My first thought was, "oh crap, not this again." Being the sane, rational person that I am, I decided to give Mr. O'Connor's article a shot and see if he might be able to enlighten me, offering convincing evidence that Eli Manning is indeed better than Ben Roethlisberger, as he suggests.
He failed. Not only did he fail, he made me want to take my laptop and throw it against the wall, repeatedly, until Ian O'Connor's article ceased to exist on my computer screen. I screamed various expletives as if he could hear me, stomping around the house screaming his name. O'Connor! O'Connor! O'Connor!
Now, let me be clear: I'm not going to sit here and blow a bunch of smoke up your butts and pretend to be some sort of unbiased, neutral third-party. Because I'm not. As you may already know, I am a Steelers fan, which makes me incredibly biased -- and passionate -- about this topic. What I am going to do, however, is attempt to offer objective facts, many of which O'Connor uses in his own article, to prove his is full of ... well.
First, O'Connor does much of the dirty work for us, by starting his article with an outline of all of the key statistical areas for an NFL quarterback: touchdown passes, completion percentage, passer rating, fewer interceptions, and, oh, won-loss record, all of which favor Roethlisberger. Pretty convincing, yes?
Well, unless your name is Ian O'Connor.
Everything changed in a New York minute last winter, when the maddeningly inconsistent Manning ripped off consecutive postseason victories over Tony Romo, Brett Favre and Tom Brady to give the Giants the most improbable Super Bowl title since the one claimed by Joe Namath's Jets. Suddenly, Eli was the equal of big brother Peyton, a Super Bowl MVP universally hailed for his precision and poise.Excuse me while I gag. First, the Giants run to the Super Bowl last year, and their victory over the Patriots, was awesome. Eli Manning was a huge part of it, and he -- and his teammates -- deserve major, major props for their accomplishment. But was it any more improbable than the Steelers' Super Bowl run from two years before -- which O'Connor later downgrades because of, "help from refs." HA! Real original, Ian -- when they had to win their final four regular-season games just to earn the AFC's No. 6 seed, and then proceed to beat the one, two and three seeds in the AFC, followed by the No. 1 seed in the NFC? Of course not. Both runs were equally improbable, and nobody saw either one coming.
Of course, those are petty differences and seemingly pointless arguments. It's like debating who you would rather wake up next to, Eva Longoria or Angelina Jolie. Can you really go wrong?
Let's get on to the real nonsense.
Eli is 1-0 in the postseason vs. the ultimate measuring stick, Brady; Roethlisberger is 0-1.Ian! You've convinced me! Because Roethlisberger, as a rookie playing in the AFC Championship game, lost to a Tom Brady team he is clearly inferior to Manning. As a quick side note, Jake Plummer was 1-0 in the postseason vs. Troy Aikman, while Brett Favre was 0-1 in the postseason vs. Troy Aikman. I guess that means Ian O'Connor is taking Jake Plummer over Brett Favre. Both comparisons, by the way, are pointless and have nothing to do with either player's longterm value. Jake Plummer, by the way, is also 1-0 against Tom Brady in the playoffs. Crazy stuff.
Roethlisberger takes too many hits for too many lost yards - he's been sacked 164 times, or 65 times more than ManningWhilee it's true Roethlisberger gets sacked more than any quarterback this side of J.T. O'Sullivan or Mittens!, it's just the style he plays. He never gives up on a play, and while he may take his share of sacks, he also manages to shake defenders off like they're nothing and turn potential sacks into plays. For all the attention Manning's Super Bowl escape-and-toss gets, Roethlisberger makes a similar play seemingly every week. Just go back and watch the fourth quarter of the Week 5 game against Jacksonville.
Manning has grown up in the tougher, noisier market, has weathered brutal criticism from the media and the fans and has managed the heavy expectations that come with being a Manning and a No. 1 overall pick.I'm not going to pretend the Pittsburgh media market is more insane and overbearing than the New York market, but let's not for one second think Pittsburgh is all fun and games. Just ask Cliff Stoudt, Tommy Maddox and Kordell Stewart.
Perhaps I'm overreacting to O'Connor's article. He's not saying Roethlisberger is a piece of crap as a quarterback and should be sitting on the bench. He actually gives him credit -- sort of -- as being a great player and that "there is no wrong answer." Though, I'd argue there is a wrong answer, and the wrong answer is Eli Manning. But I digress. Sort of.
It's just that his reasoning is so ridiculous, as he ignores overwhelming statistical evidence and still charges full-steam ahead with Eli Manning. He even quotes former Giants General Manager Ernie Accorsi as saying this:
"You can't go wrong with either one of them," said former Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi. "But I have absolutely no regard for statistics when it comes to evaluating quarterbacks. I only care about wins, whether a guy can get you into the end zone and whether he can make the play on third and long."Ernie! You're making it easy! Wins? As O'Connor pointed out in his third paragraph, this area favors Roethlisberger. Getting into the end zone? Again, if you reference the third paragraph of O'Connor's article you see this area (touchdowns) also favors, you guessed it, Roethlisberger. And that's without counting rushing touchdowns (those count, too).
As a Steelers fan, I hear this crap all the time from the national talking heads and opposing teams fans. "Oh, but they just ask Roethlisberger to manage the game, blah blah blah, he doesn't really do anything, blah blah blah." Nonsense.
While people talk about how strong the Steelers' supporting cast was around Roethlisberger his rookie season, they never mention that the same cast of players went 6-10 the previous year, and only had the opportunity to pick Roethlisberger in the 2004 draft because the team was so mind-numbingly awful. The only major changes to the roster were Roethlisberger, and the free-agent signing of Duce Staley, who spent most of his Steelers career standing around on the sidelines in sweatpants.
While the Steelers have never been a team that throws the ball 600 times over the course of a season, they have been, since Roethlisberger arrived, a pass-first team. Meaning, they throw the ball early, build a big lead, and then run the football all over you in the second half. It's his team.
If you go with the objective facts -- that O'Connor provides for you! -- the easy answer is Roethlisberger. Certainly, it's your right to choose Manning, but I think you're making the wrong choice. And if you don't believe me, perhaps you'll believe the good folks over at Cold Hard Football Facts.
The Steelers and Giants, by the way, play each other this Sunday. Should be a great game, and I have no idea what's going to happen. The Steelers may win. The Giants may win. But regardless, I'll probably have no voice on Monday.