Is Tom Brady the Best Quarterback Ever?

Few passers could place a ball more perfectly than Walsh's hand-picked quarterback. In 1989, Montana completed 70.2 percent of his passes while averaging 9.1 yards per attempt, nearly a yard more per attempt than Brady has averaged this season.

"On a hook route, which the West Coast offense is noted for, there are times when you need to hit the left shoulder or the right shoulder because the defender is close on the other shoulder, so you throw it a little bit inside or a little bit outside," Kennan said. "And I thought Montana was phenomenal at that."

Montana completed 63.2 percent of his passes for his career. Brady has completed 63 percent, including nearly 69 percent this season. Montana's successor, Young, completed 64.3 percent.

"Another route that is really difficult to throw is when the running back runs parallel to the line of scrimmage and you have to turn and throw it to him in the backfield and make it an accurate throw," Kennan said.

"Montana was uncannily accurate with that. He threw it about a foot in front of the receiver, who caught it on the dead run and gained 15 yards, where if he threw it a little bit behind him, it would have gained 3 yards."


Where Brady fits: Experts lauded Brady for adjusting velocity as needed. They did not consider him a hard thrower in the tradition of Bradshaw or Elway.

Bradshaw and Elway might have thrown harder than any of the other great quarterbacks. Aikman could, and Favre can, fire downfield without many limitations.

"They could throw it as far as they wanted, as hard as they wanted, with very little effort," Haley said.

Receivers who caught Elway's passes against their chests instead of with their hands suffered markings left by the tip of the ball. The so-called "Elway cross" became part of the quarterback's legend.

Bradshaw once threw a pass in practice that bounced off the turf, traveled off the field and struck Rooney in the lower leg. The impact, although dampened by having struck the ground, left a nasty welt.

"I've never met a quarterback who doesn't say, 'Oh, I could have gotten that one in there,'" Meyer said. "Bradshaw was a guy who could throw it in there and get it in there. He was a powerful, powerful thrower."

Velocity means more than simply throwing the ball hard or over long distances. Haley recalled watching Marino come up surprisingly short during a televised skills competition featuring deep throws. Not that it mattered.

"Throwing from point A to point B, 20 or 25 yards, probably nobody got it there quicker because [of] the release quickness and the velocity through the short and medium areas," Haley said. "If you threw it early like Stabler or Marino, they didn't have to throw it 70 yards. They threw it when it had to be thrown, and that's what it's all about."


Where Brady fits: Brady gets rid of the ball quickly and his motion is efficient, experts said, but they did not consider him one of the great quick-release quarterbacks.

Marino and Namath set the standard in this category, which Kennan defined as "the time between when you make the decision to throw and the ball actually leaves your hand."

Quarterbacks with quick releases can hold the ball longer, giving their receivers more time to get open. Just as Joe Louis could knock out an opponent with a 6-inch punch, quarterbacks with quick releases can fire the ball without much of a windup.

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