Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Defending Tom Brady
By Zach

Since my good buddy David seems to have made it his mission to attack Tom Brady and everything related to the New England Patriots, I figure it falls on the shoulders of the native Bostonian to defend the best quarterback in the NFL, and one of the greatest QBs in football history.

First, let's start with the facts:

1. Tom Brady has won two Super Bowls, with a chance to win a third, by age 27. Winning the third would place him with Staubach, Bradshaw, and Montana as the only players to accomplish the feat.
2. Tom Brady has never lost a playoff game. Ever. He's 9-0.
3. According to FootballOutsiders.com (and ESPN.com)'s Aaron Schatz, Brady's performance in Super Bowl XXXVIII was the greatest in the game's history, considering a myriad of statistical factors.

Now, let's move to the analysis. Detractors will always want to point out that the Patriots winning had more to do with the greatness of Bill Belichick, the greatness of the Patriot defense, or whatever else. This conveniently ignores the fact that Brady has the ball in his hands every play on offense. Prior to this year, New England threw much more than the average team, due to their relative lack of a rushing game. Brady therefor had to make the critical reads, the critical decisions on most every down. Part of his success, his greatness, was in not losing playoff games. In that sense, he was fortunate to play in a system which was designed to highlight what he could do on the field, much like Joe Montana. Montana was a guy who never would overwhelm you with his arm or his athleticism, even though he could make plays while scrambling (The Catch, or SB XIX), and could certianly throw the ball downfield when necessary. But the bottom line with Joe is that he wanted rings, not stats, and no one's got more of them than he does at QB.

Brady is of the same ilk. He's certainly more gifted physically than people seem to want to admit. He throws a pretty deep ball, and handles intermediate routes as well as anyone in the game. Sure, he's not explosive like Mike Vick, and he doesn't necessarily throw the ball as hard or as far as a Brett Favre or Daunte Culpepper, but no one reads a game better than he does.

And he's fully capable of taking over a ball game. Anyone who saw last year's Super Bowl saw that. In the first half, with the New England defense seemingly throttling the Panthers offense, Brady and the Pats were content to play a field position game. Suddenly, at the end of the half and through the second half, when it became clear that the Panthers were scoring at will, Brady took over the game. From the beginning of the second through the end of the game, Brady was 27-38 for 306 yards and three touchdowns. He threw one pick when his receiver dropped a catchable ball. The team scored 32 points, scoring on three of its last four possessions (the only time they didn't score was the aforementioned INT). People say that John Kasay kicking the ball out of bounds gave the Patriots a big advantage, negating Brady's drive to get the winning field goal. They forget that there was over a minute on the clock and that New England had 2 timeouts, making a drive even from the 20 a distinct possibility. In fact, that's exactly what Brady did two years earlier in Super Bowl XXXVI.

And then there are the people who say that because Brady only got field goals on the final drives, not touchdowns, he's not as clutch. Hogwash. He did exactly what he needed to do to win games. It was his play earlier in the games that meant that the Patriots only need three points to win. In fact, if Adam Vinatieri hadn't had a kick blocked earlier in SB XXXVIII, the three wouldn't have been needed at all.

The fact remains that there is absolutely no one currently throwing a football who I would rather have as my quarterback. No, not even my beloved Matt Hasselback. Brady does something that is far too often underrated in our highlight, stat-happy culture. He wins.

1 Comments:

Blogger David Arnott said...

Wait a second. You're saying that Brady does only what he needs to do to win and that he is "fully capable of taking over a ball game"? Think about that for a moment. Isn't that basically saying that he while he could dominate, he doesn't? That makes no sense whatsoever and is completely illogical. If Brady and the Patriots could roll up forty points every week, they would. Over the course of a season, it would make their lives that much easier. But clearly, they couldn't, so they didn't. Even though they're solid all the way around, they don't have a single offensive player who you might have to game plan for, a la Jamal Lewis, or TO. Their edge comes from sound planning and play-calling; their coaches. I mean, the coaches turn that lack of a focal player into a strength. Genius. Ultimately, Brady and everyone else has to execute, but you can't execute at all without solid play calling, eg: Bill Callahan, eg: Mike Martz. I'm telling you, from what I've read, and what I've been able to see (3-4 games a year) of the Patriots with Weis, their playcalling is a notch above everybody else. They plan for later in the game; they take into account what they'll try later. They can't afford not to, because they don't have Barry Sanders, Randy Moss, or Michael Vick, who could all break a TD at any time.
Don't get me wrong. If I had my choice of Brady or Peyton, I'd take the one who would take less money, meaning Brady. I'm saying that Brady isn't what gives the Patriots their edge. Not at all. You could put any of the top seven or eight QB's as their starter, and they'd probably win a lot, because their coaching is so great. That, in contrast to, say, the Rams, who have all the offensive talent in the world, but can't figure out how to win.

1:55 AM  

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