If there's any critique people can throw at Tom Brady these days, it's that his New England Patriots are running up the score in blowouts. Over the past two weeks, dominant victories over the New York Jets and Chicago Bears have been marked by the presence of Brady in the lineup late in the game, picking up passing yards while opposing defenders are plotting their disappointed postgame tweets in their heads.
On the other hand, DVOA suggests that Brady hasn't been saving his success for garbage time. Even before the Bears game, he comfortably led the league in DVOA and DYAR. That's not about to change after DVOA is completed upon the conclusion of the Monday night games, either; for the fourth week out of five and third week in a row, Brady had the best performance by any quarterback. And that was in a driving snowstorm.
DVOA accounts for the game situations in which players accrue passing yards, but Brady can still get an impressive DVOA by outperforming the way an average quarterback performs in garbage time. Is that what is happening? Does he get a disproportionate amount of his yardage in the latter stages of blowouts, relative to other quarterbacks? Let's take a look at the numbers.
(As a simple construct, let's consider "garbage time" to exclusively be situations in the second half. In the third quarter, quarterbacks playing with either an 18-point lead or deficit will be considered producing in garbage time. In the fourth quarter, we'll cut the figure to 14 points. We took every quarterback's play-by-play performance and noted their attempts and yardage, both inside and outside of these situations, including defensive pass interference penalties.)
The answer is somewhere between yes and no. Of Brady's attempts, 16.6 percent have come in those "garbage time" situations; that's above the league average for starters with 200 attempts or more (12.4 percent), but there are seven quarterbacks who have a higher percentage of garbage time attempts than Brady. Leading them is Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton, who has seen 23.2 percent of his pass attempts take place in a blowout of some sort. On the flip side, just one of Tony Romo's 213 attempts (0.5 percent) came in such a situation, while Joe Flacco is at just 1.2 percent.
If we use passing yards instead of passing attempts, it's not much different. Of Brady's passing yardage, 17.7 percent came in these blowouts, as opposed to a league average of 12.2 percent for those qualifying quarterbacks. This places Brady seventh among quarterbacks.
In all fairness, most of the quarterbacks ahead of Brady on this list are guys playing on losing teams; the only one who plays on a winning team and sits ahead of Brady on both charts is Eli Manning. So the answer to the question really depends on what the standard is. If you're wondering whether Brady gets a disproportionate amount of blowout yardage relative to other quarterbacks, the answer is not significantly so. If the question is whether he gets more opportunities in blowouts relative to other quarterbacks in the MVP race, though? Considering Michael Vick, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers or Philip Rivers have a below-average percentage of their pass attempts coming in blowouts, the answer is actually yes.