I had to get up relatively early (well, for me anyway) to take a friend to the airport this morning. I threw on the Sirius NFL Radio station and went about my drive, enjoying the Austin skyline at sunrise.

The announcers were talking about the top 100 and how Jerry Rice was number one. "Cool!" I thought to myself. I can totally agree with that. Jim Brown was number two, Lawrence Taylor was number three, and Joe Montana was number four. The first quarterback listed? I'll take that, I thought.

Then, I heard it.

"Bill Walsh went from Dan Fouts in San Diego to Joe Montana and Steve Young? Either he has some crazy luck having three hall of fame quarterbacks fall in his lap or he had something to do with it." The caller continued, "I just have to think that if you put a Marino, or Phil Simms or Elway in the West Coast system that they would have done just as much as Montana."

Ugh. I literally almost went nuts. I would have called the station immediately but when I grabbed my phone I realized I was listening to Sirius through the iPhone App. Thwarted. So instead I decided to vent here.

Let's first get one thing out of the way, Joe Montana was made for the West Coast Offense. Joe Montana needed the West Coast Offense. But, more importantly, the West Coast offense needed Joe Montana.

His success is a result of running Bill Walsh's offense. The system that Walsh put in place begged for a smart, accurate, agile quarterback who could move inside and outside the pocket. It did NOT need a quarterback with a rocket arm, but the quarterback had to have a strong enough arm to make the throws the offense required.

Joe Montana excelled at these qualities. He was able to digest the complicated terminology that Walsh used for his plays and understand the offense at an elite level. Montana was ridiculously accurate, hitting receivers in stride and allowing them to rack up the yards after the catch the West Coast Offense requires.

He also moved well inside and outside the pocket. Walsh commented that one of the best traits Joe had was his ability to "feel" pressure. He moved away from defenders while still keeping his eyes down field. And when things broke down, he was able to scramble and create plays, much like he had to do in 1981 against the Cowboys while he rolled to his right with a couple defenders bearing down on him.

Sure, if you put Montana in Denver's offense he might not do as well as he did in San Francisco. But how well would Elway and Marino do in the West Coast offense? Could Marino have run the Sprint Right Option play in 1981? If you ever witnessed a Marino scramble you know he is as mobile as Jabba the Hut playing dodge ball.

Yes, other quarterbacks shared qualities with Montana. Bill Walsh rated Phil Simms higher on his draft board than Montana and wanted to draft him to be the start quarterback of the 49ers.

But the West Coast Offense thrived under Montana. He was able to win 4 Super Bowls and throw 11 touchdowns in the process. How many INTs? ZERO. And this is perhaps what puts Montana over the top. Clutch. When the game matters, he comes through.

So don't give me any of that "Montana is only a product of his system" crap. A "pure" passer (whatever that means) shouldn't be given any more credit for comparison purposes than any other quarterback. Every coach finds players that suit his system then tweaks the playbook to play to the quarterback's strengths. Montana, in that case, had no more advantage than any other quarterback.

So I leave you with this quote which sums everything up nicely:

"Playas gon' play. And haters gon' hate."
-3LW