Re: Brady In Decline?
posted at 1/25/2013 10:31 PM EST
In 2012, Brady's offense set a new NFL record for first downs in a 16 game season.
First downs do a number of nice things for your team. First, the opponent's defense starts playing like a donut that's been left in the coffee too long. Second, your own team's somewhat anemic pass defense stays on the bench drinking Gatorade, taking coaching points and talking about local restaurants for a post-game meal. Third, your offense can rush up to the line of scrimmage, forcing the opponent's defense to play the eleven guys still on the field from either third and 10 or second and 1. With any luck they won't line up properly and your wide receiver is uncovered.
It may be that when the opponent in the 2012 NFL is bringing heat fast, an eight yard pass play on first and 10 is pretty golden. Second and two is a matter of handing the ball to your running back and he runs in back of a competent run-blocking offensive line for an easy first down, or if the opponent seems to be playing the run, throw another high-percentage short pass. The Patriots' short pass play seems to work like a charm in the red zone, so there's not much to stop it. 34.85 points per game in a cold, windy stadium isn't bad at all.
Brady's recent numbers problem could be Bill Belichick's football calculations. BB wanted to win more football games, so he shortened the pass play distance and he shortened Brady's average time in the pocket to an NFL low.
So, be careful about people sifting through lots of figures, looking for a good one. One half of one game against Baltimore does not a trend make. In fact, Brady was hitting lots of guys in the hands during the second half but the guys were all hearing footsteps, and that's what killed the long drives. Also, Gronk and three important defensive players went out, and then the running back was knocked cold and fumbled the football. Brady's age didn't have anything to do with all that.
Tom Brady will slide downhill some day, but there's no real evidence of that right now. He wants to win and out of the last 11 games, including the two playoff-caliber opponents, his team won 9, mostly with Brady carrying the team on his back.