The New England Patriots moved to 3-0 by pitching a complete game shutout against Houston last night. Who needs this Tom Brady guy? The guys at Barstool have already dealt with some trolling, and as we’ve seen on numerous occasions, when a really good team does well without the starting quarterback, these “he isn’t so valuable” arguments creep up. (Remember when Aaron Rodgers shouldn’t have been the MVP in some circles after Matt Flynn went out and threw 6 touchdowns in a meaningless week 17 game? We saw how that worked out).
But these comments are really as fleeting as anything on the internet. No one judges the quality of the quarterback by whether a (pretty good) team can devise a limited game plan and still win games with a backup, because the roster is full of good players elsewhere.
Don’t believe me? When was the last time anyone pointed out Joe Montana’s legacy was tarnished?
Here are the records of Joe Montana from 1981 (when he became the regular starter) through 1990, his last season starting in San Francisco. The 49ers of the 1980’s and 1990’s are the closest franchise comp to what New England is currently doing, with 15 (and counting) straight winning seasons.
With Montana: 98-33 (74.8%)
Without Montana: 14-6-1 (69.0%)
About half of those games were with Steve Young, and they went 7-3. But they went 7-3-1 with a cast of characters who have never been in your kitchen.
Here is Steve Young from 1991-1998.
With Young: 96-31 (75.6%)
Without Young: 13-4 (76.5%)
In 1999, the 49ers did collapse and Young was forced into retirement only 3 games into the season, but during much of the decade, they were able to win even when he had to miss a game.
And here’s Brady and New England versus other QBs from 2001 to present:
With Brady: 172-51 (77.1%)
Without Brady: 13-7 (65.0%)
If you want to exclude the two Drew Bledsoe games, you get 13-5 (72.2%). That’s pretty much like what the other dominant dynasty did when they were without their two Hall of Fame quarterbacks.
I think Brady will be just fine. The dropoff is greater for mediocre teams in losing a top quarterback–in the regular season. Where Brady, Montana, and Young matter is making a pretty good team into one capable of winning titles. All of those organizations would have been playoff teams many years without them, but would not have the titles.