Mythbusting with Mr. Marowni: You Can't Handle The Truth Edition

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I wrote a lot of stuff during the off season when satsunada someone who shall remain nameless complained made note of the lack of Patriots news. Needless to say, things changed rather quickly for the Patriots. The Patriots could be found among the headlines arguably every week from then on, up until about last week against the Texans. The wild ride that started with that complaint to having a strangle-hold on the AFC East for the 11th time in the Brady era has been anything but boring. As is the case with most seasons, I usually don't write during the actual season because things change every week. The week-to-week changes make it almost impossible to make a substantive claim about any team. There are four weeks left to play and we are just now getting an idea of what this year's Patriots team is. However, with four weeks left to play against teams without winning records, and my 12-4 final record prediction looking like I sold this team short, it is time for me to relax and get some things out there that I have been holding back. It is time to drop some knowledge bombs and blow up some lies being thrown around as facts.

Myth: The way the Patriots performed in 2008 without Tom Brady in contrast with the way the Colts performed in 2011 without Peyton Manning proves (enter asinine claim about Manning being better here).

We all have heard this one. The 2008 Patriots are the golden goose of Tom Brady detractors. "His team won 11 games without him!" "That proves how overrated he is!" "Look at how great the system is in New England!" I have even heard people say that the Patriots made the playoffs that year. However, the myth was able to almost become its own urban legend when the Colts' "Suck for Luck" campaign had them sitting with an abysmal 0-13 record two weeks before Christmas in 2011. The Five-head worshipers finally had indisputable evidence to say the Pey Pey was the mostest valuable guy evar! But they actually didn't.

See the way this myth gets broken down is in 3 ways.
Point 1. The Patriots went 11-5 without Brady. The Colts lost 8 more games without Manning
Point 2. The Patriots almost made the playoffs without Brady. The Colts were the worst team without Manning.
Point 3. Matt Cassel looked like a star with that supporting cast. Look at how bad Manning's replacements were!

Addressing Point 1 - Looking at Wins All in the Wording

The first part many like to point out is that the regular season win drop-off is obviously in Manning's favor. The Patriots went from 16-0 to 11-5, a decrease in 5 wins, while the Colts went from 10-6 to 2-14, a decrease in 8 wins. I'm not saying this is wrong. However, the phrasing needs work. The Patriots went 18-1 in 2007, as their undefeated regular season carried them all the way to an absolutely gut-wrenching Super Bowl defeat. Those Patriots actually won 7 more games than their 2008 counter-parts. From 18-1 to 11-5 is a 7 win decrease, which isn't too far a cry from the 8 win difference without Manning.

Addressing Point 2 - Drop-Offs Closer Than They Appear

The 2007 Patriots spent the majority of the season whooping every team they came across. They didn't set all those records against scrub teams. They beat the AFC's #2, #3, and #4 seed that year in the regular season, and then beat the #5 seed Jaguars in the playoffs. Oh, and they also played the NFC East that year, a division that had the NFC's #1 seed and both wild card teams. The 2007 Patriots were a juggernaut, dominating regardless of the opponent. The 2008 Patriots were not. Below is a chart that shows how each team performed against teams with winning records and against playoff teams that season.

Record Record Against >.500 Teams Average Score Record Against Playoff Teams Average Score
2007 Patriots 16-0 7-0 38.3-19.0 6-0 39.0-19.3
2008 Patriots 11-5 3-5 24.1-24.7 2-4 23.8-25.7

The 2008 Patriots struggled in the games against the league's best teams. The performance of the Patriots in 2007 was very consistent regardless of opponent. In 2008, the Patriots feasted on an inferior schedule.

Record Record Against >.500 Teams Average Score Record Against .500 or Worse Average Score
2007 Patriots 16-0 7-0 38.3-19.0 9-0 35.7-15.7
2008 Patriots 11-5 3-5 24.1-24.7 8-0 27.1-13.9

About those Colts. The drop-off seems to be a bit much for the Patriots, but they still went 11-5. We all know that those Colts were awful. Just look at the numbers!

Record Record Against >.500 Teams Average Score Record Against Playoff Teams Average Score
2010 Colts 10-6 2-3 24.6-23.2 1-2 23.7-22.0
2011 Colts 2-14 2-8 14.8-28.8 1-7 13.9-31.0

Wait a second. That can't be right. No way did the 2011 Colts play 10 games against teams with a winning record! Actually, yes they did. That 2011 Colts team was no sure bet to make the playoffs that year even with Peyton Manning. Their schedule was that difficult. Included in those numbers is the 62-7 drubbing the Saints gave the Colts. And while you're looking at those numbers consider that the Colts only played 5 games against teams with winning records in 2010 with Manning, and they didn't do all that great either.

One more thing, as a transition to my next point. That one win the 2010 Colts got over a playoff team was over the 10-6 Kansas City Chiefs quarterbacked by the guy who took over for Brady in 2008, Matt Cassel. How's that for coincidence?

Addressing Point 3 - If Matt Cassel is Bad, then Colts Back-Ups were Horrible, Terrible, Awful, Appalling, and Dreadful

Matt Cassel hadn't started a game since high school when he took over the Patriots in 2008. His past is one of the major talking points when bringing up the successes of the Patriots "system" that Brady has supposedly benefited from. Of course, that is like the pot calling the kettle black. Actually, it is like the pot calling the kettle a black hole.

Who were those Hall of Fame caliber quarterbacks that replaced Peyton Manning but couldn't succeed in the same way Peyton could? Well, they are only the stellar Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky, and Kerry Collins! How could the Colts not win with guys like those? Here is a quick break-down of those quarterbacks.

Name Curtis Painter Dan Orlovsky Kerry Collins
Starting Record on 2011 Colts 0-8 2-3 0-3
Career Starting Record 0-8 2-10 81-99
Record in games they have thrown a pass 0-12 2-19 79-108
Career Passer Rating 59.1 76.0 73.8
Age they played on 2011 Colts 26 28 39

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. A 39 year old Kerry Collins with a career passer rating that wasn't even acceptable in the early 1990's was asked to quarterback the Colts. He got knocked out for the season with a concussion, leaving Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky as the go-to guys. They could handle it, right? I mean, it wasn't like they had never been a part of an NFL win before.............oh wait they hadn't. Oops. Heading into the 2011 season Painter and Orlovsky were a combined 0-13 in games they had thrown an NFL pass. In 2011, Painter went 0-8 as a starter while Orlovsky went 2-3. Neither quarterback has been a part of an NFL win since.

For comparison's sake, below is Matt Cassel's career in the same form as the above chart.

Name Matt Cassel
Starting Record 30-34
Record in games they have thrown a pass 37-39
Career Passer Rating 80.6
Age he played on the 2008 Patriots 26

Matt Cassel was a much better quarterback than every single one of the guys that took over for the Colts. After being traded to the Chiefs he was able to help the team make the playoffs in 2010 behind a 27 touchdown pass to only 7 interception season. As bad as many might believe he was, he was nowhere near as bad as the guys that were left to suck on the Colts.

When looking at this objectively, it could be argued that the Patriots were actually worse off without Brady than the Colts were without Manning. This doesn't even take into account the "Suck for Luck" argument, how poorly the Colts were built, and how crippled the 2011 Colts were with Manning's $23 million cap hit.

The purpose of this wasn't to make out that Brady's loss was worse. Instead it was to show that the myth of Manning's value being greater than Brady's value, in this instance, is unfounded. When looking at all the evidence, it is clear that this myth has been debunked.

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