How has it come to this? Have we really reached the point where Tom Brady is no longer an elite quarterback?
The answer is no, but there are seemingly plenty of people who would tell you otherwise.
Brady may be 36, he may have had a down year – though that’s debatable – and he may not be as good as he was seven or eight years ago, but he’s still Tom freakin’ Brady.
We like to treat quarterbacks as gods, who can turn trashcans into all-pro receivers, but that’s not fair. Brady was dealt a bad hand last season, and even the all-mighty Peyton Manning couldn’t have done much better.
The biggest knock against Brady was that his competition percentage had taken a significant dip. At 60.5 percent, it was his lowest since 2003 – a year in which he won the Super Bowl. Now, there’s no denying that Brady’s statistics were somewhat lackluster, but his receivers gave him very little help.
New England was second in the league with a 6.6 percent drop rate, amounting to 41 drops all year. But say the Patriots had managed to be league average when it came to drops, at right around 26, then Brady’s completion percentage would have jumped up to 63.4 percent, right at his career average.
In 2013, Brady had nothing. Well, that’s not entirely true; Brady did have Julian Edelman, a receiver who actually had more tackles than receptions over the course of the previous three years. To be fair, I’ve always liked Edelman, but does anybody really think his 105 receptions were a product of his untapped talent? No! It was Brady. Brady is the one who turned the former quarterback/cornerback/return man into Wes Welker part two.
That said, Edelman was really the only receiver Brady had left from the 2012 season. Just think of who Brady was missing: Aaron Hernandez was in jail, Wes Welker was in Denver and both Rob Gronkowski and Shane Vereen missed at least half the season with injury. Those guys accounted for 90 percent of Brady’s completions in 2012, and in 2013, he had to play, for the most part, without them.
And what happened when Brady had someone like Gronk to throw to? Well, from weeks 7 to 12 (games in which Gronk was fully healthy), the Patriots averaged 32 points per game, re-solidifiying themselves as a top-five offense, and Brady threw for 298 yards, with a 64.6 percent completion rate, a game, .
Brady may not be the best quarterback in the NFL anymore, maybe not even the second best, but there is no doubt that he is still an elite passer. Underestimate him if you want, but remember that he was still just one win away from reaching the Super Bowl for a sixth time last year.
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