By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
FOXBORO (CBS) — Some bad news for the rest of the NFL came out of Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
Tom Brady is getting better.
It may defy logic, it may defy history, and it may defy certain loud-mouth naysayers who enjoy attention, but the Hall of Fame quarterback is somehow getting better as he steps closer to middle age.
For proof, one need only look at the statistics of the quarterback through the first three games of the season. After a clean 300-plus-yard, two-touchdown, zero-pick performance against the Jets, Brady’s now posted significantly better stats than he did last year through the same point of the season.
TOM BRADY’S FIRST THREE GAMES
911 yards, 8.6 Y/A, 303.7 Y/G
7 TDs, 0 INTs
644 yards, 6.4 Y/A, 214.7 Y/G
6 TDs, 2 INTs
That’s not at all the news that coaches and players around the NFL wanted to hear on a steamy Sunday in late September. Nevertheless, the stats show that the ageless Brady, coming off his sixth Super Bowl, coming off a postseason where his numbers weren’t up to his usual standard, perhaps showing some vulnerability and humanity very late in his career … has come back improved in Year 20.
To be fair, the year-to-year change is not without reason. Julian Edelman was suspended to start last season, which hurt. A road game in the boiler room in Jacksonville didn’t go well, and a Sunday night game in Detroit was as bad as a Brady and Josh McDaniels offense has ever looked. This year, with a (mostly) healthy Edelman, with Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett fully involved in the offense, with James White and Rex Burkhead providing reliable offense, and with a quick dash of Antonio Brown for a spell, it makes sense that the numbers have improved. Playing Pittsburgh in Foxboro (a historic advantage for Brady) while playing the miserable Dolphins and Jets has helped, too.
Regardless, considering the lack of any sort of precedent for a quarterback playing at anything close to an MVP level at age 42, one might think that the aging process may offset the aforementioned advantages. Alas, it has not.
Brady also made some NFL history on Sunday when he threw his seventh touchdown pass of the year. In doing so, he set a new single-season record for most touchdowns thrown by a quarterback after his 42nd birthday. As a reminder, it was only Week 3.
The season is sure to have its ebbs and flows, and the attrition on the offensive line is likely to provide some hurdles eventually for the New England offense. But for now, Brady has certainly shattered any reasonable expectations placed upon him entering the season.