Few defenses have challenged New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as much as those from the Baltimore Ravens /Rex Ryan tree. That led Greg A. Bedard of the TheMMQB.com, while on a different assignment, to ask Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine about the recent buzz surrounding Brady.
Pettine, of course, was Ryan's defensive coordinator with the New York Jets from 2009-2012, and then was the Buffalo Bills' coordinator in 2013. So he's prepared defenses to face Brady 10 times over the last five seasons.
Pettine's thoughts on Brady no longer being on the Mount Rushmore of NFL quarterbacks?
"It's beyond ridiculous," Pettine tells Bedard. "Top five? I mean, to me, it's one and two (Brady and Peyton Manning) and then there's a gap and then it's probably [Drew] Brees and [Aaron] Rodgers would be three and four, however you want to order them. Until those two (Brady and Manning) retire, they'll be one and two and then there will be a gap.
"This came up during the draft when they asked me about starting rookie quarterbacks. There's only so many quarterbacks in the league, I don't know what the number is, five maybe six that will be successful no matter who their supporting cast is. They got it done in New England with below average offensive linemen, receivers you never heard of. But because the system is so good and the guy running it is so good, it's going to be successful. I think he's that way, I think Peyton's that way. But I think Tom's probably the best at that. It doesn't matter who's around him. They're going to get yards, they're going to get points."
Pettine went on to discuss the challenges of facing Brady.
His thoughts echo what Patriots guard Logan Mankins said Thursday: In his mind, Brady is still elite.