Is Tom Brady the best postseason QB ever? Photo Credit: Getty Images
By: Joe Quinn
Ranking QB's can be a tricky business.
After yet another dominating win on Sunday, Tom Brady added yet another milestone stat to his trophy case - most postseason wins by a starting QB (17).
It would be easy to call Brady the king of the playoffs on the surface, but what makes a good postseason QB? Is it wins? Or is it rings? Eye popping stats? Winning percentage?
Lets dig a little deeper and see where Mr. Brady stacks up in comparison to some of the other all-time greats, based on the numbers beyond just number of wins.
Since we can't look at every QB to have played in the postseason (who has that kind of time), I had to come up with some sort of criteria for a cut off. For the sake of time, we'll only look at QB's that have played in at least four Superbowls, or have at least three wins. That narrows down the list to just seven:
Tom Brady, John Elway, Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Jim Kelly and Troy Aikman.
You could probably make a case too add a few more, but thats the list we'll go with. Since winning Lombardi Trophies and collecting rings is the ultimate goal of the playoffs, we'll assume anyone that doesn't fit this criteria is going to fall just a bit short of these seven.
One more note, an honorable mention to Bart Starr, who actually won 5 titles, but three came in the pre-Superbowl era. To keep things fair, his Superbowl record of 2-0 makes him fall just short.
To try and get an objective answer, we'll take a look at a variety of categories (post season wins, rings, postseason stats, etc.), and rank each QB 1-7. The top man gets 1 point, the last place QB 7 points, and just like golf, lowest score wins.
Postseason Wins / Winning PCT
1. Tom Brady (17-6, .739)
2. Joe Montana (16-7, .696)
3. Terry Bradshaw (14-5, .737)
4. Troy Aikman (11-4, .733)
5. John Elway (14-7, .667)
6. Roger Staubach (11-6, .647)
7. Jim Kelly (9-8, .529)
Brady is the clear winner here, the most postseason wins with the best winning pct among the seven finalists. You can debate Aikman vs. Elway, but Aikman's winning pct is far superior, despite a few less total wins.
1. Joe Montana (4-0)
1. Terry Bradshaw (4-0)
3. Tom Brady (3-2)
4. Troy Aikman (3-0)
5. John Elway (2-3)
6. Roger Staubach (2-3)
7. Jim Kelly (0-4)
You really can't knock Montana or Bradshaw they both get top marks for going 4-0. Brady could move up the list with another win. Aikman gets the slight edge over Elway after going 3-0, and Kelly clearly brings up the rear...Buffalo fans are still reeling.
Postseason Stat Line
1. Tom Brady - 5629 yds, 41 TD, 20 INT - 89.1 rating
2. Joe Montana - 5772 yds, 45 TD, 21 INT - 95.6 rating
3. John Elway - 4964 yds, 27 TD, 21 INT - 79.7 rating
4. Terry Bradshaw -3833 yds, 30 TD, 26 INT - 83.0 rating
5. Troy Aikman - 3849 yds, 23 TD, 17 INT - 88.3 rating
6. Roger Staubach - 2791 yds, 24 TD, 19 INT - 76.0 rating
7. Jim Kelly - 3863 yds, 21 TD, 28 INT - 72.3 rating
Here's where it gets pretty subjective - you have to remember that Bradshaw's NFL is much different than Brady's. Although Montana's overall number are slightly better than Brady's, give Brady one more game (which he'll get next weekend), and the yardage and TD records will be his as well.
Superbowl Stat Line
1. Joe Montana - 127.83 rating, 83/122 comp, 1142 yds, 11 TD
2. Terry Bradshaw - 112.8 rating, 11.0 ypp, 9 TD, 932 yds
3. Troy Aikman - 70.0% comp rate, 5 TD, 689 yds
4. Tom Brady - 128/198 comp, 1284 yds, 9 TD
5. Roger Staubach - 62.9% comp rate, 8 TD, 734 yds
6. John Elway - 76/152 comp, 1128 yds,
7. Jim Kelly - 829 yds, 81/145
Here's where it gets very subjective - no doubt that Montana is the king of the big game, with Bradshaw a close second. Brady and Aikman both have similar numbers (adjusted for the number of games played), but the generational difference gives Aikman the slight edge (who completes 70 percent in the Superbowl!?). Even though Elway played in five games, his numbers just don't jump out. For those that might object to having a second Superbowl category in the rankings, just remember - the best always shine when the spotlight is on.
THE FINAL TALLY:
1. Joe Montana - 6
2. Tom Brady - 9
3. Terry Bradshaw - 10
4. Troy Aikman - 16
5. John Elway - 19
6. Roger Staubach - 23
7. Jim Kelly - 28
Not sure there's a whole lot of drama in the final numbers - while Montana and Bradshaw are the Superbowl kings, Brady is right there in terms of overall postseason performance. The one thing Brady still has going for him is he's still playing, so he'll have a chance to add another trophy or two to the case.
The bottom line, even after shuffling through the stats, Brady is just a small step behind Montana, and a slight step ahead of Bradshaw. One more title (and two more games worth of stats), would likely cement Brady as the best...ever. Not bad for a 6th round draft pick who started out as #4 on New England's depth chart.