When debating on the performance of players in the NFL, there are two sides of any debate—those who consider statistic as the best measure of the players performance and those who consider wins and championships as the best measure of a players performance.
Each side has its own measure and formula of what is most important and how to judge a players performance.
The measure of how "clutch" a player performs is mostly used by those who believe winning championships is the most important factor in any debate (especially quarterbacks.)
When those who weigh championships more mention the notion of clutch to the statistics group, the stats group usually say that it’s a false measure—that being clutch is exaggerated in order to make excuses as to why a player hasn’t put up impressive statistics.
That in turn would equalize the playing field to players that have put up impressive numbers.
What’s ironic is that this same group of debaters have created a fictitious measure themselves—the cliché of a "system quarterback," described as being a quarterback with outstanding surrounding talent, coaching staff, and an organization that covers flaws in the quarterbacks ability to be successful and win games.
This cliché is used on Tom Brady more than any other quarterback in the league today. The only problem is, Tom Brady's not a "system quarterback."
The cliché used against Brady is nothing more than the Brady pundits excuses to why he has become successful.
The majority of NFL fans believe that Brady was drafted and put into a Super Bowl contender. This is a misconception that is meant to belittle Tom Brady’s impact to the New England Patriots.
Before Brady became the starting quarterback of the Patriots in the 2001 season, the Patriots went 5-11 with a four time Pro-Bowl quarterback (which Brady is now himself) and former No. 1 overall pick in Drew Bledsoe.
They also had major pieces put in place such as Willie McGinest, Ty Law, Teddy Bruchi, Kevin Faulk, Adam Vinatieri, and Lawyer Milloy, and Bill Belichick. All of those players were present prior to Brady becoming the starter and were present after he became the starter.
Yet, the Patriots still went 5-11 the year before Brady became a starter.
Not much change from 2000 to 2001. The Patriots drafted both Matt Light and Richard Seymour in the 2001 season but neither were major contributors to the 2001 Championship run.
The 2000 defense and 2001 defense performed very much at the same level. The 2000 defense ranked No. 20 in the league in overall defense, and the 2001 defense ranked No. 24 in overall defense.
The defense from 2000 allowed 334.6 yards-per-game while the 2001 defense allowed 334.5 yards-per-game.
The 2001 defense was better than the 2000 defense in terms of points allowed, but by a small margin; the 2000 defense allowed 21 points-per-game, and the 2001 defense allowed 17 points.
Brady Pundits could say that Bill Belichick needed time to set up the defense from a 4-3 to a 3-4 but this notion is false since Bill Belichick has always used the 4-3 at some point during the season.
He used the 4-3 defense in both Super Bowl XXXVI and Super Bowl XXXIX.
The point I’m trying to make is Brady was not put in a perfect situation and in a team that was a Super Bowl contender, and that there was no major difference between the Patriots team that went 5-11 in 2000 and the Patriots team went on to win the Super Bowl in 2001.
Those who label Brady as a system quarterback must be clear on which system they are talking about.
Tom Brady has worked with three offensive systems throughout his career. The Charlie Weis system, the early version Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick System, and the late version.
The Charlie Weis system utilized the running game and screen passes to Kevin Faulk more often and featured a lot of two TE sets.
The early Josh McDaniels system (in which Belichick was more involved in the offense) utilized quick slant passes to Troy Brown, while the late Josh McDaniels system was a finesse passing game.
It’s ironic that Brady succeeded in all of those systems.
Many like to point out that Matt Cassel succeeded in the same Patriots system that Tom Brady played in.
What they fail to realize is that the system that Cassel played in with Randy Moss and Wes Welker isn't the same system Brady played in his whole career.
Brady put up the same numbers Cassell put up in his first year without all the weapons, not to mention he played a tougher schedule than Cassel played.
The cliché of "the system quarterback" is very dubious in my opinion, considering the fact that every quarterback in the NFL could be labeled as a "system quarterback."
Every team surrounds their quarterbacks with the players they feel like will best help their quarterback succeed. Some teams will surround their quarterback with a great defense; others will surround their quarterback with a great offense.
So why is the quarterback that is surrounded with the better defense considered a system quarterback, while the other one is not labeled with the cliché?