Great quarterbacks make everyone better? So, how many times have you had this conversation? If St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford had the playmakers that Tom Brady does, he would be putting up much better numbers and results… only to hear a response like, “Elite quarterbacks make everyone better. It does not matter who is around the quarterback; the great ones elevate the play of everyone.”
This is usually a hypothetical question that can never be answered, until this year, anyways. In just one year, Tom Brady lost all his guys and now has former Ram, Danny Amendola, and a bunch of average at best receivers and tight ends (until Rob Gronkowski returns). Bradford doesn’t have Brady’s old teammates, but he does have two of the best tight ends in the NFL much like Brady had. He also has two extremely fast playmakers in Chris Givens and Tavon Austin.
As I watched Brady against the Bills last weekend, I could have sworn I was watching the Rams and Bradford. Time and time again, Brady was CHECKING it down to Amendola. He locked onto him and forced it in there and Amendola made one great catch after another. When Brady went to someone else, it was more often than not either dropped or a miscommunication that resulted in Brady getting frustrated.
I didn’t see a lot of the players playing great because of the quarterback.
Brady was 29 of 52 for an unimpressive 55.8 completion percentage. He had 288 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT. Which produced a very poor passer rating… 76.4. But the real eye opener is the 5.5 yards average per pass. Bradford, in his rookie year, was 5.79 per check down, or per pass.
These numbers are not even close to Brady’s career numbers. Sure, it’s just one game but I really don’t see how Brady could consistently put up elite quarterback numbers with his new cast. I can assure you that if Danny Amendola misses, say, six games or so, it would not be pretty. Now, these numbers are all above Bradford’s career numbers. The number that stands out is 7.9 per pass play. It’s amazing when you can hit a tight end and have him run to daylight time and time again. It’s amazing when you can target a rookie wide receiver with talent and he catches every ball that hits his hands. It’s amazing when a wide receiver can force a defense into a soft coverage all day due to his deep ball skills. It’s also amazing that Bradford does not have the so-called happy feet and the deer in the headlights look on his face because he knows he’s going to get hit before his wide receiver can uncover.
And oh, hey, here’s a recent Bernie Miklasz article following the Patriots’ 13-10 victory over the New York Jets from this past Thursday night:
Did you see Tom Brady having a fit during Thursday night’s game on the NFL Network?
The acclaimed New England quarterback may have thrown more tantrums than completed passes in the team’s ugly 13-10 win over the NY Jets.
This display was enlightening.
And hopefully it was educational for some Rams fans.
Brady is among the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history … but even the best quarterbacks need quality receivers.
The Patriots’ two rookie wide receivers (Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins) dropped passes, ran the wrong routes, and had Brady barking.
With slot receiver Danny Amendola out because of an injury — shocking, right? — Brady had only one reliable receiver in Julian Edelman.
Edelman isn’t a threat to beat anyone deep, and he’s an OK possession receiver. But Brady was so frustrated with the rookies and desperate to complete a pass that targeted the extra-busy Edelman 18 times.
When Brady targeted a receiver other than Edelman, he completed only 6 of 21 passes.
No wonder the Patriots had more punts than first downs.
Through two games Brady ranks 24th among NFL quarterbacks with a 74.1 passer rating and is 30th with his average of 5.2 yards per attempt.
Now Brady understands what it must have been like to be Sam Bradford from 2010 and 2011 and through much of 2012.
Welcome to Sam’s previous world, Tom.
It isn’t much fun.
I was always astounded by the bizarre opinions of the serial Bradford haters who dismissed the significance of having effective receivers.
It’s just plain silly to pretend that it doesn’t matter.
And while Bradford is no Brady and obviously could have done a lot of things better in his first three seasons, he was limited by the contingent of mostly pedestrian wide receivers. And stymied by the revolving door of receivers. I’m surprised that Bradford played as decently as he did.
Look at our friend Kurt Warner.
Kurt had amazing success, shredded NFL defenses and won a Super Bowl during his partnership with WRs Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt in St. Louis. In Arizona, Warner connected with the sensational WR Larry Fitzgerald, rolled up big numbers, and led the Cardinals to a Super Bowl.
In New York, Warner wasn’t nearly as effective when he worked with ordinary WRs such as Amani Toomer, Ike Hilliard and Tim Carter.
Gee, that must have been a coincidence.
When a quarterback doesn’t have weapons, his play will suffer.
That’s just common sense.
And Brady suffered plenty Thursday night, repeatedly showing his displeasure by screaming at his receivers, making angry gestures, and looking like a brat as he sat fuming on the bench.
But receivers don’t matter, right?
Brady may have to cope with this for a while.
The Patriots inexplicably shooed away Brady’s best and favorite receiver, Wes Welker, after last season. After the Pariots showed no interest in keeping him, the perplexed Welker left as a free agent and signed with Denver.
It was a strange move; not only did this weaken the Patriots offense by removing Brady’s go-to receiver, but Welker hopped into Peyton Manning’s huddle to strengthen an already formidable passing attack in Denver.
It would be one thing if Welker signed with an NFC team, but the Broncos are a prime AFC contender and a direct threat to the Patriots in the AFC.
The Patriots believed Amendola could be the Welker II. But as the Rams and their fans know, for all of his virtues Amendola can’t stay on the field because of frequent injuries.
Bradford was a better quarterback when Amendola played, but Amendola played in only 28 of 48 games in Bradford’s first three seasons.
Brady relied heavily on Amendola in the close opening-season win at Buffalo. But now Amendola’s latest injury, a strained groin, could keep him sidelined for several weeks.
In the first game without Amendola, Brady didn’t have any attractive options against the Jets. And we saw the results … just as we saw the difference when Bradford didn’t have Amendola available.
But this isn’t just about Amendola being out. Brady doesn’t have his preferred tight end, the superb but injured Rob Gronkowski. Another playmaking tight end, Aaron Hernandez, is in jail, awaiting trial on murder charges. That leaves Brady having one of Bradford’s former tight ends, Michael Hoomanawanui, as his top tight end.
But tight ends don’t matter either, right? Obviously, there will be no difference in Bradford’s play now that he has Jared Cook running wild at tight end.
(Pardon my sarcasm. )
Brady’s in-game rants drew the ire of the NFL Network’s Michael Irvin, the Hall of Fame wide receiver. Irvin said Brady had to be patient and more supportive of the young wideouts.
Brady didn’t dispute that. “I’ve got to do a better job with my body language,” he told reporters after the game. “I can definitely improve on that. I wouldn’t say that’s a real strong point of mine right now.”
Brady later added that the rookie WRs are “good kids” who are working hard to improve.
Those receivers will get better, and so will the Patriots’ offense — especially if Brady stops hollering at the “good kids” and embarrassing them on national cable TV.
But at least for the first two weeks of the season Tom Brady got a chance to see how other, less fortunate quarterbacks live … including Sam Bradford.
Message: receivers matter.
Thanks for reading …