ESPN helped us all get through a slow week (before the Kaepernick contract) by suggesting that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady no longer occupies a position in the NFL’s top five.
While I’m not ready to knock him off that perch, I firmly believe he isn’t as good as he used to be — or, perhaps more accurately, not as clutch as he used to be.
Browns coach Mike Pettine seems to think Brady is as good as ever, and that he indefinitely will continue to be at that level.
“It’s beyond ridiculous,” Pettine told Greg Bedard of TheMMQB.com regarding the idea that Brady isn’t in the top five. “I mean, to me, it’s one and two [Brady and Peyton Manning] and then there’s a gap and then it’s probably [Drew] Brees and [Aaron] Rodgers would be three and four, however you want to order them. Until those two [Brady and Manning] retire, they’ll be one and two and then there will be a gap.”
The first part of Pettine’s argument makes sense. The second part goes a little too far. The idea that Brady will always be a top-two quarterback for as long as he plays presumes his skills won’t erode as he ages, and that the process hasn’t already begun. It also presumes that no one else will come along and do it in their mid-20s as well as Brady is doing it in his early 40s.
That’s why Brady may ultimately have to decide whether he wants to stay in the game even if he starts to fade but he remains good enough to still be a starter, somewhere. There’s a long way to go from No. 2 to No. 32; in theory, Brady could play into his 50s and still be good enough to start for the team with the worst quarterbacking depth chart.