A Russell Wilson Trade Looks Imminent

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By Michael-Shawn Dugar, Mike Sando and Jayson Jenks

Days before a critical home game against the Cardinals, Russell Wilson met with members of the Seahawks’ coaching staff. It was a time of high tension. In Seattle’s previous two games, Wilson had turned the ball over seven times, and the Seahawks had lost both, first to the Bills, then to the Rams. The offense needed to get on track, and Wilson had ideas on how to make that happen.

Instead, the meeting would come to symbolize the divide between Wilson and the organization.

Pete Carroll has built Hall of Fame credentials on what he sees as simple truths about how the game is best played: Run the ball, avoid turnovers, explode in the passing game. “It is not because we just want to knock our head against a wall,” Carroll once explained. “It is because the game is played well when you don’t give the other team the football. The game is played well when you can convert and make first downs. The game is played well when you can explode on offense.”

Carroll believes that formula in his bones, and over and over again he has won while implementing it. In contrast, Wilson believes that Carroll’s conservative philosophy is limiting his production and, by extension, his ambitions to be one of the game’s all-time greats.

But in the first half of the 2020 season — and in a stark break from years past — Seattle unleashed an all-out aerial attack. Throwing the ball early and often, Wilson put together the best statistical stretch of his career and emerged as the clear front-runner for MVP, an award he covets for the implications it would have on his legacy.

“I’m trying to break away, you know what I mean?” Wilson said at one point early in the season, then named the shadows he was chasing: Brady, Brees, Manning, Montana.

The wheels to Wilson’s MVP campaign rattled loose in a 44-34 loss to the Bills on Nov. 8. Wilson turned the ball over four times, the defense cratered, and Carroll sounded shell-shocked at what he had just watched. “I don’t recognize that game,” he said. “It’s a game that I don’t have any place in my brain for.” It was an uncharacteristic performance from Wilson — and an unacceptable one for Carroll, who dedicates a whole day of practice (Thursday) to turnovers.

In response, he pulled back the reins on Wilson and the offense. Statistically, it wasn’t a seismic shift. Through the first eight games, Seattle led the league on the Cook Index — which measures how frequently teams pass on early downs in the first 28 minutes, before time and score influence play-calling — and ranked seventh thereafter. But it was effectively a rebuke of Wilson, and sources close to the quarterback said it upset him.

A week later, Wilson had his worst game of the season, turning the ball over three more times in an ugly 23-16 loss to the Rams. Wilson appeared almost rattled, and longtime NFL writers Charean Williams and Mike Jones both wrote that the game scuttled Wilson’s MVP hopes. In the locker room afterward, Carroll delivered a harsher-than-usual message about accountability to the entire team and coaching staff. “We got to get our act together,” he told the media while restating the importance of a balanced offense that takes care of the ball. Meanwhile, Wilson reaffirmed his self-belief. “I know that I’m a great football player,” he said. “I know I’ve been great, I know I will be great, and I know I’ll continue to be great.”

Carroll wanted to be more careful with the offense; Wilson wanted to stay the course, trusting in himself.

Before the Thursday night game against Arizona, Wilson met with his coaches. For some time, Wilson has sought — even pushed — for influence within the organization regarding scheme and personnel. In the meeting, he outlined his own ideas for how to fix the offense. His suggestions were dismissed, multiple sources told The Athletic — another reminder to Wilson that the Seahawks did not see him the same way he saw himself, as a player who had earned greater control over his situation, his future, his legacy.

He stormed out of the room.



The Super Bowl this year was a trigger. Wilson flew to Tampa to pick up his Walter Payton Man of the Year award. He and his wife, Ciara, watched the game in a suite next to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and as Tom Brady battled Patrick Mahomes on the field below, Wilson seethed. During the game, he texted Jake Heaps, his former teammate and private quarterback coach, to vent about watching the game instead of playing in it.

Wilson later spoke with Carroll, according to a source, to talk about the way the Seahawks addressed the offensive line, an issue that had bothered Wilson for years. He wanted to know the team’s plan, but it wasn’t relayed to him, at least not to Wilson’s satisfaction, the source said. Carroll implored him to have faith.

But after the Super Bowl, Wilson took his message public.

