A Tale of Two QBs!

Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe reconvene in Buffalo tomorrow to pick up the action in their season series. Regardless of the fact that neither player goes up against the other player's unit, the direct rivalry and comparisons exist nonetheless. What is interesting are the types of things that each are heralded for. These things expose Bledsoe even further from an "accomplishments" standpoint.

Upon reading a very nice recent article by Mark Gaughan discussing Tom Brady the first thought that came to mind was on the contrasts that exist between what Brady has achieved already, namely things that most of the better QBs are evaluated on, vice those that Bledsoe has traditionally been evaluated on. Some of the statistics I have pulled from the article while others have been added from other statistical sources. But the contrast paints the picture more than clearly.

On Brady:

1. He has led his team to 17 straight wins, one shy of the NFL record.

2. He is the first quarterback in NFL history to start and win two Super Bowls before his 27th birthday. (He turned 27 in August.)

3. He is 36-12 as a starter in the regular season, the best winning percentage (.750) of any QB with at least 25 starts.

4. He has directed the winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime 15 times. He's 7-0 in overtime.

5. Among the 140 quarterbacks in NFL history with at least 1,500 passing attempts, Brady ranks in the top six in highest career completion percentage (.619) and lowest interception percentage (.246)

Direct Comparisons:

Brady has produced a touchdown with each 146 yards thrown for; Bledsoe has thrown one with each 183 yards thrown-for to date in their careers.

Brady has produced 1.51 TDs/game; Bledsoe has produced 1.28 TDs/game.

Brady's career playoff TD/INT ratio is 2-to-1; Bledsoe's is 1-to-2.

In spite of being ranked among the top 3 in the NFL in attempts 6 times, in completions 4 times, yardage 3 times, Bledsoe has only managed to place among the top 3 for passing TDs twice, 3rd both times in spite of 6 of the above rankings having been 1st.

Brady has ranked among the top 3 in the NFL in attempts once (3rd), never in completions, never in yardage, and once (1st) in passing TDs in the same season matching up his passing volume with his scoring production nicely.

Around the transition point from the Bledsoe era to the Brady era in New England, the game 2/3 transition, the 9-year vet and 8-season starter Bledsoe in the 18 games prior to that transition mark (2 games in '01 and all 16 games in '00) put up 19 TDs to 15 INTs.

Around the transition point from the Bledsoe era to the Brady era in New England, the game 2/3 transition, the 2-year vet and first time starter Brady in the 18 games immediately following that transition mark (14 games in '01 and the next 4 games in '02) put up 29 TDs to 16 INTs.

Also among Bledsoe's milestones are "the youngest QB to ever reach 10,000 yards passing." Forget that the number of TDs that he threw during that stretch (53) were fewer than his INTs (58) let alone total turnovers (70). The fact that his team was 21-25 during that stretch seems to matter not, or that in spite of all the passing yards the Patriots were ranked 22nd out of 28 and 23rd out of 30 in two of those seasons. As well, the fact that the yardage totals never matched scoring production or even come close does not seem to even be a factor.

The contrast is simple. Brady has been heralded for things that QBs typically get accolades for and for things that have led his team to wins. It is his team that has benefited. The biggest things that have followed Bledsoe throughout his career have been yardage, attempts, completion, game yardage totals, and other things which are useless apart from scoring leading to winning.

Relatedly, in one of Bledsoe's largest accolades, his 22 comeback wins, in 17 of those 22 comeback wins his own team, offensive or otherwise, put up 17 or fewer points through the period in the fourth quarter from where the comeback win was launched. In 6 of those 17 his team had scored 14, 6, 13, 3, 17, and 13 points through 58 minutes and until the two-minute warning. In 11 of those 22 games his team had scored 14 or fewer points through the period in the fourth quarter from where the comeback win was launched. In only 3 of those comeback wins had Bledsoe's team scored more than 20 points through the period in the fourth quarter from where the comeback win was launched. In only one of those 22 instances did the team against which the comeback win came finish the season with more than 10 wins.

Does Bledsoe seem to share any of the blame for what would appear to be a relatively flat offense throughout the vast majority of those games!

One has to take no great journey down the path of history to fully realize this. Bledsoe set ten team records during the 2002 season. What were they? In a season where the mantra was that "the Bills threw the ball too much" costing them wins, he set team records for:

Single-season franchise marks for total passing yardage of 4,359 yards shattering Kelly's old mark of 3,844 yards in 1991. Bledsoe put up 24 TDs (1 TD/ 181.6 yards) that season contrasted with Kelly's 33 TDs (1 TD/ 116.5 yards) on over 500 fewer yards.

Single season attempts of 610 shattering Ferguson's old mark of 508 in 1983. Ferguson put up 26 TDs (1 TD/ 19.5 attempts) on over 100 fewer attempts with far less talent at WR than Bledsoe had. Bledsoe; (1 TD/ 25.4 attempts)

Single season completions of 375 shattering Kelly's old mark of 304 in 1991. Again, with Bledsoe putting up 24 TDs (1 TD/ 15.6 completions) to Kelly's 33 TDs (1 TD/ 9.2 completions)

300-yard games (7), with the Bills going 4-3 in those games with three of the four wins against Minnesota, Chicago, and Detroit with scoring defenses ranked 26th, 25th, and 31st as well as passing defenses ranked 29th, 24th, and 30th respectively.

Single game yardage (463) vs. 6-10 Minnesota ranked 26th in yardage D, 26th in scoring D, and 29th in passing D.

Attempts w/o an interception (175), again, largely at the hands of Chicago and Minnesota's poor defenses.

Number of starts with a touchdown (10). The team was 5-5 during that stretch with four of five wins vs. 6-10 Minnesota, 4-12 Chicago, 4-12 Houston, and 3-13 Detroit.

Bledsoe's franchise/team records were set at the expense of the team in that they did not assist the team in winning games except against teams among the worst 25% of teams in the league largely. This is a notion that has long been far to ignored in discussions of Bledsoe's records.

Regardless, the entire point of this piece is to point out the feebleness of many of Bledsoe's records. Records they are, but they did little if anything to assist the Bills in being a competitive team only coming in games vs. teams that teams far less talented than the Bills were able to beat as well. They are mostly "quantity" records apart from any measure of winning or efficiency other than vs. the worst of opponents.

When contrasted with Brady whose records revolve around his team winning games at all levels including Super Bowls, and efficiencies leading to those wins, the picture clears up immensely. It is one thing to run around blindly throwing out the word "records" whether they be team or individual records, but it is entirely another to put those records in the contexts of the "record setter/holder's" ability to correlate them to winning games and making his team more competitive against the teams against which being the most competitive matters.

While Bledsoe is the master of accumulating records that did little to help his team win important games or advance in the playoffs, Brady is the anti-Bledsoe in this regard. This much cannot be anymore glaringly obvious. This Sunday's game in this regard should be interesting to see which QB puts up the better performance. Bledsoe clearly has better skill position talent at his disposal. He also goes up against a defense which has proven to possess some issues in stopping the run.

The Bills' defense ranks ahead of the Pats' defense in all four primary statistical categories:

Scoring D: Bills 3rd, Pats 13th
Passing D: Bills 6th, Pats 9th
Rushing D: Bills 4th, Pats 23rd
Yardage D: Bills 4th, Pats 14th

Both quarterbacks come in under pressure. Bledsoe to get his offense turned around and to start personally playing solid football and with an entire Bills squad under pressure to come out on fire. Brady to lead his team to a league-tying 18th straight win in Buffalo with the stigma of his last game played having led to zero points, not a single TD, and 4 interceptions.

Based on the above information and statistical data Bledsoe should have a better outing vs. Brady. However, based on history, expect reality to be inversely proportional to expectations.

To discuss this and the Bills tune into "The 2004 Bills Report" radio program broadcast over the Internet on Thursday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m. at www.broadcastmonsters.com. The number to call in is 1-877-913-9739.

Comments: mweiler.billsreport@cox.net

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