Originally written on TopSportsReport  |  Last updated 1/28/15
Reporters and fans alike called Tom Brady’s credibility as an “elite” quarterback into question throughout and after the 2013 season. One side argues he is in decline and can’t hit the long ball, the other puts it down to rookie/inexperienced receivers. I have yet to see a comprehensive and overriding view of Brady’s 2013 stats and situation. Firstly, what do we know of Brady’s situation in 2013?At 36 he is coming to the end of a long and prosperous career. Did his age have any effect on his season? Brady himself thinks not. He is quoted as saying “I have never have more confidence in how I am throwing the football”. As many have stated, coming out of the 2013 offseason the Patriots lost a lot of weapons on offense. Hernandez, Welker and Lloyd all gone. In replacement came Amendola, Dobson and Thompkins. Clearly this transition took time and this shows in both the statistics (which will be covered later) and Brady’s demeanour.Multiple times he was seen shouting at a ball as it skidded into the dirt with timid receiver’s running back to the huddle. Mid-season Brady clearly picked up an injury on his throwing hand. This was later confirmed as ligament damage although the Patriots denied an injury at the time. What effect did this have on his throwing ability? Later in the year injuries riddled the team. Dobson, Thompkins and Amendola all nursed various injuries into the playoffs and Gronk’s quick cameo role before tearing his ACL did not help the situation. The defence was also injury prone and the loss of Wilfork, Kelly, Mayo and a hobbled Talib led to a less potent defence and more pressure on Brady. With this in mind we should understand better the statistics journalists throw around in support of the decline of Tom Brady. Statistics: Tom Brady is considered an “elite” quarterback. This “elite” club usually pertains to Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. As such we will compare Brady’s statistics from the 2013 season with this cohort. As Aaron Rodgers was injured mid-season he has been left out of this analysis. Completion Percentage: Peyton Manning: 68.3% (3rd) Drew Brees: 68.6% (2nd) Tom Brady: 60.5% (21st) Wow. 21st. An elite quarterback is not 21st in completion percentage. This is a telling statistic and one that on first look would seem to show Brady in complete decline. But on closer inspection this number is not as dire as it may first seem. In September and October Brady’s completion percentages were 58.86% and 52.35% respectively.Without Gronk, a cast of no name receivers and a hand injury Brady managed just 52% completion percentage in October. In Novembers and December as the offense began to click these numbers jump up drastically to 69.92% and 62.12% respectively. These numbers are much more in line with what we expect from Brady and should be an indicator of offensive production next year, with a large returning cast. Interceptions and % of Passes Intercepted: Peyton Manning: 10 (18th) 1.5% (5th) Drew Brees: 12 (13th) 1.8% (8th) Tom Brady: 11 (18th) 1.8% (7th) Not much difference here from his elite colleagues. Brady can still think like an elite quarterback and his decision making is still top notch. Quarterback Rating: Peyton Manning: 115.1 (2nd) Drew Brees: 104.7 (6th) Tom Brady: 87.3 (17th) Quarterback rating isn’t everything. But it is does at least have some indication of who is playing well. Again, statistically, Brady did not have a good year and put in his worst average rating in a full season since 2006. Looking at the month by month splits the same story appears. With splits of 87.4, 61.6, 115.0 and 89.4 in September, October, November and December respectively Brady had a bumpy year. October, as before, was a criminal month for Brady’s stats and have him tumbling down the rankings. So how bad was Brady’s year? A better question might be how bad was Brady in October? The answer to that would be awful. Except for the game winning drive against New Orleans Brady had a statistical nightmare of a month. The second half of his season with a rating between 90-100 and a completion percentage around 65% is what we would expect in any given year from an elite quarterback like Tom.Is essence this disproves the notion that Tom Brady is past his best. Clearly anybody who watched his 5 2013 game winning drives will tell you that but the statistics also prove this point. But as a year it is hard not to argue that Brady was not at his best in 2013. Circumstances were difficult as we have seen and this may explain the majority of his struggles. Looking towards 2014 circumstances do not look like they will be as tough and we should expect a statistically good year from Brady, or else questions about his place in the elite may have more weight.
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