Blog Entry

Eli can (and will?) be better than Peyton

Posted on: February 2, 2012 1:53 am
Peyton might be congratulating Eli for a few different reasons at some point. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- There's a fun little theory floating around Indy this week: Eli Manning will be better than Peyton Manning if he wins his second Super Bowl. That's ridiculous. Peyton's better, and it's not close. But Eli can be better, and there's a good chance he will when everything's said and done.

This isn't meant to disparage Peyton, because he's the face of this town and arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history. Quarterback wins -- and Super Bowl wins especially -- are a superficial stat designed to skew reality. Instead, let's focus (somewhat hypocritically?) on the possibility that Eli could catch Peyton in the all-important counting stats like passing yards, touchdowns and, um, wins.

Quick warning: if you're not a fan of hypotheticals, and hate the idea of averaging out quarterback success based on historical performance, go ahead and skip to the comments and call me a jerk.

Here are their stats as it stands today:

Manning Bro
Passing Yards
54,828 399/198 141-67
27,579 185-129 69-50

It's not a contest. Hopefully even non-math majors can figure that out. But Peyton's also four years older than Eli, and spent an additional year in the league as a starter; Eli started just seven games his rookie year (Peyton got all 16).

They combined to win just four of those 23 games, but that's beside the point -- Peyton threw for 3,739 yards in his 16 starts while Eli threw for just 1,043 in his seven. Eli would've compiled just 2,384 yards if he played a full rookie season based on those averages. Peyton set the record for most attempts by a rookie (and had the most attempts in 1998 by any quarterback in the NFL) until Sam Bradford broke it in 2010. He had the record for most passing yards by a rookie until Cam Newton shattered it in 2011.

Espouse the whole "Peyton was more ready" argument you want, but it's silly. Eli didn't start, and Peyton won all of three games. The Colts were dreadful, so it's a pointless argument. Peyton also led the league in interceptions.

Whatever, let's wipe away their rookie season and see what they average over the course of their career, understanding that Eli needs to literally double up his passing yards and wins to catch Peyton and not lead the league in interceptions like he has two times in his career. Peyton did that just once: his rookie season.

Manning Bro
Average Pass Yards
Average TD/INT
Average W-L
4,257 31/14 11.5/4.5
3,791 26/17 9.7/6.3

Peyton in a landslide, right? Yes indeed, in so far as career goes. But things are more interesting than just "Peyton's season numbers crush Eli's." Because they do; that much is obvious with just a glance above.

But what happens if Peyton retires now? This is a very realistic, albeit not technically discussed, scenario. Were that to happen, Eli would need 7.19 years of his "average" (sans his rookie year) play to catch Peyton in total passing yards. In other words, Eli needs to average 3,791 passing yards per season for seven years to catch Peyton. It would take him 8.23 years to catch Peyton in touchdowns. And it would take 7.42 years for him to catch Peyton in wins.

It's not remotely realistic to assume that "Eli's career length = Peyton's career length," but we can at least run with the idea that these two guys, who happen to be brothers, will have similar career paths. Right? Right.

If Eli played the exact length of Peyton's career (right around four-something years), he'd be pretty freaking close in terms of all these statistics. He might -- again, might -- also have two Super Bowls.

Perhaps the most interesting comparison involves the last three years of Eli's play. In that time, he was 28, 29 and 30 years old. Let's get all "Player A and Player B" on you for this one:

Manning Bro
Avg Passing Yards
Manning Bro A
4,319 29/18 9.0/7.0
Manning Bro B
4,190 35/10 12.7/3.3

You probably figured it out from the win totals, I hope, but "Bro A" is Eli and "Bro B" is Peyton. Or maybe it was the interceptions, since Eli honked 25 of them in 2009. But passing yards? That's a stat that matters when people like to make objective arguments, and it's one that Eli's starting to win in his prime.

