Tom’s still terrific

It must be a slow news week. With National Football League training camps underway, pundits are reaching for anything to fill the insatiable palates of football fans. One particularly ludicrous notion being tossed around the mediasphere is whether or not Tom Brady is in decline.

New England Patriots' Quarterback Tom Brady. Photo courtesy Jack Newton (Wikimedia Commons).

New England Patriots’ Quarterback Tom Brady. Photo courtesy Jack Newton (Wikimedia Commons).

Mike Specht

Sports Writer

It must be a slow news week. With National Football League training camps underway, pundits are reaching for anything to fill the insatiable palates of football fans. One particularly ludicrous notion being tossed around the mediasphere is whether or not Tom Brady is in decline.

Before this lunacy goes any further it is important to remind folks that a “down year” by Brady’s standards is one that any other quarterback in the league would kill to call their own.

Not only that but Brady, 36, is three years removed from a season where he led the Patriots to 513 points and a Super Bowl appearance.

In the two seasons since – his supposed “declining” years – he has thrown for 59 touchdowns versus 19 interceptions, and 9.170 yards; for a combined quarterback rating of 93. Couple that with two straight AFC Championship Game appearances, and even the most casual fan could see that Tom-Terrific is still at the top of his game.

Granted, 2012 was not the best season for Brady statistically, but it was largely due to factors beyond his control. Following two straight 500 point seasons in 2011 and 2012, Patriots brass let receivers Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker test the open market.

With Tight Ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez locked in until 2018 and 2019, their pass catching situation seemed set. With additional talent such as backup slot receiver Julian Edelman and free agent prize Danny Amendola, Brady’s cupboard seemed well stocked.

No one could have predicted that Gronkowski’s injury problems would continue, or that Hernandez would stand accused of murder just three months after signing his extension.

But that was the way things unfolded and Brady entered the 2013 season without his top four receivers from the year before. To make matters worse he lost the fifth when Shane Vereen went down with a broken wrist in a week one victory over the Bills.

That game also essentially ended the season before it even started for Amendola. The oft-injured wideout tore a muscle in his groin, which hampered his quickness all season.

This left Brady with the unproven Edelman, rookie undrafted signee Kenbrell Tompkins, and second round pick Aaron Dobson as his primary targets. Dobson would later miss time due to a stress fracture in his foot.

It was between weeks 7 and 13 that things began to turn around. Gronkowski was back from the physically unable to perform list and Brady looked to be hitting his stride as the Tight End rounded into form.

Gronkowski’s impact on the Patriot offence cannot be understated. When the Tight End is healthy, the Pats red zone percentage jumps 27 per cent from 40.9 per cent to 67.9 per cent, while Brady’s passer rating gets a 17.2 point boost; from 79.5 to 96.7.

During the eight week stretch where Gronkowski was healthy, Brady’s average yards per completion spiked. Going from five and six yards per pass, to eight and nine consistently – before hitting his peak at 13.09 yards per completion during a week nine drubbing of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The loss of Gronk and others was not the only factor working against Tom Brady this season, as the Patriots put on their worst performance protecting their star in over a decade.

Brady was sacked 40 times in 2013, that is 13 more than 2012 and the most since his first year as a starter in 2001. The Patriots’ offensive line’s inability to keep Brady upright resulted in New England drafting three Offensive Tackles in the mid rounds of the NFL draft.

It is true, 2013 is a year that Tom Brady will probably want to forget. But so is any year where he doesn’t bring home the Lombardi Trophy. As he stated earlier in the week; success is measured in wins and losses and nothing else.

With annual 12-4 seasons, and trips to Championship games it is hard to imagine that this is what a Quarterback in decline looks like. If it is, then 28 franchises in the league have some serious issues at the position.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*