Throughout the New England Patriots‘ 27-24 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon, the entire team appeared to be sleep-walking their way through the game content to rest their hopes on the shoulders of Tom Brady.
Doing so would normally not be a fool’s errand, but Brady simply did not have his A-game on Sunday, even if Rob Gronkowski did return from injury to provide him with a weapon. For the entirety of the game, Brady completed 22-of-46 passes for 228 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception as the Jets’ defense squashed out any hopes of a surprise victory.
Normally, one could write off this poor performance as a bad day at the office for Brady, as his three Super Bowl victories and 342 career touchdowns have afforded him a bit of leniency. But upon further examination of Brady’s performance both against the Jets and throughout the 2013 season, it becomes clear that the star quarterback is not playing at the star level fans have become accustomed to.
Through seven games in 2013, Brady has thrown for 1708 yards, eight touchdowns, five interceptions and a very uncharacteristic 56.7 percent completion percentage. This poor statistical output has been exacerbated by poor performance on the field from Brady, as he has missed a plethora of receivers and generally seemed to miss the killer instinct necessary to convert in the red zone.
Patriots fans will look at this sub-par play and attempt to point out that the team is still sitting pretty at 5-2, and also point out that Brady has seemed to find a way to win games in the fourth quarter every week. Undoubtedly, this would also be the view of Brady and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, whom have both made it clear in the past that winning is more important than anything else.
At a certain point though, this argument has to go out the window as it becomes clear that the Patriots’ defense has had a large hand in winning games in 2013. Throughout the season, they have allowed 18.14 points per game, an astoundingly impressive haul in the new age of offensive dominance in the NFL.
What this impressive total does is draw to mind the fact in the past, fans and executives have come to realize that a great quarterback is not always defined by winning games. After all, Tim Tebow once guided the Denver Broncos to a spot in the playoffs and Trent Dilfer led the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl victory, yet one would be foolish to describe either as a great quarterback.
Undoubtedly Brady’s career of accomplishments would leave fans wondering how one could ever compare him to either of these guys, but reality has to sink in at some point. Brady has had an incredibly poor 2013 season to date, and in doing so has had the worst season of his 14-year career by a long shot.
Every great athlete eventually comes to the point where they are not the same all-world stud that fans had come to love, and it appears with every passing game that Brady has reached this point. At 36 years of age, this is not an entirely surprising prospect, just as it will not be surprising when Brady’s output continues to go down in the future.