Carrying the team?

CHFF has been pimping a certain stat for months.  I’ve long considered refuting it, but was never sufficiently annoyed until now.

They’ve been pushing the idea that Tom Brady is the best QB in football history at “carrying his team”.  That standard is arbitrary defined as a game when he throws at least 40 times.  There are of course, tons of problems with this theory.  There is a huge difference between a team choosing to throw 40 times because of a strategic advantage and a QB who has to throw 40+ times because his team is trailing or can’t run the ball.  To lump all games with 40+ attempts into one basket is foolish and misleading.

The misconception is that the team had their QB throw 40+ times because they HAD to.  That hasn’t been true of the Patriots under Belichick.

You see this clearly in Brady’s games.  Three times he threw ball more than 40 times in blowout games where his team won by at least three touchdowns.  In another game, the Pats won by 16 points. It can hardly be said that he “carried the Pats” in those games.  New England has a proclivity to throw when already leading by a lot.  In other words, Brady’s “carrying the team” stats are padded because of the team’s philosophy.  Brady’s team averages 25.4 points a game when he throws that much (I don’t have the time to filter out defensive scores, sorry), but if you take out the blowout games where it wasn’t necessary, the number drops to 23.8 points. Beyond that his defense allowed an average of just 22.6 points in those games.  The Pats chose to pass; they were not forced to pass.

Compare that with Manning; he’s never thrown 40+ times in a blowout win.  The Colts only have one double digit win in game where he threw 40+ times.  That’s the difference between having a coach that calls off the dogs late and a coach that keeps throwing until the final gun.  Beyond that, Mannings’ teams averaged 22.3 points when he throws 40+ times.  That’s lower than Brady’s mark for sure, but that “extra field goal” would only have made the difference in 5 of the 49 games.  Ironically, one was the game at San Diego two years ago when Vinatieri missed a short field goal that would have won it.  Simply put, Tom Brady’s slight advantage in points generated when throwing 40+ times would not have led to many more wins at all.

There are two other factors to consider:

1.  The Colts defense gave up 27.6 ppg in games where Manning was forced to throw 40+ times

2.  Manning has had to throw 40+ times a whopping 49 times in his career.  Brady has only had to do it 25 times.   The Pats have had the luxury of letting Brady throw a lot only when it suits them to do so.  The Colts have depended on Manning far more often.  That creates an imbalance where one passer is set up for success and the other for failure.

Now CHFF is going gaga over Brady’s record when throwing 50 or more passes.  When forced to throw that often, Brady has a great record in part because his defense only allowed 24.2 ppg in those games.  Manning’s defenses?  31.6 ppg. That’s a more than a touchdown difference.  Considering that four of Manning’s seven losses in those games were by 8 points or less, I’d say that an extra 7.4 points fewer on defense would have made a big difference.

Tom Brady on the other hand?  Every time he’s had to throw 50+ times in a Pats victory, his team has won by a 3 points or less.  Simply put, if Brady had to play those same games with the Colts defense he would have ZERO wins.

Brady’s record when throwing frequently is impressive, but irrelevant.  His team’s philosophy in blowouts lends to victories with high passing totals.  His team’s defense has enabled him to have to throw 40-50+ times only when it suits the Patriots needs.

In other words, he’s not really carrying his team.  His team is carrying him.

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