With the post made about Tim Tebow’s future a few days ago, I’ve decided to devote many of the upcoming Zephyr Lounge posts to NFL quarterbacks. With this piece, we take a look at Tom Brady, the field general of the New England Patriots, who, along with Payton Manning, has defined the quarterback position since the NFL realignment in 2003. How does his career look up to this point? What does his future look like? If interested, read on…
Do any of you recognize these names? Chances are you may recognize a couple of them, but for the most part, these six players have faded into the twisted planes of NFL obscurity. These six players — all quarterbacks — are known as the “Brady 6”. All six of these passers were selected in the NFL Draft before Tom Brady, who as we all know, practically has a bust in Canton already. So, let’s dig a bit deeper to get the true magnitude of these six men who were considered better than Tom Brady during the 2000 NFL Draft.
- Chad Pennington (18th overall, New York Jets)
- Giovanni Carmazzi (65th overall, San Francisco 49ers)
- Chris Redman (75th overall, Baltimore Ravens)
- Tee Martin (163rd overall, Pittsburgh Steelers)
- Marc Bulger (168th overall, New Orleans Saints)
- Spurgon Wynn (183rd overall, Cleveland Browns)Now, let’s look at…
- Tom Brady (199th overall, New England Patriots)
The six men selected before Brady had mediocre careers, at best (Pennington, Bulger, and Redman), while others barely saw a down (Carmazzi, Martin, and Wynn). Some tried NFL Europe. Some tried the CFL. But all of them faded into obscurity, while Tom Brady won Super Bowls and set passing records. What does this all mean?
By the end of the 2005 NFL Playoffs, Brady had been the starter for the Patriots for four seasons, winning three Super Bowls in the process. Also by this time, Pennington had pulled a Ryan Leaf and told the New York media that it was “not [their] right, but a privilege” to cover the Jets; Giovanni Carmazzi and Spurgon Wynn were warming a bench for the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League; Chris Redman was being considered to be Brady’s backup in New England; Tee Martin had retired from the NFL and was warming benches for the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers; Marc Bulger was, incidentally, playing decent football with the St. Louis Rams.
With the “Brady 6” playing in their respective tailspins, Tom Brady was on top of the world. Of course, this would be the last Lombardi Trophy Tom Brady held.
From his rookie season to the end of the 2004-05 season, Brady’s line looked like this:
1,433 of 2,322 (61.7%), 15,876 yards, 108 TD, 55 INT (87.6 QB rating)
48-14 regular season record
9-0 playoff record
Won Super Bowl XXXVI, XXXVIII, and XXXIX
MVP of Super Bowl XXXVI and XXXIII
These numbers are gaudy and unreal. Brady, along with the rest of the New England Patriots were a sight to behold. But, as I stated before, Brady hasn’t won a championship since then. So, what does Brady’s line look like after that?
2,918 of 4,523 (64.5%), 34,879 yards, 268 TD, 90 INT (99.4 QB rating)
87-25 regular season record
8-7 playoff record
2-time Associated Press NFL MVP
2-time Associated Press NFL Offensive Player of the Year
3-time Associated Press AFC Offensive Player of the Year
NFL Comeback Player of the Year (2009)
New England Patriots all-time leader in passing yards
New England Patriots all-time leader in passing touchdowns
NFL 2000’s All-Decade Team
Compiled the only 16-0 regular season in NFL history
Lost Super Bowl XLII and XLVI (both to the New York Giants)
Aside of the two Super Bowl losses, Brady has been the most elite quarterback in the NFL (even with missing the 2008-09 season due to injury). Well, in the regular season, anyway. Since Super Bowl XXXIX, Tom Brady has been an anomaly in the post-season, winning only eight of his fifteen games following nine consecutive wins in the first part of his career. Brady’s total Super Bowl record is 3-2, with both of his losses coming on HUGE seasons against a New York Giants team that probably had no business being in the playoffs in the first place (10-6 in 2007; 9-7 in 2011).
So, what does all of this mean? I just threw a bunch of facts, figures, and statistics at you. It ultimately means that Tom Brady — the man who defied the odds of the 2000 NFL Draft and, at age 35, is in the same conversations that involve the likes of Joe Montana, John Elway, Peyton Manning, Johnny Unitas, and Roger Staubach — needs to win a Super Bowl this year. If he fails to do so, then it’s very reasonable to assume that his legacy will be looked at in two parts — The Super Bowl winner, and the Statistic Juggernaut (this is how I would probably name them, anyway). Brady hasn’t been able to go all the way since Super Bowl XXXIX, and especially with the two losses against the Giants on his resume, his Hall-of-Fame placard will reflect an elite quarterback — one of the best in history — who acted as the general for a decade of incredibly talented football teams and… spent a decade falling short. He’s like John Elway, only in reverse.
So, does 2013-14 look good for Brady? No. It doesn’t. The AFC East has gotten a little stronger in the last couple of seasons (save for the New York Jets), Peyton Manning has found new life in Denver, the Houston Texans are as much of a threat as anyone else in the league, and the teams in the NFC that are leading the pack are the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, and Green Bay Packers, with a slew of other teams that are, for lack of a better word, dangerous. Brady won his three Super Bowls while the NFC was the league’s inferior conference. Over the last three seasons, that has changed. Dramatically.
On top of all that, the Patriots themselves look winded and have been fighting a losing battle against the injury bug. Two of Brady’s favorite targets from the last couple of years — tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez — have been nearly destroyed by repeated injuries and Wes Welker, Brady’s top wideout, defected and joined Peyton Manning in Denver. New England’s defense has been suspect lately, as have their offensive line, which has allowed 59 sacks on Brady in the last two seasons.
In summary, Tom Brady’s window to win a fourth Super Bowl is closing… quickly.