One of the main storylines in “Thursday Night Football” this week will be Tom Brady’s decline and how far he’s slipped at 45.
In a different space, we would celebrate a 45-year-old quarterback who is playing at Brady’s level. This has never happened before, or even close to it. The problem is that Brady, 44, has set the bar too high.
Brady’s season and the struggles of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be the focus of the Amazon Prime Video stream when the Bucs take on the Baltimore Ravens. Tampa Bay is coming off back-to-back losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers, who are 2-10 against the rest of the NFL. Brady and the Bucs were shut out for three quarters last week, then earned a field goal in the 21-3 loss to Carolina. The Buccaneers are in danger of losing for the fifth time in six games, which according to The Athletic’s Greg Auman, has never happened to Brady in his long career.
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Brady wasn’t bad. Far from there. But he’s not playing at MVP level this season, and everyone noticed.
Tom Brady is one of a kind
Let’s forget that Brady was the greatest 44-year-old quarterback by a mile. And the best of all time, at least according to the ranking of passers, at 40, 41, 42 and 43 as well. He’s the best at 45 basically by default. Hardly anyone else has even really lasted that long.
Here’s the full list of quarterbacks who attempted a pass at age 45 or older, before Brady:
George Blanda: 7 of 22 for 116 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT over four seasons
That’s it. Blanda has never started a game past the age of 41. What Brady is doing this season isn’t just unprecedented. It’s so far ahead of anything that’s happened since the NFL began in 1920 that it’s unfathomable. At some point, that should be a big part of what we remember about Brady’s 2022 season.
But not yet. Now the story is that Brady is not playing at his normal level. It’s not fair, because Brady is being compared to his own greatness. Last season, he led the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns and finished second in NFL MVP voting. In hindsight, he probably should have won the award over Aaron Rodgers.
He won’t win an MVP award this season. A drop in the game – but not below average – and all the other circumstances surrounding Brady’s strange 2022, make the sky seem like the sky is falling.
Most other QBs disappeared in their 30s
We’ve seen great quarterbacks, usually in their late 30s, hit a wall hard. Ben Roethlisberger the last two seasons is a good example of this. Peyton Manning in 2015 is an obvious example, though the football gods smiled on him and sent him off with a Super Bowl ring, thanks to some excellent Denver Broncos defense. We’ve seen the expiration date hit other quarterbacks, and they suddenly crumble.
Brady is nowhere near the falling wheels. He was pretty good. In seven games, he has 1,942 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception. His passer rating of 92.8 is tied for ninth among passers with at least 100 attempts. Brady is the sixth-best quarterback this season in Pro Football Focus ratings. His numbers are down in every area from last season apart from his interception rate, but we have to remember he was pretty amazing last season. He’s been a good NFL quarterback this season and again, that’s absolutely amazing for a 45-year-old. Consider this statistic:
Brady’s touchdown passes past his 45th birthday: 8
Combined completions for all other QBs after their 45th birthday: seven
You’ll hear a lot about Brady’s tough season. This included a 40-day retirement, a high-profile breakup with his wife and criticism for taking time off during training camp and being excused from practice to attend the Patriots team owner’s surprise wedding. , Robert Kraft, earlier this month. He also included a 3-4 record for the Buccaneers with shocking losses in which the offense does next to nothing.
However, this remains historical. There needs to be some perspective on Thursday night and the rest of the season. Brady is still one hell of a story, even if he’s not as good as he has been for two decades.
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