Tom Brady: What More Does Patriots QB Need on Resume to Be Considered Greatest?
In 12 years as the New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady has earned his inclusion among the top echelon of the all-time greatest NFL passers.
Or, is he THE greatest?
Experts and fans alike have differing criteria for how they rank quarterbacks in the all-time hierarchy.
Inevitably, Super Bowl wins and MVPs will be brought up, to the detriment of players such as Dan Marino.
Others point out important statistics such as yards, touchdowns and quarterback rating.
However you may size up your signal-callers, here are five accomplishments that cement Brady's status as the greatest quarterback in NFL history.
Pass for 5,000 Yards in One Season
Two NFL quarterbacks have thrown for 5,000 yards in a single season.
Dan Marino (1984) and Drew Brees (2008).
Passing for 5,000 yards in a single season is an accomplishment fellow contenders Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and Joe Montana have not reached.
Not only is it reachable in today's pass-happy NFL, Brady is on pace to do it this season. In fact, Brady is on pace to throw for 5,996 yards this season.
Brady will likely never pass Manning in total yardage or touchdowns thrown. However, achieving this feat gives Brady a significant statistical edge in a prestigious single-season category.
And it will put a smile on the faces of many fantasy owners.
Become All-Time Leader in Playoff Passing Yards
Accumulating yardage in the regular season is one thing
Accumulating yardage in the NFL Playoffs is quite another.
Tom Brady has thrown for 4,407 yards in his playoff career. He currently trails Favre by 1,448 yards in that category.
Equally important, Brady trails active leader Peyton Manning by 982 yards. Look for that margin to tighten after this season, with the Patriots a playoff favorite and Manning injured.
Becoming a leader in this category establishes the fact that a quarterback's team was perennially successful, making multiple appearances in the playoffs.
It displays a quarterback's toughness, being able to pass effectively in the worst elements during the dead of winter.
Finally, it showcases a quarterback's ability to pass for yards when they are at their most difficult to attain: in the playoffs.
Thus, while Super Bowl statistics are often overrated when evaluating quarterback credentials, playoff statistics are crucial to measuring success when it comes to the ultimate goal for quarterbacks: team success.
Pass Dan Marino on the All-Time Touchdown Pass List
If healthy, Peyton Manning will eventually take over as king of this category.
Brady can significantly help his case, though, by passing Marino and becoming the fourth best touchdown passer of all-time.
Touchdown passes thrown represents the ultimate accuracy statistic. While some can occur via big plays, most come down to execution in the red zone. This means a shrinking field size, tighter coverage and small windows to throw into.
Brady is 146 touchdown tosses behind Marino. Provided Brady plays six more years, that averages out to over 24 per season.
Certainly attainable for a quarterback revered for his precision.
Pass Dan Marino in All-Time Passing Yards
The accomplishments get more difficult, starting with this one.
Brady will never pass Favre or Manning on this oft-mentioned list. However, it is feasible for the Patriots quarterback to leapfrog former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino.
Brady currently sits 24,743 yards behind Marino. At 34 years of age, Brady would need to play six more seasons and pass for at least 4,124 yards per season.
That would give Brady 61,362 yards passing for his career, guaranteeing his permanent place in the top 5 of this prestigious list.
Win One More Super Bowl MVP
It is not enough to simply win a Super Bowl for a quarterback. He must play well, and be an integral cog for his team.
Winning a Super Bowl MVP defines a player as clutch and able to perform under the greatest of pressure.
For Tom Brady, that will be his eulogy.
Winning a third Super Bowl MVP, and the consequent fourth ring that comes with it, would instantly eliminate any case for Joe Montana as the all-time greatest quarterback.
Brady would be tied with Montana in Super Bowl wins and Most Valuable Player Awards.
Combine that with Brady's previously mentioned superiority in the counting statistics, and Brady possesses an inarguable resume when compared to Montana.
As for Peyton Manning, Brady would have four times as many rings and three times as many Super Bowl MVPs. Provided Brady can leap Manning in playoff passing yards and throw for 5,000 yards in a season, his body of work would be superior to that of Manning.
Actually, if Brady reaches these five milestones, his resume speaks for itself in making him the all-time greatest quarterback in NFL history.