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What Makes a Quarterback Elite?

Notes on an interesting article that breaks down exactly what it means to be an elite quarterback in the National Football League.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

So I'm currently at whatever stage in the Patriots postseason grieving process that involves me feeling comfortable checking the major sports websites about once or twice a week. During the season, I'm on,, and pretty much every other .com that has anything to do with the NFL several times a day to the point where it is definitively detrimental to my productivity at work. As soon as the Patriots are out of the playoffs, though, all of that stops; my only lifeline to the professional sports world in the early days of my offseason is right here at Pats Pulpit, and that's all I need. I just don't care to read anything football related during those dark, dark days when I'm about as far away from seeing Tommy B's dimples under center as I can get.

But as of late, I've started to return to some semblance of normalcy, and I found myself logging on to for the first time this afternoon. Much to my surprise, I didn't have to sift through too much Ray Lewis rumpswabbing and Harbowl garbage before I found an article that I could actually stomach. It was quite simply titled "Elite Quarterbacks in the NFL," and it focused on exactly that: trying to figure out exactly what categorizes an "elite" quarterback in the National Football League, particularly when the word is thrown around without much thought by the majority of the sporting world. It's definitely worth a read, and it can be found here.

Basically, the article broke down what it takes to be an elite quarterback into eight categories: stats, playoff success, fourth quarter performance, winning streaks, consistency, clutchness, big play ability, and road wins. Under each of these categories, factors like passer rating, Super Bowl wins, game-winning drives, and touchdown:interception ratio all came into play. And based on these stats, various quarterbacks were seen as elite based on whatever particular category they excelled in.

I found it particularly interesting that, as various categories were broken down and different quarterbacks were highlighted as elite within those particular categories, only one quarterback remained constant throughout - and that quarterback was Tom Brady. No matter what the topic at hand was, be it playoff wins, road victories, big play ability, or, stats, Brady was always one of the quarterbacks who had achieved elite status. The next closest quarterback was Peyton Manning, who was considered elite in six of eight categories. His half-wit brother Eli only showed up four times.

Does this mean anything? Not really - the article is fairly subjective, and you can make a case for when in each quarterback's career their elite status came into play. But hey - it's the offseason, right? And I'm never one to pass up an opportunity to point out reasons why my mancrush on Tommy B burns as brightly as it did 10 years ago. And if nothing else, it definitely calls to mind how quickly everyone is to label any quarterback who completes a last-second bomb or stumbles ass-backwards into a playoff win as elite, and helps to put that line of thinking in check.

Mostly, though, it just confirms what we all already know. Tommy B is the best quarterback in the game today. Because hey - if it's on the internet, it has to be true.