That Monday, CBS’ Jason La Canfora tweeted that “Russell Wilson’s camp” was frustrated with his pass protection and called it “a situation worth monitoring.” The next day, Wilson went on “The Dan Patrick Show” and said he wanted to be more involved with the organization. He was asked about the almost 400 times he has been sacked over his nine-year career: “That’s a big thing that we gotta fix, that’s gotta be fixed.” He brought up Brady, a player whose status he craves, and the play of Tampa Bay’s offensive line in the Super Bowl: “He wasn’t touched really.” Several times he mentioned his “legacy,” as well as his goal to play 10 to 15 more years, just like Brady.

On a Zoom call with Seattle reporters that same day, Wilson was asked if he was frustrated with the Seahawks. “I’m frustrated with getting hit too much,” he said. Ex-Seahawk Brandon Marshall said Wilson was “beyond frustrated” with the team and added that Wilson “is trying to figure out how to move on in a classy way.” Patrick echoed the QB’s desire for urgency and, citing a source, said the “current situation is unsustainable.” By then, La Canfora had even listed possible trade destinations for Wilson: the Raiders, Dolphins, Saints and Jets among them.

Growing up, Wilson’s idols were Derek Jeter and Drew Brees, an interesting contrast. Brees won only one Super Bowl in 20 seasons — and never won an MVP — but he overcame physical limitations to put up record-breaking stats. Jeter racked up World Series titles and clutch plays, his legacy defined by winning. A decade into his career, Wilson hasn’t won like Jeter, and he hasn’t put up numbers like Brees. Wilson and the people around him believe the Seahawks are partly responsible.

“The reason that we’re here is because he’s on pace to be the most sacked quarterback in the history of the NFL,” said Robert Turbin, Wilson’s former teammate and a groomsman at his wedding.

Others see the situation differently after Wilson had the worst stretch of his career in the season’s final eight games, ranking 28th in yards per attempt, one spot below the Cincinnati Bengals’ Brandon Allen.

“He’s finally catching heat,” one person told The Athletic. “That’s the main reason for all of this. … People are talking and holding him accountable because he’s one of the highest-paid quarterbacks, he says he wants to be the greatest, so now people are holding him to that standard.”

“It’s a PR game,” that person added. “He’s trying to protect himself.”

Another source agreed: “What he’s trying to do is save face.”

Wilson and Carroll have won at least nine games in each of nine seasons together. They have made the playoffs every season but one, won a Super Bowl and lost another. But the Seahawks haven’t reached the NFC Championship game since 2014, and Wilson’s frustration has escalated to the point that his camp has broached potential trade destinations with the Seahawks. According to sources, those teams include ones mentioned in La Canfora’s column the day of the Super Bowl: the Dolphins, Jets, Saints and Raiders. (On Thursday, Wilson’s agent told ESPN’s Adam Schefter the quarterback would only consider going to the Saints, Raiders, Bears or Cowboys in a potential trade.) Some people around the league think a trade could happen, if not this offseason then sometime in the near future.

“It’s a great story,” a coach from another team said. “There is a lot there — money, greed, power and control.”
 
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2/2

The 2020 season was the turning point — or, maybe, the breaking point. The offense started on a historic pace, putting Wilson in the Hall of Fame company he so badly wants to keep.

Seattle averaged a league-leading 4.5 offensive touchdowns per game through the season’s first half, a pace exceeded since 2000 by only three teams: Peyton Manning’s 2013 Denver Broncos, Tom Brady’s 2007 New England Patriots and Kurt Warner’s 2000 St. Louis Rams — historically great offenses led by quarterbacks who won MVPs in each of those seasons.

The best stretch of Wilson’s career had come after Carroll agreed to “Let Russ Cook.” Wilson welcomed the shift so much he filed a trademark application for the phrase — a fan slogan that had implored the Seahawks to turn the offense over to their $35 million-a-year quarterback — with the intention of selling cookware and utensils to benefit charity. But the offense never quite felt like that of a Carroll-coached team, and it didn’t go unnoticed by those close to Wilson that the coach only rarely mentioned “Seahawk football,” as he tends to do when the formula is pounding the ball and playing elite defense.

