And even if Steelers safety Ryan Clark thinks Brady sees blitzing ghosts when pressured (some might say it's a form of self-preservation that's served Brady well), the former sixth-round pick and future Hall of Famer feels he's better now than at any point in his career. Let that sink in for a moment.
"Going into my 14th year, I have never had more confidence in how I am throwing the football," Brady told SI.com's Peter King recently. "I've never felt better throwing the football."
By now most everyone can recite Brady's rise to prominence; the 199th player taken in the 2000 draft, he was a skinny part-timer at Michigan who looked nothing like an NFL quarterback. But through some combination of hard work, luck, and flawless mechanics, Brady took advantage of an opportunity, parlaying a chance to start during his second season into a Hall of Fame career.
For most of that career -- from high school through the 2011 season -- Brady leaned on throwing guru Tom Martinez, who died at the age of 66 in February 2012. Then the quarterback was put in touch with former major league pitcher Tom House, who took over the task of fine-tuning Brady's mechanics.
"I owe so much to Tom Martinez,'' Brady told King. "He taught me so much about how to play the game and throw the football. He was so committed to me for so many years. I miss him every time I step on the field.
"I found Tom House, and really developed a rapport with him quickly. I've learned, and to me, the learning process is fun. The same way Tom Martinez was always there to watch and give me corrections, Tom House has told me why certain corrections need to be made. Look at a baseball swing and a golf swing. It's all mechanics. Look at how Barry Bonds swings. Look at how Floyd Mayweather punches. Mechanics. When you've got to fit it into the tightest windows, mechanics are crucial. And to me, the offseason is crucial. If you make a throw within four feet, that's not going to be good enough. You have to make the throw within four inches of your target. That's good enough. And that's why the mechanics you adjust and learn in the offseason are important. You're going to keep them during the season.
"Tom House, pretty soon after the season, said basically, 'All right, Tommy. Get to work.' That's the one thing that helps me move forward. There's nothing we can do about losing the championship game to the Ravens. It sucks. You move on. But, with Tom, I think I've learned some things this offseason that are really going to help me.''
The Pats spent much of offseason stocking the roster with pass-catching options after losing Wes Welker and parting ways with Brandon Lloyd. In their place: Danny Amendola, Michael Jenkins, Donald Jones, Lavelle Hawkins, and 2013 second-rounder Aaron Dobson. Whether these new faces will make up for that lost production remains to be seen, but it's fair to assume that Brady will be plenty prepared -- and confident -- once the regular season gets underway.