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Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning: Who's the Best? - Part III

Brady vs. Manning
Who Is the Better QB and Why?

There's more than statistics and supporting skill position players that impact a quarterback's performance. In Part III of "Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning: Who's Better and Why?" we look at some of these other factors.

The Coaches
Brady has had just one coach his entire career. Bill Belichick became the HC of the NEP the year before in 2000. He succeeded Pete Carroll, who held the post for four years.

Manning has worked under two head coaches. He shared his rookie year (1998) with veteran coach Jim Mora Sr., who remained in Indy for four years. Predecessor Lindy Infante also held a four-year tenure. Manning has spend the last five years with Tony Dungy.

Belichick was not considered a successful coach in Cleveland. He took over a perennial contender that peaked and needed to rebuild. Under Belichick, they did. Slowly. Assuming control of a 3-13 team, Belichick's squads finished 6-10, 7-9 and 7-9 in his first three years. Then there was the breakout 11-5 season (and Cleveland beat New England in the Wild Card).

Just as they appeared ready to crest, Browns owner Art Modell announced plans to move the team to Baltimore. Amid a storm of rage and depression, Cleveland floundered to 5-11.

Five seasons: 36-44.

When Belichick came to New England, he was virtually anonymous, and lived in the shadow of Bill Parcells. He took over a team with tons of potential was failing to live up to it under quintessential college coach Pete Carroll. (Well, in retrospect.)

After finishing 8-8 in Carroll's final season, the Patriots began the Belichick Era with a 5-11 record. The 2001 season began with a pair of losses with Drew Bledsoe calling signals. To this point in his career, Belichick was 41-57. Since then, Belichick has gone 70-24, for a career regular-season record of 111-81 and a postseason record of 13-3 (1-1 with Cleveland, 12-2 with New England).

In Indianapolis, the Colts were inconsistent in the AFC East, but not long before Manning and Mora came to town, they were in the AFC Championship. That success failed quickly, and Mora, who enjoyed moderate success in 10-plus years with perennial doormat New Orleans, assumed control a team that finished 3-13.

The Colts finished 3-13 Mora's first season, too, but they quickly rebounded with one of the greatest reversals in NFL history, finishing 13-3, but losing their first playoff game in the divisional playoffs. That was followed by waning seasons of 10-6 (another opening-round playoff loss) and 6-10.

After compiling a regular-season record of 32-32 (0-2 in the postseason), Jim "Playoffs?!" Mora was history in Indy.

Enter Dungy who had taken another perennial doormat, Tampa Bay, from the depths of mediocrity (and that's being generous) to the doorstep of immortality.

The Bucs had just two winning seasons to their credit (1979, 1981) and hovered around 6-10 for several years before Dungy took over. It wasn't entirely smooth sailing in Florida. Dungy's first season as a head coach ended 6-10. That was followed by 10-6, a slip to 8-8, and a vault to 11-5 and a trip to the NFC Championship.

But that was the peak for Dungy's Buccaneers. They dropped to 10-6 and 9-7 before Tampa brought in Jon Gruden, who took Dungy's architected team to win the Super Bowl the following year. Dungy compiled a record of 54-42 (2-4 postseason).

Dungy turned Mora's 6-10 team and brought them back to 10-6 and a Wild Card loss, but never since have the Colts come close to miring in mediocrity: 12-4, 12-4, 14-2 and 12-4. The Colts were 3-4 in the playoffs under Dungy until 2006's 4-0 run to the Super Bowl.

In Indy, Dungy is 60-20 (7-4 postseason). For his career, he's 114-62 (9-8).

What does this tell us?

It tells us that Manning was successful without Dungy. It tells us that Dungy was successful without Manning. Belichick had just one winning season as a head coach before Brady became his starting quarterback, but Belichick encountered a very unusual circumstance when his first team may have been ready to flourish.

