A million articles will be written about the juxtaposition of Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady. The young versus the old. The current G.O.A.T versus the one most likely to become the future G.O.A.T. What interests me the most? The totally difference in style between the two quarterbacks. Both are the pinnacle of their respective type. Which will prevail?
Old vs. New
Tom Brady is the last of the statue-esque quarterbacks. With Drew Brees and Phillip Rivers finally calling it quits, Tom Brady is the final remnant of what the past generation considered an ideal quarterback. It used to be these tall, strong guys that stood proudly in the pocket, where their ability (or inability) to move wasn’t a factor.
Patrick Mahomes on the other hand is representative of the new style. He’s athletic, he’s mobile. He doesn’t necessarily need to run much, but he’s running when he needs to, and most importantly he extends plays with his legs. He constantly wows you with his escapability and his incredible throws on the run. Think of the best quarterbacks in the league like Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson. They all share this attribute. The new top guys can all move around. Justin Herbert, Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Joe Burrows, Patrick Mahomes, they all have mobility to their game. Even the next draft’s top prospects all move. Justin Fields, Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are all great athletes.
Mobility is Key
In this day and age, every quarterback has to be able to use their legs. You don’t necessarily need to be a runner like Lamar Jackson or Michael Vick, but the era of the statue is over. The top ten quarterbacks in passer rating this year all have at least some mobility to their game except those old guys I named earlier. Brady leads the three with 1049 rushing yards in 21 seasons. Rivers is at 601 in 17 seasons. Brees is at 752 in 20. Most of the other players in the top ten this year blow those numbers out of the water. The only players to not top 1000 yards in that group are Mahomes at 808 yards, Derek Carr at 635 and Kirk Cousins at 721. The difference is those guys have played at most half the time as the three statues, and in Mahomes’ case ¼.
Moving further, the top five QBs don’t feature a single pocket only passer. The last three MVPs, Rodgers, Jackson and Mahomes can all move. Tom Brady won in 2017, but there’s decent consensus that if Carson Wentz (a guy with mobility) had finished out his season he would’ve been the winner. The last statue to win the MVP before then was Matt Ryan in 2016, but his game has shown signs of aging. In Ryan’s last two years he’s finished 14th and 21st in the league in passer rating and has taken a combined 89 sacks. You’d have to go back another three years to hit our next statue, Peyton Manning in 2013. That’s a stark difference to the 2000’s winners, where the only somewhat mobile QB was Rich Gannon and it wasn’t much a part of his game in his MVP season.
Or is it?
But despite this, Tom Brady still persists. Not just persists, he’s thrived. His 40 touchdowns this year was the second most in his career (and the second most in the NFL this year, two more than Mahomes). He had some problems in the middle of the season, but by the end of the year he was firing on all cylinders. Even the deep ball which is often the first thing to go for older quarterbacks righted itself quickly. Tom Brady looks as good as ever. The first half of the NFC Championship game was vintage Brady, ending with a clutch touchdown drive as time expired. Then again, the second half was much worse, as Brady had three straight drives end in picks, including one where he missed a wide open Mike Evans due to pressure.
So we have the last of the statues, the best of the old style of quarterback, versus the prime example of the new. It may be the passing of a torch. Then again, Tom Brady is still kicking and kicking hard. The thing to keep an eye on during the game is the styles. Will Brady’s lack of mobility slow him down? Or will the classic style still persist for another year?