Commentary: Is Patriots’ Tom Brady losing his superstar mystique?
If Gisele Bundchen can get the label “super” attached to her job description as a model then why doesn’t her husband deserve the same type of recognition, one fitting of his elite status.
Tom Brady has the best winning percentage of any quarterback in the Super Bowl era of the NFL. He has the highest winning percentage (.775) of any active quarterback, edging Peyton Manning (.693) convincingly.
Brady is universally viewed as a first ballot Hall of Famer based on his body of work the past 13 seasons as a starter. He’s won three Super Bowls with New England, and has kept the Patriots as a title contender for more than a decade.
Certainly that’s worthy of a “super quarterback” designation?
Especially when considering how Brady has propped up a mediocre, and injury-depleted New England roster, keeping Bill Belichick’s squad upright like a kickstand would, masking many of the Patriots issues with a 5-2 record.
But Brady’s passing statistics are so far off of his career marks the NFL has Miami’s own Ryan Tannehill rated a better quarterback this season.
“We just have to do a better job period, all of us. We have to coach better, we have to play better, we have to produce more than that,” Belichick said. “If there was a key to put in the lock that would just magically open it up, hopefully we would have already found that. I don’t really think that’s the answer.”
Brady finding his groove could be that key, but that hasn’t happened yet.
Brady is completing 55.4 percent of his passes, and averages 5.99 yards per attempt. Both statistics are far off his career averages of 63.4 percent, and 7.5 yards per attempt.
Brady has been sacked 20 times already this season. He’s been sacked 30 or more times on four occasions in his 14 seasons.
The Patriots offense is converting just 33.3 percent of third downs this season. That’s fourth worst in the NFL. Last year the Patriots had the NFL’s highest third down conversion rate (48.7).
Last year, Brady was the second best quarterback in the NFL on third downs, possessing a 110.8 passer rating. This year Brady ranked 13th with a 85.5 rating.
All of these stats hint Brady is losing his super power.
“I’m not buying any of that,” Philbin said. “This guy is one of the best ever. They are playing well and we have to expect them to play extremely well at home, they do. They are 3-0 at home, and he’s pretty good.”
But clearly something is off this season, and it begins with the lackluster weapons the Patriots’ front office handed him.
Wes Welker has become Manning’s favorite target in Denver, and Welker’s replacement, Danny Amendola, has only played three games because of groin and concussion issues.
New England’s once dynamic tight end duo is now a one man act because Aaron Hernandez is behind bars awaiting his murder trial. And Rob Gronkowski played his first game last week because of lingering back and forearm issues.
Brady missed Gronkowski so much he threw 17 of New England’s 46 passes his way in last Sunday’s overtime loss to the Jets, which was the second game this season Brady didn’t throw a touchdown pass. Both turn out to be losses.
Still, the Patriots maintain its reputation as the AFC East’s bully, and one of the AFC’s best teams.
Brady’s chiseled chin, and his fiery reputation help silence the theory that New England has lost some of its mystique.
“We haven’t been ... we haven’t really played to our capabilities yet. We’re still trying to find our way and find out the things we do well and try to eliminate the mistakes we’ve been making,” Brady said. “It’s really a process for us. I certainly hope that this is our best week, that we can go out there and play our best, because we’re going to need to play our best.”
Even super models age, and so do elite quarterbacks.
Dan Marino was a shell of legendary self in his final three seasons before eventually retiring at 38.
Considering Brady turned 36 in August, maybe we’re finally seeing the human side of one the NFL’s few super quarterbacks.