Tom Brady vs. Joe Montana
by Mario Granata
When trying to find the correct approach to this topic, I found myself trying to remain as objective as possible considering Tom Brady has been the thorn in the side of the Buffalo Bills for quite some time. However, when taking a step back and looking at the numbers, impact and the overall careers of both Brady and Montana, some ideas came to light, and it wasn’t hard to showcase why Joe Cool is still the man when it comes to comparing him to Tom Terrific. So, without any further adieu, here are the top 5 reasons why Joe Montana is better than Tom Brady.
Reason 1: Jeff Hostetler
An unheralded backup replacing a franchise quarterback who led a team to a Super Bowl and goes on an improbable playoff run, and then bests an offensive juggernaut in the Super Bowl? Yeah, that doesn’t sound familiar at all. In 2001 Tom Brady led the New England Patriots to a victory over the St. Louis Rams, which marked the start of the Patriots dynasty. However, when you rewind the clocks back to 1990, Jeff Hostetler did the same thing. Going 3-0, amassing 510 yards and a 3-0 TD to Int ratio, Jeff Hostetler took the defensive minded Giants to the promise land over the Buffalo Bills. Likewise, Tom Brady threw for 572 yards with a 1-1 TD to Int ratio while also going 3-0. The common denominator for both Brady and Hostetler; Bill Belichick. Fans and commentators alike make note about the Patriots and how they elect to kick off to their opponent so they can score at the end of the first half and have the ball at the beginning of the second to possibly score again. That all started in Super Bowl 25. If Belichick was able to accomplish that with Hostetler, what does that say about Brady?
Reason 2: Daunte Culpepper
Much has been made about what Brady has been able to accomplish with “no receivers” and the one time he had a legendary one in Randy Moss, he put up one of the best statistical seasons of all time, while also putting up a 16-0 regular season record. In the time that both Culpepper and Brady played with Moss they benefited from his presence. In 33 career games from 2007-2009, Brady averaged 4,500 yards, while completing 67% of his passes and a 38-10 TD to Int ratio. Culpepper, in 61 games, averaged 4,076 yards completing 64% of his passes and posting a 28-16 TD to Int ratio. Now, lets take a deeper look at the best season both Brady and Culpepper had with Moss. Brady threw for 4,806 yards with a 68.9 completion percentage and a 50-8 TD to Int ratio. Amazing…until you look at Culpepper. In 2004, Culpepper threw for 4,717 yards while completing 69.2 percent of his passes and a 39-11 TD to Int ratio. It's even more astounding when you take into account, during Brady’s 2007 season, Moss posted a stat line of 98-1493-23. When Culpepper broke out in 2004, Moss posted a 47-767-13 stat line. Who is the real hero here? Taking into account that Moss averaged 91-1378-18 with Brady in 33 games, and 91-1305-12 with Culpepper in 61 games, its not hard to see that Moss can make anyone look good…unless you quarterback the Raiders. Now if you are one of those people who like to say that Montana had Jerry Rice, well, Montana had 2 rings before Rice was on the team.
Reason 3: Kansas City Chiefs
Yes, Joe Montana had a career, albeit a short one, after he left San Francisco. Montana went to the Kansas City Chiefs and if it weren’t for a concussion sustained against the Buffalo Bills in 1993, he might have went to his 5th Super Bowl. Joe Montana led the Chiefs to the AFC Championship beating Pittsburgh and Houston to get there. In the process of leading the Chiefs to the doorstep of the Super Bowl, Montana dispelled the rumors of being a “system” quarterback who could only be successful under Bill Walsh and the 49ers. Until Brady can shake Belichick, he will still live in Montana’s shadow.
Reason 4: Matt Cassel
When Tom Brady went down in 2008, Matt Cassel came in and nearly led the Patriots to the playoffs, posting an 11-5 record along the way. Not bad for a guy who was a career backup at USC and didn’t have any significant playing time since he was in high school. Oddly enough, if you take out the monster year that Brady had in 2007, and you averaged his 2001-2006 seasons that he had with the Patriots, his numbers are eerily similar to what Cassel posted in 2008. Brady, over those 6 seasons, averaged 3,593 yards passing, while completing 61.9% of his passes with a 24-13 TD to Int ratio. Cassel during the 2008 season threw for 3,693 yards completing 63.4% of his passes and had a 21-11 TD to Int ratio. Anyone else thing that when Brady went down, Belichick just hit the reset button back to 2001? Also, why haven’t the Patriots had any formidable backups on their team since Brady took over? Is it that he doesn’t need a top pick to take over if Brady were to get hurt? Brady has kept no name players on the bench holding his clipboard, while Montana, when they thought he was done in San Francisco, brought in Steve Young, who Montana kept on the bench and won two more titles.
Reason 5: Bill Belichick
Where to start with this one? Could it be that Belichick is the greatest defensive game planner in the history of the NFL, or the fact that he knows how to make up for offensive mistakes? During his career as a defensive coordinator, Belichick has had to plan against some of the best quarterbacks that the game has to offer and has shut nearly every one of them down. During the 6 AFC Championships that the Patriots have won, Kordell Stewart, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Phillip Rivers, Joe Flacco and Andrew Luck have a combined stat line of 114-219 (52%) for 1361, 5 TDs and 15 Ints. What did Brady really have to do in those games? Belichick has never lost to Montana in 3 playoff games, he has defeated the likes of John Elway, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Troy Aikman, and Warren Moon along the way. What defensive savant has Tom Brady had to best in his career? This is what is the most telling point of all when comparing Brady to Montana, is that Brady has never had to go through a Belichick coached defense. Think about that statement for a while.
So, while the debate will rage on from one football fan to another, about the comparisons of Joe Montana and Tom Brady, let these 5 reasons be a sound board for you the next time someone wants to anoint Brady the GOAT. That title is reserved for Joe Cool, as the greatest quarterback the NFL has seen and will probably ever see. Of the 3 quarterbacks in NFL history that have 4 Super Bowl titles, Brady leans more toward Terry Bradshaw than Joe Montana. Let the debate rage on.
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