All the talk this week of Peyton Manning being one-and-done eight times in his playoff career got me thinking. All the talk the past five years of Joe Flacco never being one-and-done in his playoff career has gotten me angry.
Flacco is mercifully absent from the playoffs this year, his regular season woes finally catching up to him now that the Ravens defense has deteriorated and can’t cover for Flacco’s offensive follies anymore. But the idea of what Manning’s playoff record would be if he too made his living by feasting on wild card round cupcakes before playing real teams in the divisional and championship rounds is fun to play with.
I went through each QB who has won a Super Bowl since the 2003 season and have compiled each of their records to include an additional win every time his team has gotten a bye week into the divisional round. What, you don’t think Manning’s ’12 Broncos could have thumped Andrew Luck’s Colts the way Flacco’s Ravens did? Please.
So, chalking up a win to each QB when their team gets a bye, here are some records. Under this model, one-and-dones are really only for when a QB and his team lose in the wild card round. I understand that’s not the way we see things and why the narrative of Manning’s one-and-dones is so prevalent come playoff time, but for the sake of this exercise, let’s say these free wild card round wins and automatic entrance to the second round are enough to disqualify the one-and-done label.
The altered records and notes first, including this season, with real records and notes in parentheses:
P. Manning: 15-11, only four one-and-dones (9-11, eight one-and-dones)
Flacco: 10-4, no one-and-dones (9-4, no one-and-dones)
E. Manning: 9-3, two one-and-dones (8-3, three one-and-dones)
Brees: 8-4, two one-and-dones (6-4, two one-and-dones)
Rodgers: 6-4, two one-and-dones (5-4, three one-and-dones)
Roethlisberger: 13-4, two one-and-dones (10-4, two one-and-dones)
Brady: 25-7, one one-and-done (17-7, two one-and-dones)
This is far from scientific, but let’s pull some numbers and see what we can find:
–The regular season dominance of (Peyton, obviously) Manning and Brady is jarring. The two have combined for 14 bye weeks. The other guys on the list have combined for a total of eight bye weeks. In making a case for Manning and Brady being the two best quarterbacks of their (or any other) generation, this stat alone is enough to win the argument.
–Manning’s postseason record has suffered by virtue of his regular season consistency. People will clamor about Eli’s eight postseason wins, but two of those were wild card cake walks. Had Eli been a great regular season player, his team would have gotten the bye. But he gets credit for the win, while Peyton gets chastised for earning a bye. Yes, Peyton certainly deserves blame for not coming through, but speaking purely in terms of records, Eli’s is slightly inflated while Peyton’s is slightly misleading.
–Roethlisberger is underrated and has been for some time. Each year from 2004 to 2011 he was among the five best quarterbacks in the league, if not the top three. He’s a Hall of Famer by any measure, given his regular and postseason successes. Here’s hoping Pittsburgh revamps their defense enough to give him another shot.
–I like Aaron Rodgers as much as the next guy, but outside of his Super Bowl run in 2010, his only career playoff win came against a quarterback named Joe Webb. Another one-and-done next year and I think people will start talking about this, along with the fact that Mike McCarthy may have run his course in Green Bay.
Again, this is just a fun exercise to play around with the numbers. If we start talking about which quarterback had the best defense, or receiving corp, or coaching staff, or anything like that, we’d be here all day.
And until that day, let’s appreciate this divisional round for what it is. The eight best teams and eight of the best quarterbacks. The young guys trying to outpace the old guys. NFC West vs. NFC South. And for the love of Vince Lombardi, you will never see Pete Carroll and Ron Rivera earn first round byes in the same conference ever again. Enjoy the weekend.