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Just The Sports: Peyton Manning

Just The Sports

Monday, February 05, 2007

Peyton Manning

Now that Peyton Manning has won that ever elusive first Super Bowl, what has changed for him? Really, nothing. The only change that will be brought about by the Colts winning Super Bowl XLI is the perception of Peyton Manning by others. Finally, sports writers can say out loud what they have know to be true for several seasons, which is that Peyton Manning will go down as the best quarterback to ever play in the NFL, without fear of someone coming back at them by saying Manning could not be the best because he had never won the "big one." A comeback no more effective than one that evokes rubber and glue.

For the brief span of this paragraph, let's take a moment to examine the silliness of determining a quarterback's legacy, for good or bad, based on such a small sample set, one that in any other context a person would be laughed out of the room for trying to use to make a convincing argument. In nine NFL seasons, Manning has thrown 4,870 meaningful passes* in the regular season and 475 passes in the post-season for a total of 5,345 in his career. Therefore, Manning is being unfairly judged based on 9% of his passing career while the other 91% is being discarded like it either does not matter at all or matters less. Never mind that a quarterback must play well in the regular season to even lead his team to the playoffs.

Even when Manning's post-season performances are compared to what he has done in the regular season, his pass attempts, pass completions, passing yards, yards per pass attempt, and yards per pass catch are not significantly worse; indeed, they are fairly comparable. Where Manning has come up short and the only way in which he can be criticized is in his interception rate. For the regular season, he has thrown one interception for every 35.0 pass attempts, which increases to one every 31.7 pass attempts in the playoffs. Yet, that is still not enough to deprive Manning of his rightful quarterback mantle.

Manning is the best quarterback in the NFL and he will continue to be so until he either retires or regresses to a Brett Favre-like state in his later years.

*I discarded the handful of pass attempts Manning threw when he started the game before Jim Sorgi finished the game because the Colts were not interesting in winning, having already locked up a spot in the playoffs.



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