I'm not here to go all Rich Cimini on you and tell you that Tom Brady might be overrated based on his playoff record or performances over his last 11 games. While Cimini makes a valid point that Brady was just two plays away from potentially being 4-7 over his last 11 games rather than 6-5, I think Brady has established his legacy and it is a valid one.
What I do find interesting though, is that Brady's legend continues to be based, in part, on his magical 2007 season. There is no question Brady is a winner, but is he as potent as we give him credit for? I was all ready to tell you that 2007 was the outlier and that he isn't the same quarterback without Randy Moss as his top dog, but is that accurate? STATS ICE helped me answer that very question.
|2787 yds.||2531 yds.|
While passing yardage through the air was down about 10% without a deep threat like Randy Moss, Brady2011 is still in the ballpark. We think the Brady2007 was always going up top while the Brady2011 is dinking and dunking to tight ends and Wes Welker but the numbers say that Brady2011 is still hitting big plays. In fact...
Surprised, right? Brady2007 sought out Randy Moss and the two of them burned defenses with big plays all the time. However, Brady2011 has even more explosive plays under his belt which shows that this year's passing game is more diverse and potentially tougher to stop on any given Sunday.
Okay, this is the one statistical category where Brady2011 can't compete with Brady2007. With such a poor secondary this season, Brady2011 has had more pressure on his shoulders to shoot it out with the opponents and that has lead to more attempts and more interceptions than in 2007. At the end of the game, this stat could be the most important of them all.
I know one of the prevailing storylines of the Super Bowl is the big play potential of the Giants passing attack taking on the porous secondary of the Patriots, but has anyone considered that the Giants offense might lack a great deal of potency if they don't get their running game going?
While the Patriots secondary was one of the worst in football this year, the Giants running game was one of the worst in the league as well. Is there anyone who believes that Bill Belichick won't have a wrinkle or two on defense to slow down the Giants passing game? Maybe Belichick will do something different with his coverages or with his blitz packages that confuses Eli Manning and causes him to have an off day.
The Giants might have to run the ball on Sunday, but can they? The going might be tough according to STATS ICE.
It's not always going to come easy, boys. Sometimes you have to make a play if you are a running back and the Giants haven't done a very good job of it this year. Sure, the offensive line hasn't done a very good job of opening up running holes, but the Giants runners haven't broken tackles and gained those extra yards like they did last year either. Last season, Ahmad Bradshaw broke a tackle 1 out of every 11 carries while he's at a pace of 1 out of every 24 this year. Brandon Jacobs broke a tackle 1 out of every 12 carries last season but is only breaking tackles 1 out of every 17 in 2011. The Giants need extra effort from their running backs.
(No Gains or Losses/Carries)
This is a very interesting and potentially telling stat regarding the running backs for the Giants according to STATS ICE. Bradshaw got stopped for no gain or a loss in 10.5% of his carries this year which is down slightly from last year. The same is true for Brandon Jacobs who was stopped for no gain or a loss on 9.2% of his carries this year. In fact, their "stuff percentage" is roughly the same over the last three years which speaks to their inconsistent offensive line. However, both Bradshaw and Jacobs averaged significantly more yards per carry last year which tells me (along with their lack of tackle breaking) that they simply aren't running as well this year.
Eli Manning has enjoyed a great deal of acclaim this year and rightfully so. The "other Manning" has done a terrific job of playing well in clutch situations and has more passing yardage and the same number of explosive plays (38 plays of 25+ yards) that Tom Brady had in 2007. Sure he hasn't thrown as many touchdowns as Brady did and his interception numbers are always going to be higher than Brady's, but Eli is the reason the Giants are in the Super Bowl again.
Check that. Eli and Victor Cruz are the reason the Giants are in the Super Bowl again. Victor Cruz is famous for his Salsa dance in the endzone after touchdowns, but his explosive plays have been the catalyst for the Giants offensive uptick.
While we've already established that Brady continues to do his thing no matter the year, this year he has utilized his tight ends like no other quarterback in league history. Rob Gronkowski was a beast this year averaging 7.42 yards after catch which is the highest of any pass catcher in this game including Cruz. However, with Gronkowski battling a high ankle sprain, Aaron Hernandez might have to have a big game for the Patriots.
Cruz averaged an explosive play in 1 out of every 4.8 catches which is an amazing statistic. While Hernandez averaged an explosive play 1 out of every 9.8 catches, he could end up with an explosive play or even two in this game with the Giants focusing on stopping Gronkowski and Wes Welker. Hernandez is basically a big receiver and requires additional game-planning by defensive coordinators.
Calvin Johnson is the ultimate homerun hitter in football right now, but Victor Cruz is right there with him. The stat I find interesting, however, is that Hernandez is only .6 yards behind Cruz in YAC yards per reception. The Patriots and Brady have been the best in the league over the last five years at spreading the field and allowing their receivers to make plays in space and Hernandez has the size and speed to make a big play if the Giants don't tackle well. Cruz, on the other hand, doesn't care who the Patriots have on him as he busts cornerbacks up all over the field.