Monday, January 16, 2017

Brady is Frustrating Like No Other

It always seems to be this way.  Tom Brady shreds teams during the regular season.  We are on that page together. 11-1 record after coming back from the four game suspension.  Yup.  28-2 Touchdown to Interception ratio.  Yup on that one too.  Highest completion percentage since 16-0 to boot.  He is the greatest regular season quarterback of all time.

But then you get him into the playoffs and things change.  With the 34-16 drubbing of Houston a couple of days ago, Tom Brady has played in 32 playoff games.  The math is easy now because that is two complete seasons.  His record turns to 11.5 and 4.5.  His TD/Int ration goes to 29/15.  His completion record drops by almost 3 percentage points.  What's the deal?

A couple of things are at work causing Brady to go from regular season MVP to Phillip Rivers.

1.  Teams Finally Execute the Game Plan.  We all know the best way to stop the Patriots' defense.  Getting to Tom Brady.  Now sacking him is too easy.  What I really mean is hitting him every chance one gets.  This takes patience and a lot of hard work.  During the regular season, team defenses struggle to execute that game plan because teams are too banged up and conserving energy.  Once the playoffs come around, teams put all of that aside and go after him with reckless abandon because they don't have anything else to lose.

2.  Patriot's Meta Schedule.  This is one that has been dragged around for years.  The Bills, Jets and Dolphins all suck.  Now not every year, but you can generally count on 2 of the 3 teams to suck every year.  This leads to an easy 5-6 wins every year.  What also is at work is that the AFC has a lot of bad teams, not just int he AFC East.  The Raiders and Browns have been bad for years.  Same with the Jaguars and Titans.  The Chargers and Bengals, while making the playoffs, are always soft.  Really, except for the Ravens, Steelers and Broncos, the entire conference is soft and the Patriots get 2 games against them.  Its not a division thing, its a conference thing.

3.  Brady Isn't Clutch.  Now this is a red herring, but this stands to reason.  He does have the third most game winning drives in history with 49 (only Manning and Marino have more).  But the Houston game is a perfect example of the clutchness issue.  He never seems to have good games int eh playoffs.  He always seems to do just enough to win most games, but you never say that Tom Brady was the reason that the Patriots won the so-and-so game.  The 2007 and 2011 Super Bowls are other good examples of this phenomenon.  Some players are just not as good when it counts.

So as the Patriots enter into the AFC Championship against the Pittsburgh Steelers (and their own shaky QB), it will remain to be seen if Brady can look like the Brady that will win the MVP.

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