranks 21st all-time), and 14th on the passing touchdown list, behind legends such as John Elway, Joe Montana, and Dan Marino. So in terms of stats, I’d say Brady still has a long way to go.

In order to decide whether or not Brady is the best at his position all-time, one would have to evaluate who he is competing with. Currently, Brady’s top competition is Manning, as you can’t mention one without mentioning the other. I’ll also compare him to Drew Brees, who has been one of the league’s most accurate passers over the past few years. Tom Brady has the single season record for most TD’s thrown in a season, but in the two more years of pro-experience that Manning has, he has amassed 388 TD’s- that would be 140 TD’s more than Brady has at this point in his career.

If Manning was to retire today, Brady would need approximately 6.2 seasons at his current career pace to reach 388. Brady does have a ring advantage over Manning though, which is frequently discussed whenever the two phenoms are brought up. They say rings make a quarterback, but I believe the Super Bowl is a team effort. Despite Manning’s recently lackluster play, I give him the slight nod over Tom.

Brees has got one less pro season under his belt than Brady, but has put up solid statistics nonetheless. He had a phenomenal season last year, in which he posted a 109.6 passer rating over the season, to go along with 34 TD’s and a Super Bowl ring. As usual, Brady dominates in the championship category (three rings to one), but statistically, Brees has been as consistent as Brady. He has passed for more than 30 TD’s in two seasons (on pace for a third this season), has a career passer rating of 92.0, and threw for 5,069 yards in one season (15 away from Dan Marino’s all-time record). As good as Brees is, I’d give the nod to Brady- his 94.3 career passer rating and three Super Bowl wins are nothing to scoff at.

One thing you have to give Brady credit for is his ability to win. I can’t stand it (seeing as he punishes my Bills every year, and gives the Colts fits) but it is the mark of a great quarterback. In Brady’s career against his division (arguably the toughest games to win) he is 41-12, with 86 TD’s and 37 INT’s. His playoff numbers? Spectacular, going 14-4 with 28 TD’s to 15 INT’s. And of course, he has three Super Bowl wins (and one major Super Bowl loss) throwing for seven TD’s and only one interception in his Super Bowl appearances. Oh, and if you want to know how his impact affects his team? When the Patriots win, Brady has thrown for 210 TD’s and only 54 interceptions. When they lose (which is only 34 times in his entire career) his numbers are awful, 38 TD’s to 49 INT’s and a horrendous passer rating of 69.0. The Patriots have to ride that golden arm!

So is Brady the best of all-time? My answer is... not yet. You can’t take away how valuable he is to a franchise, and his unbelievable win percentage. Not to mention those three Super Bowl victories. Brady’s stats though, are not up there with the greats. He has two of the three components, but someone like Joe Montana who’s numbers are staggering and has the rings, still sits atop Tom Brady on the list of the all-time greats. Give Tom a few more years- he’s got the talent and the leadership to someday maybe make it to the top. If he strings together some more miraculous statistical seasons, and wins another ring, don’t be surprised to see him at the top of the list of the all-time great quarterbacks.