Watch Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles on Thursday Night Football, live on Sky Sports NFL from 1.20am in the early hours of Friday morning
Last Updated: 14/10/21 7:37pm
Quarterback is king in the NFL. And the league has arguably never been stronger at the position, with an abundance of young talent.
Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert: these are the new darlings of the NFL. And yet, it’s a 44-year-old who leads the league in passing!
Tom Brady, even with all of his monumental achievements in the game already – a record seven Super Bowl rings, to go with three league MVP awards, and having recently been crowned the NFL’s all-time leading passer – is arguably having his best ever year.
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Brady has thrown for 1,767 yards through the first five games of the season – that’s 162 better than Las Vegas Raiders QB Derek Carr at number two – and his 15 touchdown passes are second only to Mahomes and the Kansa City Chiefs.
Brady has led the NFL in passing yards only three times before in his storied two-decade career, in 2005, 2007 and 2017 – the latter two of those culminating in two of his MVP Awards.
At the remarkable age of 44, could Brady conceivably claim another given the way he is playing?
“If he wins the MVP, in the era where we have the best quarterbacks we’ve ever had – passing records broken left and right – and he’s 44, then it would be [his greatest accomplishment],” Good Morning Football presenter Kyle Brandt said this week.
“What he is doing is incredible,” Peter Schrager added on the show. “I know that he is saying he can go to 45, or 50, or whatever, but let’s appreciate him at 44.
“It’s insane what Brady is doing right now and he’s looking as good as ever.”
Only eight quarterbacks are currently averaging 300+ yards and 2+ TDs per game through the first five weeks of the 2021 NFL season. Six of them are aged 26 or younger, including the aforementioned Mahomes, Allen and Herbert.
Add to that, Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts. And the two exceptions? A 33-year-old Matthew Stafford with the Los Angeles Rams, and of course Brady – both the beneficiaries of moving to a different team and gaining a new lease of life in a new location.
Brady had seemingly been on the decline in New England. In his final season with the Patriots in 2019, his 4,057 passing yards was the six-worst of his career (across a full 16-game season), while his 24 touchdowns thrown was his joint-second lowest mark, as was his 6.6 yards per attempt.
There was a commonly-held belief that Brady’s race was run, that he was no longer capable of stretching defenses and his age had finally caught up with his body.
How wrong we were. As proven since Brady’s departure, the reason behind his dramatic drop-off was in fact a talent-poor Patriots offense which hastened his exit from the team, Brady looking to spend his last years with a contender.
While New England stumbled their way to a 7-9 record in 2020, Brady and the Bucs were Super Bowl-bound, lifting the Vince Lombardi trophy – and there’s no reason to suggest that, through six weeks, this year will end any differently.
The Patriots are 2-3, with one of those loses coming at the hands of Brady in his dramatic return to Foxborough in Week Four, while the Buccaneers are 4-1 with a Week Three loss in LA against Stafford’s Rams serving as their only blemish.
“Brady and that offense, it’s as good as anybody’s in football,” Chris Simms said on Pro Football Talk this week.
“It’s unreal – the way he’s playing, the way they protect him, the weapons he has on the outside.
“They’re the best passing offense in football – even if the stats don’t back that up.”
The stats do in fact back that up; thanks to Brady’s remarkable start to the season, Tampa Bay are in possession of the No 1 passing attack in the league.
They might also just have the NFL’s next MVP at quarterback.
Watch Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles on Thursday Night Football, live on Sky Sports NFL from 1.20am in the early hours of Friday morning.