By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — It’s not exactly breaking news to say that Tom Brady is very good at playing quarterback in the NFL. Given that he’s been doing it for 17 years, it’s become a given.
Yet, considering he’s 40 years old (you may have heard!), and considering 40-year-old generally struggle in a sport like tackle football, it’s worth taking a moment every now and again this season to really take a look at the preposterous performance that Brady is putting forth for the Patriots.
With a modest showing in a 23-7 win over the Falcons, Brady kept his pace atop the NFL leaderboard in passing yards. He’s now up to 2,208 yards on the year, which is 229 yards more than Alex Smith, who ranks second.
With a pair of touchdowns vs. Atlanta, Brady is now tied for the NFL lead with 15 on the year. He’s tied with Smith and rookie Deshaun Watson, who’s impressively reached that number in just six games. Carson Wentz, who’s playing Monday night, can claim the lead for himself if he can throw three touchdowns against Washington.
And in terms of passer rating, Brady (108.4) ranks second, behind Smith (120.5). The Chiefs’ QB has thrown zero interceptions on 228 attempts, compared to Brady’s two picks on 262 attempts.
Allowing for the inaccuracy of “on pace” numbers — due to factors like weather changes, the unpredictability of football, injuries, etc. — here is some perspective:
Brady is on pace to throw for 5,047 yards. He’s topped the 5,000-yard mark just once before in his career, in 2011. Overall, it’s a mark that’s only been achieved nine times in NFL history — once by Brady, once by Peyton Manning, once by Dan Marino, once by Matthew Stafford and five times by Drew Brees.
Brady is on pace to throw 34 touchdowns. That would be tied with the 2012 for his fifth-highest single-season total. He’s thrown 36 twice (2010, 2015) he’s thrown 39 once (2011) and he threw 50 once (2007). Last year, if you pro-rate his 12-game season to 16 games, he was on track for 37 touchdowns.
And — as has been mentioned several times this year — with Brett Favre having the lone exceptional season by a 40-year-old quarterback in NFL history, here’s a comparison of where Brady is currently and where Favre was after seven games in 2009:
174-for-262 (66.4%), 2,208 yards, 15 TDs, 2 INTs, 108.4 rating
157-for-228 (68.9%), 1,681 yards, 12 TDs, 3 INTs, 102.2 rating
Interestingly enough, through seven games, they each had been sacked 18 times.
There’s a long way to go, and any number of things can happen to throw these numbers and projections out of whack. But even if the league got shut down as of this very moment, what Brady’s done at age 40 is impressive in and of itself.