Please allow me to apologize to NFL nation for this post that is about 24 hours too late. I would've posted it yesterday, I just didn't think I would have to.
I was wrong.
The Patriots got blown out 41-14 by the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Monday night, and then the collective football world went nuts. Memes mocking Tom Brady's "I'll retire when I suck" declaration circulated across the internet faster than Kate Upton's leaked nudes; and so began the over-analysis of Brady's disgruntled slouch on the sideline as backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo finished the 4th quarter.
Former Patriot Rodney Harrison said Brady looks "scared to death" when he drops back in the pocket. Mike Giardi of Comcast SportsNet New England went so far as to ask Belichick in the postgame press conference whether the quarterback position would be evaluated this week.
Really? The Patriots play in the AFC Championship game in January; and four regular season games later after a difficult road loss in a deafening stadium, it's time to start asking whether they should swap out Tom Brady for JIMMY GAROPPOLO?
New England lost fair and square. They were outplayed in every aspect of the game and they fell apart to the point where there was just no coming back. Brady was off. There was nothing for him to gain mentally or physically by continuing to play.
Brady's first four games have not been very Brady-esque. The Pats are now 2-2 and heading into their toughest game yet when they take on the 3-0 Cincinnati Bengals; who just so happen to be coming off a bye week. It's a tough spot for them, but they have perennially found ways to make it work when it seems like they are over the hill. Perhaps they've earned some benefit of the doubt while it's still so early in the season.
Last year, the Patriots' first four games were against the Bills (6-10) , Jets (8-8), Buccaneers (4-12) and Falcons (4-12). Two of those games were played on the road. In those first four weeks against some of the worst teams in the NFL, Brady completed 58.9% of his passes (93/158) for 1,014 yards, 7 TD, and 2 INT. The Patriots as a team had rushed 122 times for 500 yards, 1 TD with 2 fumbles lost.
This year, the Patriots first four games were against the Dolphins (2-2), Vikings (2-2), Raiders (0-4), and the Chiefs (2-2). Three of those games were played on the road. Brady has completed 59.1% of his passes (81/137) for 791 yards, 4 TD and 2 INT. The Patriots as a team have rushed 105 times for 390 yards, 2 TD and 0 fumbles lost.
So to put it in the simplest terms, Brady's numbers were slightly better last year against equally bad or arguably worse teams, with an extra home game. In those first four games of 2013, the Pats won by 2 points against the Bills, 3 points against the Jets and 7 points against the Falcons. Those games came down to one possession. They were barely beating bad teams.
Also keep in mind that both of Tom Brady's interceptions this season were thrown on Monday against the Chiefs, in a stadium that reclaimed the Guinness record of Loudest Stadium in the World after hitting 142.2 decibels of crowd noise. Matt Bonesteel broke that down in his article for the Washington Post, acquired from H.E.A.R.: Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers. Here's where the Chiefs fans register on the loudness meter:
Loudest sound that can occur: 194 db
Amplified rock music at its loudest: 150 db
Chiefs fans: 142 db
Jet engine at 100 feet: 140 db
Pneumatic riveter at four feet: 125 db
Begin to feel pain at: 125 db
Amplified rock music at four to six feet: 120 db
Power saw: 110 db
Power mower: 107 db
Average headphone music at middle of volume setting: 94 db
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Listen folks, Tom Brady is only capable of so much. He has very few receivers worth throwing the ball to and one of the youngest and most inexperienced offensive lines in the league. Meanwhile, he is trying to call plays in noise that makes him wish it would quiet down from "jet-engine-in-your-face-loud" to "pneumatic-riveter-four-feet-away-loud."
Last year when the Seahawks broke the record at CenturyLink field against the Saints, they won 34-7. Drew Brees was 23/38 for 143 yards, 1 TD and a fumble lost. He had a QB rating of 77.4. The Saints as a team managed a meager 188 yards of total offense, and it was the first time that Brees had been held to under 150 yards passing in a game since Dec. 31, 2006. Russell Wilson had a QB rating of 139.6 in that game; the second best of his NFL career.
Does this mean that the Patriots will pull it together, win 11 or 12 games and end up back in the AFC Championship game? Who knows. Yet to draw any long-term conclusions from Brady's performance in that game is irrational and downright ridiculous. There are 12 more games to be played in the season, and no one in their right mind could think that this is the time for Tom Brady to take a seat.
It's entirely possible that by the end of the this season, Brady's fate as the quarterback for the Patriots could be in question. The change of regime in New England looms closer and closer every year, and it's certainly approaching sooner rather than later. The time to accept the end of an era will come for this team, the coach, the QB and the fans.
No good NFL thing lasts forever, but it certainly doesn't end in Week 4.