Funny thing is I saw this thread a while ago, typed out a response, and then thought "don't be an idiot."
So now, beers and vodkas later, I am gonna be an idiot.
I think beaseball geeks (I am a big fan of the dark side) have done a good job of questioning clutch. that said, I think their arguments have more sway in a baseball context, even if I don't buy it.
In football, I think clutch is huge.
I defend peyton manning basically because I love and defend mcnabb. Would I trade mcnabb for peyton (absoloutely), and I would trade him probably straight up for manning or brady, and MAYBE palmer. (sorry if this seems like a derail--its not).
I think though that peyton is a choker. For most quaterbacks, I think the cafe has taught me enough, that you know what? This is a team game, and if a qb is responsible for 21-24 points, but the D can't hold them, then its not his fault. As far as peyton is concerned, I think he is different, and deserves to be judged slightly differently. Kind of in the way warner would have been judged has his teams crumbled.
Peyton is almost unprecidented in the modern salary cap era. While its convenient to say "well, you need defense to win," I don't think it applies to him in the same way it applies to other elite QBs like delhomme, brady, donovan (yes, I think he has done impressive stuff, biased or not), and the other good qbs.
Peytons team built itself predicated on is dominance. they gave him unprecidented control in the salary cap era, and paid their defense to basically hold other teams to 20 points, then set up the offesne with a premier running back (and he is premier), then set him up with three recivers we haven't seen in a while. No other elite qb can boast having wayne, harrison, and stokely, let alone two good qbs like he had, and a pass catching back. (he doesn't do it all that much considering, but he can do it, that's what they traded faulk of all people).
It almost makes me mad. Other top tier qbs have won moreplayoff games with less. And granted, it IS a team game. But on the other hand, I can't think of a recent team other than the cowboys (who didn't have a cap) who had this much top-tier talent for an offense. And yes, the pats, eagles, and bucs have had better defenses than the colts. And the seahaws, panthers have had a better balance than the colts. But my point is that, the team has totally bet the farm on the offense, and stacked it. They gave that team a defense that good perform relative to that offense. And if you assigned the Ds and Os of all the recent contedners, I bet the overall would come out somewhat similar. And then the colts gave peyton play calling abilities that others haven't had, gave him the weapons, and the offense has been anemic. I could see if the colts lost 33 to 27 or something, at that point, peyton would have done what he could do. But it seems to me the one element of the game that their team was built upon, and the element they gave peyton control over has come up small. So I think he is a choker. Say what you will about mcnabb, brady, delhomme and to a degree hasselbeck, and I honestly think they did a much better job in the playoffs than manning has. I think he is a choker, since all for him to NOT be a chocker is put up points (then it could be on the defense) and he doesn't do it.
I don't know what to make of brady. On one hand, he has manufactured key drives in super bowls that have resulted in wins. On the other, the pats have three superbowls decided by a total of 9 points. I think he had a lot to do with those wins, defintiely poised. BUT. He had to set it up for someone else (vinatieri) to put it away each game. And donovan had a flawed game against them, and in my opinion, chokled a bit. On the other hand, there were points in that game where the eagles looked like they could have won handily, and he still had the best game against the pats, even though donovan is generally conisdered to have "choked." in the super bowl. so, if he choked, brady couldn't have been clutch too. Its hard to determine. I think brady, aikman and others deserve their spots. But I think brady is too high sometimes, and maybe history mitigates that eventually.
The opening scene of the movie "Saving Private Ryan" is loosely based on games of dodgeball Brian Dawkins played in second grade.