Tom Brady Take a Bow
When I first saw Tom Brady take over as the starter for the New England Patriots, I was like, eh! I thought, okay so this kid has to hold down the fort until the injured Drew Bledsoe comes back! I figured they had a a good defense so maybe they can go .500 til Bledsoe returned from a nasty hit by Mo Lewis of the Jets in week 2, causing, internal bleeding. After a slow start, the Patriots began clicking and before we knew it New England was 11 - 3 with Brady under center.
courtesy of ESPN
Later that season during the playoffs, the Pats had to go to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers in the AFC Championship. Tom Brady got twisted up the wrong way on a QB hit and was forced to come out of the game. Luckily Drew Bledsoe was healthy and helped lead the Patriots to a road victory to head to the Super Bowl.
We all remember the grinding decision Bill Belichick had to make during Super Bowl week as to who was going to start at QB after the ball was kicked off. Belichick famously said that he was going to stick with the guy who got them there and that guy was Tom Brady. This choice would turn out to be perhaps the greatest coaching decision in the history of the game. Because not only did Tom Brady and the Patriots win their first Super Bowl in franchise history back in 2001, but it was the beginning of an unforeseen dynasty like never witnessed before.
Brady was named MVP of Super Bowl XXXVI against the St. Louis Rams despite throwing for just 145 yards on 16/27 passing. He did throw one touchdown and led a methodical last drive to get New England in field goal range. Given that nobody else put up big numbers in the game, the award will usually go to the game winning quarterback.
I think that most of us would agree that Brady's first Super Bowl title was won primarily by defense and special teams. The following season the Patriots missed the post season going 9 - 7. However, the Pats owned the following two seasons winning consecutive championships in 03' and 04'. While Brady began to become the leader of the offense and partially the team, the wins over Carolina and Philadelphia can in large part be credited to the defense and special teams unit. In the teams first 3 Super Bowl titles, you can argue it was the Patriots defense that was the backbone of this squad and Adam Vinatieri was the difference in all three match ups as the Pats won each game by 3 points.
Now, I am not taking away from what Brady did in his first 4 years as the Patriots starting quarterback. To win 3 SB's in 4 seasons is incredible and can't be done without a significant quarterback. N.E. went 14 - 2 in those consecutive seasons but Brady's numbers don't make your jaw drop. These numbers don't scream Hall of Fame but winning is what the league and its voters care about.
2003: Passing Yards 3,620 - 23 TD's, 12 INT's and a 60.2% completion rate
2004: Passing Yards 3,692 - 28 TD's, 14 INT's and a 60.8% completion rate
Brady did take a leap the following season leading the league with 4,110 passing yards but his TD to INT ratio wasn't great again with 26 TD passes and 14 INT's. He had similar statistics with less passing yards in 2006. So at this point in Brady's career, even though he was the quarterback of 3 Super Bowl winning teams, I didn't look at him as the best QB or even top three. I was watching Peyton Manning do things at the line of scrimmage and command the offense like I've never seen before.
I was ranking Kurt Warner, Drew Brees, Steve McNair, Brett Favre and even Rich Gannon ahead of Brady despite his early accomplishments. I did not see what Tom Brady was about to become.
To me, Tom Brady's true coming out party was in 2007 when the Patriots acquired Randy Moss and a match was made in football heaven. The pair broke two single season records on the same play. Brady threw his season record 50th touchdown pass to Moss who caught a season record 23rd touchdown of the year. This was the same season that New England went 18 - 1, losing the final game in the Super Bowl against the New York Giants. Even though the Patriots didn't win the whole thing that year, I still believe that was the best football team I've ever seen.
courtesy of Musket Fire
Brady, Belichick and the Patriots were fired up and determined to have a repeat regular season but win the Super Bowl this time. All of those hopes and dreams broke down along with Brady's leg as he tore his ACL and MCL in week 1 against the Chiefs, done for the entire season. Now Brady had an even bigger chip on his shoulder to overcome his injury and get back to doing what he loves most. His love, passion and drive for the game of football is in large part why he became the quarterback he did the year after the injury in 2009. Brady became a different player after that. With a full season and off season of watching tape on not just his opponents but of himself, Brady began to realize a few things in his play to improve his game.