When Brady took over in New England, the turnaround was immediate. For all the "Brady is a product of the system" talk, Belichick, the offensive line and the defense were all 5-13 until Brady took the helm.

The Patriots went 11-3 the remainder of that 2001 regular season (Brady started 1-1 and then 10-2), followed by three straight wins for the championship. Two years later under Brady, the Patriots set an NFL record for consecutive wins.

Brady has had only Belichick as a head coach, but he's had a couple offensive coordinators, including a year with none, and a couple quarterbacks coaches, including a year with none.

The Front Offices
Scott Pioli, New England's vice president of player personnel, and Bill Polian, Indy's president, and their staffs, are the elite of talent analysis in the NFL. But Polian's track record is far longer and more impressive.

Belichick hired Pioli, who then had no NFL experience, in Cleveland. When Belichick was fired, Pioli remained with the team and moved to Baltimore. But he rejoined Belichick in New England on Parcells's staff in 1997 and there has remained since.

Polian joined the Buffalo Bills in 1986 (technically, Dec. 30, 1985) and built a team that earned four straight Super Bowl bids. Polian was fired after the Bills third title game because of a fued with Buffalo's team treasurer. Polian then spent three years with the expansion Carolina Panthers (1994-1996), helping a brand new team reach the NFC Championship in two seasons. Polian joined Indy in 1998 and used the No. 1 pick of that year's NFL Draft to select Manning.

Pioli's job begins and ends with player personnel. Not so for Polian. Polian is a member of the NFL Competition Committee and has used his position to advance the Colts cause. (Dungy is on the coaches subcommittee as well.)

After New England disposed of the Colts in the 2003 AFC Championship, Polian set out to change the rules to benefit Indy.

Last fall in "The Polian Corner," a regular feature on, Polian was discussing a defensive holding penalty in a loss to Dallas and claimed that he was responsible for the way officials called the penalty. (Text-only link)

"... A jersey grab is a jersey grab and it's a foul. I led the charge to have it made a foul on the NFL Competition Committee," he said.

The Home Fields: Surface and Weather
Manning has spent his entire career within the friendly, climate-controlled, carpeted confines of the RCA Dome. Eight games a season, he plays on an immaculate field with no wind, no rain, no snow, no mud, no divots for a team custom-tailored to take advantage of that surface.

Brady has spent his entire career on a field that at one time was called an "embarrassment" to the NFL, covered with dirt and loose sod, riddled with divots. His receivers had to run in and on that stuff too. That surface was twice changed last season in the middle of the season.

At Gillette Stadium, Brady has had to deal with ever-changing weather conditions from blazing sun and humidity, to sloppy mud and rain, to slippery blizzards, and wind blowing in all directions. He has succeeded in all conditions.

In such conditions, Brady led the Patriots to one of the longest home-field winning streaks in league history.

Until January, in domes, Brady was undefeated (now 10-1).

Early in Manning's career, when the Colts were in the AFC East, Manning had to play in Buffalo and New York every year. Now in the custom-made AFC South (Indianapolis is in the south?) he has the luxury to play in balmy Jacksonville, mild Tennessee and indoors in Houston. (Note also the two expansion teams.)

Meanwhile, Brady has always had to play in Buffalo and New York. And if there's one place he's had trouble, it's in hot and humid Miami.

In poor conditions, Manning has often struggled and often lost.

It's just more evidence that Brady is the more versatile and adaptable quarterback.

All photos by Associated Press


Who made who?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Belichick made Brady, Dungy made Manning
    (8 votes)
  • 23%
    Belichick made Brady, Manning made Dungy
    (37 votes)
  • 13%
    Brady made Belichick, Manning made Dungy
    (22 votes)
  • 9%
    Brady made Belichick, Dungy made Manning
    (15 votes)
  • 44%
    They all made themselves
    (71 votes)
  • 3%
    None of the above (please explain in comments)
    (6 votes)
159 votes total Vote Now