Brady Is The Most Successfull
I’m fully aware that Belichick wasn’t on either sideline during Super Bowl LV and his team wasn’t on the field but I would argue that his fingerprint was all over the game.
Nothing against Tom Brady. His meticulous obsession with daily routines is proof that he is committed to his craft and the game. It has served him well and many think it’s the reason behind his consistent outperformance on the field.
But can we really attribute seven Super Bowl wins to practice discipline alone?
I’m no expert at analyzing QB’s but according to those who are, Brady is probably about average, maybe less in terms of raw ability. It is true that he runs the 40 faster now than he did at the 2000 combine (another testament to his discipline) but his combine dash was the slowest of all active quarterbacks and his improved speed still lags far behind the fastest QB’s in the league. The Madden School’s 20 factor rating of quarterbacks mentions him in only six out of twenty-nine categories. That’s not shabby but it highlights his less than elite raw ability. It leaves us wondering what it is that makes him successful.
He doesn’t rank highest in speed, mobility, arm strength, or accuracy. Defenses don’t worry about long ball threats with Brady. By any measure, he isn’t the best so, again, the question is what makes Brady a success? In answer to that question, I offer the following.
As I’ve already pointed out and others have attested to Brady’s hard-working, highly disciplined approach to the game but how far can you take that? Is winning based solely or primarily on hard work? I wouldn’t say so. Other QB’s put in just as much time and work as Brady. Most never win the big one. Why would hard work make him successful and others not?
Maybe, just maybe, we talk about Brady’s work ethic because there really isn’t that much to talk about otherwise and we have to come up with an answer.
I don’t think work ethic alone is sufficient to win 7 Super Bowls.
I’m not sure how you measure pocket awareness but it is usually reflected by how quickly and effectively QB’s get rid of the ball. It’s referred to as snap-to-throw time and no one in the league is quicker than Tom.
That, however, highlights a team strength more than a QB strength. Tom is neither quick nor fast. Other quarterbacks who take fractionally longer to get rid of the ball are considerably more mobile and maneuver more easily out and away from trouble. The movement buys them time. It’s called extending the play (Brady doesn’t do that well at all). QB’s who do that well have more time to make reads and connect with open receivers.
Additionally, release time only qualifies as a plus when receivers run shorter routes in traffic and maintain a high level of focus under pressure. In case you’re wondering, that’s a credit to the receivers, not the QB. Julian Edelman is a great example. He received more short passes and blistering snot knockers than anyone, repeatedly, play after play in one game after another. His ability to catch balls and take hits won him the MVP in the Patriot’s win at Super Bowl LIII.
No one has ever deserved that credit more than Edelman.
If receivers are out of position or not focused or afraid to take a hit, short releases don’t matter that much.
And that brings us to the real point.
When Brady graduated from Michigan, he wasn’t on anyone’s quarterback wish list. He was the last of seven QB’s drafted in the last round of the 2000 NFL draft and he was lucky, not only because someone gave him a chance but because the person giving him that chance was Bill Belichick, arguably the greatest coach of all time.
Opportunities are rare and fickle. You don’t always see them coming and you can’t make them happen. Brady gets credit for taking advantage of the opportunity but the outcome was due to the brilliance of a great coach that saw the potential and was able to shape a team around it.
What applied to Brady is true for most of those who played for New England. They weren’t the most highly sought after but Belichick gifted them with an opportunity and provided great coaching to motivate their development.
What that means is Brady was consistently quarterbacking teams of highly motivated players all well-coached and prepared for games. They were shaped and molded as a team. That’s what coaches do or what they are supposed to do.
Belichick focused on that. He knew the talents of his players and formulated practice and game plans to utilize their skills in the most effective way. It takes a person of great conviction and steady focus to do this. Most coaches do well just to manage their players at a distance, hopefully not hurting their feelings. Not so with Belichick who is the best in the business at this very thing.
We tend to get really gooey-eyed when talking about Brady’s accomplishments and forget one huge metric. Football is a TEAM sport. There has never been a team that won anything only because one player on the team was the best ever. None! No single player has carried any team in any sport to the highest honor in the sport.
Individuals are recognized, yes, but not for being the reason their team won a championship. Even when one player is appraised as the MVP, the credit is still shared. No QB is great enough to win anything on his own. The number of things that must go well for any team to win the ultimate prize is endless and the one person most responsible for managing all those things is the head coach, not the quarterback.
Take Archie Manning for example. The first time I heard his name mentioned (before I was fully aware of football) he was referred to as the player who gave 100% all the time but never had much of a team to work with. Archie never won a Super Bowl. As far as I know, his teams were never recognized for much at all.
Does that mean Archie couldn’t win the big one? Not at all and his sons are proof. Peyton and Eli, who inherited great genetics from their father, both followed in his footsteps and both won multiple Super Bowls.
Why did that happen? The answer is simple. Team and coaching.
Game Plans Matter
Peyton Manning made some interesting observations explaining why the Bucs struggled in the first part of the season and then excelled in the latter half.
Initially, the Bucs were coached in the usual way. Coaches created a game plan, communicated the plan, and then practiced the plan. Sounds simple but it only works if the players jell with it. Neither Brady nor the team was jelling with the coaches’ plan so according to Manning’s remarks, they turned the offense over to Brady and the trajectory was straight up from there.
The question is, where did that plan come from? Did it materialize out of thin air? Was it unique to Brady, all original thought? No, he simply drew on the previous twenty years of experience. Trying to do something he hadn’t done before would have been as fruitless as the Bucs’ original plans.
