Tom Brady has seen it all. Design a defensive strategy on a cocktail napkin you think is new and creative and the New England Patriots legend will figure out how to beat it — or how he’s beaten it in the past. So it’s not as if he hasn’t dealt with every blitz package and permutation before. It’s just that he’s performing so poorly against them this year. In fact, going by passer rating, no quarterback has been worse, per ESPN.
It’s shocking to see one of the all-time greats (or the greatest depending on who you ask) ranked last in anything. Especially if it’s Brady, who possesses a competitive nature that borders on the psychotic.
And it’s gotten worse as the season’s going on.
Counting out Touchdown Tom is the third rail of sports punditry. Those who dare to do so usually suffer a painful comeuppance. But here’s the thing: if it were any other quarterback putting up that number, it’d be a problem. And he’d be under the magnifying glass.
Of course, he isn’t. Even if he is having his second-worst year of the last decade, you grade him on a sliding scale. The blitz numbers are not a sky-is-falling scenario. He’s lifted up the sky by himself far too many times.
So we can ignore, possibly should ignore some telltale signs of trouble that aren’t solely blitz-related. Out of 32 qualified passers, Brady ranks:
- 18th in completion percentage
- 16th in yards/attempt
- 19th in touchdown rate
- 12th in interception rate
This collection puts him in the not-so-elite company of Matthew Stafford this year, on paper.
Do I think Patriots fans should be overly worried or suggesting he’s, gasp, past the point of a Super Bowl caliber? No. At the same time, it’d be silly not to notice how Brady and New England have looked flat-out bad twice so far, and have lost three games by double digits to teams that are a combined 8-16 in their other NFL games.
Once at hapless Detroit and yesterday against Tennessee. It could happen again in the playoffs. Considering the Patriots may need to play two road contests to reach the Super Bowl, it’s worth filing away.