December 22, 2010 - 2:59 PM
Tom Brady will come into Buffalo this weekend on an incredible roll, one that has a lot of NFL observers wondering if the Patriots' quarterback is the best ever to play the position. I've considered Brady the best of all time for at least five years, based largely on his winning record and his performance in the playoffs and Super Bowls.
In the long run, statistics have a way of swaying people's opinions. Brady is having a sensational season that could rival what he did in 2007, when he finished the year with a record 50 TD passes. As extraordinary as that year was statistically, this one might be even more impressive.
Brady has completed 66.6 percent of his passes for 3,561 yards and 31 touchdowns. He has thrown only four interceptions. He has not thrown a pick in his last 292 attempts. Brady is 16 shy of Bernie Kosar's record of 308 straight passes without an interception, set for Cleveland in 1990-91. Brady is third on the all-time list behind Bart Starr, who had 294 straight throws without a pick in 1964-65.
It's even more impressive when you consider that Brady has done it against most of the NFL's top defenses -- and while carrying a team with a defense ranked near the bottom of the league. He has played nine games this season against teams with defenses currently ranked in the Top 10 in the league. The Pats are 8-1 in those games. They're averaging 31.3 points. They've scored at least 30 points in six straight games, including wins over Pittsburgh, the Jets, Chicago and Green Bay.
The Patriots haven't turned the ball over in their last six games, an NFL record. They have nine turnovers on the season and are on pace to break the record for fewest turnovers (13) set by the 2088 Dolphins AND Giants. It's amazing when you consider that Brady has two rookie tight ends (Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez) among his top four receivers, and that Deion Branch rejoined his old team in midseason after the Pats traded Randy Moss.
Brady is 33 years old. Barring injury, he is likely to play at least five more seasons. If he wins at least one more Super Bowl, it will put him ahead of Joe Montana, who is generally considered the best QB of all time. Montana played most of his career with the greatest wide receiver of all time, Jerry Rice. Like Brady, he had a great coach in Bill Walsh.
If Brady wins a Super Bowl and continues to put up these staggering regular-season numbers, a lot more people will come around to the notion that he's the best of all time. So what do you think? Is Brady the best ever? Or does he need to do more to surpass Montana in your estimation? Is it Terry Bradshaw? Dan Marino? John Elway? Otto Graham?
December 19, 2010 - 10:56 AM
A quick reminder that we'll be chatting live on our Billboard site today at noon. Jay Skurski will be moderating, as usual, and providing the compelling polls and facts to which you've grown accustomed. I just arrived at Sun Life Stadium, where the sun is shining and it's around 73 degrees. I don't like switching from the cold weather to hot climates. I usually get a cold. I feel one coming on. I also feel a Bills loss coming on. Miami has offensive issues, but the defense has been very good. They have shut down some very good runners this year, including the Raiders' Darren McFadden and the Steelers' Rashard Mendenhall.
Speaking of the Steelers, here's a good story on Troy Polamalu on the Cold Hard Football Facts site. If I had a vote, I would consider Polamalu for league MVP. It's almost certain to go to Tom Brady, and the only candidates appear to be quarterbacks. Once in awhile, the voters should consider a defensive player for the award. This story makes a good case for the guy with a crazy hair.
December 17, 2010 - 1:25 PM
Let's go.Thanks for chatting. Next week is Christmas Eve, so the chat will probably take a hiatus.
December 17, 2010 - 11:51 AM
I'll be chatting from One Bills Drive today, but won't be getting under way until around 1:30. Practice ends at 12:30 and the locker room is open until 1:30. I'll be doing some interviews because I wasn't working on Wednesday.
Tom Waits and Neil Diamond go into the rock 'n roll Hall of Fame together. Two of my all-time favorites. It's a beautiful thing.
December 13, 2010 - 4:28 PM
It's obvious to anyone who follows the Bills that Ryan Fitzpatrick is a much more confident and effective quarterback than he was earlier in his NFL career. The difference is even more dramatic when you compare Fitz's current statistics to the ones he had two years ago in Cincinnati.
After Sunday's game, Fitzpatrick has 221 completions on the season. That's exactly what he had in 2008, when he played 12 games for the Bengals in place of the injured Carson Palmer. Fitz has attempted 378 passes, six more than he did in '08. So the numbers are virtually identical. It's the results that are radically better.
Fitzpatrick has 2,526 passing yards. In 2008, he had just 1,905 yards on the same number of pass completions. That's 621 more yards, a significant improvement. His yards per attempt was a miserable 5.1 in '08. This year it's 6.7 per attempt, which is about average for the NFL. Fitz had 8 TDs and 9 interceptions that year. He has 21 TD passes and 11 picks this season.
The numbers show that Fitz has been turned loose under Chan Gailey, who trusts him to play in three- and four-wide receiver sets and throw the ball down the field. Gailey wants Fitz to take shots. He's given Fitz the assurance to keep throwing after an interception or a few errant throws. He's allowed him to be a playmaker, and the Bills' young receivers have flourished as a result.
In Cincinnati, the coaches limited Fitzpatrick and had him making a lot of safe, underneath throws. He rarely threw down the field and completed few 20-plus passes. He's a different quarterback today, much better than last year. I suspect Fitz is playing near his peak. But there's no telling whether he might make further improvements next year and solidify himself as a viable starter in the NFL.
December 10, 2010 - 12:56 PM
Time to chat.Thanks for chatting. We'll do it again next week.
December 3, 2010 - 1:23 PM
Let's get to it. Two weeks since the last chat and I missed it.Thanks for chatting. Let's do it again next Friday.