Brady: 'There's a lot of mediocrity in today's NFL' due to coaching, rules
Tom Brady doesn't like what he's seen in NFL games.
"There's a lot of mediocrity in today's NFL," Brady recently said on "The Stephen A. Smith Show." "I don't see the excellence that I saw in the past."
The legendary quarterback continued: "The coaching isn't as good as it was. I don't think the development of young players is as good as it was. The rules have allowed a lot of bad habits to get into the actual performance of the game. The product, in my opinion, is less than what it's been."
Brady, a seven-time Super Bowl champion who retired from football after the 2022 season, has a particular issue with how the league's new rule changes encouraging player safety have affected the games.
"I look at a lot of players like Ray Lewis and Rodney Harrison and Ronnie Lott, guys that impacted the game in a certain way," Brady said. "Every hit they would have made would have been a penalty. You hear coaches complaining about their own players being tackled. Why don't they talk to their player about how to protect themselves? We used to work on the fundamentals of those things all the time. Now they're trying to be regulated all the time."
Each team is averaging 7.37 penalties per game this season, the highest mark in the league since 2019, according to nflpenalties.com. The average last year was 6.56. Additionally, scoring around the league is down.
Brady played in the NFL between 2000-2022 and is widely considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, starting 333 regular-season games throughout his career. He's criticized NFL officiating and other rule changes in the past.
The NFL has frequently updated its rules to protect offensive players - particularly quarterbacks - in recent years.
"Offensive players need to protect themselves," Brady added. "It's not up to a defensive player to protect an offensive player. A defensive player needs to protect himself. I didn't throw the ball to certain areas because I was afraid players were gonna get knocked out. That's the reality. I didn't throw it to the middle when I played Ray Lewis because he'd knock them out of the game, and I couldn't afford to lose a good player."
The league suspended Denver Broncos safety Kareem Jackson on Monday for four games for an illegal hit on Minnesota Vikings quarterback Joshua Dobbs. It's the second time Jackson has received a four-game ban this season, though his first suspension was later reduced to two contests. Multiple players - including Jackson - shared a video of Brady's quotes Tuesday on social media.
Player safety has been a topic around the league lately, and more changes could be on the way. The NFL is considering banning hip-drop tackles. The play gained attention recently after multiple hip-drop tackles by Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson injured Baltimore Ravens players, including tight end Mark Andrews.
Quarterback ailments have been an issue in the NFL this season, as several high-profile passers have suffered long-term injuries. The list includes Bengals star Joe Burrow, New York Jets signal-caller Aaron Rodgers, Minnesota Vikings passer Kirk Cousins, and Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson.