Originally posted on The Sports Post  |  Last updated 10/25/13
] Since you know I love doing this... Player A: 14 TDs, 4 INTs, 1,687 Passing Yards, 60.7% Completions, 90.9 Passer Rating, .404 Strength of Schedule Player B: 11 TDs, 6 INTs, 1,924 Passing Yards, 65.9% completions, 93.9 Passer Rating, .532 Strength of Schedule Player C: 8 TDs, 5 INTs, 1,708 Passing Yards, 55.4% Completions, 75.3 Passer Rating, .500 Strength of Schedule Player A and Player B are both fairly young. Neither would be considered among even the top half of current NFL quarterbacks. One of them plays on a team with a very good supporting cast but a difficult schedule, the other plays for a bad team with an easy schedule. Both have undeniably been better than Player C this year. Between the two of them, they have Player C beaten in every major category, a big deal considering where they place among the quarterback hierarchy. Player C is Tom Brady. Players A and B? Sam Bradford and Andy Dalton. Yikes. As a disappointed fantasy owner of Tom Brady in several leagues, I’ve now endured almost a month of “This is the week he figures it out” stories that haven’t exactly come true. Lost behind the veil of one great comeback against the New Orleans Saints is the fact that Brady has been utterly mediocre this year, and as far as we can tell, that isn’t going to change. The prevailing narrative has been that his receivers have been terrible. Terrible is a massive overstatement. According to ProFootballFocus.com's advanced stats, both Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman have been above average receivers this season, and Kenbrell Thompkins is only .6% below average. Aaron Dobson has been a colossal disappointment at -7%, but the others have played relatively well given the circumstances. Consider Sam Bradford’s receivers. Not one of them is rated above average, and only Chris Givens ranks ahead of even Thompkins. Yet Sam Bradford played remarkably well this season before getting hurt. Brady has not. In fact, circumstance dictates that he should be playing fairly well. His running game has averaged 4.2 yards per carry, which puts them right at 11th in the league. According to FootballOutsiders’ offensive line rankings, Brady has had the fifth best pass-blocking in football. When you factor in the receivers and his reputation, Brady should be playing far better than he is. The fact is that Brady has been utterly mediocre this year, and as far as we can tell, that isn’t going to change. But he isn’t, and nobody is giving it enough attention because for the last decade Tom Brady has been completely immune to criticism. It’s incredibly frustrating for outsiders to watch. If Martians came to Earth right now and started watching football with no prior knowledge of the game, they would think that Tom Brady was no better than Bradford or Dalton. He’s not getting skewered for it because his name is Tom Brady, but honestly he hasn’t looked anything like Tom Brady all year. 2012 Tom Brady had the fastest release in all of football at 2.49 seconds per throw. 2013 Tom Brady is holding onto the ball far longer, and it shows in his stats. Despite the play of his offensive line, his sack rate is up to 6.3%, his highest since 2001. He’s also not pushing the ball downfield nearly as much as we’re used to. A small dip with his new receivers would be forgivable, but at 6.2 yards per attempt is a new career low and is almost a full yard and a half lower than 2012. Most importantly, 2013 Tom Brady isn’t closing games. Ignore the New Orleans game for a moment, consider a few of his other recent fourth quarter failures: the New York Jets, the Atlanta Falcons (almost), the 2012 Baltimore Ravens game. This is becoming a disturbing trend. Brady’s fourth quarter passer rating has dropped every year since 2010. This year it’s down to 72.6, along with a 52.9 completion percentage. All of this is showing in the standings. You could argue that 2010 Tom Brady would have the Pats at 7-0. Does 2010 Tom Brady throw for less than 50% against the Bengals and only score six points? Doubtful. So is 2010 Tom Brady throwing a dumb pick-six against the Jets. Close calls against the Bills and Jets in the first two weeks are also probably erased. With Brady looking down, the 2013 Patriots have looked vulnerable. Part of this is on the defense. They’re missing Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, Aquib Talib and Tommy Kelly. This would account for some of the losses the Patriots have had, but it doesn’t explain Brady’s poor performance. Beyond the auxiliary reasons already covered (which honestly don’t cover much), there’s really only one legitimate explanation. Tom Brady is done. There’s no shame in it, but Tom Brady just isn’t Tom Brady anymore. I didn’t mean for that to sound so over dramatic and cliché, but it looks like it’s true. Tom Brady has lost it. It happens to every quarterback. It happened to Joe Montana when he was 37, Dan Marino when he was 38, Brett Favre when he was 41, and JaMarcus Russell when he was born. John Elway and Steve Young had the foresight to see it coming and retire. It hasn’t happened to Peyton Manning yet for reasons they are partially explainable (his insane film-watching habits) and partially aren’t (a deal with some sort of Voodoo spirit). All in all, we knew it was going to happen sooner or later. Brady is exhibiting pretty much all of the signs of an aging quarterback. He’s taking too long in the pocket. He’s ignoring opportunities to go deep. He’s giving more short yardage reps to his running backs rather than quick passes (a Wes Welker and Kevin Faulk staple). There’s no shame in it, but Tom Brady just isn’t Tom Brady anymore. Herein lies the problem. The 2013 Patriots aren't very good. The defense is missing too many players to be anything better than not terrible, and though the receivers have been passable, they're a far cry from Welker and Aaron Hernandez. The Patriots are relying on Tom Brady to be Tom Brady, because as a team they aren't good enough to win the Super Bowl without him playing like himself. Their entire formula for winning the title rested on winning an easy division (definitely still doable and likely), catching a break with their playoff matchups (ideally as the No. 3 seed, where they'd avoid Kansas City in the first round, and then hopefully watch Peyton Manning and the Broncos lose a cold weather divisional game), and then relying on Brady's cold weather chops and big game experience to win the Super Bowl in New York. This works with 2010 Tom Brady. We can't say the same about the 2013 version. If Tom Brady has anything left in the tank, I'd advise him and Bill Belichick to figure out how to find it. Without the real Tom Brady, the Patriots aren't coming close to winning the Super Bowl. I know it, you know it, and honestly, it's starting to look like Tom Brady knows it too.
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