Once a quarterback is labeled as elite, those who put him on such a throne will do anything to make it seem like he’s still that way. The New England Patriots look bad, and Tom Brady no longer being any special at the quarterback position is a huge reason as to why it’s happening. Yet a big portion of the media is trying to blame everyone else but him.
There are plenty of people covering the NFL for various media outlets who use this kind of logic: If things go well for team A, they’ll praise the quarterback, especially if it’s someone they like. If things go badly for team B, they’ll mention everything that went wrong that made things bad for the quarterback. Tom Brady is a perfect example of a media darling that other fans love to hate. He hasn’t been playing very good football for quite some time now, but fingers from supporting reporters and writers keep pointing elsewhere.
The funny thing is that a lot of them don’t want to blame Bill Belichick as well. After coaching the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles in four years, Belichick became almost god-like when it comes to his skills. His unpleasant personality, showing zero or even minus affection for anyone that tried to challenge him on the field or anyone who dared ask him a question he didn’t like, just went along nicely with the image of the genius head coach.
Belichick seems to make risky moves each off-season when it comes to his personnel (he also makes all of these decisions). Some thing his ego as a head coach is leading him on, putting himself with more and more vulnerable rosters just so he can prove what a genius he is at putting together playoff and almost-championship teams out of thin air. All he needs was Brady. But 2012 was the last time Brady was very good. Last year he had big moments next to a lot of bad ones. This year? It looks bad almost all the time.
One can’t mention a quarterback and his poor performances without talking about the offensive line. Rodney Harrison mentioned that Brady looks afraid every time he drops back into the pocket. Others might mention that Brady, used to getting ample of time in the pocket until now, simply doesn’t know how to handle a constant pass rush. It’s always been an almost accepted fact that the moment Brady gets rattled more than once, he gets shaken. Even during his better days.
Brady’s numbers last year were his worst since 2006 or in some aspects his worst since his rookie season. His passer rating fell to 87.3, his touchdown ration out of completions fell to 4% and his yards per attempt reached 6.9. It was actually worse early on, which might mean that the numbers we’re seeing from him now – 59.1% completions, a touchdown pass on just 2.9% of his throws, only 5.8 yards per attempt and a passer rating of 79.1, are going to improve later on.
Yet it’s not just on the offensive line. Brady can’t move his feet and even avoid some sacks or pressure. All he can do is fling the ball, often in a flat way, and miss a receiver. His receivers aren’t the most impressive bunch in the league, but he’s missing them even when they’re open. Passes tipped too easily. Throws not reaching their targets. It used to be Brady doing the right thing while the receivers made the mistakes. Now it’s sometimes hard to tell. On his two interceptions against the Chiefs, the first one was arguable. The second? A desperate quarterback forcing something that wasn’t there.
Brady got benched. Maybe for fear of injury, but maybe this was Belichick delivering a message to Brady. The head coach has done a bad job so far this season in preparing a team for games against more than meager threats like the Raiders and Vikings. But the quarterback has been just as bad, and is looking more and more like someone who should be living up to his promise if this form persists.