Is Tom Brady’s negativity following wins actually productive?

Ryan Hannable
November 19, 2019 - 6:00 am

Let’s make this clear: There’s no question Tom Brady is one of the greatest leaders in NFL history. 

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The point of this is not to question his leadership skills — this isn’t what it is about — but his behavior following wins this year has been something we’ve never seen in his 20 years in the NFL.

Following Sunday’s 17-10 victory on the road against the Eagles, arguably the Patriots’ biggest of the year, Brady stepped to the podium and acted like the team had just got blown out 50-0. The quarterback took nine questions and spoke for less than two minutes, not offering up much and giving off a clear sense of frustration.

When asked if he was discouraged despite the win, Brady said, “Well, we just played for three hours. So I think everybody is a little tired.”

This isn’t the first time Brady has acted like this after a win this season. 

Following Week 4’s 16-10 win in Buffalo (which was the Bills’ first loss), Brady was frustrated then, too.

“The flight home sucked,” he said on Westwood One Radio. “The night of sleep sucked. You watch the film, and that sucks, and then you just lick your wounds, and you get up and you try to do better the next week.”

Not ever being satisfied and always looking to be better is a great attribute to have, but is Brady being so down after these wins — when the team is 9-1 on the year — actually productive?

In the seconds following Sunday’s win over the Eagles, the biggest storyline from the game was the defense bouncing back in a big way following the loss to the Ravens and proving it can in fact shut down a decent offense. But then came Brady’s press conference where his visible frustration despite the win instantly became what was talked about most from the game and brought the offense back into focus.

And if we’re being honest, the way the offense performed against the Eagles wasn’t all that bad considering some of its other performances this season. It had five drives going for 30 yards or more, saw the debut of rookie wide out N’Keal Harry and also featured a touchdown on a double-pass from Brady to Julian Edelman to Phillip Dorsett.

The offense was what its been all year for the most part, so it wasn’t really going to be a storyline until Brady made it one by the way he approached his postgame press conference.

Brady himself says it all the time, football is a team sport and the only thing that matters is winning. If that is all true, then why act the way he did following the biggest win of the season that improved the team to 9-1 on the year and kept a one-game lead in the conference?

Behind the scenes with Josh McDaniels and even teammates going over the film from the game, that is the time to voice frustrations with missed opportunities, etc., just not immediately following the best win of the year. 

What are Patriots defenders supposed to do and think when they had a great game and did everything they needed to do to win, but yet the quarterback gives off a negative vibe? Same thing for the special teams players. 

Team sports are about the team as a whole and sometimes particular players and units pick other players and units up, which has been the case all year. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just something Brady isn’t used to.

Were the Patriots leaders on defense acting this way a few years ago when they were ranked in the bottom third of the league, but yet were still going deep into the playoffs and making it to the Super Bowl? No.

The immediate counter to taking issue with Brady’s attitude is he’s just looking to get better and is never satisfied. This absolutely can be beneficial and productive, but Brady has yet to publicly admit he himself can be better and is somewhat at fault for the issues offensively.

With The Greg Hill Show Monday morning, Hill stated he must be frustrated with himself, but Brady didn’t acknowledge that.

“It’s just frustration with the offense,” he said. “Just trying to grind them out. I am happy we won on the road, but at the same time just wish we would have scored more points.”

It just feels like there needs to be some acknowledgment of Brady’s own performance as it relates to the offense in order to pull off this attitude. 

There’s no question frustration can be had over what has taken place, but within that needs to be some personal accountability for what’s happened. There were 21 incomplete passes thrown Sunday — just the 16th time he’s thrown 21 or more incomplete passes in the regular season during his career — and there aren’t 21 different reasons for them. Some self-blame can be made.

In the end, what Brady says after games does not impact what happens on the field. Maybe Brady should listen to himself because what is being so negative after losses actually accomplishing? Especially when no personal accountability has been taken.

"I don't think it matters what I think. It matters what we do," he said.

Related: What Bill Belichick said in Patriots locker room following win over Eagles