How Greg McElroy Compares to Tom BradyBy Sam H. Quinn(Featured Columnist) on December 3, 2012 486 reads
Ready for a heavy dose of journalistic bias? Well here it is, Greg McElroy will be the next Tom Brady.
Well, not really. Honestly after four years of watching Mark Sanchez attempt to play quarterback most Jets fans would happily settle for the next Kyle Orton.
Still, it would be irresponsible of me to ignore the signs here. McElroy's path to being a starting AFC East quarterback is eerily similar to Brady's, and in the spirit of artificially raising the expectations of Jets fans everywhere before he inevitably throws four interceptions next week against Jacksonville, I thought it would be an interesting avenue to explore.
Both quarterbacks learned their craft as two-year starters at football factories. Brady spent two years backing up future pro Brian Griese, McElroy did the same with John Parker Wilson.
Neither put up gaudy numbers in college. Brady's 5351 total passing yards barely top his total from the 2011 season in which he put up 5235. His 18 interceptions and 62.3 completion percentage didn't exactly help him stand out either.
At times it felt like Greg McElroy's role at Alabama was just handing the ball off. The presence of 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and 2011 third-place finisher Trent Richardson made McElroy little more than a game manager.
He played the part well, completing 65.8 percent of his passes and throwing only 10 interceptions, but the little credit left over by his running backs was often swallowed up by star receiver Julio Jones. McElroy was a forgotten piece of Nick Saban's first championship at Alabama.
Tom Brady's infamous combine picture via Boston.com
Both entered the NFL as afterthoughts. Several quarterbacks were taken before the Patriots grabbed Tom Brady with the 199th pick of the 2000 NFL draft, including journeymen like Tee Martin and Spergon Wynn.
McElroy didn't go much later, falling all the way to No. 208 where the Jets happily snagged him.
Once taken, both guys had to sit behind high-priced veterans. In fact, both of them had to fight just to keep their jobs.
Brady had to compete with Michael Bishop and John Friesz for the two available backup spots on New England's roster, and spent his rookie year as a scout team quarterback.
McElroy would probably be spending the 2012 season doing just that if not for a lucky twist of fate thanks to, you guessed it, Tim Tebow!
After the Tebow trade, recent signee Drew Stanton (originally slated to be the backup) asked to be traded. His wish was granted and he was sent to Indianapolis, but Tebow apparently never impressed the coaches enough to give him a starting role, handing McElroy the chance he needed. Without Tim Tebow, McElroy would either be riding the pine or looking for a new job.
At this point you're probably thinking, "But Sam, plenty of quarterbacks have come from big schools and drafted too low, do these two actually play alike?"
The answer to the hypothetical question I just put into your mouth is yes.
Brady and McElroy possess very similar skill sets. Neither has a particularly strong arm, but make up for it with accuracy. Neither is noted for their physical gifts. While McElroy's 4.84 40 time isn't nearly as embarrassing as Tom Brady's 5.28, it does show how limited the two are with their legs.
It's not their body that makes these two quarterbacks special though. It's their minds.
Brady is noted as one of the smartest quarterbacks in NFL history. That has been touted as McElroy's greatest strength since college. He maintained a 3.85 at Alabama and was even a Rhodes Scholar nominee. His score of 43 on the Wonderlic test is the second-highest ever by a quarterback, trailing only Harvard's Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Even if real-world smarts don't always equate to football intelligence, you have to admit those are some pretty impressive accomplishments. His low interception totals and high completion percentage indicate that he makes smart reads and doesn't give the ball up easily. In other words, he's the opposite of Sanchez.
Just as importantly, McElroy possesses Brady's most important leadership characteristic: swagger. On America's Game, a documentary series about previous Super Bowl champions, Tom Brady notes that he told Robert Kraft that "it was one of the smartest decisions you ever made in picking me."
After last year's locker-room meltdown, McElroy made the controversial but correct decision to publicly call out his teammates for their shenanigans, calling them "selfish individuals." Many questioned a rookie backup saying what he said, but it had to be said and no veteran had the courage to say it.
McElroy has the kind of personality that teammates can believe in from their quarterback. He has the type of personality that has taken Tom Brady so very far.
Look, I'm not crazy. I know Greg McElroy probably won't come close to having the incredible career Tom Brady has had, but dismissing the possibility seems just as ridiculous.
McElroy isn't some highly touted kid from California that Jets fans can't relate to, nor is he a washed up star who secretly wants to play for another team.
Greg McElroy is the kind of quarterback blue-collar Jets fans can get behind. The kind of quarterback who speaks his mind and earns every yard he throws for.
He has the potential to be for Jets nation what Tom Brady has become in New England. Our quarterback. If that means three championships and a few MVPs then great, if not, well, at least we won't employ a quarterback who eats hot dogs on the sidelines.
Oh, and one more thing for you conspiracy theorists: Greg McElroy completed five passes against Arizona in his first significant game action. How many did Tom Brady complete in relief of an injured Drew Bledsoe in Week 2 of the 2001 season against our very Jets?