Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Is Tom Brady a "Top 5 Quarterback? Patriots' fans shouldn't care

Stats are for losers.

Unless, of course, you frequent the fantasy football circuit - and then stats are everything.  By the time you've gotten through a season, you find yourself cheering for players on teams that you don't like, perhaps even needing a rival's defense to shut out your own team's offense in order to win your league.

That said and unless you are hard-core fantasy junkie who doesn't know loyalty to any one team any longer, the process of drafting players and setting your active roster for the week takes little time, as name recognition alone will get most fantasy teams into the win column every now and then...

...but there's a reason why it's called fantasy football.  It has nothing to do with the human element per se, just a bi-product of their toil on the field - a set of numbers that tell no story, merely providing the team owner a scientific base from which to proceed - no game plans, no pain, no excuses.  If your numbers aren't winning games for the team owner, you are tossed aside like yesterday's trash.
One has to wonder if that's how Tom Brady feels after discovering that he's been purged from the "Elite Quarterback Mount Rushmore" by a writer that he may or may not have even heard of before, who apparently lives in a fantasy world full of numbers and devoid of game film.

Patriots' Nation is up in arms over the piece, which is penned by Pro Football Focus writer Sam Monson and appears on ESPN - in the member's section, of course - for suggesting that Brady's skill set has deteriorated to the point that he can no longer be mentioned in the same breath as Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.

But why does Patriots' Nation even care? This is a guy who has helped get his team to five AFC Championship Games in eight years, including the last three consecutively.  Monson attempts to fault that fact with declining numbers while fellow PFF writer Mike Florio concurs by offering an article that points to his recent failures in those games...

...while not delving into the reasons behind the failures, which are not as centered on the future first ballot Hall of Famer as the authors suggest - rather - it is a disconnect on a philosophical level, as the Patriots offense as a whole has been lacking nastiness and physicality, playing a game reliant more on finesse and technique than the dirty brute force required to win championships.

"Brady isn't innocent by any means, but not the scapegoat that many play him to be.  His excellence in the regular season hasn't carried over to the post season simply because the Patriots' invariably run into opponents that are able to control the line of scrimmage on defense, rendering the running game ineffective and causing the offense to turn one-dimensional." - Foxborough Free Press, May 29, 2014

Monson looks to generate debate in these dog days of the NFL offseason and Florio is a more well known wing man whose name adds a measure of credibility to the thought of Brady dropping out of the top five, but merely relying on statistics while pointing out a few recent failures as a means to fault Brady's legitimacy on the NFL stage is lunacy and beneath Florio, regardless of his employ.

If one truely wishes to rank quarterbacks in this what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of football reporting, it should be based on the most important statistic of all - wins.

Brady went 13-4 all told last season and helped the Patriots earn a berth in the AFC Championship game, competing with a receiving corps so decimated by injury that all the Denver Broncos had to do is stop the Patriots on the ground causing them to become one-dimensional, then turning their pass rushers loose on the besieged signal caller.

And yet, there was Brady in the fourth quarter, still with a chance despite all of the injury and failure in the running game - and while they ultimately fell short, it had more to do with what the Broncos had done right more than what Brady had done wrong.

But being the quarterback of the New England Patriots brings it's own set of expectations - and where every season the expectations are a World Championship, falling short brings a body of criticism that has a life all it's own...

 ...but to say that he has fallen from the ranks of the elite when he was one of four quarterbacks left standing for the conference championships is absurd, and will just prove to motivate the already highly motivated Brady even further to prove these writers wrong.

That is, if he even cares what anyone besides Bill Belichick and Bob Kraft thinks.

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