Mile High Mailbag: Best QB of Modern Era? Brady or Manning?


Welcome to this week’s installment of the Mile High Mailbag. In this column, we answer your questions via social media on pressing matters that concern the Denver Broncos. You can read last week’s article by clicking here.

This is a topic for the ages. Who is the best quarterback of the modern era?Tom Brady and his 3 Super Bowl rings? Or Peyton Manning and his 5 MVPs? I’ll endeavor to remove my Orange colored glasses as I wade into this one.

Before Peyton came to Denver, I couldn’t stand him. I mean, how could I? He eviscerated my Broncos in back to back Wildcard games in ’03 and ’04. Don’t get me wrong, I respected him. But I loathed the guy. Sure, he was funny and I enjoyed his TV commercials but golly, I hated when he showed up on the Broncos’ schedule.

I remember debating people back then, whilst Peyton was still in Indy, about who the best QB of the modern era was. Even then, as much as I didn’t like him, I had to say that it was Peyton. Why?

Imagine this. Picture Peyton Manning getting drafted by the New England Patriots in 1998. Perhaps in an alternate universe, like on the TV show “Fringe”.

Do you think Belichick and Manning would be 3-2 in the Super Bowl together, like the Hoodie’s record with Tom Terrific? Before you answer, think about this. Belichick is the best coach in not only the modern era, but maybe ever. His defenses in the 2000s were a force to be reckoned with and replete with Pro Bowlers and All-Pros.

On the back end, he had Rodney Harrison, a 4-time All-Pro. Then he had Ty Law and Asante Samuel, in their PRIME. That’s the secondary.

Then he has guys like Teddy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel and Willie McGinest at linebacker. Dayum!

And on the defensive line, he had Richard Seymour, Ty Warren and a young Vince Wilfork. Is it any wonder that the Patriots fielded a top 10 defense, year in and year out?

Now, put Peyton Manning on that team, instead of Tom Brady, and tell me that by now, Manning doesn’t own at least 5 rings. Conversely, put Brady in Indy, with Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, Hall of Fame-caliber weapons, and that team would still score points. But if Tom Terrific had to play on a team, like Manning did with the Colts, where the defense couldn’t get off the field, I’d be surprised if he could have mustered even the one Super Bowl ring that Peyton managed to snag.

Now let’s factor in Manning/Brady with the current state of things. Manning gets released and comes to Denver. He has to basically re-learn how to throw the football. He comes to a new team, with new players and relatively new system. What could we have expected? I’ll tell you, I didn’t expect 37 TDs, the 2nd highest total of his career to that point.

Then he absolutely shatters the QB record book in 2013, with 5,477 passing yards and 55 TDs. And takes his 2nd team to the Super Bowl. Could Brady have done that? I submit to you; NO.

Let’s face it, Brady hasn’t won anything since 2004. That’s a decade, folks. Manning gets clowned on by the NFL world at large for being a choker. Okay, fine. Brady has choked year in and year out for the last 10 years and everyone’s going to give him a pass because he happened to play on a team that was coached by the best in the business, where he was a cog in the machine, not the machine itself, and won 3 rings. Guess what. They’ve both lost 2 Super Bowls.

If people are honest with themselves, they know in their heart of hearts, that as a quarterback, pure and simple, Peyton Manning reigns supreme over Tom Brady. Both will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. But when it’s all said and done, only one will go down as the best QB to ever play the game and his initials are P.F.M.

Great question. When the Broncos met up for mini-camp, Peyton Manning had this to say about the return of Ryan Clady.

"“It’s kind of like signing a free agent or a top pick in the draft,” Manning said of Clady. “He is the top left tackle out there. Not playing with him last year, I thought our team did a great job stepping up. But it’s certainly nice to have him back.”"

Manning is right. The offensive line did a masterful job in picking up the slack when Clady went down last year. But as we saw in the Super Bowl, if you lose an All-Pro on your QB’s blindside, eventually, it’s going to come out in the wash.

I’m really excited for Clady to return to the starting lineup, where he belongs. I’m doubly excited that Orlando Franklin will be lining up next to him at left guard. The two of them will be a proverbial wall in keeping their 38-year-old QB upright. I expect Clady’s return will help out the running game a lot too. This offense could be even better than the 2013 squad.


I would take Derrick Johnson. You could argue that Justin Houston, or Dontari Poe, or even Eric Berry, might be more physically gifted than Johnson. But if you plugged Johnson in on the Broncos’ defense at Mike, imagine how scary the unit would be. Pot Roast, Sly Williams, DeMarcus Ware and Derek Wolfe on the d-line. Trevathan, Johnson and Miller at linebacker. Harris, Talib, Moore and Ward in the secondary? Wow.

The Mike position is really the only slot on defense with any question marks. We still don’t know if Nate Irving is going to answer the bell and be the long-term answer. But if we had Johnson, oh boy, it would be a beautiful thing to behold on Sundays.

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