The first thing Brady did was cut down on his interceptions because he realized he had cost his team big in the past with some of the picks he threw. Brady also began using his running backs in the short passing game to gain chunk yards as opposed to throwing 50 yards down field too often. Brady became more efficient and the leadership he developed trickled down all throughout the Patriots organization. Brady also started taking less sacks as he learned to get the ball out of his hand quickly. Brady was on a mission and he put himself through football boot camp in order to reach new heights.
In the 2009 season, Brady threw for 4,398 yards with 28 TD's and 13 INT's. That wasn't good enough for Brady as they fell short of reaching the Super Bowl. The following season he put up MVP numbers with 3.900 yards, 36 touchdown passes and only 4 picks. His plan was beginning to take form as Brady and the Pats found themselves back in the Super Bowl in 2011 against that same New York Giants team. Apparently they're Brady's kryptonite as the G-Men beat the Pats once again in the season finale.
After the 2009 season, Brady was basically averaging 35 touchdowns passes per season and staying in the single digits throwing picks. Up til this point, Brady had been to 5 Super Bowls and won three of them. The last one being in the 2004 season. It took Brady 10 years to get his next ring as the Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks in one of the most thrilling Super Bowls in history. It may be a different story had Russell Wilson jusst turned around and handed the ball off to Marshawn Lynch.
You want a thrill?! How about in 2016 Super Bowl when the the Atlanta Falcons were leading the Patriots 28 - 3 at halftime. Most people thought the game was over but Brady and their defense were able to bring the Pats all the way back in one of the most improbable games in Super Bowl history. Brady kept taking the Patriots to the Super Bowl.
The following season, New England found themselves back in the championship against the Philadelphia Eagles which turned out to be perhaps the most exciting game in the history of the Lombardi Trophy era. The Eagles won a back and forth, edge of your seat game 41 - 33. This game you can put on the defense for allowing back up QB Nick Foles to throw for 373 yards and toss 3 touchdown passes, and he even caught a TD pass on the "Philly Special.". Brady played a great game and threw for over 500 yards with 3 TD passes himself.
The year after that in SB LIII (2018), surprise, surprise - New England's third straight SB appearance where the Pats put on a defensive display against the high flying Rams offense winning 13 - 3. The defense made up for the prior years performance against the Eagles. But only 13 points for the Patriots offense?!
After their last Super Bowl victory, the Patriots and Tom Brady were beginning to split and would eventually part ways at the end of the 2019 season where in 2020 New England missed the post season for the first time since Brady's injury in 2008. After the season ended the speculation of where Tom Brady would play ball next was as hyped as when LeBron James announced he was taking his talents to South Beach. Brady may not have gone to South Florida but he did settle for a warmer climate in Tampa Bay, Florida.
Bring on Tampa Tom! After 20 years with the Patriots, 6 Super Bowl rings along with 9 overall appearances, Brady wasn't done yet as he basically hand picked his next destination in Tampa Bay. Brady saw the Bucs as being just a piece away from being true contenders. Turns out Tom was that missing piece as he rallied the Bucs late in the season and throughout the playoffs beating Mahomes and the Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. I mean you just can't even write this stuff for a Hollywood script. It wouldn't be believable on screen but on the field it was an ultimate reality.
We talk about the best player to ever to play in every sport. In the NBA we hear Jordan, LeBron and Kareem. In baseball we hear Willie Mays, Babe Ruth and yes Barry Bonds. The NHL has a stand alone greatest player and it's in his nickname, "The Great One" Wayne Gretzky. In the NFL we now try to compare other quarterbacks to Tom Brady and ask who's going to be the next great or the next Brady!? I think we have to realize that in all likelyhood we'll never see an individual, especially a quarterback, get to 10 Super Bowls and win 7 of them!
I will probably repeat this but it must be said and understood. Tom Brady has more Super Bowl rings as an individual than any other franchise in the league! He's been to more Super Bowls than any other team, tied with his former Patriots! Can you guys comprehend what I'm saying here?! He won more Super Bowls (7) than any other entire franchise has and has individually gone to a record 10 Super Bowls. That is just absolutely insane! Please think about that!
