FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots have been ravaged by injuries this season, but Tom Brady is standing strong and has continued his impressive streak of health.
The Patriots quarterback has missed just 15 games — all in 2008 when he tore his ACL — since taking over as the starter in 2001. Brady has stayed healthy this season despite an inexperienced and struggling offensive line.
The key (beyond the tutelage of his body coach Alex Guerrero)? Managing risk/reward.
“It’s really important,” Brady said Wednesday. “I think every player — I always talk about making good decisions in the pocket as a quarterback and making good throws and so forth. Some of it is knowing when the journey is over and going down and not taking a — you stand in there and take a huge hit and look tough and be out for four games and not help your team win.
“It’s a long season, and I think you’ve got to try to be smart about which ones you take and which ones you don’t. You’d love to stand in there every throw and step into it and get blown up and act like it’s no big deal. But I think sometimes those things do end up being big hits and then, if you’re knocked out for four or five games — I’ve talked a lot of times to our receivers, especially when you’re a 185-pound receiver as opposed to a 220-pound receiver, you’re a smaller running back, you just don’t need to take unnecessary hits because you’re really putting yourself in a position where you’re not available to your team anymore. and that’s obviously not helping the team win.”
Managing risk/reward isn’t limited to just preventing injuries for the Patriots either. It also pertains to avoiding mistakes on the field.
“You have to try to do what you can to help the team win on that particular play,” Brady said. “And if it’s fourth down, you have to try to make a play, but if it’s first-and-10 in the middle of the second quarter, Coach talks all about risk/reward about throwing the ball. Even if you complete that pass, it’s a 2-yard gain. If you don’t complete it, it’s an interception. Is the 2-yard reception worth the risk of the interception? It’s really not. It goes along with other decisions in the pocket and so forth as a quarterback.”
Brady has done a tremendous job of avoiding turnovers during his illustrious career. He’s second all-time in interception percentage (1.9) behind Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Only the Kansas City Chiefs’ Alex Smith (1.1) has a lower interception percentage than Tom Brady’s 1.2 this season.
Brady is 390-of-603 passing for 4,636 yards with 36 touchdowns and just seven interceptions this season. His completion percentage (64.7) typically is relatively low, partly because he’s not afraid to throw the ball away rather than taking a big hit or tossing an interception.
Thumbnail photo via Jim O’Connor/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Dec 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson (91) sacks New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. New York Jets defeat the New England Patriots 26-20 in OT. Mandatory Credit: Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports