In 2014, Aaron Rodgers told Packers fans to “R-E-L-A-X” after a 1-2 start to the season. The Packers went on to a 12-4 season and lost to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship games. In 2016, after a four-game losing streak (4-6 start), Rodgers said the Packers were going to “run the table” to end 10-6 and get into the playoffs. They won every one of their next regular season games (six in a row) and finished 10-6 and again lost in the NFC Championship game. In 2017, Tom Brady was behind 21-0 to the Falcons at halftime in the Super Bowl. Right after halftime, the lead increased to 28-3. Tom Brady was going to lose another Super Bowl. Until he scored 31 unanswered points to win in overtime, 34-28.
We all hate dominating players in any sport. If you ask 100 sports fans, 99 will tell you they hate Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Lebron James, Roger Federer, Coach K, Bill Belichick, and Stephen Curry. We hate when the same person and team win year after year. It is no fun and destroys the upset factor. There is, of course, one exception – if it is your team. We get why Boston would root for Brady or Los Angeles would root for Lebron. I rooted for Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in their prime in 1990’s.
When guys like Rodgers and Brady do poorly, we get really excited because we want them to fail and maybe even cry. Rodgers just lost five in a row, then they beat Dallas, a much better team than the Packers. Thankfully, they just lost to the Titans on Thursday night and though there were some magical Rodgers throws, the Packers and Rodgers mostly looked terrible. Sitting at 4-7, the Packers have a 5% chance of making the playoffs.
Brady lost five of six games in Week 8 but then won two in a row to get back to .500, one of those wins against a pretty good Seahawks team. Tampa is in first place in the beleaguered NFC South. Remember, the other teams are the Falcons, Panthers (who essentially have gave up on the season by trading Christian McCaffrey), and the Saints who are all under .500. It looks bad for the Bucs, but it feels like they could squeak into the playoffs by winning the division.
The question becomes – Can you ever really count these guys out? They seem to get fueled by the hate, by the doubters, by those that bet against them. And they seem to win. It looks very bad for Rodgers, but what about Brady, the all-time leader in fourth quarter and overtime winning drives? The guy, who, if you give him an inch, will come back and win. Just ask Matt Ryan.
The longest Brady has not been to a Super Bowl is three years. He had a drought between 2008 and 2010. He had back-to-back Super Bowl losses to the New York Giants (and Eli Manning and the helmet catch) in 2007 and 2011. He didn’t win again until 2014 making it a glorious nine years without seeing Brady hoist a Super Bowl trophy. Since 2014, the longest he has gone without a win is two years. He didn’t make the big game in 2019 or 2020 but won in his first year in Tampa in 2021. He didn’t make the Super Bowl in 2022, so it seems like the clock is ticking for him to get back to the game. It feels like he is due.
But the performance says otherwise. In the 2020-2021, season when he won the Super Bowl, he had 4633 yards passing, a 65.7% completion rate, 40 touchdowns, to 12 interceptions, and 102.2 quarterback rating. Last year, he was arguably better. He led the league in attempts, completions, touchdowns and yards with 485 for 719, 43 touchdowns, and 5316 yards with 12 interceptions. He had a 67.5% completion rate and 102.2 quarterback rating. This year, Brady is still a prolific passer, leading the league in attempts and completions (second in yardage) and he is on track for 4836 yards for the season. But his 12 touchdowns, puts him on track for half the number of touchdowns the last couple of years at 20. His touchdown rate was 6.6 and 6.0 the last couple of years, but stands at 2.8 in 2022. All of this adds up to a 91.9 QB rating, 12th among starting quarterbacks. The long ball seems to have ditched him and the Bucs are kicking for three points instead of getting the six they usually get.
Brady is not Shohei Ohtani, he doesn’t play both sides of the ball. Brady can’t win without a good defense. Currently, Tampa Bay is 23rd in defensive interceptions and 22nd in fumble recoveries. They are 12th in passing yards and 20th in rushing yards. When they won the Super Bowl two years ago, they were 10th in fumbles and 11th in interceptions. The Buccaneers were about 20th in passing yards but had the number 1 rushing defense. The lack of takeaways and the massive amount of yardage that the Bucs give up each game doesn’t help an offense that isn’t scoring as much as they have in the past.
It doesn’t feel like a team destinated for a Super Bowl.
In full disclosure, I will be rooting against Brady every game this year, even during his Bye week in Week 11. I can no longer argue that he is not the G.O.A.T., he is the best quarterback of all time. Will I actually say that he is not going to win a Super Bowl or not make the playoffs this year? Until the clock reads 0.0 in the last quarter of the last game, there is no way I will count Tom Brady out, I won’t even celebrate early (like I did in the Super Bowl against the Falcons), I won’t do anything to jinx it. History supports that he’ll be successful again. It is hard to believe he’ll miss the playoffs. The Super Bowl sounds like a stretch, but fucking Brady.