Everybody knows that Tom Brady's "Monday Night Football" performance against the Miami Dolphins was historically great — the last guy to throw for over 500 yards and four touchdowns in the same game was one Yelberton Abraham Tittle, back in the Paleolithic era (actually, 1962, when Tittle, the New York Giants quarterback, busted out for 505 yards and seven touchdowns against the Washington Redskins). But at least one Hall of Fame quarterback believes that Brady may have been assisted by the supernatural — yes, Steve Young thinks Brady went all Jedi on us. The force is strong with this one!
Here's what Young had to say about Brady's performance, on ESPN's postgame coverage:
"His ball is sending a message to the receivers, and they believe it — it's as if the ball is talking to you. 'Go this way — this is the right way. This shoulder … I'm telling you … away from traffic. So, that way, everyone believes that ball has something important to say. The receiver heads that way, and that's all football is — just a big game of inches! Everyone's moving a few inches ahead of the other guy … otherwise, football's slow and methodical, and that's why you get tackled. Tom Brady moves people just ahead of the defense, and that's 500 yards."
Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic replayed Young's comments on their Tuesday morning radio show, with Golic wondering: "Seriously. Are we talking about Tom Brady, or Yoda?"
Former Patriots assistant coach, and ex-New York Jets and Cleveland Browns head coach Eric Mangini, had this to add on the same show: "I think that when you're a former quarterback, and you see a performance like that, it's almost religious, and that's how you look at it. You think the ball is talking to the receivers. Look, I love Yoda — I'd love to be able to think that my ball is channeling the receivers. I heard it this morning, and I liked it — I knew it was going to be a big topic for debate. I'm sure the Miami defense wasn't sitting back and thinking that they wanted to hear any more from the football!"
Miami defensive end Jason Taylor certainly didn't want to hear anymore from the football, or about the guy throwing it, and he was rather cranky about it after the game.
"He hung 500 yards," Taylor said. "Who gives a damn? There's next week. If you want to write a story about Tom Brady throwing for 500 yards feel free. Congrats. He did a great job. We lost the game and we play again Sunday."
"His numbers can be a little skewed. He threw the ball well and they made plays. The thing is we had chances starting at the beginning of the game. Obviously giving up the 99-yarder there in a crucial spot. You know you're forcing them to kick the ball out of their own end zone and happen to give your offense a chance to go down on 'em. You know I think offensively we had a couple opportunities that we left out there to score. Defensively we didn't cover anybody. We didn't rush worth a darn, didn't tackle very well. We still had a chance to be in the game."
Sounds like the grumpy musings of a guy who just got zapped with the wrong end of a light saber. Based on Monday's performance and many more like it in the past, we're going to assume that Tom Brady IS a Jedi, and we'll do so until someone proves otherwise.
Future Hall of Famer Kurt Warner talked about "conversational football" in more conventional terms when I caught up with him in a Tuesday morning media call for the NFL Network — he discussed how quarterbacks must make things easier for their receivers.
"It's an incredibly important part of every good quarterback's game," Warner said. "We say, 'You throw your receivers open,' and by that, I mean that you lead, you anticipate, you see the coverage that a lot of people on the field don't see. You guide the receivers, and you throw them to the open area. They have to be able to make adjustments and find the football. Like Steve was saying last night, through the course of time, you start directing receivers, having thrown a certain way, guys start to anticipate and understand what you're seeing.
"Versus a particular coverage, a receiver comes out flat, you throw it high. Maybe you miss the first time, maybe the receiver's able to make an adjustment, but they start to understand why you're throwing a certain way time and time again. You throw it quicker, you anticipate, you might hold on to it a little longer, to flag the guy out and take him higher because you see the opening, even if your receiver isn't going exactly where you want. You put a little more velocity or touch on the ball, and it allows your receiver to make that adjustment and still make the catch in a spot. Certain guys are better at it than others; obviously Tom's extremely good at playing every part of the position, but I definitely see that with him.
"Not everybody in this league can do that."