Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady spoke at length about how modern-day NFL defenses now shoulder the burden — and penalties — of lazy offensive mistakes.
Over the past 20 years, Tom Brady’s NFL has transformed into a league a rookie Brady would have found unrecognizable. There are no more fullbacks, the “Ty Law Rule” amped up pass interference, and to Brady’s chagrin, players can now be any number they want.
But the biggest overhauls have been to make the NFL cater to the offense more and more every year, increasingly punishing defenses for hard-hitting plays. The 44-year-old elder statesman of the league explained how defensive rule changes have altered the game, putting receivers in danger.
“I think the one thing about football that’s changed over the years, which I think is really hard for someone like me who’s played a long time to watch is like there, it’s not being taught the right way, like a quarterback should only throw the ball to certain places because your receiver is in danger of getting hit,” Brady explained during a Player Chat with Buccaneers journalist Casey Phillips.
In New England, Brady made a point to throw lower to receivers in traffic, protecting them from injuries. But for less-experienced receivers struggling to make a play, they may throw a ball that puts the receiver in the path of a linebacker.
That’s a quarterback mistake, according to Brady, and not the fault of a defensive player trying to make a tackle.
"“They’ve almost moved the protection of your opponent to you, as opposed to where it should be, which is on yourself. If you’re a quarterback, you’ve got to protect yourself and your players. It shouldn’t be the responsibility of your opponent to protect you.And I think that’s a real…it creates really bad habits for players because you feel like, ‘I can basically do anything: I could run and not slide; I can throw my receiver into any coverage and not have any repercussion for it.’The only thing they’re gonna do is they’re actually going to blame the defensive player for making a good, solid hit, and now the defensive player is gonna feel like, ‘Well I can’t do that,’ even I feel like it was an offensive mistake.”"
Brady capped off his answer by saying the lack of offensive responsibility has been “a real disservice to the sport.”
“The sport isn’t being played at a high level like I believe that it once was. It actually deteriorates because you’re not teaching the players the reasons and the fundamentals of what the sport should be.”
Brady knows how to read defenses and set protections better than anyone in the NFL, and his short time with the Buccaneers has demonstrated it. He took one of the league’s worst offensive lines and its most penalized team and turned them into Super Bowl champions by coaching them up.
Now, it’s time that the rest of the league, including an exciting new crop of rookie quarterbacks, takes responsibility for facilitating healthy offensive plays by protecting their teammates in action.