Thanks to Bob Kravitz for his incredible inspiration to this piece. I hope my version is every bit as logical and well reasoned as the original. I can only hope to do it justice. I loved it so much.
We've had about an hour to digest the New England Patriots loss, an hour to deconstruct Tom Brady's performance, an hour to argue about the Bill Belichick fake punt, an hour to consider what happens next -- assuming there is a next with the collective-bargaining clouds gathering on the horizon.
Tom Brady is not a good playoff quarterback.
You can talk all you want about the Patriots' wobbly pass defense, their eternal receiving woes and the fact Brady doesn't get a lot of haircuts. Fact is, he's hamstrung by all the same factors during the regular season and still continues to put up monster numbers and score points.
But after a sample size of 10 games, it's pretty clear: He's a different quarterback in the playoffs. He's a lesser quarterback in the playoffs. I don't know if it's paralysis by overshampooing or what, but after all these years, I still don't trust him in a playoff game.
The stats don't lie: since 2005, His teams are 5-5 in the postseason. His teams have been one-and-done the last two years. His quarterback rating, 95.2 during the regular season, is 85.7 in the postseason. In those 5 playoff losses, the Patriots have averaged a touch less than 18 points per game.
Eighteen. For an offense averaging almost 29 points a game in that span.
Still want to blame it all on the defense? Or the special teams? Or coaching mistakes? Or Randy Moss?
He is one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play this game. But he is not at his best when it counts the most -- which is why my brain bleeds every time someone tries to argue Brady is superior to Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.
Go back and think about the Super Bowl run: He was ordinary against Oakland. He barely played a half and left trailing against Pittsburgh. Had the great second final drive against Saint Louis. Good enough on a day when Adam Vinateri should have won the MVP.
His QB rating for that postseason was 77.3.
After every playoff loss, some more inexplicable than others, the finger of culpability gets pointed at just about everybody except Tom Brady. For some reason, he's Teflon, especially around here.
He shouldn't be.
The clock is ticking now on the Brady era, and the Belichick men must act with uncommon urgency as they build toward another Super Bowl.
It has been common practice for the Patriots to build from trading draft picks and diving into the temptations of free agency -- and that approach has worked. But we're in the homestretch with Brady. Four more years? Five? At what point, exactly, does he leave his prime behind?
Nope, you know what? It's just as stupid this way. Never mind.