Tom Brady: NFL’s new jersey number rule is crazy, big advantage to the defense

Cincinnati Bengals v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Many fans and players were thrilled when the NFL loosened the rules around jersey numbers, allowing, among other things, defensive players to wear single-digit numbers for the first time in decades.

Tom Brady was not thrilled.

Brady spoke out against the rule change at the time it passed, and he offered more expansive thoughts in a recent interview with the Tampa Bay Times, saying that he’s going to be at a disadvantage in Thursday night’s opener because Cowboys safety Donovan Wilson recently switched from No. 37 to No. 6, linebacker Jaylon Smith switched from No. 54 to No. 9 and rookie linebacker Micah Parsons will wear No. 11.

The number rule is crazy,” Brady said. “Literally, guys changed their numbers today. I’m playing two guys who had different numbers in the preseason. So, yeah you’ve got to watch film and know who you’re studying but so do running backs. They’ve got to know who to block. So does the offensive line. So does the receivers who are adjusting their routes based on blitzes.

“So one guys has got a 6, one guy has 11, one guy has got a 9. And they change every play when you break your routes and get to your spot. It’s going to be a very challenging thing. It’s a good advantage for the defense, which that’s what it is.

“It would be like saying, ‘What if I let the offensive linemen wear 82 and No. 9?’ They wouldn’t know who was eligible. Well that’s not fair. You’ll get your tail kicked. At least identify who the D-line, the linebackers and the safeties are. You’re going to have a lot of matchups where guys are blocking the wrong guys. I don’t know why that should be.”

Brady thinks the NFL would have benefited from talking to veteran quarterbacks before changing the rule.

“I have a lot of perspective things,” Brady said. “You know, like there are certain things that frustrate me and I say, ‘Well, this is something I should speak up about.’ Things as it relates to pro football, the unions. And I’ve been around for 20 years to watch and I say, ‘Is it getting better or worse?’ And when I feel like it’s getting worse, I go, ‘What are we doing? This is not the purpose of the game.’

“But there are people who are making decisions who don’t have the same perspective. Not that mine is always right, but at least I want to feel like my point is heard, too. Because some of it is made just for the sake of making it.”

Unfortunately for Brady, this change has been made, and it won’t be changed back.

66 responses to “Tom Brady: NFL’s new jersey number rule is crazy, big advantage to the defense

  1. not a brady fan but he makes a good point. although seems to have worked fine in college for 50+ years.

  2. “We’re only going to score 17 points? Hehehehe. Is Plax going to play defense?”

    -Tom Brady, before Super Bowl 42

  3. The offense has so many advantages over defense its not funny. Don’t get your panties in a twist over this one small advantage for the D, Tom.

  4. As a casual observer, I don’t see how it really changes things. But, since Brady has been a starter in the league for 2 decades I’ll defer to him on this. If he thinks it helps out the defense, then maybe it will. But you know, maybe that could good thing. Every rule change for the last 20-30 years seems to benefit the offense (especially the passing game). If this gives defenses better chance to slow down offenses, I’m all for it. Besides, if it actually results in a decrease in scoring across the league, I’m sure the NFL will reverse the rule.

  5. until every incomplete pass isnt followed by everyone on the field, at the game and at home searching for a flag i’ll ignore the offense whining that rules are working against them

  6. Tom needs to be quiet. NFL offenses has greatly benefitted from NFL rules and changes. For example, the tuck rule. Or that defensive holding gives the offense automatic first down. Or the rule made about hitting below the knee on QBs, something other players don’t get. Putting your body weight on a QB, other players don’t get this treatment also.

    Tom is a great QB. He is currently the most accomplished QB in NFL history, but Tom also needs to realize a lot of his accomplishment is due to changes the NFL made for offenses.

  7. It’s all about selling more jerseys. Power and money are what Roger cares about. With regards to Brady’s opinion of this leading to crappy football, I’ll leave to the guy whose actually played the position before criticizing him for the sake of being critical.

  8. The New Jersey rule is only applicable to the Giants and Jets, right? He only plays the Jets in New Jersey, so what’s the big deal? Should be an easy win for TB12.

  9. nygiantsownbrady says:
    September 7, 2021 at 11:40 am
    “We’re only going to score 17 points? Hehehehe. Is Plax going to play defense?”

    -Tom Brady, before Super Bowl 42

    “People who deny the greatness of Tom Brady are called football fans in denial”

    – Michael Strahan, a couple of month ago…

  10. Valid point, but since every other rule is tailored to benefit the offense, I don’t mind as much.

  11. Of course he’s going to dislike this rule change, because it makes it a little tougher on the offense. The rules are already slanted in favour of the offense, so this is a good thing.

