What is the significance of Tom Brady’s four-game suspension from a statistical perspective? Let’s take a look at that question from several angles.
Brady is arguably the highest-profile NFL player to be suspended. Brady just won his fourth Super Bowl in February, tying Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana for the most by a quarterback in Super Bowl history. He also took home MVP honors in the game, tying Joe Montana for the most Super Bowl MVPs in history with three.
Brady is the all-time postseason leader in wins, passing yards and touchdown passes and ranks No. 1 (or is tied for No. 1) in all three of those categories for Super Bowl history.
Brady’s streak of 13 straight season-opening starts will come to an end. That ranked tied for fourth-longest in NFL history. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Brady will join Roger Staubach and John Elway as the only reigning Super Bowl MVPs to miss Week 1.
It has been a long time
The New England Patriots have used an NFL-low two different starting quarterbacks since Tom Brady made his first career start (2001 Week 3). Matt Cassel started 15 games in 2008 after Brady tore his ACL in Week 1. In contrast, the Browns have used an NFL-high 19 different starting QBs since Brady made his first career start.
The Patriots currently have two other quarterbacks on their roster: Jimmy Garoppolo and Garrett Gilbert. Garoppolo threw 27 passes in his first NFL season. Gilbert spent last season on the Rams' and Patriots' practice squads.
Garoppolo had one of the best seasons in FCS history in 2013, passing for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns while at Eastern Illinois.
When Brady returns
Brady will return in Week 6 against the Colts. His next three games will come against the Jets, Dolphins and Redskins, three teams that combined to go 16-32 last season.
Brady will get a chance to play at the time of the season in which he plays best. Over the past five seasons, Brady has been one of the best second-half-of-the-season quarterbacks in the game. Over the past eight seasons, he’s 35-5 as a starter within the team’s final eight games of the season.
A slow start does not mean the Patriots are in for a tough season.
The Patriots have started 2-2 or worse through the first four games of the season five times in the Brady-Bill Belichick era. They finished each of those seasons with at least 10 wins and won the Super Bowl three times.
With regards to how others may perceive the Patriots' chances of having a good season, even with this suspension, it’s notable that their odds of winning the Super Bowl dropped from 7-to-1 to 8-to-1.