(After extensive research, I decided to keep this article fairly straightforward and informal. If you'd like to see my notes and bibliography on this, you can make that request by email).
This might sound convoluted, but I don't say such things just to tick people off. I say it because I believe it, but I also indulge in the fact that my mere opinion would rile people.
It seemed that I should dedicate an article to debunk the myth of Brady as a great quarterback.
Surely, your first thought here is, "Are you kidding me?" On closer inspection, however, I think you will agree that there is more to the picture than meets the eye on the question of whether Tom Brady is a great quarterback.
Keep in mind that "great" is a reserved word. When you apply "great" to a pro-athlete, there are criteria that must be met.
At best, Brady is a "sexed-up" version of Trent Dilfer; meaning, it's all sizzle and no steak, all celebrity and no substance.
That is not to say that either is a bad quarterback, just not a great or extraordinary quarterback.
One of the most obnoxious defenses of Brady's career is that as a quarterback, someone still had to make the throws. Yeah, and someone had to catch the ball, someone had to block, and someone had to call the right play.
On a baser level of the passing-game, throwing is not more important than catching, blocking, or play-calling. However, some players and coaches are more skilled at performing their jobs.
If you are a Patriots fan (or some brown-nosing journalist), you like to give full credit to Brady for partial work. Again, that might sound counter-intuitive, but I can assure you that after closely examining the facts, you will leave with a different opinion of Tom Brady.
Patriot fans are also blinded by their own contradictions. They'd say that the Patriots won as a team, and yet, accredit Brady for the total success of the team, even though the most important plays were on defense or special teams (field goals, interceptions, kick and punt returns, etc).
Apparently, there is no "I" in team, but somehow there is a "QB." Or the "QB QT" as ESPN Insider once wrote (not kidding).
The problem with writing the narrative about New England's success since 2001 is that there have been no star players, because the Patriots would mostly win on timely plays.
In my view, the veracity of those timely plays have been tainted by "Spygate," but this article is not intended as a debate about "Spygate."
For sophist reasons, I'll assume that the Patriots earned the three Super Bowl wins legitimately, and address the role that Brady played in those wins. I will start by saying that it is my view that Brady has been given credit by default.
In the absence of another individual player, the public has merely given credit to the position that they understand, or identify with.
In fact, Brady won the Super Bowl MVP award after the Patriots upset the Rams in the Super Bowl, simply because the award had votes from fans.
It is important to point out that that was the first time that fan votes contributed to the Super Bowl MVP.
Lindy's Pro Football Annual would later report that if not for fan votes, cornerback Ty Law would have won the award.
So there you go.
From the very beginning, the perception of Brady has been determined by fan bias and not by fact. In reality, the defense and special teams won that game. Law returned an interception for a touchdown.
Brady's lone touchdown was scored on a short field after a fumble recovery by Terrell Buckley. Brady would finish the game with only 134 passing yards. Adam Vinatieri would kick a game-winning field goal of 48 yards.
When it comes to field goals, yes the offense must put the kicker in position. Nevertheless, the kicker still deserves credit.
I give more credit to the kicker when the field goal is greater than 38 yards, because that means that the offense stalled outside the red zone.
It may seem arbitrary, but the fact is, a long field goal is no easy feat; especially one that wins the Super Bowl. Just ask Scott Norwood.
Vinatieri's field goal, however, is indicative of a pattern. In fact, in all but two postseason wins in Super Bowl years (2001, 2003, 2004), Vinatieri has kicked the game-winning points or led the team in points.
2001 and 2003 speak loud and clear, while 2004 required play-by-play analysis. As you will see, Brady has never done anything to deserve full credit, and has merely taken advantage of underrated teammates.
And the fact is, even a quarterback from high school, Matt Cassel was able to succeed in that system.
2001 AFC Divisional game of Raiders @ Patriots ("Tuck Rule Game") (Jan. 19, 2002)
FG x2 (1 to tie, other to win)
2001 AFC Championship Game of Patriots @ Steelers (Jan. 27, 2002)
TD on punt return by Troy Brown who made key block on return for TD after blocked FG / FG by Vinatieri / QB Drew Bledsoe scored TD to bail out Brady after an injury
Super Bowl XXXVI of Patriots vs. Rams (Feb. 3, 2002)
FG to win game / INT for TD / TD after turnover
2003 AFC Divisional game of Titans @ Patriots (Jan. 10, 2004)
FG to win game / 40 yard TD by Bethel Johnson, plus a first down on 3rd and long on the drive capped by a rushing TD
2003 AFC Championship Game of Colts @ Patriots (Jan. 18, 2004)
FG x5 to win game / would have won without TD
Super Bowl XXXViII of Patriots vs. Panthers (Feb. 1, 2004)
FG to win game
2004 AFC Divisional game of Colts @ Patriots (Jan. 16, 2005)
The lone passing TD by Brady scored on 15 yard drive in which Brady completed only three passes on four attempts, while Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk accounted for the other 11 plays by rushing.
Not to be outdone, Brady would score on a rushing TD after a drive that mostly featured rushing plays by Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk.
2004 AFC Championship game of Steelers @ Patriots (Jan. 23, 2005)
FG x3 / INT for TD / rushing TD x2 / passing TD x2
One passing TD was only one play for 60 yards, while one rushing TD was one play for 75 yards. Big plays like that are fun to watch, but required little actual effort from the quarterback.
Wideout Deion Branch in fact would deliver the 60-yard TD but also a 45 yard catch that setup the second passing touchdown.
Super Bowl XXXIX of Eagles vs. Patriots (Feb. 6, 2005)
FG to win game