  12. Yes rules favour the offense, but that doesnt mean the defense needs an unfair advantage which is bradys point, he also just complained about how the rules reward offensive mistakes. This is bad for viewers too who will lose so much context to every play. If a LB is covering a WR, the wr should get open. If 2 is covering 6, who knows the context of what’s happening.

  13. Since he relies more on his strong ability to read defenses I can see that affecting him in ways he doesn’t like. But I’m pretty sure he will just do the extra homework and get past it.

  14. flash1224 says:
    September 7, 2021 at 11:51 am
    nygiantsownbrady says:
    September 7, 2021 at 11:40 am
    “We’re only going to score 17 points? Hehehehe. Is Plax going to play defense?”

    -Tom Brady, before Super Bowl 42

    “People who deny the greatness of Tom Brady are called football fans in denial”

    – Michael Strahan, a couple of month ago…

    ________________________

    Who says Brady isn’t great? He’s top 5 all time, for sure…

  15. Wow, he’s one upping Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers wanted a seat at the table for big decisions by the Packers. Brady wants a seat at the table for big decisions for the entire NFL!

  16. While this is a great observation…

    It’s also NOT a great observation… in Pop Warner, High School and college, as well as the pros… you don’t worry about what number you are blocking etc… but where they are lined up.. what gap they are occupying etc.

    It doesn’t matter what number they are wearing.

  17. To help you understand WHY Brady is saying this, consider the pace of the game and speed at which QBs need to make their reads and communicate changes and coverages before the snap. With positions having set number ranges, none of which are single digit, as high-level signal-caller can scan the first digit of the jersey number and know what type of player he is facing. You can figure out the rest from here.

  18. I will defer to him on it being a big difference, because the jersey colors will still be different, but either way, I still think it was an unnecessary move and pretty stupid, overall. I don’t like it in college, therefore, I don’t like it in the NFL either. I believe relaxing them a little would have been fine, but they went overboard in this instance…a DB is okay wearing a single-digit number, but no other defensive player should. and neither should TEs.

  19. he’s right technically. and the game would also be fairer if they let d backs play football again and started calling offensive interference when receivers run rub routes cutting off the defensive back like a pick.

    but then the offense brady and belichick constructed to take advantage of the rule changes requested by bill polian and peyton manning wouldn’t work so well. the amendola and welkers of the world couldn’t run the middle of the field in the old days because the safety would clean their clock and they’d get injured. so if one rule change in my lifetime benefits the defense, i’d tell tom to keep whining for roughing the passer calls every time someone breathes on him.

  20. I would like to see how the officials react to tackles and guards with numbers 80-89 and 1-20 when it comes to illegal man down field. It would be out by week 2.

  21. Gee Tom Brady is concerned about the other team bending the rules to gain a competitive advantage. I wonder if there are any other much more egregious examples of another player and team doing that in the past?

  22. Sure, it’s been such a problem in the college game for the last forever amount of years. But hey, Tommy’s getting old, it’s tough for an old fancy dog to learn new tricks.

  23. Brady can’t figure out what down it is so yeah, remember that 56 is now 18 is going to be a challenge for him.

  24. “We’re only going to score 17 points? Hehehehe. Is Plax going to play defense?”

    -Tom Brady, before Super Bowl 42
    ——————-

    Since SB 46 the Giants are 0-1 in the postseason. Brady-led teams are 16-5 with 4 SB wins. Brady-led teams have 10 more postseason victories than the Giants team that has been around since 1925. Ouch!!!

  25. Gee Tom Brady is concerned about the other team bending the rules to gain a competitive advantage. I wonder if there are any other much more egregious examples of another player and team doing that in the past?
    ——————

    If it’s already a rule change how is he complaining about a team bending a rule?

  26. Well, the reality is this equally HELPS the offense…the likelihood of a BS roughing the passer call and a free 15 yards just went up at least equal to whatever benefit the defense actually gains!

  27. dw11 says:
    September 7, 2021 at 1:02 pm
    “We’re only going to score 17 points? Hehehehe. Is Plax going to play defense?”

    -Tom Brady, before Super Bowl 42
    ——————-

    Since SB 46 the Giants are 0-1 in the postseason. Brady-led teams are 16-5 with 4 SB wins. Brady-led teams have 10 more postseason victories than the Giants team that has been around since 1925. Ouch!!!

