Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens: QB Tom Brady (Patriots) And the Undervalued Exchange Game

Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens showcases a snap from 2019’s Super Bowl where Tom Brady’s exchange with the running back is an underrated component of a successful play.

Tom Brady haters from across the world will flip their lids when they hear about an analyst praising a handoff. I can already imagine them carping that the media thinks Brady is perfect and it has reached the point where they’re even going into depth about quarterback-running back exchanges.

The world has been an absurd place long before I came along and it will remain as such long after I’m gone.

If you want to understand football, then the details matter and like me, you don’t give a rat’s ass about what the public thinks about Tom Brady, the New England Patriots, avocado ice cream, or anything not related to the actual game of football. You may find Brady’s social presence and dietary habits as fascinating as his work from under center as a distributor of the Patriots running game.

Most fans think that learning to take a snap from center and execute drops is one of the easier transitions for a college quarterback entering the pro game. It’s a point of acclimation that’s made with throwaway statements of presumption—especially exchanges with the running back, which aren’t even considered as a skill to learn.

Relative to other quarterback skills, learning to drop from under center and hand the ball to a back is one of the easier skills. It doesn’t mean that every quarterback is advanced at the practice.

Tom Brady is a refined quarterback from under center and it gives Bill Belichick and his staff the opportunity to trick defenses with details that Brady can execute better than many quarterbacks. This five-yard gain during the first drive of the last year’s Super Bowl is a group effort, but one of the most underrated components is Brady’s execution of the exchange with Sony Michel.

This play behaves as a counter but without having the pulling action of a guard or tackle.

Brady’s footwork and ability to adjust in choreographed fashion to reinforce the believability of a run to the right and then execute a run to the left is not something every quarterback does well. It’s why the best players are always working on the smallest fundamentals.

Next time you think drops from center and exchanges aren’t a big deal, look closer.

For the most in-depth analysis of offensive skill players available (QB, RB, WR, and TE), get the 2019  Rookie Scouting Portfolio. If you’re a fantasy owner the Post-Draft Add-on comes with the 2012 – 2018 RSPs at no additional charge.

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