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Does Peyton Manning's stats make him greatest QB ever? NFL Unfiltered: Week 7

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In politics, you are either drinking the Kool-Aid or serving up hate; there is little room for any measured thought.     

Question President Barack Obama’s decisions the last six years and you must not like him.  Wonder about former President George W. Bush’s motives in his pursuit of Saddam Hussein, and it is simply blind liberalism.    

Unfortunately, pro football is no different, but let’s try anyway.    Peyton Manning photo: USAToday.com

Sunday night, the Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning showed again why he is far and away the greatest regular season quarterback in the history of the National Football League. That is no small feat, considering the number of superb performers recently seen in this the age of the forward pass.  

But Manning, and all his Most Valuable Player awards, statistics and milestones leads to an interesting question: If you had to win one football game and you could choose any quarterback from any era, who would you choose?  

If you answered Manning, you either bathe in numbers from a venerable lifetime of playing fantasy football, your last name IS Manning, or you’re just not paying enough attention.  

Still, every time Manning rewrites the NFL record book, most media and fans choose to conveniently ignore his shortcomings.  And while this is not meant to lessen the impact of his 510th touchdown pass or suggest he is not a top-10 all-time signal-caller, it is however, a gentle reminder that he is not the NFL’s version of Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods.  Not even close.  

He isn’t John Elway, Joe Montana or Johnny Unitas, either.  

He is merely an incredibly popular, largely successful player, who, if we’re being honest, has disappointed in the playoffs.  

Perhaps it isn’t about Manning.  Maybe the problem lies in how we judge NFL quarterbacks.  

For example, the ills of the New Orleans Saints—now 2-4—are related to their defensive deficiencies, injuries or a plain lack of talent. The same is true for New England’s Tom Brady.  We conveniently overlook the throws they miss and the terrible interceptions they throw.     

Yet, when they throw for 350 yards and 4 TD’s, the narrative centers on their greatness.  

Conversely, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson are merely caretakers, riding the coattails of great coaching, superb defenses and otherworldly running games.  

Well, which is it?  What then, should we believe? Is Manning a victim of NFL circumstances, or is he the guy you simply cannot trust in the most important moments?  

In my view, the answer is clearly the latter.  

You see, something happens to Manning when he doesn’t know all the answers to a football exam.  He just isn’t the same player when the openings he saw in film study fail to materialize on game day.  

Simply put, sometimes a football game breaks out while Manning is playing chess and when that happens, he often wilts. It is part of his athletic DNA and has been since his halcyon days at the University of Tennessee.  

Again, this does not come from a place of hate.  It is merely another point of view during one of those moments when we cherry-pick the good things from an athlete’s career.  

Peyton Manning is Mr. Fall, but his résumé also includes many harsh winters. That is indisputable.  

Not even 600 career touchdown passes changes that.  

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THINGS THE PUNDITS CAN’T OR WON’T SAY: Week 7

-It’s funny, when the Detroit Lions looked like they were good for about 15 minutes during the 2011 season, their coach, Jim Schwartz, received a lot of credit.  Now that they are playing well again, there is very little fanfare for Jim Caldwell.  He is doing a good job.  

-Speaking of Caldwell, the Lions are second in points allowed and first in yards against. Strange, considering Caldwell’s background is offense.  Meanwhile, Schwartz’s teams never managed a ranking higher than 13th in either category, despite his defensive know-how.  

-Atlanta Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank has an interesting decision to make at season’s end between his general manager (Thomas Dimitroff) and his coach (Mike Smith).  Both have a hand in the team’s abrupt fall into NFL irrelevance. To me, Smith is like all the rest, but Dimitroff’s signature trade ruined the Falcons.  

-It is unfair to call Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback Alex Smith a game manager, but it is very fair to call him boring.  He plays the game exactly like his public persona: carefully crafted.  

-Dallas Cowboys tailback DeMarco Murray could gain 2,500 yards rushing and he still wouldn’t matter more than quarterback Tony Romo.  His health is the key to Dallas’ season.  

-It is easy to dismiss the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, but each team is still more trustworthy than any other in the NFC.  They are too good and too experienced to simply go away.  

-The NFL is as much about a player’s floor as it is his ceiling, and Cincinnati Bengals' quarterback Andy Dalton’s floor is somewhere just above China.  

-Miami’s Charles Clay belongs on any list of the league’s top-10 tight ends.  Ignore the statistics and watch the games. He is a really good football player.  

-One of the biggest mistakes teams make is ignoring a player’s poor instincts.  Size, speed and strength never makes up for an inherent lack of feel for the game. For proof, just watch San Francisco’s Vernon Davis.  

-Remember when Chicago coach Marc Trestman had the intellect to get the best from quarterback Jay Cutler?

 

Earl Myers is a freelance writer from the Philadelphia area.  He closely follows North America's four major sports leagues but just about any sporting event gets his attention.  His goal is to provoke a little thought in his readers.

Contact Earl at emyersiii@hotmail.com

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Peyton Manning photo: USAToday.com