Back in 2014, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady said that he would retire from football when he started to “suck.” Teams around the league rejoiced, especially after his down season in 2013.
Brady’s only gotten better in each subsequent season and expects to play another 5-6 years. “Why would I stop now?,” Brady asked this past week.
In fact, Pro Football Focus (PFF) thinks that Brady is playing the best football of his career, with both his 2015 and 2016 seasons grading a fraction ahead of his 2007 season.
PFF notes that Brady is better at handling pressure in his age-39 season than he was as a younger player. His 2016 passer rating on deep passes 20+ yards down the field is 122.2, well ahead of his 2nd-best rating of 100.7 back in 2007.
The fact that Brady has done this with a different offense seemingly every week due to injury is even more impressive. Remember that Brady had Randy Moss and Wes Welker for every game in 2007 and featured three All Pro offensive linemen; Brady hasn’t had a healthy Rob Gronkowski- his best offensive player- for half the season, and his offensive line isn’t nearly as qualified.
Almost every doubter and detractor of Brady is converting to a believer at this point.
Brady is peaking at age-39. We think. He’s found a way to improve every year since 2013. Maybe he’ll be even better in 2017, although I’m not sure what facet of his game he can improve moving forward. Perhaps he’ll improve his deep ball connection with WR Julian Edelman, because that’s the only weakness in his game.
Even if Brady remains flat, or slightly declines in his age-40 season, he’ll still be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. The rest of the league will continue to wait for him to start sucking. They might be waiting a long time.