No one can argue with the high level of performance by Tom Brady given his body of work over the course of his career. The biggest statistic of all is 3 rings in 4 appearances. Based on his winning record and passing statistics in the regular season, he should be considered one of the top 3 quarterbacks in the NFL.
Through 2004 in the postseason Brady was impressive both in the regular season and postseason, consistently posting 100+ passer rating numbers with a high TD to interception ratio. But let’s look at his numbers from 2005 to the present in the postseason:
Brady’s statistics since 2005:
TD/INT Rating Yards/Attempt Fumbles
2005 4/2 92.2 8.6 2
2006 5/4 76.5 6.1 2
SD 2/3 57.6 5.6 1
Ind 1/1 79.5 6.8 1
2007 6/3 96 6.8 1
SD 2/3 66.4 6.3 0
NYG 1/0 82.5 5.5 1
2009 2/3 49.1 5 1
2010 2/1 89 6.6 1
2011 6/3 105.8 8.6 0
BAL 0/2 57.5 6.6 0
These are not intimidating or top-level numbers when you consider that an average quarterback over a season has a rating of 82-85. Even in 2007, when he had an average rating of 96, in the postseason he had some very average performances, especially versus San Diego.
Brady is no longer known for his mobility. It’s no secret that you limit his effectiveness by moving him out of the pocket. The Giants certainly showed that in XLII and again in week 9 when he had lowest rating of the regular season (75, to coincide with 2 interceptions and a fumble). Tuck summed up the defense’s effectiveness in week 9, where Brady clearly was not as sharp as his usual self:
“I think it starts with hitting him, even when you don’t actually get sacks, just keeping people around him so he can’t step up,” Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said Monday. “I think he gets a little frustrated when he has to go to his second or third receivers. You can kind of confuse him sometimes with our coverage. I think there are a lot of things that can get him rattled, but it just seems like not too many people are able to do that.”
In addition, Cimini of ESPNNewYork wrote, “In the early 2000 years, they had a pretty good defense,” said an opposing personnel executive, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “They had a very well-balanced team, but the defense got old. Now it’s all on Brady. There’s a lot of pressure on him and sometimes it gets to him.”
This isn’t to conclude that we should expect Brady to perform at below average level or even that Eli has surpassed Brady. But you have to believe that Brady must be feeling the pressure of his post-season performances that are well below what he produces in the regular season. His comments after Baltimore may be an indication of that pressure.