Can Tom Brady lead the New England Patriots to another Super Bowl victory? Brady will turn thirty-six a few weeks before the 2013-2014 NFL season begins, and despite continued exemplary performance, some are wondering if Brady has already hit his peak.
By most statistical measures, Brady hit his ‘peak’ in 2007, with a career-high 68.9 completion percentage and 117.2 quarterback rating. However, in 2012, Brady threw more passes than he had in 2007, despite a lower completion percentage. This speaks to Brady’s competitiveness and willingness to throw the ball, but may also indicate a slide in his ability to throw accurate balls. Brady will never be an ‘okay’ quarterback, that is for certain; however, with the loss of his go-to guy and off-field best friend Wes Welker to Denver in the off-season, Brady will have to adjust to new targets Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson.
Then again, Brady has never had much trouble adjusting to new players or circumstances, having lost many favorite ‘targets’ over the years. In fact, it is not the targets who will make much of a difference this season; it is the constancy of the Belichick-Brady relationship.
Bill Belichick and Brady combined to form one of the most successful coach-quarterback duos in NFL history, winning 125 regular season games and 17 playoff games together. They have also appeared in a record five Super Bowls together, winning three of them. Both Brady and Belichick are strategic masterminds, who are fairly cool under pressure. Both men share a mutual respect for each other, and the desire to go out on top.
But, a quarterback is only as good as his teammates. Nate Solder will need to step up on the line and help prevent the pass rush. Brady is not a mover in the pocket, and although he may be able to get a few accurate throws off under pressure, the bigger concern is a potential injury. If the offensive line can protect Brady better than they did last year, we will see his completion percentage regain some lost ground. However, Brady is facing young guns like Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III who are just as comfortable running down the field themselves as they are throwing accurate passes to their receivers. Tom Brady is an old-school quarterback in a league that is becoming new-school. This could either help him or hurt him this season.
Brady will need Amendola this season. The former St. Louis Ram is known for his speed and great hands, but also for his predisposition to injury. Amendola is a perfect ‘fit’ for the offensive strategy of the New England Patriots, and is a great slot receiver for a quarterback like Brady. If he can stay healthy, he should eclipse the numbers Wes Welker was putting up in 2012.
In February, Brady agreed to a three-year 27-million dollar contract extension with the Patriots, which will keep him in New England through 2017. At that time, Brady will be forty years old, and the prevailing thought is that he will then announce his retirement. Physically and mentally, Brady is still in terrific shape. He is a competitor, through and through, and a leader that is well respected in the Patriots locker room.
Can the Patriots’ golden boy win one more Super Bowl? Yes. Will he? I think so.
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