I was watching an episode of the Twilight Zone last night, and it got me thinking about football. All I can say is that the offseason is WAY too long!
In an alternate universe, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, and New England Patriots all sat down and decided that it was time to make a change. There came about a blockbuster deal with a three team trade.
How would each team do in this situation?
Colts fans, after being stunned at the fact that their beloved Peyton Manning is no longer on the roster, have to come to terms that Tom Brady is now their signal caller.
Brady would fit perfectly into his new system. Brady now has an offensive line comparable to the one that he had in New England; his receivers are not as great as he had with Randy Moss, but the rest of his weapons are better than what he had.
Brady also knows that he is going to be counted on much more heavily than he was before, knowing that his defense is not championship caliber. Brady is up to the challenge, and will easily lead his team to the playoffs.
New England Patriots
New England fans are the most upset of the group. Losing future Hall of Famer Brady is something that the Pats don't want. But after not having him last year, they at least know they can be successful without him.
The Pats get the much younger "Big Ben" Roethlisberger. For the first time since his rookie season, Ben has a strong line to work behind, an elite receiver in Randy Moss that can catch almost anything thrown his way, a speedy slot man in Wes Welker, and a running game with Lawrence Maroney, who can grind out the yards on the ground.
Having a better than average defense, Ben Roethlisberger, even though a step down from Tom Brady, is more than capable to lead this team into the postseason.
None of the three QBs that have been mentioned have more change to their team than Peyton Manning. The pluses and minuses are a lot greater than they ever were.
The pluses: Peyton Manning is no longer going to have to win games on his own. He has the top rated defense in the league, the speedy receiver in Santonio Holmes, the sure handed Hines Ward, and a terrific TE in Heath Miller.
The minuses: Manning is no longer playing at least half of his games in a dome, meaning that his numbers are going to go down when the weather gets cold. He also is no longer going to have the team focused around him.
Manning is going to have to do a lot more handing off of the ball. He is also going to have to accept that he is going to be throwing the ball 10-15 times less per game.
The biggest issue is that he is going to have to make sure that he does not hold the ball too long, because he is no longer behind an offensive line that is going to protect him the way they did in Indianapolis.
Indianapolis Colts: Tom Brady leads the Colts to the AFC Championship game. With the ability to control the clock, and the weapons he has, Brady leads the league in passing, breaking most records.
New England Patriots: After preseason, Ben Roethlisberger is comfortable with the role he has been placed in. Ben and Randy Moss built a foundation that pushes Ben's numbers into the top five in the league. With his ability to scramble, and make plays on the run, New England hosts the Colts in the AFC Championship game.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, led by Peyton Manning, are no longer the top rated defense in football, because Peyton Manning has tried to turn the Steelers into a pass first offense, calling audibles away from the run most of the time.
Manning's numbers are down all-time, giving him one of the statistically worst years of his career.
The point of this article was to show that every team is molded to the way that teams want to play. The Indianapolis Colts are a team that believes that passing the ball is the way to championships. They are great with Peyton Manning, but other great QBs, such as Tom Brady, could step in and be just as successful as Peyton Manning.
The New England Patriots are a team that has a great QB, and great weapons to work with. Matt Cassel did a great job last season, and he is nowhere near the QB that Ben Roethlisberger is. Big Ben could thrive in New England.
In Pittsburgh, the Steelers would fail with this situation. Pittsburgh is built to pound you with defense and control the clock. If they do not have someone that can scramble and buy time in and out of the pocket, then the defense would be asked to do considerably more.
There is no team in the NFL that is built the way the Steelers are. People say that the Steelers win in spite of Ben Roethlisberger, when in fact, without Big Ben, the Steelers would be a completely different team.
They would not be able to have the top rated defense, because they need a QB that can be "clutch" and make plays on third down, either with his arm, or his feet. They need a QB that can throw the ball a mile, but one that is able to hit the short routes as well.
They need one that can lead the two minute offense, but one that can also hand the ball off 25-30 times a game.
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are both excellent quarterbacks. Both are all pro, and both will one day be in the Hall of Fame.
Just because they work in the systems they are in does not mean they would work in Pittsburgh.
As Kordell Stewart once said, it takes someone special to be the quarterback for the Steelers. There aren't too many that fit that mold. Peyton Manning doesen't. Neither does Tom Brady.
Big Ben Roethlisberger does. That is the reason why the Pittsburgh Steelers are as successful as they are, regardless of the stats.