Monday, May 23, 2022

The Socialist’s Journal: Tom Brady is Pretty Good

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Trevor Brookins
Trevor Brookins

*This just in: Tom Brady is pretty good. No, really. He’s just pretty good. Not the greatest of all time, not even really the greatest of his generation. Just pretty good.

The first piece of evidence is that Brady wasn’t good enough to win the starting quarterback position in college despite his competition being a bigger baseball prospect than football prospect.  Because of that fact, Brady was relegated to being a 6th round pick when he left the University of Michigan. I accept that some people can be late bloomers but there is no evidence that anyone thought Brady would blossom into the best quarterback ever. People certainly underestimated Brady (maybe he was a really a 2nd or 3rd round talent) but what is the likelihood that the best quarterback ever would be so overlooked. Not likely.

The second piece of evidence is that Brady was a backup to a solid quarterback (but not a superstar), Drew Bledsoe when he came into the league. Bledsoe played for three teams in his NFL career, some of which cut bait on him while he was still very capable physically. And yet Brady couldn’t win the starting job over this dude. But wait, rookies don’t normally come from nowhere to beat out an established quarterback. This is usually true. But if you are the best quarterback ever, you would probably be able to show some kind of talent that would force a change I the depth chart. In fact Russell Wilson, as a unheralded 3rd round pick, was able to win the starting job as a rookie over a high priced free agent signing. If Brady was the best ever he should have been able to do the same.

The third piece of evidence is that when Brady got injured after taking over the starting job, Bledsoe was able to come back into the role of starting quarterback and win the AFC championship game. With a pretty good quarterback (no one is calling Drew Bledsoe the second coming of Johnny Unitas)  the Patriots were good enough to make it to the Super Bowl.

The fourth piece of evidence is his early Super Bowl record. Brady was the winning quarterback in three Super Bowls early in his career. He certainly deserves credit for his role but it is worth noting that each of those games was won by a field goal. It is also worth noting that soon after that series of wins the Patriots were disciplined for stealing the signals of their opponents. Perhaps the Patriots would have won those championships without any illegal advantages. But it is easy and fair to draw the conclusion that the team won not only because of Brady but also because of underhanded tactics.

The fifth piece of evidence is Brady’s backups.  Brady missed most of the 2007 season after suffering an injury in the first game. His replacement was Matt Cassel who promptly went 11-5. In the 2016 season Brady’s backup Jimmy Garoppolo  went 2-0 in place of Brady who was serving a suspension before Garoppolo got hurt. So the third string quarterback took over and went 1-1. To borrow a statistic from baseball, Brady’s WAR (wins above replacement) has to be extremely low. No matter who plays quarterback for the New England Patriots they have a great chance of winning. This directly leads us to the next piece of evidence.

And that is Bill Belichick. Belichick has proven himself as a great coach after being successful as an assistant, a unit coach, a coordinator, and then a head coach. When Manning vs. Brady was the en vogue argument earlier this century everyone recognized that Brady had a bit of an advantage because Manning was always competing against Belichick devised defensive schemes. Put simply Belichick has proven that he can be successful without Brady. Not only has Brady not proven the opposite, he has repeatedly restructured his contracts to be able to stay in New England and give Belichick the flexibility to continue working his magic.

I realize that six reasons why he is pretty good seems like an anti-Brady column. But this isn’t that at all. All championship teams and coaches have above average players. The best schemes still have to be executed and Brady was the trigger man on 5 championship teams. But I question whether anyone believes Brady would have 5 championships playing for another team without Belichick as his coach. On the other hand most people believe Belichick would have at least one if given a different pretty good quarterback. Brady deserves to be recognized as a great winner and someone who has exhibited great longevity. But the best quarterback of all time he is not.

Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War.  His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @historictrev.

 

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