Tom Brady is no longer a top-5 QB
by Sam Monson
Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. The elite quarterback Mount Rushmore has been in place for a few years now, a comforting constant in an NFL of consistent turnover and change. But it might be time to wipe one of those four faces off our mountain of elite play. The Tom Brady of 2014 no longer belongs on that monument.
On the surface, this sounds crazy. Brady has been quarterback royalty since he burst onto the scene in 2001, at the start of his second year, when Drew Bledsoe went down. Since that season -- along with the Super Bowl ring and Super Bowl MVP that it brought -- Brady has been a constant at the summit of elite quarterback play. He is a surefire Hall of Famer.
However, his decline is well underway, and it's showing up in one key aspect of his game in particular. Let's take a look at why Brady is no longer a top-five NFL QB, the QBs who should be ranked ahead of him, and what it means for the Patriots this season.
Feeling the heat
Pressure affects every quarterback. The difference between the best quarterbacks and those who just keep the seat warm for the next guy is how shallow the drop-off is between plays from a clean pocket and plays when they feel the pressure. The best quarterbacks are accurate on about 70 percent of passes under pressure (completion percentage adjusted for drops less throwaways, spikes, etc.). Manning had an accuracy rating of 69.0 percent in 2013, and at Brady's peak in 2010 he led the league with an accuracy rating of 70.7 percent on passes under pressure. Since then, however, he has been declining steadily. Last year he was accurate on just 57.6 percent of passes under pressure, 28th in the league.
Tom Brady No Longer In Mount Rushmore Of Active NFL Quarterbacks
By NESN Staff
Move over Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck are coming to take your spot on the Mount Rushmore of active NFL quarterbacks.
ESPN.com posted an article from Sam Monson of ProFootballFocus.com declaring that Tom Brady is no longer a top 5 quarterback. The article states that Brady’s inability to remain accurate and avoid turnovers under pressure shows his decline at age 37. Monson writes that Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, Green Bay Packers signal-caller Aaron Rodgers and the New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees "remain worthy of places on the quarterback Mount Rushmore," and that Brady has been passed by the San Diego Chargers’ Philip Rivers and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger.
Brady was rated the No. 3 quarterback in the NFL by ProFootballFocus.com in 2012, while Roethlisberger was No. 7 and Rivers was No. 28. My how things can change in one year.
Is this a fair assessment?
When one considers the loss of receivers, not just Gronk, Hernandez and Welker... but in addition, the loss of Amendola and Vereen after game #1... it is hard to say 'YES' to that question.
The "ELITE" QBs... the ones that put up the fanciest stats, not necessarily the ones that win the most, or biggest games (as Brady used to do long before his stats ever looked 'elite') rely on familiarity with the Offensive system, familiarity with their WRs, and their good health.
Take away any one of those three things, and the QB's numbers could drop as quickly as the temperature can on a Halloween's night in New England.
What Brady accomplished last season is truly difficult to judge, it is one great example of why I put no stock in stats, they just never tell the story... never.
Manning had a full compliment of his weapons last season, hardly a one of his WRs or RBs missed any time at all due to injury (or other issues)... we are talking Decker, Welker, Thomas, Thomas, and a bevy of RBs that could catch out of the backfield.
That would be the equivalent of Brady having Gronk, Dobson, Amendola, Vereen and Edelman healthy all of last season... to say nothing of AH.
Would Brady's numbers have been significantly better with those 5 players in the line-up all year long?
I think those numbers would have been substantially better, if they hadn't been forced to start their 2nd game of the season with Dobson (1st pro game), Thompkins (2nd pro game), and Edelman as his top 3 targets.
As to his being less than spectacular under pressure...
If you don't trust your Receivers to be where they are supposed to be, and run the routes they are supposed to run, its hard to throw to them when under pressure...
With age, I don't expect him to become better under pressure, or more mobile... but with familiarity of his WRs this season, I would be surprised if his percentages didn't improve... and more than a little concerned... a year like last season is almost too easy to explain away... still, two years in a row would be very troubling, especially if the O-line's performance improves, and his receivers have better luck staying healthy.
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