Tom Brady Thinks 'Quarterbacking Has Gone Backwards' in Modern NFL

The former Patriots quarterback has a lot of thoughts on the state of the position in today's game.
Sep 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots former quarterback Tom Brady runs on the field
Sep 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots former quarterback Tom Brady runs on the field / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady is a few months away from embarking upon his first season as a Fox NFL color commentator. It's anyone's guess as to how he'll perform, but given how much FOX paid Brady for his services, the network is at least hoping the future Hall of Famer will be able to deliver insight to the audience that they can't find elsewhere.

Should Brady prove capable of doing so, it would make sense if evaluating the quarterback position were an area of strength. The former superstar was famously detail-orientated and presumably knows the ins and outs of the position like few others on the planet after a 20-plus year career. On Wednesday, ahead of his induction into the New England Patriots Hall of Fame, Brady showed he has a lot to say.

In an interview with Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports, Brady said he feels like quarterbacking in the NFL has "gone backwards" over the years and there aren't nearly as many QBs who boast "total control" of their offenses as there were in his heyday.

“I think the quarterbacking has gone backwards a little bit in the NFL,” Brady told Robinson. "I don’t think it’s improved. I don’t think the teaching’s improved. I think maybe the physical fundamentals might be a little bit improved because there’s better information out there for quarterbacks to study on mechanics. But I don’t think quarterbacks really are really field generals right now like they used to be.

"It’s a broad statement, certainly. But I had total control. I had all the tools I needed. I was coached that way. I was developed to have the tools that I needed to go on the field so that whenever something came up, I had the right play, the right formation, the right audible, the right check at the line — to ultimately take control of the 11 guys on offense and get us into a good, positive play.”

The seven-time Super Bowl winner went on to explain that part of the problems stem from coaches trying to exert more control over the offense from the sideline, especially in college. Which, in turn, stems from the frantic pressure to succeed immediately in today's sports world; coaches aren't as interested in helping a player get better because that'll take too long. Instead they just work with what the player is already good at and try to win that way.

"(Coaches are) trying to go in and develop a program and develop people, but they don’t have the time because of the pressure from social media and the pressure from media to get it fixed right away," Brady said. "So now they’re saying, all right — rather than draft a quarterback and say I want to develop you — they’re saying, ‘We’re going to draft a quarterback and ask the quarterback, what do you do well? We just gotta do that so I can try to win some games so I don’t get fired.’”

In contrast to pretty much all media he did during his playing days, these are a series of insightful and fascinating quotes from Brady. He has a take and gives it, along with a fleshed-out argument for why he feels that way littered with specific examples. The ability to explain a point of view in that manner is what sets great analysts apart from the dozens of athletes-turned-podcasters who spend much of their time grousing about how the game was better back in their day. Which Brady himself is guilty of doing, but not in this case.

As Robinson notes in his article, this also may serve as an intruiging glimpse of what Brady will be like on the call. Critiquing on-field play without coming across as bashing players unnecessarily is a very delicate dance but one that can make for a very entertaining broadcast if navigated correctly. It's an encouraging sign, if anything, that he's already trying to do so in media appearances well before the red light comes on for the first time.

Brady's first broadcast will come on September 8, when he'll oversee the Dallas Cowboys' opening game against the Cleveland Browns.


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Liam McKeone

LIAM MCKEONE

Liam McKeone is a senior writer for the Breaking and Trending News team at Sports Illustrated. He has been in the industry as a content creator since 2017, and prior to joining SI in May 2024, McKeone worked for NBC Sports Boston and The Big Lead. In addition to his work as a writer, he has hosted the Press Pass Podcast covering sports media and The Big Stream covering pop culture. A graduate of Fordham University, he is always up for a good debate and enjoys loudly arguing about sports, rap music, books and video games. McKeone has been a member of the National Sports Media Association since 2020.