Facing better defenses in the second half of the schedule, Wilson and the offense bogged down. Seattle averaged only 2.4 offensive touchdowns per game, 18th in the league and six spots below the Mitch Trubisky-led Chicago Bears. It wasn’t only because Carroll passed less frequently on early downs. Something wasn’t right. Wilson wasn’t right.

During a 17-12 loss to the Colt McCoy-led Giants in early December, a game in which the offense scored only 10 points, Wilson dropped back and set up in a clean pocket. He held the ball longer than four seconds and had plenty of space around him, only to take a sack, a play indicative of Wilson’s struggles down the stretch.

“What the fuck is wrong with Russell Wilson?” a veteran coach who watched the game said at the time. “He is seeing ghosts. They act like they are not protecting him, but he kills the protection. There are times they got a clean pocket, he runs up in there, he just panics. He is not playing very good at all.”

“People say their protection is not that good,” the coach went on. “That whole ‘Let Russ Cook’ thing, he is better when they can run the ball and they play off that, there is no question. No one likes that because they want him to be Dan Marino. Well, he is not Dan Marino. You are who you are. But he looks bad right now.”

There were other issues this season, too. Those close to Wilson feel as though the pillars upon which Carroll has built his program — namely competition and accountability — are applied only selectively, especially as it pertains to the coach and his sons. This past season, receivers coach Nate Carroll, who has worked under his father since 2010, briefly stepped away from the job in frustration over his role before returning to the team, sources told The Athletic. Nate made his unhappiness known to players, sources said. For Wilson and those around him, the disruption validated a long-held complaint: Carroll, and by extension his sons, answer to no one.

When asked last month who in the building can tell him harsh and uncomfortable truths, Carroll named former assistant Carl (Tater) Smith, John Schneider and his two sons, Brennan and Nate. Smith left the Seahawks before the 2019 season, and Brennan Carroll left after the 2020 season to coach in college. Only Nate Carroll remains.

“Over the years I have lost a couple guys,” Carroll said. “Tater would tell me anything. He was awesome. I demanded it of him because he knew the truth and he needed to speak to me. I have lost a few guys like that. It is something I’m looking at.”

As Wilson seeks to hold Carroll and the organization accountable, others question whether anyone can do the same for the quarterback himself. That has been a sensitive subject ever since Sports Illustrated and ESPN published stories years ago suggesting Carroll coddled Wilson to the detriment of the team. After Richard Sherman picked off Wilson in a June 2014 practice, then yelled at the young quarterback and threw the ball at him, Carroll met with team leaders and told them to take it easier on Wilson. Carroll, multiple sources said, protected and enabled Wilson, undermining the two words he had built his whole program on: Always compete.

This current situation with Wilson, several sources believe, is the inevitable consequence of that special treatment.



The 2020 season ended with another early playoff loss, this time to the Rams in the wild-card round. Wilson threw a pick-six in the first half, and his offensive line had one of its worst performances of the year. The game was a Rorschach test: Was Carroll to blame? Was Wilson?

After the loss, Carroll fired Schottenheimer, the offensive coordinator he had brought in to challenge Wilson. Wilson wanted to be involved in the process to hire Schottenheimer’s replacement, and he was, meeting with candidates, including Rams’ passing game coordinator Shane Waldron, whom the Seahawks hired with Wilson’s endorsement.

But then Wilson watched Brady and Mahomes advance to the Super Bowl. Brady had hand-picked his new team and brought in players he wanted, including receiver Antonio Brown, whom Wilson had privately worked out with and publicly lobbied for the Seahawks to sign. Mahomes was in his second consecutive Super Bowl, playing for a coach whose wide-open offensive system had turned him loose.

Seven years ago, it was Carroll and Wilson on that stage, the beginning of something special. The Seahawks crushed Peyton Manning and the Broncos that night, and in the game’s final minutes, Wilson snuck up the sideline and dumped Gatorade over Carroll’s head. Wilson’s marriage with the Seahawks has been a success by any measure: one Super Bowl win, two Super Bowl appearances, more wins than any team other than the Patriots. But their future together seems less certain than it should given those results.

Asked if Wilson will be the Seahawks’ quarterback in 2021, a source close to the quarterback answered with just two words.