This is where it gets really fascinating to me. Peyton had, statistically speaking, the second-best year of his career in 2010. He threw for the most passing yards (4,700) in his tenure, and he threw for 33 touchdowns, which ties for the second-most teeters he's thrown, along with 2009 and 2000. (He threw for a stupid 49 in 2004.)

Eli's clearly coming into his own right now, and he's starting to hit his prime. And you realize that Peyton got better after those three years right? A combination of quarterback-friendly rules, high-octane offenses and his own abilities as a quarterback made his lowest passing total since 2006 4,002 yards. Eli laughs at that. Or, at least, Manning Bro A laughs at that.

It's just not that insane to assume that Eli, younger brother of Peyton, will enjoy a similar career arc to his big brother. And from there, the leap to realize that Eli could be better just isn't that big a jump.

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Since: Sep 29, 2006
Posted on: February 3, 2012 8:13 am

Eli can (and will?) be better than Peyton

Tom Brady has more championships, but Brady has the better overall passing stats.
Sorry, I meant to say that Peyton Manning has the better overall passing stats. 

Since: Mar 10, 2009
Posted on: February 3, 2012 8:11 am

Eli can (and will?) be better than Peyton

finally a NYG fan who thinks with logic and common sense on this subject!

p6 is dead on, when it's all said and done, Eli will have earned himself some nice accolades and praise, but best ever ? come on now. get your heads out of the sand you tunnel visioned NYG marks/smarks/fanboys/fangirls. 

it's plain as day that Peyton will go down as one of the most prolific QB's to ever lace up cleats....Eli on the other hand, isn't in that category, he's more along the lines of, pats on the back, a few more accolades to add to his resume, and some well deserved praise for what he accomplished, but he still falls short in the discussion of " Best QB's of ALL time ", and that is fact, whether he wins ring 2 or not, a SB ring does not make a career, if it did, then we wouldn't call Dan Marino one of the greatest QB's of all time, which many do still to this day 

Since: Sep 29, 2006
Posted on: February 3, 2012 8:11 am

Eli can (and will?) be better than Peyton

The dynamics of football is very complicated to comparably evaluate quarterbacks on an even keel.  For years many fans have tried to compare Peyton Manning to Tom Brady on who is the best of all time.  Tom Brady has more championships, but Brady has the better overall passing stats.  However, no 2 quarterbacks will take the same road to the Hall of Fame, and that is what makes being an NFL fan so much fun.  Some QBs could do it with their legs, and others could play consecutive games for many seasons without getting hurt (aka Brett Favre).  However, no QB will have identical statistics to another throughout their career.  I know the Peyton and Eli share common blood as brothers, but their careers will be judged in different ways because they play for two different teams with different coaches and playing styles.  Therefore, let me say that it is kind of useless to track their stats to see if they can be comparable.  In my opinion, they are both elite quarterbacks who have taken their teams to a Super Bowl VICTORY, and that is one of the most important things to look at.  In fact, I hope they make two statues that stand next to each other symbolizing their great talent with their ties as brothers.  With that said, I think it is time to end the brother comparisons and just give Eli Manning props for the wonderful job he did in leading the NY Giants to the Super Bowl this year.

Since: Aug 27, 2006
Posted on: February 3, 2012 5:24 am

Eli can (and will?) be better than Peyton

silly... plan silly. and i'm an giant and eli fan.

not in the same category... eli is a great player, but not one of the best ever. When all is said and done, his accomplishments may get him some very well deserved praise, but, he's not his brother.

Since: Sep 15, 2006
Posted on: February 3, 2012 2:28 am

Eli can (and will?) be better than Peyton

Is anyone else INFURIATED that the media is even entertaining the debate of whether Eli might be better than Peyton? Do you think Peyton just watches ESPN "analysts" prattle on about this with his jaw on the floor and an incredulous look in his eye?

