Tom Brady has spent 20 incredible seasons with the New England Patriots, leading the team to nine Super Bowl appearances and winning six titles.
But sentiment and past accomplishments aside, the Patriots’ quarterback is set to enter free agency as he searches for a new contract, one that will likely be the last in his storied NFL career. The Patriots are still very much in the conversation for where Brady could play here as are several other teams in speculation.
However, New England may be better off finding a new quarterback at least according to one NFL expert. Bucky Brooks, a former NFL kick returner and current analyst for the league believes that the Patriots should start preparing for the future, not holding onto the past.
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Stats Don’t Lie
Brooks looks at Brady’s declining performance over the second half of the 2019 season. Regardless of the personnel that Brady had at his disposal, the Patriots’ quarterback did little to help his own cause and completed less than 60 percent of his passes down the stretch. Via NFL.com, it’s a valid argument Brooks is trying to make:
Brady got off to a sizzling three-game start from the pocket (see: a 67.9 percent completion rate, 303.7 passing yards per game, 8.6 yards per pass, a 7:0 TD-to-INT ratio and a 116.5 passer rating). But through the rest of the regular season, Brady ranked among the bottom six in the league in completion percentage (59.4, ranking 28th), yards per attempt (6.2, tied for 30th) and passer rating (82.0, 27th).
Brady also struggled against pressure in 2019, as evidenced by his 37.4 percent completion rate on those throws — the third-lowest mark in the NFL this season among QBs with at least 30 attempts under duress. When you compare that number to the 52.1 percent completion rate that he posted under pressure from 2016 to ’18, it is apparent that he is no longer the surgeon who used to carve up any opponent that dared to challenge him with five- and six-man pressures.
TB12 is also incapable of attacking the entire field as a passer, particularly on throws out wide. Brady finished 2019 with the lowest passer rating (67.4) among 32 qualified quarterbacks on throws to wide targets, along with a 53 percent completion rate and a 5:6 TD-to-INT ratio on these tosses.
Refuting These Claims
While the stats certainly paint a telling picture of New England’s late-season downfall, they fail to take into account a few huge details. The Patriots dealt with injuries and immense turnover at the offensive line and receiver positions all season long.
Although Brady has played with worse supporting casts, it wasn’t exactly on the same level he had during the three seasons prior, especially down the stretch.
It also doesn’t take into account the number of drops by receivers and throwaways Brady was forced to make. With those removed, Brady actually had a marginally better season in 2019 than in the year before.
Brady’s age is starting to become an issue, but it’s clear the quarterback is still able to make tight-window throws as well as be a difference-maker in close games.