“Good question …”
 
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What it looks like to me

Russell Wilson is trying to preserve his legacy by blaming his poor play recently and sacks on a poor OL.

Somewhere along the line, 2018 probably, Petey stopped coddling Wilson, expecting more from Wilson but also initiating the now-fractured relationship. The blame game began as the losses added up.

Wilson, imo, is acting like a diva by blaming others for his poor play - 7 ints in just 2 games this year? Russ wanted to keep cooking but Carroll wanted to reel him in. I can't blame Petey for that. Russell was pissed.

At $35M/, he's one of the highest paid QBs in the league - and one of the most overpaid based on his performance.
I wonder what he'll bring to the Seahawks in a trade with that contract he's carrying.
 

Roberto71

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This is maybe the fascinating story of the offseason, more so even than Watson.

Incredible, it seems more likely as each day goes by that this happens and it could really change multiple things in the league. If he goes to Miami or the Jets, what that does with Tua in Miami and the Jets draft pick could have massive repercussions.
 
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This is maybe the fascinating story of the offseason, more so even than Watson.

Incredible, it seems more likely as each day goes by that this happens and it could really change multiple things in the league. If he goes to Miami or the Jets, what that does with Tua in Miami and the Jets draft pick could have massive repercussions.

Seattle will ask for a 1st then draft one of the top 3 QBs in this draft. Would the JETE or Miami trade their high 1st rnd pick for a 30something year old QB making $35M/ and playing so poorly? I wouldn't. But if I'm Miami I'd think about trading Tua straight up for Russell but Petey/Schneider probably wouldn't do that since some luster has worn off Tua this year.
 

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It will be interesting to watch the machinations - Wilson has a no-trade clause, which will complicate things. Instead of about 25 or so teams bidding for his services, there will be only four or so, based on what I've read. And with his contract and attitude and his last half year of play, he may not be as attractive as he thinks.

If I were the Seattle GM, I'd negotiate with all comers, and make the best deal I could, then tell Wilson that's where he's going. If he turns it down, then he stays in Seattle. His choice then is to sit, which wastes a year of his early 30s career. Or he can play under Pete Carroll's system and with Seattle's personnel, which he just trashed.
 
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Wilson also carries a massive $58M dead cap for the Seahawks for 2021.

Correction on Wilson's contract: He's already been paid $13M of this year's income by the Seahawks as part of his signing bonus. A team trading for him would be responsible for $19M in 2021, 2022 and $22M in 2023. That's a good contract for any team trading for him but it also increases the amount the Seahawks can get in return.
 

TipRoast

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I think the Washington Football Team will try to trade for him. They're in very good cap shape, and may be thinking they have the defensive pieces already in place. Only the Rams gave up fewer points in the NFC.

And when they look back at 2020, they're seeing a 7-9 team that hung tough with the eventual Super Bowl winner in the playoffs.

Because they made the playoffs, they have a not-so-great 1st round draft slot. They probably would have trouble putting together enough players and picks to make it happen. But they're a logical destination for Wilson, if he would OK a trade to them and they offered the right package.
 

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Very interesting stuff, Chevs. I don't follow Seattle closely and didn't have much of a feel for the situation there, but I do now, thanks.

Wilson has always struck me as the ultimate team guy and competitive as hell. It is especially amazing that he does what he does getting hit 400 times
and I don't think he suddenly forgot how to play football last season. There is always more to that kind of story.

Whatever Wilson's assaches were in Raintown, Brady left a perfectly blazed trail for him to follow.

Tom is now the patron saint for disgruntled Superstar QBs and others are sure to follow. DeShaun Watson already did.
Patrick Mahomes can do whatever he wishes going forward, but when you have a 500M contract then what worlds are left to conquer?
The answer is: tell your brain trust that they better get you a new LT (or whatever else you desire) or else. Power and control.

It's always been a copycat league and now all the good QBs will want their own BFT (Brady Fairy Tale). I believe that the
last thing this league needs is an even greater disparity between QBs and everybody else, but it's inevitable now.
 

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Very interesting stuff, Chevs. I don't follow Seattle closely and didn't have much of a feel for the situation there, but I do now, thanks.

