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The GOAT Index: NFL coaches, execs rank best QBs since 1978play

Has Brady knocked off Montana as the GOAT? (1:54)According to Will Cain, Tom Brady is not only the best quarterback in NFL history, but he is the best football player ever. (1:54)CloseESPN Insider NFL columnist and blogger

Covered the NFL since 1998

Member of Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committeeFollow on Twitter

FacebookTwitterFacebook MessengerPinterestEmailprintcommentIt takes an all time great voting panel to rank the greatest NFL quarterbacks of the modern era. We have assembled one of those, which might be the last time everyone reading this treatise nods in solidarity.

Pete Carroll, Tony Dungy, Mike Holmgren, Howard Mudd, Wade Phillips, Mike Reinfeldt, Ray Rhodes, Mike Shanahan, Al Saunders and Norv Turner possess a combined 330 seasons of NFL experience. All 10 are Super Bowl champions, having combined for 20 rings in 30 opportunities.

The 10 bejeweled members of this exalted NFL tribunal agreed to rank their top 10 quarterbacks since 1978 more on the time frame in a moment while discussing the various quarterbacks on the record.

Editor’s PicksNFL Insiders settle all time QB debatesWill Aaron Rodgers catch Tom Brady as the GOAT? Should Peyton Manning rank higher than Joe Montana? NFL Insiders tackle the biggest questions about the best modern era QBs.

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Panelists received an information packet with stats and career accolades for quarterbacks who were Hall of Famers, likely future Hall of Famers or highly ranked in major statistical categories since 1978, when the NFL ushered in a new era by changing blocking and coverage rules to open up the passing game. Panelists were instructed to use their own criteria.

This exercise was more like completing a deep out into the teeth of the blitz than checking it down to the halfback underneath a soft zone.

“I went ‘round and ‘round and ‘round,” Turner said. “I probably had 20 lists, and then you feel like, when you’re done,
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you’re leaving someone out to get it to 10.”

Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw and Ken Stabler were notable players excluded from the survey because some of their most significant seasons fell before the 1978 cutoff. Hall of Famer Dan Fouts also played extensively before 1978. He was included in the survey because his career took off beginning in 1978, when Don Coryell took over as the San Diego Chargers’ head coach.

Final rankings were determined by how frequently each quarterback outranked the others who received votes across all 10 ballots call it the GOAT Index. For example, Tom Brady was ranked above the other QBs 87 percent of the time. Peyton Manning (80 percent) and Joe Montana (78) were next, followed by John Elway (67 percent), Aaron Rodgers (56) and so on. But enough on the math. Let’s get to the best QBs of the past four decades!

Note: Italics denote my commentary below. I didn’t vote in the survey. Read through the full file, or jump to your favorite QB using the quick links below.1. TOM BRADYGOAT Index: 86.7 percent Highest rank: 1 Lowest rank: 6Mike Shanahan on Tom Brady: “Five Super Bowl wins, especially the way he has won them. What more can you say about the guy?” Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesBrady was first or second on nine ballots, making him a pretty overwhelming choice for the top spot. Dungy threw an interesting curveball. He approached the project as if he were a defensive coordinator drawing up a game plan. Dungy saw skilled passers across the board when looking at the best QBs. He reasoned that those who also were dangerous runners were the toughest quarterbacks to stop, which is why his top three comprised John Elway, Steve Young and Aaron Rodgers. Brady might own the best career credentials, but those other guys presented additional challenges. Not that anyone was going to argue against Brady.

Wade Phillips, three time NFL head coach who entered the league in 1976 and coached both Elway and Jim Kelly: Tom Brady is easy for me. He is such a winner. They haven’t always had great defenses, and they have still won an unbelievable amount of games and the championships and so forth. I just think he’s the hardest to defend against. It doesn’t matter who their receivers are. Bradshaw was a little that way. Tom Brady is just the best our teams have ever played against.

Tony Dungy, Hall of Fame coach who debuted in the NFL as a player in 1977: It can be tough to separate the great quarterback from the great coach. We have seen this in every era: Otto Graham and Paul Brown, Bart Starr and Vince Lombardi, Johnny Unitas and Don Shula/Weeb Ewbank, Terry Bradshaw and Chuck Noll, Joe Montana/Steve Young and Bill Walsh. I don’t think Bill Belichick would be Bill Belichick without Tom Brady, and Brady would not have the same success without Belichick and the way they have put that team together. But the one common thread through 15 years was Brady. When they had him, they won big won championships. The quarterback has so much to do with it.
calzados ugg execs rank the best quarterbacks of the modern era