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View Full Version : Five Years In - Bradshaw or Big Ben, Who's Better?



fordfixer
05-26-2009, 09:54 AM
May 26, 2009

Five Years In - Bradshaw or Big Ben, Who's Better?

By Matt Loede

http://mvn.com/thesteelpitt/2009/05/fiv ... etter.html (http://mvn.com/thesteelpitt/2009/05/five-years-in---bradshaw-or-big-ben-whos-better.html)

It goes without saying that Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is on his way to one of the most memorable NFL careers in recent history. He is entering his sixth season in 2009, and has two Super Bowl rings on his hand already. He's been very effective as a starter, and since his insertion into the starting lineup back in week three of the 2004 season, it's been a heck of a ride for Big Ben and Steeler fans all over the world.


When you think of quarterbacks in Black and Gold, the obvious comparison of who Ben matches up with is Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw. So with training camp about a month and a half away, it's time to see where Roethlisberger compares when it comes to Bradshaw:

Roethlisberger has been a starter since 2004, and has led the team to four playoff appearances in five seasons, with the only setback being that 2006 season where the team began 2-6 before recovering and finishing 8-8, Bill Cowher's last season as coach. In those five seasons, he has a record of 58-22 as a starter, 8-2 in the playoffs. He has thrown for 101 touchdowns and 69 interceptions to go along with 14,974 yards. He has a QB rating of 89.4. He also has been hampered by a poor O-line, and yet overcame it to win a Super Bowl this past season.

Big Ben's greatest game may have been the Super Bowl this past season, as he led the team to a 27-23 win after the defense gave up a 20-7 fourth quarter lead. With Ben signed for the forseeable future, there is no question that the Steelers will remain as a top team in the AFC. Besides Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, Roethlisberger may be the best QB in the AFC.

Bradshaw after six seasons had also won two Super Bowls, winning one in 1974 and another in 1975. While it took him awhile to finally win the starting QB job from Joe GIlliam, once he got it and never let it go, he got better and better in his career. After six years, Bradshaw was 51-27 overall, 7-2 in the playoffs.

In six seasons, he had thrown 65 touchdowns to go along with 90 interceptions, numbers that by far get blown away by Roethlisberger's first six seasons. He threw for 9579 yards in those first six years. Again, Ben's numbers blow Bradshaw's numbers away in that area, but let's not forget that Terry had Rocky Blier and Franco Harris to hand off to, while Big Ben has had backs like Willie Parker, Jerome Bettis, and now Mewelde Moore.

So it's an interesting comparison this early in Roethlisberger's career. Bradshaw didn't really start to be a dominating QB till the 77 season, and even in his best year - 1979 when the team won their fourth Super Bowl, he threw 25 interceptions to go along with 26 touchdowns.

No question that Bradshaw also had a better running game, as Blier and Harris were two very solid backs. There have been times already in his career that Roethlisberger has had to carry the team on his shoulders. So who is better at this point? I'll go with Roethlisberger, but as we all know, he's got a long way to go to still be the choice as the best QB the Steelers have ever had.

RuthlessBurgher
05-26-2009, 10:04 AM
Those two bums who won only because of their superior defense and running games? :stirpot

If Dan Fouts and Drew Brees had even half-decent defenses, they would easily have a dozen rings between them. :lol:

Oviedo
05-26-2009, 10:31 AM
Ben is the best QB to ever play for the Steelers. He has done what he has done with less talent on the offense than Terry had. Terry had a Hall of Fame RB, two Hall of Fame WRs and a dominant offensive line. Give Ben that and we win at least 4 more Super Bowls.

Djfan
05-26-2009, 11:58 AM
If Dan Fouts and Drew Brees had even half-decent defenses, they would easily have a dozen rings between them. :lol:

Funny you say that. I had a friend who played for the Chargers D back then. The offense was the top rated one in the NFL for a year or so, while the D was the lowest rated one.

That had to suck.

MeetJoeGreene
05-26-2009, 12:02 PM
Ben has proven himself in my mind.

I never like to proclaim someone "the best" or A is above B.

But I would mention Bradshaw and Ben in the same breadth. I am still not sure which one I would draft if they both were on the board.

Bradshaw just had a sick, sick arm in terms of power.

