Saturday, January 10, 2015

Eli v. Tom? Eli v. Phil Is More Interesting

A lot was made of Eli Manning's response to ESPN Radio host Michael Kay's question, Are you in the same class as Tom Brady?

 
Eli hemmed a bit, then admitted that, yes, he considers himself on that level. It is true that Brady's statistics, quality wins, and titles outweigh Manning's. The numbers come first in such comparisons, but sometimes digit-crunchers lose sight of the forest.
 
Phil Simms


Those who feel outraged that Eli even think of measuring himself next to the Patriots' golden boy should take it easy. Manning is one of a few dozen quarterbacks on the planet, who can navigate multiple seasons with better-than-average success. He has good reason to be that confident--because he's absolutely right.
 
Not only is this is a non-story, but there is a much more interesting question:
 
Is Eli Manning better than Phil Simms was?
 
This question is already up for debate among New York Giant fans. As in the Manning-Brady debate, usually the answer is an emotional one. It's about who you favor on a personal level. Who you feel you know.
 
Numbers come first. Seven full seasons into their careers, Simms and Manning match up comparably. Going into year eight, they both had won Super Bowls recently enough to still deserve respect. Eli beat undefeated New England, though his Giants normally are a playoff one-and-out. Simms is 6-4 as a postseason starter.
 
Phil played in 91 games over his first seven years. He started 90 of them, and won 51. Manning has started in 103 games so far. He's won 60.


Eli Manning


 
The quarterback rating has recently been declared outdated. Since that's all we had back up till ye olden days of 2010, we'll take a look. What we see is that Eli's career rating is a bump above eighty; Phil's career mark sits a couple of notches below. Simms didn't have a rating above seventy-eight until 1987. Simms simply got more accurate with age.
 
Simms trails the seven-season match-up in total passing by about three thousand yards. But Eli has been asked to throw the ball a ton. He's got five 500-attempt seasons. Phil Simms had one, in 1984; it was his only 4,000-yard season, as well. Maybe Manning has a robot arm today, but does that much gunslinging fatigue an arm over time? We will find out.
 
Injuries played a huge part for Simms early in his career. Those contributed to incomplete seasons, and ones where he was absent entirely. The seasons from 1981-83 were not included in this Manning-Simms comparison.
 
Much was made of Mike Vick's on-field transformation, after his return from punishment. Vick still uses his legs, but is clearly more of a forward-thinker in the pocket. He admitted that he never put in the film work as an Atlanta quarterback, relying on his natural gifts.
 
Phil Simms reset his approach similarly back in 1983. He was oft-injured, rather than incarcerated, but the idea was the same as Vick's. Simms let himself get talked into studying more than he ever had, and returned the next season a more capable field general.
 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

G.O.A.T: Do We Adjust For Era?

Gerald Wilkins, Michael Cooper, Orlando Woolridge, Xavier McDaniels, Mitch Richmond, Dennis Rodman, Joe Dumars and Gary Payton. (feel free to add more in 'comments')
 
Those are a few of the Michael Jordan-era NBA players that served as competition for "His Air-ness". Superb professional basketball defenders, among their other talents.
Mitch Richmond and other elite players would be excellent in any era.
 
There is a movement afoot to claim that the current league is more athletic than Jordan's day. But are today's NBA players that much more advanced than two decades ago?

Let's examine the group of 2014 men who match up with the players listed above. We're looking at a listing of NBA small forwards who can defend on some notable level (among their other talents). The best you can give me is Luol Deng, Paul George, Kevin Durant when he cares, Rudy Gay, and Kahwi Leonard. (feel free to add more in 'comments')

Kobe Bryant? He is more of the bridge from then to now. It's hard to say that he is from an era removed from MJ. Neither
Maybe it is human nature to downplay what came before.
Maybe Wilt dominated simply because he was that good.
can it truly be said about the players of today. Not yet.


 And LeBron doesn't count, because in this scenario he is the "Jordan"... the acknowledged "best in the game."

Today's basketball players are above average to excellent. But not appreciably better than the 1980s and 1990s counterparts.

To say Jordan didn't play against great athletes is a myth. He did, wrote one fan.

At the end of the day the true measure of superstar basketball players is how they played on the biggest stage. The Finals and in that regard there is no question as to who was better... Jordan.