Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Mike Florio, You're Breaking Our Hearts

We had the pleasure of hearing our friend (metaphorically speaking) Mike Florio, of Pro Football Talk, on The Dan Patrick Show Tuesday morning; and during the conversation between Mike and Dan there came a point during which Mr. Florio (which is what all his "friends" call him) stated that he believes that Eli Manning is a better quarterback -- today, right now -- than Ben Roethlisberger.

Our immediate reaction was to wonder if Mr. Florio had taken to drinking before lunch. Eli Manning over Ben Roethliseberger?!? Oh no he didn't.

But yes, he did. So, as we so often do, we decided to take a look at the numbers of these two Super Bowl winning QBs certain that Mr. Roethlisberger were be revealed as the superior signal caller.

It's funny how things work out some times.

We'll take this season-by-season, separating the regular seasons from the postseasons, and finishing up with *gulp* a comparison of their respective Super Bowl performances.

First, here are the numbers each compiled in 2004, their rookie seasons:

Pass Att.Comp.Passing YdsTdsINTsQB Rating
Ben Roethlisberger2951962,621171198.2
Eli Manning197951,0436955.5

The early season injury to Tommy Maddox thrust Ben Roethlisberger into the starting position, while Eli Manning shared duties with Kurt Warner. The Steelers used a dominant running game to alleviate pressure on their young quarterback, while Mr. Manning, to put it kindly, struggled.

Now here are the numbers for the 2005 regular season:

Pass Att.Comp.Passing YdsTdsINTsQB Rating
Ben Roethlisberger2681682,38517998.6
Eli Manning5572943,762241775.9

For Mr. Roethlisberger 2005 was more of the same, while Mr. Manning assumed the role of starter for the first time (and did a reasonably good job).

Here's the 2006 regular season:

Pass Att.Comp.Passing YdsTdsINTsQB Rating
Ben Roethlisberger4692803,513182375.4
Eli Manning5223013,244241877.0

The post-accident season was something of a disaster for Ben Roethlisberger; however his numbers are still comparable to those of Mr. Manning -- except where it matters most, touchdowns and interceptions. In that regard Mr. Manning's season was clearly superior. At this point in their careers Mr. Manning had already become an adequate passer while Mr. Roethlisberger struggled mightily once he had to throw more than 300 passes in a season.

And now, here are the numbers for the 2007 regular season:

Pass Att.Comp.Passing YdsTdsINTsQB Rating
Ben Roethlisberger4042643,1543211104.1
Eli Manning5292973,336232073.9

It would never happen of course, but Ben Roethlisberger really deserved some consideration for Comeback Player of the Year. His numbers are simply superior to Eli Manning's.

Before getting into playoff numbers, it is important to give Eli Manning credit in one area -- he has led his team to the playoffs each season in which he has been the starting quarterback. While Mr. Roethlisberger has done so in three out of four seasons, his abysmal performance during most of the 2006 season resulted in missing out on postseason play. With that in mind, here are the per game average postseason numbers (Mr. Roehtlisberger has played in seven postseason games in his career, Mr. Manning six) for both quarterbacks (to calculate the QB rating, decimals were rounded to the nearest whole number):

Pass Att.Comp.Passing YdsTdsINTsQB Rating
Ben Roethlisberger2716.862211.711.5782.47
Eli Manning27.3316.331881.330.8377.39

On the whole Ben Roethlisberger's numbers are slightly better -- again.

Naturally, all of this talk about how good Eli Manning is, or may be, is the result of his MVP performance (and, as a side note -- wasn't the defensive front of the Giants really the MVP?) in Super Bowl XLII. While the aggregated numbers above include the Super Bowl performances of both players, it seems relevant to look at those individually (i.e. Ben Roethliberger's numbers from Super Bowl XL, and Mr. Manning's from XLII). For Steelers' fans the comparison isn't pretty:

Pass Att.Comp.Passing YdsTdsINTsQB Rating
Ben Roethlisberger22101580232.01
Eli Manning34192552187.25

Does the phrase "no comparison" mean anything to you? It is fair to note that Mr. Roethlisberger's big moment came at the end of his second season in the league while Mr. Manning's came in his fourth; but putrid is putrid. All Steelers fans can recollect that sick feeling of watching their QB flail about, and that the only touchdown pass came from a wide receiver.

So what's it all mean? Frankly (and this is a testament to the myopic way we follow the Steelers, at the exclusion of all others) we were surprised that Mr. Manning's numbers were as good as they are. Given that most media reports involve Mr. Manning's name being linked to phrases like "hot seat" or "disappointment" we expected something much different.

Ultimately, these two contemporaries have produced similar results; so if you think that Ben Roethlisberger is better than Eli Manning there isn't necessarily anything that will challenge that assumption -- and the same holds true if you, like Mike Florio -- believe that Eli is the superior quarterback.

One thing is for certain: the discussion is sure to heat-up next season when the Giants and Steelers meet in Pittsburgh

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