Indulge me in a little break from playing GM or talking about ficticious dead girlfriends...
"Who was the greatest QB of all time" is debate topic that will never go away as long as football is being played. Come playoff time the topic of "greatest QBs" gets a lot of air and is so overlbown in my opinion. Brady, Manning - the media loves these guys - I get it - but what do you look at when weighing in on these discussions? You hear all the time - "unless he has a SB ring, he can't be the greatest" - and I'm not sure that is fair. I don't like this argument because if you are going to go there then you have to be prepared to say Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, Mark Rypien, Jim Plunkett, Doug Williams, Joe Thesiman, Jeff Hostetler, etc were better than Marino, Fouts and Jim Kelly. You also have to be prepared to say Griese was better than Marino - hope I don't trigger a generational debate here
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What about rule changes and how the game has evolved to make passing easier today than it was yesterday? Would it surprise you to learn Johnny Unitas' career QB rating was about a 76? By today's standards, he would look like Chad Henne - or worse. Given that (a) I don't think you can compare QBs over eras and (b) I don't buy into the SB winning thing (football is a team sport) I got to thinking that there are two types of great QBs:
1. The surgeon - a QB that methodically picks you apart and works his coach's system to near perfection. Doesn't or can't "will" his team to victory without a great supporting cast and great execution. If we go by decade, I believe you have:
1960's: Bart Starr
1970's: Bob Griese
1980's: Joe Montana
1990's: Troy Aikman
2000's: Tom Brady
2010's: Tom Brady (unfortunately still)
2. The executioner - a QB that "was the system" and was a threat to score on any throw from anywhere on the field. A real game-breaker who couldn't be stopped even when you knew he was throwing the ball - and where he was throwing it to. Can "will" his team to victory - won a lot of games in the final minutes that his team probably should have lost. By decade, my picks are:
1960's: Johnny Unitas
1970's: Terry Bradshaw
1980's: Dan Marino
1990's: Brett Favre
2000's: Peyton Manning
2010's: Aaron Rogers
I think the surgeons were guys who needed a system built for them (Montana may be the exception), while group no 2 could make any team competitive instantly.
Note: a lot of great QBs missing here - e.g., Elway - decided I could only pick 1 per decade, per category.
Curious what you guys think of this way of "thinking about the question" of evaluating the best QBs of all time.