I swear to God, I’m am going to absolutely lose my shit the next time I hear somebody tell me Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback ever. Spare me, the only thing Tom Brady might be the most ever is overrated. Take a minute to let that sink in. I fully understand that I’m calling
Marcia Tom Brady, America’s Sweetheart and Media Darling, three-time Super Bowl champion, and the man who tossed 50 touchdown passes while leading a modern-era NFL team to an undefeated regular season overrated. I fully understand those accomplishments have the media and football fans all around America collective dropping the soap for Brady. I don’t care; Tom Brady is overrated…period, end of sentence.
If you are a football fan, moreover one who is intellectually honest, you have to take a hard look at the realities; the realities of Tom Brady’s greatness as an NFL passer. In order to do this requires a walk through the statistics. First off, there are two key indicators of a quarterback’s performance that must be examined; Yards Per Attempt (YPA) and Yards Per Completion (YPC).
Yards Per Attempt is a very good measure of a quarterbacks accuracy, which is a hallmark of greatness. However, this statistic also will give a positive view of a quarterback who plays in low risk, extremely efficient passing offense, like the Patriots under Bill Belichick. Tom Brady ranks tied at 49th out of 219 passers on this list, which isn’t exactly “greatest of all time” territory (all stats from pro-football-reference.com )
The story gets even better when you consider this in concert with the telling statistic Yards Per Completion. This stat removes the penalty of dropped passes and removes the statistical benefits that shorter high probability passes offer in the improve upon the YPA statistic. It also removes the penalty for throwing and missing longer and low probability downfield passes; it is purely a statistic that measures how many yards on average the football is moved on the gridiron with each catch of the football. Over the course of his career, Brady is in the bottom 20% (178th out of 219) in Yards Per Completion. Again, that ain’t exactly “greatest of all time” material.
Another thing to consider in all of this is the Patriots proclivity for the “Wes Welker” type reciever, who piles up big Yards After the Catch Numbers. Brady has been the beneficiary of an offensive scheme that was designed to quickly get the ball into the hands of a receiver, who in turn runs with the football after the catch. Naturally, that pads Brady’s passing yardage statistics inasmuch as a certain percentage of the statistics being analyzed here (YPA and YPC) is derived from Yards After the Catch (YAC). These are the yards added to a quaterback’s passing stats by a receiver gaining yardage after gaining possession. For example, during the Patriots undefeated season in 2007, they gained 48% of their completion yardage after the catch. The NFL average that year for YAC was 43%. Based on that observation, it is easy to surmise that Brady is “contact hitter” of a quarterback, not the home run threat people love to believe he is.
Let’s say statistics aren’t your thing. Let’s say you don’t care that Tom Brady can’t measure statistically against the majority of NFL quarterbacks. Let’s say you don’t care Brady’s entire career has him ranked very probably in the bottom 95 percent of all NFL passers when calculating his Yards Per Completion minus the Yards After the Catch his receivers provide to the equation. Even if you don’t care, you can’t ignore what it means. It means Brady can’t throw the ball downfield. It means Brady throws a shorter pass, on average than 95 percent of the QB’s who ever played the game. It means Brady couldn’t drive his team down the field to beat the Denver Broncos in the playoffs in 2005. He threw three critical picks when he had to throw it downfield. It means Brady couldn’t drive his team down the field to beat the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. He lofted three bombs that fell harmlessly to the turf when the game was on the line.
In other words, not only is Brady not a home run threat, he’s not even a playmaker. In fact, really all he is a guy who benefits from the the greatness of others. He’s the beneficiary of a being on a team well-built by Bill Belichick and well-financed by Robert Kraft. He’s the beneficiary of gutsy calls, cheating, and game-management by Belichick. He’s the beneficiary of NFL rules to protect the passer and inflate stats (“Mel Blount” rule, “Neil Smith” rule, “Tuck” rule, “Ty Law” rule, “Tom Brady” rule, etc..) He’s the beneficiary of being on a team with one of the great clutch kickers of all time, Adam Vinatieri. If not for Vinatieri, the Patriots would have lost the “Tuck Rule” Game, and the Super Bowls against the Rams, Panthers, and Eagles. Vinatieri kicked the game-winning field goals against the Rams and Panthers, and kicked the go-ahead field goal against the Eagles.
In other words, Brady is just a system quarterback. Need more proof of that? Two words: Matt Cassel. Remember when Brady went down with a knee injury in the first game of the season and Cassel, with absolutely no starting experience either in college or the NFL, stepped right into that offense and shined. In many ways, his numbers were on par with Brady’s…with no prior experience.
The bottom line is Tom Brady is going to the Hall-of-Fame a three-yard pass at a time. This is why his current streak of passing attempts without an interception is largely unremarkable; he exists on minimum-risk throws. It would be the same as me saying I’ve gone 10,000 straight days without being elected Pope. Brady has not a single unique skill, and telling me about his three Super Bowl rings simply bores me. The Hall has made a precedent of excluding players with multiple rings (Jim Plunkett, Terrell Davis, etc.) that don’t have the stats they love, or who seem to be the product of a system.
Tom Brady is clearly the most overrated quarterback of all time. Deal with it, because it is reality.