The Clutch Enigma: Tom Brady’s Situational Stats

Kyle Rodriguez continues to evaluate the so-called “clutch” performances of Tom Brady in a series of studies on clutch quarterbacks in the NFL.

Due to popular demand in feedback to this article, I’ve compiled the situational statistics for Tom Brady, and will continue to do so for the other quarterbacks to be analyzed. 

Here are Brady’s career Situational Stats, in the categories I’ve deemed most applicable to “clutch” (and for the data available). The numbers listed are the quarterback ratings in certain situations, as you can imagine that including more would be a very large table. The quarterback rating, while not perfect, provides a decent representation of the quarterback’s play as a whole. 

Tom Brady 1st Half 2nd Half Last 2 Mins. Ahead Behind

Behind 1 Posession

Tied 4th quarter Fourth Quarter W/in 7 Margin of victory- 1 pos. Total for season
2001 93 74.8 104.1 96.7 69.4 86.8 85.6 74.8 63.5 81.9 86.5
2002 84.7 86.4 71.8 105.4 69.7 72.2 98.2 91.6 89.1 91 85.7
2003 85.8 82.7 82.8 72.6 89.3 55.2 104 77.5 86.3 91.3 85.9
2004 95.7 94.1 64.7 85.8 116.4 16.7 100.1 74.6 82.8 99.6 92.6
2005 88.4 96.6 70.6 98.8 86.3 53.3 94.8 91.2 86.9 101.7 92.3
2006 87.9 83.5 90.3 99.2 67.2 75.1 89.6 82.8 77.9 75 87.9
2007 119.7 107.2 101.7 117.7 109.8 141.7 106.6 114.4 112 94.7 117.2
2009 95.9 89.5 93.2 104.3 78.8 88.4 79.8 74.4 52.4 87.4 96.2
2010 105.9 114.4 105.4 111.8 106.9 108.6 106 105 97.5 91.4 111
2011 103.6 106 91.2 106.8 106.4 105.8 98 96.2 79.7 90.8

105.6

Totals 96.06 93.52 87.58 99.91 90.02 80.38 96.27 88.25 82.81 90.48

96.09

First, it should be clear that the situational stats are fairly erratic, although some general trends can be found. It is not uncommon, however, for whole seasons to buck those said trends. 

Second, let’s clarify which of the above categories are most important. In terms of clutch play, the “Last 2 Minutes,” “Behind 1 Possession,” and “4th Quarter w/in 7″ are going to be the most important, with “2nd half,” “Behind,” “Tied,” “4th Quarter,” and “Margin” being in the second tier. (Please ask in the comments if there are any questions regarding the categories, I know that could be confusing). 

So, with that in mind, let us begin. 

I think it’s pretty clear now, especially combined with the playoff statistics explored earlier this week, that Brady has not lost any of his “clutch” play over the years. His play in each of the clutch categories has gotten better in time, not worse. Just because it hasn’t tranlated into wins doesn’t mean that Brady’s “clutchness” has disappeared, but it does point towards the fallacy of assuming that clutchness even exists. 

Brady has been known his whole life as the “clutch” quarterback, the one who excels under pressure. Nevertheless, the two lowest categories throughout his career have been “Behind by One Possession,” and “4th Quarter W/in 7″ (which would be ahead or behind), the two categories in which it is most critical for a quarterback to get a score. 

Now, I’m not saying that this is a knock on Brady, on the contrary in fact. Brady is a great quarterback, one of the best in the NFL’s history. But, he’s never been particularly good in “clutch” situations. He’s had some great moments, especially early in his career, but he’s also had some failures.

His “clutch” performances shouldn’t be attributed to a magical “clutch” factor, but rather to him just being a really good quarterback. On the flip side, his playoff losses over the last few years shouldn’t be applied as him choking, as it’s clear that he’s been a much better quarterback in recent years than he was in his Super Bowl winning years. 

Kyle J. Rodriguez

About Kyle J. Rodriguez

A film and numbers guru, Kyle writes about the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts for Bleacher Report, Draft Mecca and The Football Educator, and is a co-founder and associate editor of Colts Authority. Kyle also is a high school sports reporter for the MLive Media Group in Michigan, covering high school sports across the state.

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