Wilson has always struck me as the ultimate team guy and competitive as hell. It is especially amazing that he does what he does getting hit 400 times
and I don't think he suddenly forgot how to play football last season. There is always more to that kind of story.

Whatever Wilson's assaches were in Raintown, Brady left a perfectly blazed trail for him to follow.

Tom is now the patron saint for disgruntled Superstar QBs and others are sure to follow. DeShaun Watson already did.
Patrick Mahomes can do whatever he wishes going forward, but when you have a 500M contract then what worlds are left to conquer?
The answer is: tell your brain trust that they better get you a new LT (or whatever else you desire) or else. Power and control.

It's always been a copycat league and now all the good QBs will want their own BFT (Brady Fairy Tale). I believe that the
last thing this league needs is an even greater disparity between QBs and everybody else, but it's inevitable now.
I watched a thing on youtube, and according to PFF Seattle's oline actually got better, so his hits might be from him holding the ball too long, which he tends to do and has admitted this as well. His time to throw before pressure is a lot higher than most other QB's. SO I cannot imagine that is the entire reason, something else must have happened. AS far as the comparison to Brady. Seattle's coach was not trying to trade him 3 years ago nor was not giving him only a 1 year contract, so there is a bit of a difference. Brady also didnt throw his oline or other players under the bus publicly like Wilson is doing. Now with that said, yeah he could have looked at Brady leaving a good situation and going to another good situation and prevailing and sometimes that can start a run of QB's who are not happy for whatever reason to say, hey I can do that too.
 

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What it looks like to me

Russell Wilson is trying to preserve his legacy by blaming his poor play recently and sacks on a poor OL.

Somewhere along the line, 2018 probably, Petey stopped coddling Wilson, expecting more from Wilson but also initiating the now-fractured relationship. The blame game began as the losses added up.

Wilson, imo, is acting like a diva by blaming others for his poor play - 7 ints in just 2 games this year? Russ wanted to keep cooking but Carroll wanted to reel him in. I can't blame Petey for that. Russell was pissed.

At $35M/, he's one of the highest paid QBs in the league - and one of the most overpaid based on his performance.
I wonder what he'll bring to the Seahawks in a trade with that contract he's carrying.
Yeah the let Wilson Cook mantra that went out. It worked for a while but then it became a turnover fest, and as you said the coach wanted to get back to power football, and Wilson seemed to think well it didnt work out because (fill in the blank) on the team is at fault. Not sure that was all of it that made him want to leave, but that was the public part.
 

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From what it seems like Wilson wanted to keep airing it out despite teams figuring out that he's looking for the big play. They clamped down on that and he began to struggle. Sine he began to struggle he got hit more.

Granted, the playoff game against the Rams he looked just like Mahomes did in the Super Bowl. He had nowhere to go. He kept getting hit and he just didn't seem to make any adjustments (or his team) to make things easier for him.

Oddly enough, while he gives out this attitude that he is such a great, humble dude, he appears to be a bigger diva than Watson the more and more I read about this soap opera.
 

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From what it seems like Wilson wanted to keep airing it out despite teams figuring out that he's looking for the big play. They clamped down on that and he began to struggle. Sine he began to struggle he got hit more.

Granted, the playoff game against the Rams he looked just like Mahomes did in the Super Bowl. He had nowhere to go. He kept getting hit and he just didn't seem to make any adjustments (or his team) to make things easier for him.

Oddly enough, while he gives out this attitude that he is such a great, humble dude, he appears to be a bigger diva than Watson the more and more I read about this soap opera.
and he wasn't always like that, he was always very quiet and never really said a lot about players or coaches, etc. Not sure what changed. Sometimes we do not know what goes beyond the scenes that we don't see, but the only issue I had was when he started calling out players on his team, thats not how you do things.
 

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2 weeks ago, I'd have argued to the death with anyone who cared to engage that there is no way Russell Wilson will be traded.

I didn't watch the Giants game but I did watch a fair amount of Seattle football and that O-line is trash. I do think Wilson became a bit too enamored with the DK Metcalf threat a bit too much at times. I imagine when players of his caliber butt heads with a coach the ilk of Pete Carroll, someone's going to come off as looking like a diva. Easy to interpret it as the player, I s'pose.

