So, we’ve now reached a point where Tom Brady is getting the Joe Flacco treatment: Is he elite?
Obviously, Brady’s résumé speaks for itself. He’s a six-time Super Bowl champion and widely considered the greatest quarterback in NFL history. But the 42-year-old’s numbers are down across the board this season despite the New England Patriots’ 10-1 record, making it fair to question whether he remains among the league’s best or if Father Time finally is catching up to the veteran signal-caller.
Max Kellerman, who famously (and wrongly) predicted several years ago that Brady would fall off “a cliff” in short order, declared Monday on ESPN’s “First Take” that the Patriots QB no longer is “elite,” with Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium serving as the latest evidence of such.
Brady completed just 17 of 37 passes for 190 yards with a touchdown in the Patriots’ 13-9 win, which required another stellar showing from New England’s defense and special teams, especially given the soggy conditions in Foxboro.
“Tom Brady is no longer elite. When you talk about the Patriots, you’re talking about elite D, not elite QB,” Kellerman said. “You know what Tom Brady’s job is? It’s to not lose the game. He’s a game manager. That’s an OK thing to be. That is not a dirty word. You can win the Super Bowl with a game manager. Look at Peyton Manning, who was bad when the Broncos won the Super Bowl. He wasn’t as good as Tom Brady is now. They’ve both fallen off a cliff by that point in their career. Of course, Peyton Manning had an excuse — he had an injury. Tom Brady is just ancient. And by the way, being ancient is almost equivalent to an injury. Your body can’t do the same things anymore.”
Brady hasn’t received much help offensively this season, with both inconsistency and injuries plaguing New England’s offensive line, running backs, tight ends and receivers. One even could argue Brady is the least of the Patriots’ offensive concerns, all things considered.
That said, it’s rather obvious Brady is past his prime. The question is whether the Patriots can overcome the regression Brady has shown in his 20th NFL season and ride their other strengths to a seventh Lombardi Trophy. Does Brady need to be “elite” as New England marches toward the playoffs?
“What is a game manager? A game manager is a good decision maker who relies on his defense and luck. That’s how the Patriots are winning,” Kellerman said. “I know luck is the residue of design, but the fact is a tripping call with the game on the line (against the Cowboys)? A tripping call? It’s like the refs were the ones tripping and slipping by the way. Tom Brady’s job is to not lose the game. He’s mid pack in QBR, and that’s with Bill Belichick as a head coach he’s middle of the pack QBR. And I don’t hear anyone arguing Tom Brady is elite anymore, unless Stephen A. (Smith) you want to.”
Semantics aside, Brady’s track record suggests the Patriots still should have plenty of trust in his ability to rise to the occasion when the stakes are raised. After all, he’s made an entire career — a very illustrious career — off of proving his doubters wrong.
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