http://www.seahawkshuddle.com/v1/viewtopic.php?t=7946 Tom or Joe? by Del Barbato, Seahawks Huddle Is Tom Brady better than Joe Montana? It seems that this question has inspired furious debate since 2001, when the Patriots began their amazing run to three Super Bowl championships in four years. Brady captured the Bowl MVP trophies in 2001 and 2003. He is most often compared to Joe Montana, his childhood idol and one whose accomplishments Brady arguably is most likely to equal, barring injury or a drop-off in skill and productivity. When comparing the two quarterbacks, most people point to the ‚Äúintangibles‚ÄĚ they both share: competitiveness, leadership, field savvy and command. Both are deservedly known for their ability to perform under great pressure. However, a look at the numbers points to more similarities: Brady compares favorably with these numbers. A 2000 sixth round pick out of Michigan, he was not touted as a potential superstar, despite a college career that boasted a 20-5 record, a Big Ten Conference title, and an Orange Bowl victory over Alabama. In his rookie season, he was fourth on the depth chart at quarterback but impressed the Patriots coaching staff. By 2001, he was back-up to Drew Bledsoe and assumed the starter‚Äôs role that season when Bledsoe was seriously injured in a September game against the New York Jets. Although Brady was knocked out of the AFC championship game against Pittsburgh, he returned to lead the Patriots to victory in the Super Bowl against the heavily favored St. Louis Rams, only his second year in the league and first as a starter. His rise to NFL prominence since that time has been well-documented and it is not an exaggeration to call it ‚Äúmeteoric.‚ÄĚ Since 2001, Brady‚Äôs record is 58-22 (.744 winning percentage) in the regular season. This includes an NFL record of 21 consecutive victories which spanned two seasons and four AFC East titles. Brady has also engineered 21 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime and is 7-0 in OT games. Given that this has been accomplished in only 5 years in the league, this statistic stacks up against Montana‚Äôs career mark of 31 fourth quarter comebacks. Brady‚Äôs 10-1 post-season record is also a league record and, like Montana, he is perfect in all of his Super Bowl appearances. Brady is currently seventh all-time in passer efficiency with an 88.5 rating, led the league in touchdown passes with 28 in 2002, and was first in passing yardage in 2005. He has been chosen to go to the Pro Bowl in four of his five seasons but missed the 2006 game with an injury. Last year‚Äôs passing yardage production unveiled a new facet to Brady‚Äôs game. While mostly due to the injuries to running backs Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk, the success of the passing game hinged largely on Brady‚Äôs ability and willingness to adjust to a redefinition of his role in the offense. Prior to last season, the Patriots focused on balance between the rushing and passing games. Forced to take to the air, Brady elevated his game accordingly. With the team hampered by numerous injuries to key personnel and suffering from a sports hernia that was not disclosed until after the season ended, Brady was largely responsible for getting the Pats to the second round of the playoffs before losing to Denver. There is no denying that Brady clearly benefited from entering the NFL under the combined tutelage of Pats‚Äô head coach Bill Belichick, former offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, and star quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Those who would diminish Brady‚Äôs accomplishments point to his success as merely a happy byproduct of playing in a system but there can be no doubt now that Brady made the most of his rookie year while mired on the bench. In observing Bledsoe‚Äôs own struggles with the offense, Brady perhaps learned valuable lessons in protecting the ball, progressing calmly through his reads, and avoiding the panicked bad throw. Therein lays a major point: not all quarterbacks can succeed even when blessed with ‚Äúgenius‚ÄĚ coaching and not all genius coaching can succeed with just any quarterback. Bill Walsh and Montana combined to bring three championships to San Francisco and his hand-picked successor, George Seifert, brought two more with Montana and Steve Young. However, Walsh was unable to duplicate these achievements when he returned as GM of the Forty-Niners in 1999. Seifert, likewise, had an abysmal record as head coach of the Carolina Panthers and was fired after a 1-15 season with the team. Conversely, Montana spent his final two years in the league with the Kansas City Chiefs and led them to the playoffs in both seasons, including the AFC Championship game. If anything, this is further proof that success in the NFL is a confluence of several factors, not the least of which is the right player in the right role. While Belichick should rightfully be given credit for having drafted and developed Brady, he (like Walsh with Montana) can hardly be considered to have ‚Äúcreated‚ÄĚ him. Like Montana before him, Brady brings intelligence, skill, and desire to the table; attributes which no head coach can teach. There is one more factor which comes into play when comparing and contrasting these two players and that is the vast difference in NFL defenses today. It is a point of fact that defenses today are not only much more complex but the players themselves are bigger, stronger, and faster than when Montana entered the league in 1979. A quarterback‚Äôs ability to read the defense, make adjustments and to audible at the line of scrimmage (as Brady does with notable success) takes on greater importance in light of the sophistication of defenses. Is Brady the best in the game now? I would ask rather ‚ÄúWho in the NFL can compare to Brady and his accomplishments?‚ÄĚ Usually, Brady‚Äôs detractors compare him unfavorably to Peyton Manning. However, Manning‚Äôs gaudy statistics are greatly overshadowed by the fact that his performance in the playoffs has been less than stellar, even though he plays for one of the best coaches in the NFL, in one of the NFL‚Äôs top-rated offenses, and with what is arguably the NFL‚Äôs best receiving corps. The Colts have only been to the AFC Championship game once (2003) and were annihilated by eventual Super Bowl champions, New England. Manning was picked off four times in that game. In 2005, the Colts were eliminated in the divisonal round by another eventual champ, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Of all current quarterbacks, Pittsburgh‚Äôs Ben Roethlisberger is probably the most similar to Brady in build, on-field demeanor and accomplishments. The former first round pick led the Steelers to the AFC championship game in his rookie season, racking up several NFL rookie records along the way. The drubbing at the hands of the Patriots seemed to fuel his desire, much like the Patriots‚Äô failure to make the playoffs in 2002-2003 did for Brady. And like Brady, Roethlisberger collected a championship in his second year. His immediate impact on the team is also quite similar to Brady‚Äôs in that Pittsburgh was 0-3 prior to his elevation to starter and 13-0 afterwards. During the 2005 season, Roethlisberger missed 4 games due to a knee injury and the Steelers‚Äô record was 2-2 at that time. The main difference between Brady and Roethlisberger is perhaps in maturity level. While Brady is often the epitome of responsibility and consistency, Big Ben has struggled with both of those as evidenced by his recent motorcycle accident. Granted, this is a controversial subject but I believe it is a germane part of this discussion in terms of a player‚Äôs ability to weigh personal goals and desires versus those of the team‚Äôs. The most dangerous stunts Brady has engaged in were in accepting President Bush‚Äôs invitation to the State of the Union Address and in appearing on ‚ÄúSaturday Night Live.‚ÄĚ (Do the goat pictures in ‚ÄúGQ‚ÄĚ count?) If his career were to end today, Tom Brady‚Äôs name would undoubtedly be entered into any discussion as one of the best ever. Just the three Super Bowl championships alone would guarantee that. Of all the current NFL quarterbacks, I believe that he is both the best and has the most potential to be considered the best of all-time. However, his career will need to be marked with virtually the same kind of consistency and production that signified Montana‚Äôs. At almost 29 years old and entering his seventh year, Brady is signed with the Patriots through the 2010 season. By today‚Äôs quarterback standards, he is just entering his prime ‚Äď a frightening thought for NFL defensive coordinators. If the Patriots can provide Brady with the caliber of weapons that he enjoyed in those Super Bowl seasons and if he remains in relatively good health, he will no doubt be able to lead the team to at least one more championship. Joe Montana is deservedly the gold standard of NFL quarterbacks. By the numbers, Brady is already halfway to Montana‚Äôs 8 Pro Bowls and is one away from Joe Cool‚Äôs totals in Super Bowl championships and MVP trophies. If he can achieve those marks, Brady‚Äôs name will forever be linked with that of his childhood idol.