Tom Brady

Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports

Shocking clutch numbers illustrate exactly how Tom Brady has slipped this season

John Tomase
December 18, 2018 - 12:30 pm

Tom Brady's numbers have declined, but they're certainly not terrible. He ranks fifth in the NFL in passing yards (3,979), 10th in touchdowns (24), and 12th in rating (97.6). His closest comp is probably Minnesota's Kirk Cousins, a good quarterback, but not a great one.

Those are the surface numbers, however. Drill down just a little farther, and you'll understand why Brady's performance hasn't lived up to prior seasons, because in the clutch, money categories you'd expect him to dominate, he consistently ranks in the bottom third of the league.

Let's start in the fourth quarter. That's where Brady typically makes his money. Well his fourth quarter QB rating of 94.0 ranks 18th in the NFL. The top of this list is populated by Super Bowl-contending quarterbacks like Drew Brees, Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, and Philip Rivers. Brady, meanwhile, has managed only a pair of field goals total in the fourth quarter the last two weeks, both losses.

Then there's third down. Brady's conversion rate of 40.4 percent ranks 19th, behind such luminaries as Derek Carr, Brock Osweiler, and Marcus Mariota. He's completing only 53.5 percent of his passes on third down, compared to 57.9 last year, 66.7 in 2016, and 63.45 in 2015.

He's also struggling in the red zone. His QB rating inside the 10 of 87.0 ranks 18th. His touchdown percentage of 27.8 doesn't even rank in the top 20, and is down massively from last year's 46 percent or even 2016's 37.5.

Earlier this year, ESPN noted that Brady ranked dead last against the blitz. We saw him dive away from contact on his final throw of Sunday's loss to the Steelers and it's been a recurring theme all season. That's a far cry from last year, when Football Outsiders rated him the best quarterback against pressure in the NFL.

Fourth quarter, third down, red zone, pressure . . . add them all together, and they're the clearest evidence yet that Brady's play has slipped this season in ways we didn't see coming.