FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 10: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks on in the first half against the Baltimore Ravens during the 2010 AFC wild-card playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Lost in the worry about where the Patriots will turn for reliable wide receivers and whether the New England defense can hold its own is the fact that Tom Brady is not, in fact, a robot, and that the delivery and statistics that have marked his 13 consistent seasons as an NFL quarterback are not, in fact, givens.
Last year was Brady’s first season without longtime personal throwing coach Tom Martinez, who died last February. But Brady quickly acquired a new guide in former major league pitcher Tom House, and it sounds like House’s finishing touches may have at least lifted Brady’s mental game, much less his mechanics.
“Going into my 14th year, I have never had more confidence in how I am throwing the football,” Brady told Peter King of Sports Illustrated of his progression with House. “I’ve never felt better throwing the football.”
Brady said he “developed a rapport with [House] quickly,” and House has especially helped him understand how small corrections are going to help his overall game when the season starts up.
“The same way Tom Martinez was always there to watch and give me corrections, Tom House has told me why certain corrections need to be made,” Brady told King. “Look at a baseball swing and a golf swing. It’s all mechanics. Look at how Barry Bonds swings. Look at how Floyd Mayweather punches. Mechanics. When you’ve got to fit it into the tightest windows, mechanics are crucial. And to me, the offseason is crucial. If you make a throw within four feet, that’s not going to be good enough. You have to make the throw within four inches of your target. That’s good enough. And that’s why the mechanics you adjust and learn in the offseason are important. You’re going to keep them during the season.”
Brady said he and House got to work right after the season ended, with Brady saying that practicing again “helps me move forward.” Brady had an especially rough performance to end the year as the Patriots lost to the Ravens in the AFC championship game. Brady threw two interceptions and didn’t pump up yardage until the game was mostly decided.
“With Tom, I think I’ve learned some things this offseason that are really going to help me,” Brady said, pointing specifically to efficiency and his channeling power from the ground, up through his legs and into his throwing motion. “… I’ve always had confidence throwing the football, but you have to stay on top of it. That’s going to be a never-ending quest for me.”
Brady said the adjustments have been small — “98 percent of it is exactly what Tom Martinez taught me” — and the rest is keeping a clear head. The key, Brady said, was to never stop drawing from the lessons.
“Once you feel like you’re done learning, you might as well move on,” Brady told King.
That push toward improvement — even coming off a 4,827-yard, 34-touchdown season — is something worth being confident about.