Tom E. Curran expertly puts the 'What about 2008?' argument to rest.
Tom Brady was voted the top player in the NFL by his peers. Pretty easy call.
His chief competition in the voting was Peyton Manning. But Manning had a down year in 2010. It was a bleak followup to his brilliant 2009, a season Manning capped by throwing the ball to the wrong team at crunch time in the Super Bowl. A different outcome against the Saints and Manning may have been No. 1 no matter what Brady did in 2010. But legacies are indelibly written by what happens in title games (see Namath, Joe) and Brady's three rings and two Super Bowl MVPs are non-refundable proof of how he's generally played in big spots.
There was, however, a line of thinking that emerged among analysts and fans who weren't sold on Brady. If Brady is so great, the notion goes, why did the Patriots go 11-5 in 2008 without him? If Manning were ever lost for an extended period, the Colts would be a two-win team.
It's a question that - if left dangling - seems a bit damning. Until you consider just how significant the dropoff actually was. The 2007 Patriots went 16-0 in the regular season and were 18-0 and leading the Giants in the Super Bowl until strange stuff happened.
The 2008 Patriots didn't make the playoffs.
In 2007, Brady threw 50 touchdowns and eight picks and New England scored an NFL record 75 touchdowns. Cassel threw 29 fewer touchdown passes for the Patriots in relie of Brady in 2008.
To take it out a little further, consider what Matt Cassel has become. In 2010, he threw 27 touchdowns and 7 picks and made the Pro Bowl.
Cassel is a really good player. The Patriots didn't faceplant completely in 2008 when Brady went down because they prepared for the eventuality of having to play without him.
Yeah, they had success in 2008. But relative to the success they had when Brady was in there, the difference was stark.
The Patriots have the best "program" in the NFL. That they went 14-2 last year when they were revamping is more proof. And what the 11-5 record in 2008 really demonstrates is just how great a gap there is between the program the Patriots have developed and the rest of the league aside from a handful of other elites.
- Paul Perillo posts the Mock Draft Contest winners.
- PFW in Progress - 7/05/11: The PFW crew discusses Tom Brady being named the top player of 2011, and more. (2 hour program)
- Night at The Hall (30 second clip)
- Ian Rapoport looks at the current team specialists and thinks it would be a major surprise if Mesko, Gostkowski and Katula didn't end up back on the roster.
- Ian Rapoport and Karen Guregian offer a position-by-position breakdown of the Patriots heading into the free-agency period.
- Greg A. Bedard offers an update on where we are in this crucial stretch of the labor negotiations.
- Ian Rapoport notes Forbes Magazine ranked Tom Brady 50th in its "100 Great Things about America" list. Glee beat him by 3 spots.
- Mike Rodak profiles some free agents who could be a solid fit for the Patriots: Bills Safety Donte Whitner.
- ESPNBoston introduces fans to Director of College Scouting Jon Robinson, with the patriots since 2002.
- Tom E. Curran and Rob Bradford talk with Jerod Mayo about the lockout and how that affects preparing for the season. (9.28 min. audio)
- Tom E. Curran and Rob Bradford talk to Dan Klecko, who played with both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, to get his view on the two. (12.19 min. audio)
- Comcast SportsNet: Jermaine Wiggins says there's too much money at stake for a deal not to get done. (1.20 min. video)
- Mike Rodak notes former Patriots LB Tyrone McKenzie has become an unexpected leader in Tampa.
- Tim Graham (ESPN) AFC East's best: No. 14 Devin McCourty.
- Staff (Fox Sports) Franchise players: Vote for the greatest Patriot.
- Tim Graham (ESPN) Is any offensive player better than Brady?
- Michael David Smith (ProFootballTalk) Ray Lewis: Work ethic makes tom Brady "the greatest".
- Greg Gabriel (Nat'l Football Post) Which rookie position group can contribute early?
- Ross Tucker (ESPN) Opinions may vary on lockout timing: Veterans could have an advantage.
- John Clayton (ESPN) Crunch time for players, owners; Mailbag.
- Tim Graham (ESPN) Camps, preseason endangered. (1.40 min. video)
- NFL Videos: Manning vs. Brady. (4.22 min.) Derrick Mason believes Peyton is more valuable than Tom. Michael Lombardi and Jamie Dukes disagree.
- George Bretherton (NY Times) Top 10 unintended consequences of the lockout.
- Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) Report: Progress is slow, again.
- Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports) End to NFL lockout could be days away.
- Chris Mortensen (ESPN) NFL talks: Lawyers work on language. #&!*@#!
- Michael Silver (Yahoo! Sports) NFL leaders will be heroes once CBA is reached.
- Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) Silver: NFL, players "closer to an agreement than many people realize".
- Mike Freeman (CBS Sports) Yo, NFL, we're tired of 'it's close' - just get deal done.
- Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) A strong hint that a deal could be coming.
- Andrew Brandt (Nat'l Football Post) Whither Revenue Sharing? Key issue strangely silent.
- Gregg Rosenthal (ProFootballTalk) Poking more holes in the right of first refusal idea.
- Doug Farrar (Yahoo! Sports) Could retired players stand in the way of a new CBA?
- Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) Talks continued Tuesday, with skeleton crew.