Plenty of young quarterbacks have blossomed into certified elite players to start to the 2021 NFL season, but a 44 year old goat might be better than all of them. Tom Brady is on his way to the best year of his Hall of Fame career and it’s a special thing to watch.
Through six games, Tom Brady has completed 68.54% of his passes and thrown for 2,064 yards and 17 touchdowns. Currently, Brady is averaging 344 yards per game; if he keeps a similar pace through all 17 games, he will end the season at 5,848 yards. To compare to the 16-game seasons of the past, he is on track for an NFL record 5,504 yards. Brady’s career high in yards is 5,235, which came in 2011.
This is in large part because of the pass heavy offense the Buccaneers run. Through six games, the team has passed the ball on 67.6% of their plays. Some might look at that number and think the team needs to run the ball more, but that is not the case. In certain situations, it’s almost like the team is too reliant on the run. With Tom Brady at the helm, and with the receivers he can throw to, there is very little reason to run on first down as much as the Bucs do at times.
Among other NFL quarterbacks, Brady ranks 1st in yards, completions, pass attempts, and passing yards per game; he ranks 2nd in touchdowns. At age 44, Tom Brady is on track to break NFL records and potentially win another MVP.
We should not be shocked by this, however. Tom Brady is in some of the best physical shape of his career and is on the most talented team he has ever been on. The myth that Tom Brady has a weak arm is one of the most incorrect things this league has ever seen and it makes people look silly when they say it. When Brady signed with the Buccaneers, critics cited the deep passing attack that Bruce Arians runs as the area of concern for the marriage between the offense and Brady, but that was never the main problem.
Brady is driving the ball upwards of 45 yards down the field and is regularly firing balls into tight windows. The statistics show that Brady is still in his prime, but the tape proves it. Tom Brady can operate this aggressive passing attack to perfection and it’s on display every weekend.
A big reason why Tom Brady is having this good of a year is his all-star cast of receivers and tight ends. Mike Evans, the first receiver to ever have 1,000 yards in each of his first seven seasons, leads the group, Chris Godwin is the do it all security blanket that can play any role needed, and then Antonio Brown is the late addition to this group that is playing like he was in Pittsburgh. This unit is the best in the league and the only team that can compete is a fully healthy Dallas Cowboys unit.
At tight end, Brady has his favorite target of all time in Rob Gronkowski. Before the rib injury he suffered in week three, Gronk was looking like he was pre-retirement. Behind him is Cameron Brate, who has been the model of consistency at the position ever since he came to Tampa Bay. Their third string tight end, who may have moved himself up the depth chart after a great performance against the Eagles, is O.J. Howard. Howard is finally looking like himself after a ruptured Achilles in 2020.
Everyone should have seen this coming. The situation was primed for a record breaking season from the greatest NFL player of all time. The scheme, the weapons, the offensive line all set up Brady for the most success he has ever seen and it doesn’t look like it will slow down for a while. The Buccaneers have come a long way since that week one loss to the Saints in 2020 and a big part of that is due to Tom Brady getting used to this offense more and more over the course of last season, and you could see that in the Super Bowl.
If you are one of those people who dislike Brady because of how good he is, buckle up, it’ll be a long season for you.
Follow Garrett @NflBallard.