They both were tough and elusive.

Ben is probably a tad better as a leader.

birtikidis
05-26-2009, 01:18 PM
I'd take Terry at that point in their careers. they both have had great teams. but terry was responsible for so much more. would swann and stallworth be hall of famers if they had kordell stewart throwing to him (like Hines?). Would Terry have had better stats in a 16 game season?
both qb's are great, but when ben wins 4 in the same amount of time as terry, then we'll talk.

Jigawatts
05-26-2009, 01:26 PM
If I was to choose right now I'd take Ben because he's younger. :P

steeler_fan_in_t.o.
05-26-2009, 01:37 PM
The numbers become even more lopsided if you give Ben a pass for the disaster that was 2006. I think that it is safe to say that that year was an anomoly for Ben, and for good reason.

7-8 W-L
18 TDs
23 INTs
59.7% completion
75.4 passer rating

TallyStiller
05-26-2009, 04:44 PM
This is an apples to oranges comparison in terms of stats... you've got to remember that the NFL liberalized the pass D rules in 1978 to open up the offense for the TV ratings. Up until then, a DB could basically manhandle an opposing receiver from the snap of the ball. Now, the DB gets one bump within 5 yards of the line. Stickum was legal through Terry's entire career, as well, making it so that a db who could get his hands anywhere NEAR a football was likely to have it adhere to his wrist like a fly to flypaper. Add to that the fact that QB's weren't protected from helmet to helmet hits, below the knee hits, hi/low hits, etc., under the rules like they are today. This is not your father's NFL... and QB's back in the day had to be much tougher mentally and physically than today's guys. Not saying that Ben wouldn't measure up, just that we can't know for sure. I CAN say, though, with a fair degree of certainty, that Jay Cutler would have been run out of the 1970's NFL in about 15 minutes...

ramblinjim
05-26-2009, 05:04 PM
This is an apples to oranges comparison in terms of stats... you've got to remember that the NFL liberalized the pass D rules in 1978 to open up the offense for the TV ratings. Up until then, a DB could basically manhandle an opposing receiver from the snap of the ball. Now, the DB gets one bump within 5 yards of the line. Stickum was legal through Terry's entire career, as well, making it so that a db who could get his hands anywhere NEAR a football was likely to have it adhere to his wrist like a fly to flypaper. Add to that the fact that QB's weren't protected from helmet to helmet hits, below the knee hits, hi/low hits, etc., under the rules like they are today. This is not your father's NFL... and QB's back in the day had to be much tougher mentally and physically than today's guys. Not saying that Ben wouldn't measure up, just that we can't know for sure. I CAN say, though, with a fair degree of certainty, that Jay Cutler would have been run out of the 1970's NFL in about 15 minutes...


Good call on this Tally. It's so hard to compare, the guys today are bigger, stronger and faster. The guys from back then had to endure clothesline and knee spearing tackles.

I think of all the quarterbacks that are playing int he league today, Big Ben may well be the only guy that can handle the kind of beating the quarterbacks took back then. The way he got beat up last year proves that he's a tough SOB.

Mean Joe would have stepped on Cutlers neck until he agreed to leave the NFL. :tt2

fezziwig
05-26-2009, 08:08 PM
I'd probably have to say Ben is the better of the two.

Ben has put a lot of wins on his shoulders due to having less talent around him. Terry had the entire package with Swann, Stallworth, Franco, Blier and probably the best offensive Steeler line along with the best defense known to football.

If you could throw Ben back into the seventies, would he do as well as Terry ? I would have to say yes. I doubt and maybe I'm wrong but, Ben would have probably only won four Super Bowls during that time. Maybe he would have won one more.

How well would Terry do with our current team ?

pfelix73
05-26-2009, 10:27 PM
I'd probably give it to Ben at this point-- Just because Offense in this league has changed so much over the years....yea, you can't compare apples to oranges like someone said.....

As far as Terry having more Offense- maybe towards the end of the run in 1978-79, but not in the beginning. Ben has a lot of Offensive talent on this team- I think more so than Terry did at the same age.

Maybe not as many HOF'ers but overall more talent. Depth at WR, TE, and now RB. And I'll stick up for my OL. They'll only get better from here on out.