Other than all seven of his SB rings, what put Brady over the top was breaking nearly every significant all time quarterback record and having incredible individual seasons with eye popping numbers. He's never had a losing season. He dominated the AFC East, winning the division just about every year. Brady was clutch! If he had the ball in a two-minute drill you can pack it up and go home cause you know Brady is going to get the job done. Brady had ultimate confidence and it never seemed the moment was too big for him. He had the respect of all his teammates and coaches. His work ethic is second to none. His arm strength was always underrated but the man had a cannon! Even the Tom Brady haters have to acknowledge what this "Man in the Arena" was able to accomplish in the NFL.
Every thought and every statistic tells you that Tom Brady is the best quarterback of all time and there's no debate. But there is a debate! Not everyone believes Brady is the G.O.A.T. When these conversations come up I hear names like Peyton Manning, Joe Montana, Aaron Rodgers and now Patrick Mahomes. I've persoanlly maintained that John Elway was the best QB I've ever watched play football. Then I saw Manning, Rodgers and Mahomes and said these guys are every bit as good as Elway including my guy in San Francisco Joe Montana. None of these players have Brady's resume but does that necessarily mean he is the greatest of all time?!
courtesy of Fox News
Honestly the eye test says no! I've seen Brady carve up defenses for years but some of these other guys brought that extra added athleticism element. Watching Rodgers in his prime was as good as it gets. He played the position to near perfection with the best all time TD - INT ratio which is a big deal to me. But then I think, Rodgers has only been to one Super Bowl and while he won it he never got his team back to the big game.
We talk about the "It" factor and there's no doubt that Brady has it! I watch other quarterbacks play and say to myself that Brady can't do that. Despite his physical limitations, his mental capacity makes Tom Brady what he is. But again, is he truly the best quarterback we've ever seen.
For me the answer is no! I think an argument can be made for guys like Montana, Rodgers, Elway and Manning. These guys seemed to play the quarterback position better than Brady did. I used to have debates if Peyton Manning was the Patriots QB, could he win even more than Tom did. As I stated in the beginning that the Pats defense was the biggest reason why New England won those first 3 Super Bowls. Because after they won it all in 2004 against the Eagles, it took an entire decade before Brady was able to lead the Patriots to a Super Bowl victory aganist the Seahawks. A game Seattle should have won by the way if they just would have handed the ball off to Marshawn Lynch at the goal-line.
The question for some time was who gets more of the credit, Bill Belichick or Tom Brady. For me the answer was simple. A very capable, intelligent coachable player came into a great system with great coaches and a great defense. The pressure wasn't on Brady during those first few years. And it just so happens that perhaps the greatest coach this league has ever seen was paired up with a guy like Brady. They both deserve full credit for the franchise success. There's no doubt that Belichick had a lot to do with how Brady plays the game and puts those teachable moments in practice into action on the field come game day.
So is Tom Brady the best quarterback in NFL history? Even though I don't believe so, yea he is! I have to give it to Tom because he has all the records, all the rings and all the respect he deserves. He's not the best QB in my opinion but he certainly is the most accomplished. Winning 7 rings is no accident so obviously Brady was doing a lot of things right.
He wasn't the biggest, strongest, tallest, fastest player with the best arm in the league and great scrambling abilities. He wasn't the best in any of those categories but he made the most out of what he had. Meaning to say even though Brady didn't top any of these attributes, he had all of these attributes plus all the tangible and intangible factors I mentioned earlier like supreme intelligence, an amazing work ethic, keeping his body healthy, film study and determination just to name a few. Football is the ultimate team sport and Tom Brady was the ultimate team player. Given his resume written below, I can no longer put any quarterback ahead of Brady until I see another QB do anything remotely close to what Brady has accomplished.
7 time Super Bowl Champ
10 Super Bowl appearances
3 time NFL MVP
5 time Super Bowl MVP
15 Pro Bowl selections
First Team All Pro 3 times
Hall of Fame All 2,000's Team
Hall of Fame All 2010's Team
2007 Offensive Player of the Year
2009 Comeback Player of the Year
2010 Offensive Player of the Year
All Time Leader in touchdown passes, completed passes, passing attempts & passing yards
He's the greatest of all time!