Proof That the Tom Brady Roughing the Passer Narrative Is Just Flat-Out Wrong
Throughout the past week, Tom Brady has taken a lot of heat for the roughing the passer call that secured the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 21-15 Week 5 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
But what else is new, right?
For decades now, Brady has been bashed, as many NFL fans believe he gets more calls than any other quarterback in the league. And has he gotten some that he shouldn’t have? Absolutely. And that includes last Sunday.
But has Brady gotten more calls — specifically roughing the passer calls — than every other NFL quarterback? Absolutely not.
And for those clinging to that narrative, here’s the proof.
41 quarterbacks have gotten more roughing the passer calls per game than Tom Brady since 2009
To first prove the Tom Brady roughing the passer narrative is flat-out wrong, we looked at the total number of roughing the passer calls he and every other NFL quarterback who’s gotten at least 15 of these calls since the start of the 2009 season, including the playoffs. And, yes, that includes the call he got against Atlanta.
As the total number of games played will obviously differ from quarterback to quarterback — several on the list weren’t even in the league in ’09 or no longer play in the NFL — be sure to pay particular attention to the last two columns (per-game average and per-100 attempts average) to get the most accurate comparison.
|QB||Total||Per Game||Per 100 att.|
|Robert Griffin III||16||0.30||1.24|
So let’s break that down a bit.
For starters, Brady ranks eighth in the total number of roughing the passer calls received. And of the seven above him, only two (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Cam Newton) are no longer in the league. So five quarterbacks have gotten more calls, which kills the narrative already.
But let’s keep going anyway.
Going by the per-game average, Brady ranks 42nd. Now, I know what you’re thinking. There weren’t even 42 quarterbacks on this list. Since we’re so nice, we didn’t include those who haven’t gotten less than 15 roughing the passer calls since 2009, as you’d still be looking at the graph. However, this overall data includes every QB who’s appeared in at least 40 games.
For instance, take Lamar Jackson, who wasn’t on the list above, as he’s only gotten 11 such calls in his short career. But his per-game average is 0.17, which puts him 10 slots ahead of Brady in that department.
Looking at the per 100 attempts average, TB12 ranks 49th.
And did everyone notice Josh Allen’s numbers? Despite entering the league in 2018, he’s just 10 short of Brady’s total number since ’09. Allen’s per-game average is nearly two and a half times higher, and his per 100 attempts average is just over that. Just sayin’.
Only two QBs have averaged fewer expected roughing the passer calls than Brady in the last five years
Looking for something a little different and a bit more current? Yep, we’ve got that as well.
Since the start of the 2018 season, 44 different quarterbacks have drawn at least one roughing the passer penalty, generating 436 in total, according to our pals at Pro Football Reference. In that same stretch, those 44 QBs have taken 4,954 hits, meaning, on average, we can expect a roughing the passer call every 11.36 hits. So we can use those numbers to calculate exactly how many calls each quarterback should have received.
Tom Brady has been hit 178 times during this time frame, so we’d expect him to have drawn 15.67 penalties. But he’s only drawn 10, putting him 5.67 below expectations. Of the 44, only TWO have worse numbers, Philip Rivers (-6.23) and Daniel Jones (-9.58).
On the other side, the top five above expectations are Ryan Fitzpatrick (+7.91), Baker Mayfield (+7.81), Josh Allen (+6.57), Matthew Stafford (+4.27), and Jared Goff (+4.22).
I think we’ve proved our point here. Numbers don’t lie, folks. The Tom Brady narrative that so many people want and perhaps even need to be true just isn’t. Not only does TB not get more roughing the passer calls than every other NFL quarterback, but he doesn’t get enough of them.
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