This is literally the ONLY SEASON OF ELI'S CAREER in which anyone has even bothered to POSE the question of whether he might be better than Peyton, and Peyton HASN'T PLAYED A SINGLE GAME. If Peyton had played this season and led the awful, awful Colts to ten wins, would we be having this discussion? NOT A CHANCE. It's like everyone forgot how ridiculous it is to watch Peyton Manning manage to turn Joseph Addai, an 80-year-old Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon, and Dallas Clark into an elite offense.

Forget comparing him to Peyton, has anyone ever even tried to argue that Eli is the top quarterback in the NFL? Or even top 3? Even this season, no pundit would have argued with the assessment that Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees were all better than Eli. Peyton has been an automatic and warranted inclusion in the "top quarterback" debate for the last decade! Eli threw 25 interceptions last year! IS ANYONE EVEN PAYING ATTENTION ANYMORE!?!?

You realize that the crux of this article rests on the assumption that Peyton will retire this offseason, that Eli will go on to play at least three more years in the league than Peyton did, and that Eli will maintain the success he's had over the last few seasons, right? Those are some big assumptions.

But really, the most ridiculous sentence in this article is, "It's just not that insane to assume that Eli, younger brother of Peyton, will enjoy a similar career arc to his big brother." Really? Isn't it? Consider that Eli has NEVER EVER had a better season than Peyton in a year in which both played! NOT ONCE. 

The media drives me nuts. I'm so tired of them making up stories just so they have something to talk about, and trying to be controversial so they can draw in more viewers. I hope Eli throws 7 interceptions on Sunday and the Giants are forced to re-sign Jared Lorenzen mid-game to take over.

Since: Mar 2, 2007
Posted on: February 3, 2012 2:21 am

Eli can (and will?) be better than Peyton

Better at what? Stats! I like Eli and I like Payton the same as far as people go. But Payton as a player, whether the the stats support him or not is Far, FAR, past Eli. Payton is more of leader but not by much but his style in the backfield is ito NONE and it work great with the players and the fans. Payton is so, so more involed with the on the offensive side of the ball and is a true motivator to other players. I ahve seen this in Eli as well but to a lesser degree. My bottom line is that Payton as it stands right now is much further ahead than Eli but Eli has not been in the league aas long. You say "Eli can (and will) be better than Payton". From what I have seen so far, Payton is going to be tough to be outdone. I think quite out of site right now.

Since: Sep 28, 2009
Posted on: February 3, 2012 12:25 am

Eli can (and will?) be better than Peyton

Having a mixed bag at any position does not always take the blame off of the qb for throwing interceptions, which Eli has done at a good clip his entire career.
"COME ON MAN!!"  Not even close....Peyton any day and twice on Sunday (especially Sunday)

Since: Jan 22, 2007
Posted on: February 2, 2012 10:58 pm

Eli can (and will?) be better than Peyton

MVP by itself isn't a very good criteria, because at least two of Peyton Manning's, imo, were fairly questionable (critique fan voting if you want; press voting isn't some almighty, infallible process, either).  His 2008 MVP, in particular, never really sat all that well with me; you can argue he was only the third best quarterback that year. It's not something that can be dismissed entirely, but by itself it's honestly not something I put all that much stock in.

That said, anyone who thinks Eli is better than Peyton in any way, shape, or form is smoking something.  Peyton's been in the top 2-3 quarterbacks in this league (at worst) for the better part of a decade.  Eli, not even top five.

Since: Dec 1, 2006
Posted on: February 2, 2012 10:43 pm

Dome, no dome

i think not enough is spent talking about the dome, adds so much to payton. Try playing in the cold windy giants stadium.

Since: Aug 28, 2011
Posted on: February 2, 2012 8:59 pm

Eli can (and will?) be better than Peyton

Peyton Manning was given the second greatest route runner ever in Marvin Harrison and a healthy Edgerrin James early on then they added Reggie Wayne to his arsenal with the Coltsl. Eli has done wonders with previously little known young receivers in his time with the Giants. Most importantly, Peyton played in Indiana while Eli is under the scrutiny of the harshest critics in the world. Peyton is a better natural talent but Eli has proven mentally stronger and keeps improving.

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