ESPN’s Mike Sando asked 26 league insiders to grade every projected starting quarterback on a 1-5 scale, with “one” reserved for the best and “five” for the worst. The poll had New England’s Tom Brady tied for the top spot, in Tier 1, along with Peyton Manning (Denver), Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay), Drew Brees (New Orleans) and Andrew Luck (Indianapolis).
Here’s the thing: Brady is no longer a top-five quarterback in the NFL.
Let’s start with the basics: Brady completed the fourth most passes last season (380) for the sixth most yards (4,343) and was outside the top 10 for touchdowns (25) and quarterback rating (87.3). According to ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating, he ranked 11th (61.1).
In terms of creating catchable passes for receivers, Brady ranked seventh (70.8 percent catchable passes thrown) while Rodgers (74.1 percent), Manning (72.3 percent) and Brees (72.1 percent) all ranked in the top five.
On passing attempts targeted 20 yards or more downfield, Brady completed 22 of 75 passes for 774 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions. His completion percentage ranked 10th among quarterbacks with at least 50 deep ball attempts.
Brady was under pressure on 26.2 percent of his dropbacks last season and completed 66 of 132 attempts, the sixth highest completion percentage in the league.
Chris Brown wrote in “The Essential Smart Football” that “most good defenses begin with the premise that, to be successful, they must stop the run on first and second down to force known passing situations on third down.” If we use third down with seven or more yards to go as a “known passing situation,” Brady went 46 for 78 (59 percent) last season and saw 6.6 yards per attempt plus a first down 23.3 percent of the time. League averages were 58.1 percent completion, 7.3 yards per attempt and a first down 26.9 percent of the time.
Brady made 42 passing attempts in the red zone last year and threw for nine touchdowns plus had a passer rating of 115.1, good for seventh among quarterback with at least 20 red zone passing attempts.
While Tom Brady remains one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL, his age and declining numbers signal an end to his inclusion among the NFL’s best.
Data provided by Pro Football Reference and Pro Football Focus unless otherwise noted