Over the past week or so, there has been a lot of talk about Tom Brady’s “decline”. Some say he’s just as good as he was 5 years ago, some say he’s become average at best, and others say that he’s not good enough to play in the NFL anymore.
Why are these statements suddenly coming up out of nowhere? Could it be because of he below average 2013 season? Or is it just sensationalism by the media?
Regardless of why people are saying that Tom Brady has “lost it”, they are wrong. Brady should still be put in the highest caliber of quarterbacks because he always does what is best for the team.
Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus recently stated in an article on ESPN that Tom Brady is no longer a Top 5 quarterback. This is an outrageous statement.
Monson dissected Brady’s statistics closely. His stats under pressure, his touchdowns, his interceptions, etc. were all analyzed in the article and they all showed that Brady was in clear decline. But, in fact, the largest fault in Monson’s argument is the fact that this argument was based purely on these statistics.
Tom Brady is more than what his numbers show. He’s always been that way. He’s never lead the NFL in passer rating, but he’s always been regarded as the best or one of the best quarterbacks in the league. His greatness lies in his smarts and his intangibles, both of which cannot be predicted easily using mere statistics.
What do I mean by his intangibles? It is his will to win. It is his spirit and how he never gives up in the face of adversity. For the past four seasons, the Patriots have never gone below 12 wins (and in case you didn’t know, that’s a lot of wins). Others may point to statistics of individuals such as completion percentage or passer rating, but ultimately these are not player’s goals. The ultimate objective of every player is to win games, and hopefully win championships. Often there are players who put up huge numbers in losses who feel restricted from celebrating because they couldn’t do enough to pull off the win. The players want to put up wins, but the media loves to see numbers.Another part of Brady’s game that cannot be measured definitely is his decision making. His decision making when taking the snap remains unrivaled in the NFL. What makes him special is not that he knows where he wants to go before the ball is snapped like Peyton Manning does, or that he throws with perfect timing and precision (which he also does very well), but it is that Brady can read defenses in motion and know when receivers will get open and what his safest options are.
The article also makes the fault of pointing to statistics without examining their causes. It points to figures such as Brady’s below-average passer average and completion percentage when holding the ball for more than 2.6 seconds. Now, we could all over-exaggerate this like the article and ESPN did, or we could look at what happens when a quarterback holds the ball for more than 2.6 seconds. Usually, when the quarterback does not pass for an extended period, it is because a) it is a quarterback keep, b) the quarterback is trying to scramble to make a play, or c) there are simply no receivers open.
In Tom Brady’s case, he had a mediocre-at-best supporting cast, and we did often see him hold on to the ball for extended times because his receivers couldn’t get open. So what happens when a quarterback throws to a struggling receiver who is barely open? Well, chances are that the pass is incomplete.
Tom Brady has pulled his team to the playoffs time and time again with excellent regular season records His 18 wins in the playoffs are the most by a quarterback in NFL history. And he does all of this with barely any assistance from the rest of his team. The Patriots haven’t had an excellent defense in a long time, and aside from Randy Moss, Brady hasn’t played with the greatest play-making receivers. So, it is his job to carry the team year after year to the playoffs, and without him, the team wouldn’t have a chance.
Of course, the article notes that Brady has little support from his team, but with no rebuttal. In fact, it was really pretty contradictory towards the argument as a whole. The article stated:
People point to his lack of receivers in 2013 as a reason for his comparative down year, but it’s worth noting that it was also the poorest performance from the New England offensive line for several years. The unit posted its worst pass blocking efficiency figure (a measure of sacks, hits and hurries surrendered per pass protecting snaps) since PFF has been grading tape, and at best the unit was in the middle of the pack when it came to protecting Brady.
-Sam Monson, “Tom Brady is no longer a top-5 QB” ESPN
So, basically, Tom Brady had to carry the team on his back.
The talk of Brady’s rapid decline or of how he’s “not elite anymore” is all unfounded. It’s simply unfair to point to a player’s stats to show their weak points if their stats haven’t ever been the strong point of their game. Tom Brady should be judged for what he is: a smart quarterback who will do anything to win games.