Who’s the ultimate quarterback?

The people at Madden 11 and EA Sports are trying to figure that out and broke down every NFL signal-caller in a variety of areas – accuracy, awareness, toughness, arm strength, etc. – to try to build the ultimate quarterback.

But before they did that, I had a chance to speak with some guys who came close to being the ultimate quarterback during their careers, Dan Marino and Joe Montana. What do they think makes the ultimate quarterback?

“They’re all from Western Pennsylvania,” Marino said. “That’s where the ultimate quarterback comes from.”

The two Hall of Famers differed on some other characteristics.

“I don’t think there’s the perfect guy,” Montana said. “Everybody has things that they do better. I think the guys who have success are the ones who have the ability to play within those types of means and the ones who don’t try to get outside of that comfort level or area. That’s where you start to struggle.

“I could never do a lot of the things throwing the ball like Elway or Danny. We didn’t do a lot of that. Especially the way John used to run and wing it, I couldn’t do that. I’d have to go pick it up and throw it again.

“I think the thing is that people work within their strengths. Danny knows what he does well, I know what I did well. I knew what my offense was about and he knew what his offense was about. I think when you have an understanding of what the system is trying to accomplish, that makes it easier.”

So it’s about the system? Not quite, Marino said.

“I think a quarterback with ability can work in any system,” Marino said. “If I played in Joe’s offense I think I would have been very successful and if Joe played in our offense I think Joe would have been very successful. It’s that way with most of the great ones.

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“The skills aren’t as different as you might think arm-strength wise and stuff. Sometimes it’s personnel and the ability to make decisions. But I do believe the quarterback can be successful in most systems if you have the right talent.”

So what did the EA Sports guys come up with? Here are the Top 8 quarterbacks when Madden 11 is released this summer:

1. Peyton Manning; 2. Drew Brees; 3. Tom Brady; 4. Aaron Rodgers; 5. Phillip Rivers; 6. Brett Favre; 7. Ben Roethlisberger; 8. Donovan McNabb.

Manning may be the highest rated, but he’s not really the “ultimate” quarterback. Because, like Big Foot, they don’t actually exist.

“Everybody has their weaknesses,” Marino said. “I guess (the ultimate) is a guy who never misses a pass, never misses a game, never fumbles and always has the right attitude. They don’t make them like that though.”