At any rate, Seattle would get a kind's ransom for Wilson and (IMO) deservedly so.
 

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What it looks like to me

Russell Wilson is trying to preserve his legacy by blaming his poor play recently and sacks on a poor OL.

Somewhere along the line, 2018 probably, Petey stopped coddling Wilson, expecting more from Wilson but also initiating the now-fractured relationship. The blame game began as the losses added up.

Wilson, imo, is acting like a diva by blaming others for his poor play - 7 ints in just 2 games this year? Russ wanted to keep cooking but Carroll wanted to reel him in. I can't blame Petey for that. Russell was pissed.

At $35M/, he's one of the highest paid QBs in the league - and one of the most overpaid based on his performance.
I wonder what he'll bring to the Seahawks in a trade with that contract he's carrying.
I agree Chevss. I have lost a lot of respect for Wilson since the SB. He seems very salty. I guess watching Brady win his 7th while he sat next to Roger just burned him to no end.

I watched the Rams playoff game and he was awful. I know that defense is beastly but his picks were horrible and made it impossible for Seattle to stay in it. Their loss was easily the biggest upset of the playoffs as the Rams literally beat him down while Goff who did not practice all week and was playing with a broken thumb did enough to win. Talk about a legacy defining loss.

I have no idea what he wants. His team is stacked on the offense. The defense needs work but every team has weaknesses. I saw his list of teams - Cowboys, Bears, Vegas. I mean what is he thinking? Those teams are a mess compared to Seattle. I am not a fan of Petey but does he really want to go to the poop show that is Gruden/Vegas or worse the Cowboys? I won't even talk about the Bears. The whole thing is ridiculous. And you are right, he is massively overpaid. He is elite but he is not at Brady, Mahomes or Rodgers level.
 

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2 weeks ago, I'd have argued to the death with anyone who cared to engage that there is no way Russell Wilson will be traded.

I didn't watch the Giants game but I did watch a fair amount of Seattle football and that O-line is trash. I do think Wilson became a bit too enamored with the DK Metcalf threat a bit too much at times. I imagine when players of his caliber butt heads with a coach the ilk of Pete Carroll, someone's going to come off as looking like a diva. Easy to interpret it as the player, I s'pose.

At any rate, Seattle would get a kind's ransom for Wilson and (IMO) deservedly so.
It was actually the highest rated his oline has been in his career on the team last year.
 
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Wilson and Watson are both talented little whiny bitches...truth.

I wouldn't put Watson in that category. He has a legit beef with the Texans' FO and ownership for the way they've torn apart his team and the way Easterby has been given control.
 

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I'm sure Wilson and other QBs did indeed get very salty watching TB lift another Lombardi.

It's not rocket science, Tom's secret is not a hidden X factor. He simply works harder than any other QB. Simple as.. Yes, he has the key physical make-up, he's tall, great arm, resilient etc. But he works harder than any other QB and deep down these guys know it.

You want to get to Brady's level, then you wait 2 days after the hangover and then get back to work for next season. To get to his level you will know all the DCs in the league and their tendencies and traits, you'll know what DBs do in situation X on X down with X mins left on the clock. You will have an encyclopedic knowledge of all the opposing coaches and what they and their players do and have done over the past seasons. Yes, Tom is in great shape and he has good genes to boot and that's a help. But all we've heard the past number of seasons is that it is the time for the "new generation of QB" and guys like Tom are old school and you can't be a QB in this league if you can't run fast and scramble etc...

No, these new generation QBs will not get anywhere neat Brady if they don't match his work ethic. I think it is as simple as that. I'm sure these other QBs work hard, or believe they work as hard as they can, but they simply don't. Brady wins because he knows with 2 mins to go, what the opposing safeties and LBs are going to do on 3rd and 5 on the opposing 35-yard line. Like Bill, he's a film junkie and that's what he does every week.

Even Bill said he used to feel under pressure at his weekly meeting with Tom as Brady would have this insane knowledge and would be telling Bill what the upcoming defenders do under all kinds of scenarios. And that's Bill Belichick, a guy who was studying film when he was still in short pants.

I get a bit tired of hearing the incessant whining from all these other QBs. Just put the damn work in.
 
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