*** note – this piece was written back in November – before deflate-gate. The cheating and scandals only further my point – ed 1.31.15
What if Tom Brady isn’t as good as we think? Let me make the case.
Tom Brady is great. He is one of the greatest, without question. However, I can’t say he is the greatest. I am not sure we will ever be able to tell. Don’t worry, I am not declaring Peyton Manning the greatest of all time. Even though he holds ALL the records… Brady wins Superbowls, and that is what counts. No, we are not here to argue about that at all.
Here is why I think we are mis-judging and over-rating Tom Brady. Two words for you – Quarterback Protection. I submit Tom Brady’s greatness is directly linked to his quarterback protection.
They say Brady is a ‘pocket passer’. This means he generally gets to throw right from the safety of the ‘pocket’. The pocket is the protected nest just behind the center (guy who snaps the ball). Tom Brady gets the ball, and gets to stand in the pocket, safely.
Most quarterbacks are not ‘pocket passers’. This is because most quarterbacks are busy running for their lives. With rare exception, every quarterback play is designed to be executed from the pocket. It is the safest place, as the QB has people all around him.
You know how are car now has crumple zones? It used to be the car was designed to be as big and heavy and strong as possible. Turned out that was deadly. Now, the car is designed to fold up in an accident. It folds up around you, the driver. That is how the pocket works. It is designed to collapse all around him (the QB) and keep him safe to make his reads.
A QB generally has 2 to 3 reads. A quarterback, at the very beginning of each play, is NEVER improvising, even when it looks like that. There is the A read, and the B read. These two ‘reads’ (or… plays, or… plans) are receivers running a very specific pattern. He looks to the A read, this is the ideal play if everything is going right. Odds are, that guy is covered. So, check your B read. Is he covered? Generally, he is. At this point is when the pocket has generally collapsed. At this point is when you see the quarterback running for his life looking for anyone who is open. Because he is running for his life, his options and visibility are limited.
This is what you see in almost every play in the NFL. You don’t see this with Tom Brady. Tom Brady is rarely, if ever, running for his life and having to make shit up on the fly. How come, is he that good? No, the guys protecting him are.
To me, THIS is what makes Tom Brady so amazing. Now, I don’t mean to take anything away fro Brady, as he is likely the best to ever play the game. What I would like to see is this, though. Put Brady on another team without his amazing amazing offensive line and see how he does.
The numbers speak for themselves. I have no idea what this graph is for, I just felt I should have a graph.
Put a marginally very good quarterback in the Patriots QB seat. I bet he could do Tom Brady numbers. I think it’s possible just about ANY qb in the NFL could put up historic numbers if they were given the time and protection that Brady has.
In all of the NFL, quarterback protection is lagging. It seems only the Patriots know this. They have won 5 Superbowls in the last 10 years. So, why isn’t everyone else taking notice? Maybe it isn’t sexy to spend 13 million bucks on a guy who will never touch the ball ever. He is a big fat ugly monster who will never get a shoe deal, or even get interviewed in the locker room after the show.
QB protection is the single most important aspect of an offense. There, I said it. Geesh, did it really take me 654 words to say that?