Tom Brady: Why the Patriots Quarterback Still Has Some Great Years Left
Three Super Bowl rings, six Pro Bowls and two NFL MVP awards are proof enough that he has had a truly great career with the New England Patriots.
But, unfortunately, at some point even great players reach an age where they can no longer get the job done on the field. Their skills erode, the game starts to get too fast for them and the younger players in the league start to catch up.
The question is not if this is going to happen to Brady, but when. At some point he is no longer going to resemble the quarterback we have become accustomed to witnessing dissect NFL defenses.
Is this downfall imminent? Have we seen the last of the glory days of the great Tom Brady?
I say no, we haven’t, and here’s why.
His Success Isn't Based on His Athleticism
You would normally think that a 33-year-old quarterback wouldn’t have much left in the tank mainly because they start to look like a statue in the pocket.
It was never Brady’s raw athletic skills that allowed him to buy those precious few extra seconds to complete a pass. In fact, his lack of athletic ability is almost legendary for a pro football player, especially for a sure-fire Hall of Famer.
Instead, Brady has always been able to make the small, instinctive type of moves that avoid defenders. He can feel the rush better than any other quarterback playing the game today, and that isn’t going anywhere.
Today the most important skill for quarterback to have is the ability to read and react to what a defense is doing. Because Brady never had the best foot speed or the strongest arm, he developed these skills early on, and these are skills that time will not erase.
Brady has had to learn how to get by as an NFL quarterback without top-end speed or agility. This practice playing without the athletic skills that youthful players take for granted will help him ease into the latter part of his prime.
The Patriots Defense Is Getting Better
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Any quarterback’s job is made easier when his defense not only keeps his team in games, but can hold onto a lead late in the contest.
The more shootouts a quarterback is asked to win, the harder his life is going to be.
The Patriots have been making an effort in the past few years to rebuild a defense that saw veteran stalwarts like Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel and Richard Seymour move on. They used draft picks to replace these losses with players like Jerod Meyo, Brandon Meriweather and Devin McCourty.
Brady should benefit from an ever-improving young defense that will allow him to spend plenty of fourth quarters handing the ball off instead of stepping back in the pocket and exposing himself to a pass rush.
He Got Help in the Running Game This Offseason
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The Patriots have asked Brady to carry the offense for years now. They’ve been getting by with patchwork units at both wide receiver and running back.
This strategy has worked because so much could be asked of Brady. The team began using short passes as a way of making up for their inconsistent running game.
This year, the Patriots used multiple draft picks to get good young ball carriers on the roster. Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley were both capable runners in the college ranks and should be able to give the team solid contributions.
Brady will be able to spend the next few years watching these guys gain yards on the ground, instead of constantly needing to grind out 4- and 5-yard completions in order to move the chains.
Quarterbacks Are Playing Longer Than Ever
It used to be that a quarterback, or any professional athlete for that matter, would start to lose their abilities shortly after their 30th birthday.
Not anymore. Especially not NFL quarterbacks.
The league has implemented rule changes in recent years that have limited the amount of punishment that their bodies take over the course of their career.
Other than his knee injury, and some other minor ailments, Brady has been able to play into the latter part of his career in much the same physical condition as he did the early part of it.
He's part of the new breed of NFL quarterback that have benefited from an entire career of NFL rules specifically designed to keep superstar signal callers upright and on the field.
Brady Had One of His Best Seasons Last Year
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Last season was a great year for Tom Brady.
He led the league in touchdown passes and was named the NFL MVP.
All-time great quarterbacks usually don’t just go from great to terrible in one or two seasons.
No, instead their greatness allows them to manage the fall from grace. Think of players like Dan Marino, Joe Montana and John Elway being able to still be effective late in their careers.
These quarterbacks had skills that were so much better than their peers during their prime, that even after they started down the backside of their playing time, they were still able to perform at the top of the profession.
Brady is at that level. His best has been so much better than most of the other NFL quarterbacks for years. Tom Brady at 75 percent of his best is still a really good player.
As we saw last season, Brady can still put up numbers and lead the team to wins. He won’t go from that level of play to being washed up right away.
Patriots fans can rest assured that we will still have one of the best quarterbacks in the league for the foreseeable future.
His still has the skills to be good, the body to be good, and most importantly the hunger to prove that he is not approaching the end of his historical career.