I’m not sure if you can tell, but football analysis bugs the shit out of me. The ESPN hype machine only fuels the fire (looking at you, Skip Bayless….see what I did there?). After New England’s recent drubbing of Denver, the knee-jerk reaction from the media is Brady is back, Peyton still can’t beat Brady, etc., etc.
As glitchgoals ironically mutates into a football blog, you can bang it here on the regular to see through the media BS. Brady and Manning are an awesome look into the short-sighted viewpoints of football analysts everywhere: Brady can do no wrong, and Manning can’t win the big game (in fact I regularly see arguments people make omitting the fact that Manning won a Super Bowl). The funny thing is, at this point, Brady is basically early career Manning.
What label would be applied to a highly-touted quarterback that enjoys immense regular season success followed by playoff mediocrity? Well, if you follow Manning’s career at all, the term would be “choker.” Manning has won a Super Bowl since initially receiving this label, and has tempered some of the criticism, but the name still follows him to this day. Ironically, his New England-based counterpart has had a decidedly “choker”-esque last several years.
Split Tom Brady’s career into two halves, 2001-2006 and 2007-2013 (taking out his missing 2008 ACL tear season and the TBD 2014 season), and you have two six year chunks. In the first half of his career, Brady won three Super Bowls, forever shedding the “choker” label before it could ever be applied. We’ve gone into detail about his impact on the Super Bowls he’s won here before, and it’s clear that he had a LOT of help to get his rings. At the time, Brady wasn’t highly touted, and was a good-not-great passer that was more “game manager” than he was “game winner.” As he progressed through his career it was clear that Brady was becoming a better player. He had more confidence, more command of the huddle, made more big throws, and the statistics followed. Check out the (averaged) statistical difference between each half of his career:
1st Half Brady 2nd Half Brady
CMP%: 61.97% 64.93%
Yards: 3593 4584.83
Per play: 7.07 7.85
TD: 24.5 35.33
INT: 13 9.33
FUM: 7.17 3.5
Rating: 88.48 102.67
As always, numbers only tell part of the story, but 2nd Half Brady is considerably better in EVERY CATEGORY. Now for a comparison of their playoff results:
1st Half Brady 2nd Half Brady
Year 1: W,W,W W,W,L
Year 2: N/A L
Year 3: W,W,W L
Year 4: W,W,W W,W,L
Year 5: W,L W,L
Year 6: W,W,L W,L
Totals: 12-2 (3 rings) 6-6 (0 rings)
So what happened here? Did Tom Brady turn into early-career Peyton Manning down the stretch? If Brady entered the NFL in 2007 and this was how he started his career, would Brady be a better version of Tony Romo? The ESPN talking heads would have a field day:
“He just can’t win the big game.”
“Brady crumbles when he’s on the biggest stage.”
“He needs to win a ring before he’ll get this monkey off his back.”
“He’s maybe the best REGULAR SEASON quarterback, but in the playoffs? Give me Ben Roethlisberger.”
Alright, now take a deep breath and drink in the realization you are now making. Tom Brady isn’t “clutch.” As he’s improved throughout his career, he’s never come through in the playoffs. His only true successes came as a result of an awesome defense, near-perfect kicker, and one of the greatest coaching minds of all time. He was in the right place at the right time. Woah.
Quick! Go turn on ESPN before this blasphemy sticks!