:2c

Captain Lemming
05-27-2009, 02:42 AM
First five years?
IT AINT CLOSE.

Do you people even remember how bad Terry was at first?

At this point in their careers Terry had just had his FIRST good season as a QB.
Before that defense and running game carried him.

It took Terry five years to be as good as Ben was AS A ROOKIE.

Terry could lead the league in picks on a “running team”.

We HAD TO rely on our run game because Terry was terrible at first.

For us to pass more with a guy who tended to throw more picks than TDs would have made the team far worse, Terrys bonehead mistake would have cost us more games, and the case for Ben even more compelling.

Terry doesnt sniff a SB in his first 5 seasons with the oline and run game Ben had this year.

Dont give me "the rules changed" stuff.
Sure stat are better today. But Terry was a bad QB compared to his peers who played under the SAME RULES for four season and was benched in season four, the season he won the SB against the Vikes. Terry was the weakest link on an otherwise dominating team that year.

Terry finally got it together in year 5.

Career, yeah you can make a strong case for Terry.

First 5 years, Ben by a landslide.

pfelix73
05-27-2009, 09:42 AM
Agreed. Terry had a rocky start but the finish was awesome.

We'll see where Ben is in 7-8 years from now.....

Crash
05-27-2009, 03:02 PM
Ben.

Terry didn't win until four HOF-ers to be were added in this 5th season.

Ben after five seasons has two rings and 8 playoff wins.

flippy
05-27-2009, 03:31 PM
Ben by a mile.

The NFL's seen nothing like him.

Give him a mulligan for the year he wrecked the bike and Ben's on pace to be the best ever. He's just learning to play the position at this point.

Imagine what he can become!!!!

Wolfhound45
05-29-2009, 10:43 AM
Love my boy from Louisiana. But I gotta give it to Ben. Hands down, better start.

AngryAsian
05-29-2009, 11:13 AM
Scary part is.... he's just now starting to ascend. Once he gets his groove and develops more synergy with an improved O-line, imagine how huge the on-field awareness becomes and subsequent plays. Will surpass Elway in comebacks and equal Bradshaw if not surpass him in SB rings.

ikestops85
05-29-2009, 11:40 AM
I don't know of too many QBs in league history that have been better than Ben has in his first 5 years. I do know Terry wasn't one of them. Remember when fans cheered when Terry got injured and they wanted to see the backup (can't remember if it was Hanratty or Gilliam)? Then, starting in year 5 of his career Terry would make the big plays in the game much the way Ben has been doing.

stlrz d
05-29-2009, 11:49 AM
I don't know of too many QBs in league history that have been better than Ben has in his first 5 years. I do know Terry wasn't one of them. Remember when fans cheered when Terry got injured and they wanted to see the backup (can't remember if it was Hanratty or Gilliam)? Then, starting in year 5 of his career Terry would make the big plays in the game much the way Ben has been doing.

There aren't any. He has the most wins by a QB in his first five years in the league. Brady has the most wins in first five years as a starter...Brady didn't start as a rookie.

pfelix73
05-29-2009, 12:07 PM
The coming years will be the real test. Terry had an explosive second half to his career.

Ben's just starting, but with FA and the possible players strike or even lockout looming in the not to distant future, time will tell..... I guess they better get a new deal done soon.

:tt1

skyhawk
05-31-2009, 08:21 PM
Terry was terrible his first few seasons. His team wasn't that great either.

I think the Steelers could have won super bowls 9 and 10 (maybe not 10) with or without Bradshaw, don't you?

The same can't be said for SB's 40 and 43. No Ben=no SB

But does the above comment make Ben the better QB FIVE years in? Hard to say.

But we are comparing apples to oranges now. Two completely different leagues.

fezziwig
06-01-2009, 09:31 AM
Ben may have not of had record setting Super Bowl stats but, he was sure the reason as much as any on why, they made the Super Bowls.

Super Bowl 40 Ben kicked butt in the playoffs.
Super Bowl 43, the perfect pass to Santonio plus, all the accurate passes to Santonio to get us in the game winning position.

I was watching some 70's films and Terry was no average QB either. I think now they both have their talents and could be compared equally. I also think Terry has a better personality than Ben. Not that that has anything to do with football.