Brady simply did what he had been taught to do during the previous twenty years. And who taught him that plan? Who organized and prepared players to execute the plan? You guessed it, Belichick!
His seventh Super Bowl win didn’t set Brady apart. It simply demonstrated the lasting effects of great coaching. He may hate that. He and Belichick had friction but like it or not, Belichick’s still the man.
Adding fuel to the argument is the fact that the most significant matchup in the game was between Brady and Gronk. Gronk scored the first two touchdowns on passes from Brady, both short yardage. That was the fourth Super Bowl win for Gronk and all of them with Brady at the helm. All of them influenced by none other than Belichick, even this one.
The third passing touchdown was to Antonio Brown, another player from the Pats (albeit after a long stent with the Steelers). It was Brady who encouraged the Bucs to sign Brown and no doubt the connection between the two developed under Belichick.
Drafting Your Own Players
Quarterbacks are usually expected to do the quarterbacking. Player selection and preparation belongs to the General Managers and coaches but not in this instance. Not only did Brady move to a team well into the rebuilding process, but he was also given carte blanche to bring the receivers of his choice.
How many transferring quarterbacks get so lucky? How could any quarterback not perform outstandingly with the opportunity to bring in one’s favorite targets?
Belichick takes a lot of flack for being impersonal, high IQ but low EQ. Maybe there is truth to that but whatever he is emotionally, it works. He doesn’t emote through the football process but he is successful. I wonder why players would cry about that. They’re winning! They’re getting paid! And it isn’t rare that Bill’s team are playing in the greatest games.
Bill never drafts super talents or prima donnas. He has an uncanny ability to locate potential. He finds people that no one else is even aware of or has no interest in and his knack for motivating players to realize their potential once he has them on the roster compounds the effect. He doesn’t beg or plead or overpay his players hoping they might perform consistently and he doesn’t keep them around when he senses they’re declining. He tells every player they have a job to do and when they fail, they’re out.
Whenever they leave for whatever reason, they take a fist full of wins and credits with them as they go.
Discord From Under Center
Unfortunately, a lot of the good Brady did was negated by the division he fostered on the team. His training methods and the personal trainer who encouraged him became a source of divison in the organization. It’s a long-winded story so I won’t get into all the details. You can read about it on ESPN.
The contention spread to the player selection process. With Brady’s age becoming a factor, the team was looking to begin developing a new quarterback in the person of Jimmy Garoppolo. Brady intervened and convinced Robert Kraft, the team’s owner to trade Garoppolo against Belichick’s wishes.
Why did Brady do that? What was his intention? Was he focused on the future of the team or his own legacy? He had already reached stratospheric heights. What more did he want?
Not only was Brady protecting Brady, but he was also hurting the team. He decided to head to the Bucs following the next year leaving the team with no backup quarterback to take the reins.
It’s Ok for Brady or any other player to leave but why dismantle future options before you go. He imposed his influence on player selection and development and then left the team with a huge gap in personnel.
Brady eventually leaving the team and becoming successful wouldn’t be so hard to take had he not been disruptive before leaving. He’s a great quarterback but in view of this, it makes you question his ability to be a team player.
Brady Is Smart
You can’t fault Brady for being dumb. Once he fostered discord for several years with the Pats, he looked around for a good situation to navigate to and he found that in the Bucs. They had a horrible record forever but had been building for the last few years and had some great talent in the stable. They were on the upturn, not the downturn.
And with the inclusion of Gronk and Brown, both from past experience with the Pats, the likelihood of success scaled up significantly.
Brady vs Belichick
Everyone expected this to be the season that proved one way or the other who gets the credit for the Patriots’ unprecedented success. In my view, it’s still Bill. Brady played like a Patriot, with Patriot old-hands and a Patriot game plan. How long that will last is anyone’s guess but one thing for sure, it’s got Belichick writ large all over the place.
No, the Patriots didn’t do so well this season but that is mainly due to the dismantling that occurred by Brady before Brady’s departure. The only thing Bill did wrong is let Brady stay past his sell-by date.
Deference To The Quarterback
Following Super Bowl LV a new idea emerged in an NBC article, one that suggests “great” quarterbacks should be treated with deference. The argument is that high-value quarterbacks should be listened to more readily and their ideas observed more eagerly. In other words, hear what they say and give them everything they say they need so they can win.
This, of course, is based on the fact that that is exactly what the Bucs did. When the coaches’ ideas didn’t play out, they turned it all over to Brady and voila, Super Bowl victory in hand.
That certainly feels good. The idea is infused with emotion but it raises an important question. If the quarterback is given what he says he needs to win, will he be fired if he loses? And it highlights a question I asked previously. Where did Tom get his ideas? Where did Tom find his players? Did he develop his plan on the fly through the sheer magic of his out-of-this-world understanding of the game or was it the result of 20 years experience alongside the one coach everyone loves to hate because he’s arguably the best that’s ever developed a team?
Belichick is the man everyone likes to hate. Coaches either admire him or hate him because he does exactly what they are all trying to do and he does it well.
Players hate him because he demands exactly the level of commitment the game requires and he does it for the team, not the individual player. He doesn’t pat players on the back but he keeps his team aimed at the biggest prize in the business and there’s no reason not to like that.
Will Brady Do It Again
That’s a good question. It depends on how long he can maintain the umbilical cord to the Patriots culture.
For a little humor, you can read this post.