Bad news for Brady:
When Tom Brady announced his decision to leave the team that made him behind and head to Tampa Bay, the world of professional football and sports in general went into uproar. The 43-year-old seemed closer to retirement than to a fresh start, but perhaps he knew more than fans gave him credit for. At least, that was the lingering sentiment to justify his move.
In truth, the man had seemed ready to retire for a few years now. Rumors flew after his and the New England Patriots’ historic comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in 2017, saying he would want to go out on top, and the rumors again made their way into the public consciousness after his heartbreaking defeat before the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018. After his win against the Los Angeles Rams the following year, everyone became a little more cautious in their speculation, but with his Super Bowl absence earlier this year, he seemed either destined to retire or cursed to suffer a painful Manning-esque decline.
However, the man took his talents to the beaches of Florida, and while his age certainly seemed like it would present an obstacle for him, it gave the world of football the chance to run an experiment. Actually, make that two experiments. First, Brady would finally get a chance to further cement his GOAT status, if he could prove successful with his new team, as the argument over whether he made the Patriots excel or vice-versa had carried for years. Second, a similar, inverse test got to occur with Cam Newton, to see if he was held down by his team or whether they made him look better than he should. So far, the experiment has not fared well for the six-time Super Bowl Champion, but has for his replacement.
After the first two games of the current season, Brady has not necessarily looked bad, but certainly not the Brady that Tampa Bay wanted. He has put up just three touchdowns thus far, and he has matched each one with an interception. Currently, his quarterback rating for the season sits at a measly 79.3 — a whopping 17.6 behind his career average of 96.9. Thankfully, he did not move into too competitive of a division, as both the Falcons and the Carolina Panthers (now sans Newton) do not seem poised to present much competition this year, but that does not mean he has his path guaranteed. The New Orleans Saints have no intent of not taking the division for their own, and the NFC North and West divisions provide greater competition to fill Wild Card slots. Thus far, it appears that Brady may have to over-perform if he does not want to miss the postseason for the first time since 2008.
On the other hand, Newton seems to love his time in New England. Humorously enough, he has not had to push himself nearly as hard as Brady, which gives credence to the Patriots making their quarterbacks excel and not vice-versa. He has just one touchdown on the season thus far, but a quarterback rating of 96.8 — 10.6 higher than his career 86.2. However, he has about 100 yds more than his predecessor as well, currently sitting at 552 while Brady has only 456. Most importantly, though, Newton has won both games he has played, where Brady has not.
While common opinion may insist that Brady still makes the better quarterback of the two, the off-season shuffle proves on both accounts that the support system matters immensely. Brady now plays for a team that has only outscored combined opponents by three, whereas Newton has started 2-0 while his former team went 0-2. If anyone has proved thus far able to make a case for all-star quarterbacks as more essential than healthy all-around team talent, it appears to be the latter, who has left the Panthers to rot in the dust. While early games certainly do not have absolute authority over the remainder of the season, they do tend to set the pace, and it seems now as though NFL fans can expect a new look in the postseason.