    ____________________________

    Except he can’t beat the Giants when it counts the most…ouch!!

  28. Patriots benefited from the tuck rule and the substitution rule against the Ravens (which was changed the next year because it was a bush league move) and a whole host of other things. Geez, Tommy, do you have to have it all?

  29. This rule change works against pocket passers by making reads, both presnap and after, harder by making it more difficult to find the kind of defensive mismatches that is the bread and butter to them. It has far less impact on running QBs who just run for daylight and can see who’s in front of him, 200lb DB or 300lb DL. Given how the rules have been changed to enhance offense, this might give defenses something back. It’s effect though is tilting more toward running QBs being more effective, pocket passers less. The new ruling disallowing hits below the waist also makes it harder for smaller defensive players to stop a Cam. I’m more in favor of games where out thinking your opponent is as important as physically outplaying them.

  30. Tom Brady: “90 percent of what I say is NOT what I am thinking.”

    If Tom was really concerned, he would NOT mention it. He’s likely trying to get the defense to be overconfident in its blitzes by implying he will not be able to handle it.

    Also, if super-competitive Tom believed this, he would mandate that all Bucs defenders change numbers immediately. And he would pay for the jersey costs.

  31. Yeah right, like this Brady guy is ever going to get on the field and have to worry about it.

  32. falconsgreat says:
    September 7, 2021 at 1:31 pm
    But the Tuck Rule is no problem…

    ===========

    Uh the Tuck Rule has been repealed and it was called AGAINST the Pats earlier that same year.

  33. Regardless of the wisdom of his opinions, if he wants his input to be heard maybe instead of complaining Brady should get involved. He could be the team’s player rep and even if not, with his clout the league and the union wouldn’t shut him out of some sort of role.

    Instead he chooses to not get involved and publicly criticize things.

  34. He makes the point about players changing their numbers recently. That ONLY happens between the preseason and the first week, when rosters get set and some numbers become available. So, one of his complaints will only make a difference this one week. As to the concern about specific numbers for specific positions, what a whiner! If college QBs can deal with it, a decent pro QB should be able to do it.

  35. Brady doesn’t like any change to the game whether offense or defense. Just like Belichick he’s slowly starting to talk like him too.

  36. My “perspective things” tell me defense could do with some help after rule changes have worked against them in recent years.

  37. i dont really care but i prefer the tradional number grouping…can’t help but see this as a money grab by the NFL in Jersey purchases

  38. At this point Tom just needs to shut up. I appreciate him as much as anyone, but he’s become very self important these days.

  39. Only if you’re dumb. I never used a jersey number to play mat assignment either on offense or defense. I played the position and the coverage. And if I wanted to know where ABC was on the field ok I memorized his number. Took about four seconds before a game and didn’t matter if it was 9 or 89. I think this guy just likes to talk.

  40. ‘What if I let the offensive linemen wear 82 and No. 9?’ They wouldn’t know who was eligible. Well that’s not fair.”

    How does that apply to defense? Are there defenders who aren’t eligible to make tackles? Stop whining Tom, of all the people in the world have grounds to complain about anything, you don’t even rank in the top 7.8 billion.

  41. Have not been on in a year, and I swore off, but here goes.

    Brady is right.

    1. The offense has to line up in limited ways and eligibility is easy to see.
    2. On defense, there is no limitation except to stay out of the neutral zone.
    3. Belicheck flummoxed the Ravens with a perfectly legal line of scrimmage arrangement that wasn’t T-G-C-G-T, etc. Following rules is frowned upon – if it’s Belicheck/NE. What will happen next offseason?
    4. Hardly a voice has brought up the added confusion the refs will suffer. Game stoppages, replay. Duh.
    5. The rule was put in partly for player vanity reasons.

  42. For someone who is the least athletic QB who relies on quick reads and the visual cues between single and digit jerseys is significant enough for a pocket passer like Brady to adjust protection and schemes pre and post snap. This is high level quarterbacking, yo. Other QB aren’t complaining because they don’t play like Brady. He relies on every millimeter to gain an advantage at his position and that’s why he lasted so long at such high level.

  43. From a pop culture perspective the jersey fad hit its popularity about 15 years ago, the nfl I guess needed a way to make more money so this stupid rule wad implemented. I feel that’s what made pro hall superior to college or high school bu the structure of positional number groupings. I cannot tell you how annoyed I am by this change but leave it to probably the worst commissioner in the history of the modern game to go and screw this up.

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