I warned everyone a couple of weeks ago not to take for granted what we’re witnessing with Tom Brady and everything he’s doing right now. Because his like will not pass this way again. And because he’s doing more than defying age and all known laws of physics, he’s busting myths. Taking common misconceptions, false narratives, urban legends, fake news and settled science and exploding them like a cement mixer in a testing range.
So as a public service as we’re roughly 1/3 of the way through the season, and to distract myself from the fact his left shoulder is banged up and he missed a practice, here are the Five Tom Brady Myths That Tom Brady is Busting Right Now:
Myth 1: At age 40, Brady is heading for a “cliff.”
At least that’s the Max Kellerman line. But he’s not alone. The Doomsday Cult waiting for Brady’s inevitable demise has been counting down the days to when he’ll finally succumb to the ravages of age. And when he doesn’t, they just move back the date he’s going to rot like an old banana before our eyes. Time waiteth for no man. Except for Brady.
Last year at age 39 he had the best season since his two MVP years. His passer rating and average yards per attempt were the second highest of his career, behind only his 16-0 season in 2007. And this year, through five games, one of which he had three wide receivers in uniform, one in which he was missing the best tight end in football and none of which have had Julian Edelman, he’s a year older and even better.
Brady’s passer rating is virtually identical to last season. Remember the huge hairy deal we all made about his two interceptions in 12 games last year? His interception percentage is the same. His AY/A is the highest it’s ever been. And he’s throwing for an insane 340 yards per game, which is a pace for 5440, or more than his career best total from 2011, when he was the unanimous MVP.
Myth 2: The key to stopping Brady is pressure.
This is shorthand for my favorite dumbass cliché of all time: “Brady doesn’t like to get hit!” Right. Because there’s nothing Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson love more than being flat on their back under a whale pod of defensive linemen making it 3rd and 22. But “not liking to get hit” and “not being any good while getting hit” are two vastly different things. And Brady is really, really good in the face of a pass rush.
Everything he’s doing so far, he’s doing with the worst pass protection he’s ever played behind, save for that cluster at the end of 2015 when the o-line was gutted by injuries. He’s been sacked 16 times, which is already more than all of last season. He’s on a 51-sack pace, which would be the most in his career. And yet, he’s throwing better under pressure than when he has a clean pocket. I am not shitting you. When he’s been kept clean, he’s got a passer rating of 109.6, 13th in the league. Under pressure he’s 2nd best in the league, 118.0.
Myth 3: Brady can’t throw the deep ball.
On targets of 20 yards or longer, he’s 14-of-30, with two of those incompletions being drops. He leads the NFL in passing yards on deep throws with 469, and touchdowns with four. And his passer rating is 132.6.
Myth 4: Brady is a “system quarterback.”
This is a perennial, and another one of my favorites. It’s the argument that says “It’s not Brady; it’s Belichick,” the corollary to the “It’s not Belichick; it’s Brady” that sometimes you hear out of the exact same mouths, depending on what they’re pissed off about on a given day. Anyway, just as a fun fact, last weekend in the NFL there were 28 starting quarterbacks, four of whom were brought into the league by the Patriots: Brady, Brian Hoyer (UDFA in 2009), Matt Cassel (drafted in 2005) and Jacoby Brissett (drafted in 2016). That’s one out of every seven, or 14.2 percent. And while Hoyer put up a bunch of yards and Brissett looks promising, do you remember mistaking any of those guys for the GOAT? I mean, if all it takes is a “system,” why don’t these QBs who were taught it in New England put up Hall of Fame numbers? Why Adam Gase just install it in Miami and turn Jay Cutler into an MVP candidate? The “system” has been in use since Charlie Weis introduced it in 2000. It’s available to anyone who wants to use it. But still there’s only one GOAT.
Myth 5: Brady cheated.
I was not about to leave this alone. Because I will never forgive and never let the world forget. Ever. I’ll die first.
Since halftime of the 2014 AFC title game against the Colts, meaning since the league first began to keep a close watch on the condition of the footballs that he was messing with (at home games only) to make them squishy and give himself an unfair competitive advantage that he owed his whole career to, here are Tom Brady’s numbers:
Attempts: 1.413. Completions: 930. Comp %: 65.8. TDs: 84. INTs: 14. TD/INT Ratio: 6.0
Won/loss record: 30-7. Super Bowl titles: 2.