Why You Shouldn’t Cheer For…Tom Brady

13 01 2011

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.

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8 responses

14 01 2011
Chris Humpherys

Boy, are you REALLY gonna be pissed when he finishes his career with 5 rings.

Just out of curiosity, where do you rank Brady, system QB or no system QB, among those playing today?

14 01 2011
JW

Brady can win all the rings he wants…I completely reject the notion that championships can be used as a measure of individual greatness; rather I believe championships are a team accomplishment. But, that’s another rant…

To answer your question, I value a quarterback who A) can move the ball downfield a.k.a throw middle-to-deep with success and B) doesn’t give away the football. Even though Brady has a couple of monstrous statistical years (this one included) he’s made his career off three-yard throws. In other words, he is the guy that skews the numbers.

That being said, here’s how I would stack Brady up historically against others playing right now…

1) Drew Brees (his high number of picks this year looks to be a statistical anomaly, if it continues he drops off the top of this list)

2) Peyton Manning (although I think we are seeing the beginning of the end)

3) Aaron Rodgers (this is the guy I think becomes #1 as the guys in front of him age)

4) Matt Ryan (will be Rodgers main competition for king of this hill)

5) Philip Rivers (could be higher on this list, but smells like another Dan Marino/Fran Tarkenton, meaning a guy more worried about his numbers than his team winning)

6) Tom Brady (but only because he’s a Patriot; Brady on any other team isn’t in the top ten)

7) Sam Bradford (I believe the children are the future…yeah, I just went Whitney Houston…)

8) Ben Roethlisberger (doesn’t have the “sexy” numbers, but also doesn’t make a lot of mistakes)

9) Kyle Orton (incredibly under-rated; won with a bad Bears team, nobody can win with the Broncos as they exist now. Orton + Vikings = Super Bowl)

10) Josh Freeman (Fetal Roethlisberger)

16 01 2011
Oh Wowwy Wow

I’ll start by saying I respect Tom Brady and his leadership abilities and above average toughness (wayyy more than Manning bros btw) with respect to the QB position. But I’m glad I finally ran into a person who knows what there talking about concerning this issue. I’ve been saying these types of things about Brady and the Pats before their conversion to the vertical passing game (Moss era) and since they released him and went back to their spread west coast style.

You have to look at the receiving corps Brady has had since 03′. Stout strong wide outs that break tackles and get massive amounts of YAC. That’s the one stat your missing here in the profile. I know its difficult to get because I looked and looked for it to prove my point to the many people that I’ve disagreed with. Anyway, In the Pats back to back Superbowl years, they had 5 wideouts that were amazing but never given any real credit because none of them were Pro Bowlers. Of course not… there were 5 of them and they had to share 1ball!!! They weren’t going to have 100 catch recievers in that system. But if you look at those recievers as they left the organization, the teams they went to, they became the #1 recievers on each of those teams (Givens, Branch, Patton)

After it was realized in 06′ that they had to augment their offense, they got Moss, Welker, and Stallworth and it was on. I will say here that Brady in these years proved that he could throw deep (if he had the time) to wideouts. But eventually with the Superbowl loss, departure of Stallworth, and unwantingness to pay Moss that lead to his release, you have what transpired this year.

Tom Brady was deemed the greatest this year for a few reasons that “football guys” never told the public through the media, instead lavished him with praise.

1. (most important) OFFENSIVE LINE
Fewest sacks and QB hits.

2. The Pats were a Running team.
Look it up… Pats were in the top ten in rushing in the league and in the 20′s in passing. Brady isn’t responsible for that. Plus, the pats ran the ball 50 less times than they passed all year and Woodhead averaged 5.9 a carry and Ellis 4.4, both over league average.

3. Scheme
As I stated before, the Pats ran a Spread West coast offense. Brady probably averaged ( i guess here because this is no stats to show really) around 4 yards per throw and ended up with approx 8 per completion. That’s all work of the wideouts and TE’s who are breaking the tackles or running the screens that they often do.

I say all this to say that Brady and the Pats success is the combination of many factors. He is no John Elway, or Dan Marino as far as the passing game is concerned.

I did enjoy your post but I must say that I was very surprised by the omission of Michael Vick in your QB list. You do understand that He…

Behind the third to worse (stats) Offensive line in Football

And in a passing system that is truly vertical ( Most Passes at least 10 yards or more)

Completed 63% of his passes and had a Rating over 100.

He was literally out there by himself. I know that the talking football head never really spell it out, and break it all down for the public but…

By understanding all the things involved in the game, his year was one of the greastest in history. never mind the fact that it was his first year starting in that system.

But I know, a lot of people will over look that and say he didn’t pick up the blitzers. Well on the Eagles, the center makes the line calls and Vick did not have the power to audible at the line this year. Again, you have to know more about the game than what the “heads” give you week to week.

Bet you though if Vick would have had Brady’s line this year… he would have went undefeated.

Thanks for reading

17 01 2011
JW

All of your points are exceptionally true, but #2 is my favorite.

25 01 2012
The Super Bowl: The Definitive Dubsism Preview « Dubsism

[...] to mention, even sportswriters have figured out how to beat Brady. And like it or not, a lot of Brady’s passing stats are heavily padded by the yards-after-catch of the Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski’s of the [...]

25 01 2012
The Definitive Sports Blog Movement Super Bowl Preview | Sports Blog Movement

[...] to mention, even sportswriters have figured out how to beat Brady. And like it or not, a lot of Brady’s passing stats are heavily padded by the yards-after-catch of the Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski’s of the [...]

25 09 2012
Teams That Grind My Gears: The New England Patriots « Dubsism

[...] waiting for the day I hear the words “Tom Brady is over-rated” coming out of ESPN. I will be waiting a while, but that day got a bit closer after Sunday [...]

13 01 2014
John Oliver

This is by far the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever read in my entire life. By your logic Tony Romo, Phillip Rivers, and Matt Schaub are better qb then Joe Montanna and Tom Brady. You take those three Ill take the latter two and win 10 out of 10 times with less talent. If Tom Brady had the offensive fire power Romo and Schaub has and those numbers would far exceed the ones he has now. Matt Schaub lost his job to an undrafted rookie free agent so he’s a bum. Tony Romo can’t stop puking on his shoes long enough to even make the playoffs let alone finish a season above 8-8. Phillip Rivers since LT has departed has made the playoffs one time and beat a very over rated Kc team just to choke against a broncos team his def held to a low enough point total all three times they played for anyone to have beaten. So your logic is ass back words I’ll take Tom Brady and his 8 AFC championship games in 12 years and 3 out of 5 superbowls he’s played in. As far as Joe Montana being so low thanks ill take him and his rings over those other bums as well.

Signed a smarter man then you

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