Captain Lemming
06-01-2009, 10:55 AM
I was watching some 70's films and Terry was no average QB either. I think now they both have their talents and could be compared equally. I also think Terry has a better personality than Ben. Not that that has anything to do with football.

Looking at "highlights" do not tell the whole story.
By definition these are great plays.
Terry had a Legendary arm, so he always was capable of making jaw dropping throws.

We are talking "first five seasons" not his career.
I have said his first good season was year 5.

How many Bradshaw highlights did you see through four seasons?

Seriously, a strong case that he was among the leagues worst starting QBs. People who "boo" players are idiots, but the booing he endured was not about a bad game or bad stretch. He was just bad. He was not only benched, but lost his position as starter the same season he won his first SB. Had Gilliam's play not tanked as well, after a couple of good games, who knows what happens to Terrys career in Pittsburgh.

Only after that, did Terrys play give any hint of HOF potential.
If you do not remember his entire body of work, more than just highlights, mostly later in his career, you really do not know how bad he was.

SMASHMOUTHFOOTBALL
06-01-2009, 12:21 PM
Here's my perspective: Ben= better quarterback Terry=on a better team which may result in more SB victories
As long as Ben keeps doing what he is doing he will be the better talented QB but Terry will be more of the star hall of famer just because of those dominating teams he played on.
This will be the case unless Ben can win 1-2 more SB's.

papillon
06-01-2009, 12:38 PM
Not selecting Ben is just the nostalgia for Terry kicking in and not looking at the question objectively. Bradshaw was awesome and won 4 SBs, so his place is secure in Steeler lore. After 5 years, it's hands down, Ben over Terry, it will be interesting to see what the next 5 years bring as Ben enters his prime.

It appears that he's capable of taking teams not populated with great players and win football games. In basketball parlance he makes everyone around him better. The future is bright my friends and the past is great! It's good to be a Steeler fan.

Some teams try to find two games to be happy about, as Steeler fans we get to debate about 2 decades or which HOF player is better. As John Travolta said in Broken Arrow...."Ain't it cool?"

Pappy

skyhawk
06-01-2009, 03:05 PM
Not selecting Ben is just the nostalgia for Terry kicking in and not looking at the question objectively. Bradshaw was awesome and won 4 SBs, so his place is secure in Steeler lore. After 5 years, it's hands down, Ben over Terry, it will be interesting to see what the next 5 years bring as Ben enters his prime.

It appears that he's capable of taking teams not populated with great players and win football games. In basketball parlance he makes everyone around him better. The future is bright my friends and the past is great! It's good to be a Steeler fan.

Some teams try to find two games to be happy about, as Steeler fans we get to debate about 2 decades or which HOF player is better. As John Travolta said in Broken Arrow...."Ain't it cool?"

Pappy

It is indeed!! :tt1

Oviedo
06-01-2009, 03:43 PM
Not selecting Ben is just the nostalgia for Terry kicking in and not looking at the question objectively. Bradshaw was awesome and won 4 SBs, so his place is secure in Steeler lore. After 5 years, it's hands down, Ben over Terry, it will be interesting to see what the next 5 years bring as Ben enters his prime.

It appears that he's capable of taking teams not populated with great players and win football games. In basketball parlance he makes everyone around him better. The future is bright my friends and the past is great! It's good to be a Steeler fan.

Some teams try to find two games to be happy about, as Steeler fans we get to debate about 2 decades or which HOF player is better. As John Travolta said in Broken Arrow...."Ain't it cool?"

Pappy

Pap--I agree. Terry didn't have to worry about plkayers leaving via free agency. Ben getting two may be equal to Terry's four because of the difference in the era os free agency. If Ben would get another one or two in the near future then absolutely no question.

feelthesteel
06-01-2009, 07:05 PM
I just hope Ben stays healthy-period.
the rest will come.
Bradshaw had Swann and Stallworth
and a solid line and Franco..
Willie's no Franco.

skyhawk
06-01-2009, 07:12 PM
I just hope Ben stays healthy-period.
the rest will come.
Bradshaw had Swann and Stallworth
and a solid line and Franco..
Willie's no Franco.

And Bradshaw had a pretty good OLine. I am sure he was not sacked near as many times as Ben has been, even early in his career.