Tom Brady says NFL lacks ‘the excellence I’ve seen in the past’

Are you dissatisfied with the quality of play in the NFL this season? You are not alone.

The recently retired quarterback, considered by many to be the greatest quarterback of all time at his position, said this week that the league is suffering from bad coaching, underdeveloped players and rules that promote “bad habits.” The Troubles of Change.

“I think there’s a lot of mediocrity in the NFL today,” Brady, 46, told Stephen A. Smith on his YouTube show on Monday. “I don’t see the excellence that I saw in the past.”

Brady, a seven-time Super Bowl champion, three-time MVP and entering the NFL as a sixth-round pick in 2000, said players at the time were better prepared to transition from college to the next level. I attribute this partly to the fact that college coaches change jobs more quickly and therefore fail to create a certain culture at a given school.

“There are a lot of college teams, but not program “They’re developing players,” said Brady, who played at Michigan State under then-coach Lloyd Carr, which he said was “very similar to a professional environment.” “So when they get sent to the NFL, they may be athletic, but they don’t have a lot of skills to be pros. … When I see these different players coming in, they’re not as ready as they were before. , I think the game has proven that over the last 12 to 13 years. “I think things have gone down a bit. “

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Important aspects of Brady’s legacy include a rule clarification enacted in 2009 (a year after he suffered a season-ending knee injury) that prohibited defenders from using their helmets or shoulders to hit the “strike zone” that extends from the shoulder to the knee. “A quarterback above or below. Despite Brady’s informal ties to the safety measure, he said Monday that a reduced emphasis on teaching players how to “protect themselves” has contributed to an overall decline in teaching the fundamentals of the game.

“I look at a lot of players like Ray Lewis, Rodney Harrison and Ronnie Lott, and players who impact the game in some way, every hit they take is going to be a penalty (today ),” Brady told Smith. “You hear coaches complaining about their own players getting tackled – why don’t they talk to their players about how to protect themselves? How to get rid of the ball, how to run out of bounds, how to land, how to lower the pads – we used to have been working on the basics of these things. Now they’re trying to become regulated all the time. “

“You basically play carefree,” he added, “and then if someone hits you hard, you get punished.”

Brady also said the coaching program “isn’t as good as it used to be.” Assuming he’s referring to the offensive scheme, teams have really struggled finding the end zone this season.

Through 11 weeks, the NFL is averaging 2.34 touchdowns per game (via Pro Football Reference), and the NFL is on pace to hit its lowest level since 2006. At the same time, the league is also on pace to record the most field goals per game per team (1.77) — a development that may not elicit the most excitement from fans, especially considering the team’s per-game scoring average. The team will score a six-year low (and its lowest mark since 2007) of 21.7.

At the same time, defensive schemes prevent the offense from getting big gains and force them into shorter plays, which translates into longer, tougher drives. A study last month by Sharp Football Analytics found that the rate at which teams employ zone and two-high safety defenses, which often result in opponents throwing the ball, has increased steadily over the past four years.

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It probably doesn’t help that so much of the offense is being led by a rookie signal-caller this season. Earlier this month, the NFL welcomed its 10th rookie quarterback to start, a record for an entire season. This year’s quarterbacks have a little more experience but haven’t accomplished great things, with injured quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, Matthew Stafford and, last week, Joe Burrow.

Any player can get injured at any time, but as NFL Network’s Rich Eisen said famous In response to Brady’s comments on Tuesday, salary cap restrictions tempt teams to cut costs at the backup quarterback position rather than pay for a seasoned veteran.

Another factor that may have contributed to the decline in the quality of on-field performance is that Eisen debateMandatory offseason workouts and overall time spent in team facilities have been reduced through a collective bargaining agreement with the players union since Brady was drafted. The NFL has also reduced the number of preseason games, which most fans won’t miss but can help teams prepare for the regular season.

Whatever the cause, the result is a decline in quality, at least in the eyes of one of the NFL’s most important ambassadors.

“I just think the product,” Brady said Monday, “in my opinion, the product isn’t as good as it was.”

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