Whether they’re winning or they’re losing, the media always finds negative storylines when it pertains to the most successful franchise and quarterback over the past 20 years. Following the Patriots’ first loss of the season after an 8-0 start — a 37-20 thumping at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens in Week 9 — several ESPN analysts took the opportunity to take Brady down a notch.
After a bad performance which saw Brady go 30-for-46 for just 285 yards (6.2 yards per pass attempt), a really bad interception and an 80.4 quarterback rating, ESPN analysts Max Kellerman, Stephen A. Smith and former NFL running back DeAngelo Williams let the six-time Super Bowl winner have it on “First Take.”
First off, here’s what Kellerman had to say.
“It was incumbent upon Brady to put some points on the board, and he couldn’t do it. I’ve said he’s dinking and dunking more than ever last year, but this year it’s even more apparent. Tom Brady can’t win you a game like this. It’s Brady I’d be concerned about.”
DeAngelo Williams: Brady is Struggling Without Rob Gronkowski
Williams said that Brady no longer has his security blanket in former All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski — he retired in the offseason — and that Brady’s age showed against a fast and youthful defense in the Ravens.
“I knew that Tom Brady and that offense wasn’t as potent as they used to be with the loss of (Rob Gronkowski), because that was his comfort zone. That’s what Tom Brady liked to go to when he needed a big play, if he needed something to happen, whether it’s a pass interference … he no longer has that cushion. So, therefore, the age is starting to show when he plays youthful, good teams.”
Smith then topped it off by saying that due to Brady’s age — 42 years old — it’s hard for him to last in a game after getting hit so many times.
“I believe the reason he was over there talking to himself (on the sidelines), was because they were putting a hat on him. So, it goes to what Max has talked about in terms of age, attrition, kicking in. … As you get older and you take those hits, you feel it a little bit more.”
Tom Brady Has Literally Become a Dink-and-Dunk Passer
Let’s not sugarcoat it — it is true that Brady is relying heavily upon the dink-and-dunk passing. He’s throwing more intentional incompletions than ever before — he leads the league in that category — and it’s more apparent than ever that if you slightly touch Brady, he becomes rattled.
That had always been the case even earlier in his career, but it’s especially more true now that he’s older — as Smith points out.
What had overshadowed Brady’s sluggish play this season is the fact that the defense had the most dominant display in modern NFL history over the first eight games, allowing just 7.6 points per game. It doesn’t matter how sluggish your quarterback plays if you’re allowing just one touchdown per game.
Brady and the Patriots will look to rebound when they visit the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 11, but if Brady has another subpar performance, you can be sure that the rumors of this being his last season in New England will just intensify during the closing weeks of the regular season.