Tom Brady doesn’t like how quarterbacks are being protected in the NFL today.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback highlighted how the trend of quarterbacks leaving the pocket on plays and defensive players’ caution on avoiding penalties is causing injuries. Brady, who takes a more selective approach to running with the football than the average quarterback today, delved into those topics on his weekly podcast, Let’s Go!, on Monday.
“So I’d say the game is a little softer than it used to be,” Brady said via Fox News’ Paulina Dedaj. “I think the defensive players are more on the defensive when they go in to tackle. And I think that’s probably adding to this element of quarterbacks outside the pocket and taking more chances, you know, than they did in the past.”
“You’re definitely more injury prone because you’re out of the pocket,” Brady added. “You don’t have the types of protection that you typically have in the pocket. And I would say the one thing that’s probably changed over the years in terms of why it’s probably gone a little more this way is, and I’ve alluded to this in the past, I think they’re calling more penalties on defensive players for hitting for violent contact.”
Brady on Dual-Threat QBs: ‘Oh, The Game Is Changing’
Brady, who has played in the NFL since 2000, has 21 seasons behind him to compare and contrast. Dual-threat quarterbacks were less common when he entered the league before the likes of Michael Vick, Cam Newton, and Russell Wilson emerged. The latest wave of running quarterbacks brought two of the league’s biggest stars in Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson.
For the record, Brady will run with the ball when it makes sense as he did on a first-down run against Atlanta in Week 2. Otherwise, he has been primarily a career pocket passer.
“I think there’s probably a lot of shortsightedness,” Brady said via Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. “You know, when I hear that a lot, because I’ve heard over the years, you know, ‘Oh, the game is changing,’ and so forth. I think the game changes in different ways, absolutely. It evolves and changes and grows and hopefully it’s getting better. And at the same time I think that there has always been, you know, incredible athletes playing professional football at the quarterback position. Randall Cunningham was an incredible athlete. Kenny Stabler was an incredible quarterback. Roger Staubach was. Michael Vick, I mean, I don’t know if there’s anyone more athletic that’s ever played than Michael Vick. … I think it definitely adds an element to the game.”
“There’s a lot of plays and hits that are happening on quarterbacks now, that are flags for defensive players, that probably weren’t that way 10 or 15 years ago,” Brady added.
Life-Threatening Hit Opened Door for Brady
Brady clearly saw the difference in the NFL two decades ago when a life-threatening hit to New England Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe changed their careers forever.
The brutal hit by New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis 20 years ago Thursday thrust Brady into action as Bledsoe got knocked to the ground and nearly bled to death. ESPN’s Seth Wickersham recently recapped the moment and transformation of Brady’s career.
Brady called the hit “a massacre” according to Wickersham, who added that Brady observed Bledsoe “was slurring his words and struggling to discuss the team’s audible system.”
“We gotta get him out of the game,” Brady told fellow Patriots backup quarterback Damon Huard per Wickersham.
Years later, Brady told Wickersham regarding Bledsoe — “nobody I’ve seen that’s ever been tougher than him” after witnessing Bledsoe play through injuries in 2000.