It seems like this question has inevitably come up during the NFL offseason for a decade-plus. When will Tom Brady regress? Eventually, age has to catch up to him, right?
So far, it hasn’t. And in 2021, the 44-year-old quarterback is posting numbers that may be the best of his career.
Brady has guided the Buccaneers to a 4-1 record to begin the 2021 NFL season. The team’s offense has been one of the best in football and that has been in no small part thanks to Brady. He has an abundance of weapons at his disposal, and he has made the most of them.
Brady is leading the NFL in passing yards heading into his “Thursday Night Football” clash with the Eagles. He has already had three games in which he has thrown at least four touchdown passes and he should have a chance to continue playing at a high level as the 2021 NFL season goes along.
How good have Tom Brady’s stats been in 2021? How many passing yards is averaging per game? How does it compare to other legends? Here’s what to know about Brady’s hot start to the 2021 campaign.
TOM BRADY INJURY: Bucs QB dealing with hand problem
Tom Brady’s stats 2021
Tom Brady has put up monster stats so far during the 2021 NFL season. He is leading the league in passing attempts, completions and passing yards through five games.
Brady has led the NFL in passing yards three times previously, but he has only led the league in attempts once. That came when he threw 581 passes during his All-Pro season in 2017.
Here’s a look at Brady’s notable passing stats from 2021 so far and where they rank on a league-wide basis.
|Passing yards per game||353.4||1st|
IYER: Odds, betting guide, predictions for Eagles vs. Bucs
Tom Brady’s touchdown and passing yardage pace
Tom Brady is on a record-setting pace in terms of passing yards. He benefits from the NFL’s expansion to a 17-game schedule, but he could become the first quarterback to throw for more than 6,000 passing yards.
Before his “Thursday Night Football” game against the Eagles, Brady was averaging 353.4 yards per game. That pace would translate to about 6,008 passing yards over a 17-game season. The current NFL record is held by Peyton Manning, who threw for 5,477 yards in 2013.
Brady isn’t quite on the same record-breaking pace for passing TDs. He is set to post 51 over a 17-game season, as he is averaging three per game through five so far. That would be a personal best for Brady — who totaled 50 passing touchdowns in 2007 — and the second-most in NFL history, but Manning holds the high-water mark with 55 in 2013.
MORE: Revisiting Tom Brady’s last season with the Patriots
How Tom Brady’s 2021 stats compare to his best season
Brady’s best statistical season was his All-Pro year in 2007. That’s when he helped lead the Patriots to an undefeated regular season and posted a then-NFL-best 50 passing touchdowns in a single season.
So far, Brady compares favorably to that season 14 years later. He is set to exceed his career-best touchdown total from that year and is set to total nearly 1,200 more passing yards than he did in 2021.
|Stat||Brady 2007||Brady 2021|
|Yards per attempt||8.3||7.9|
Of course, it must be noted that Brady played one fewer game in 2007 than he is scheduled to in 2021. So, that will skew the numbers a bit in favor of the present day.
Brady would still break the NFL’s single-season passing yards record even if you were to put him on a 16-game pace this season. However, he would fall short of 50 TDs, as he would just total 48.
It’s also worth noting that Brady achieved his 2007 numbers on 578 passing attempts. He’s on pace for 765 this season, so his league-leading efficiency marks — including his 8.7 TD percentage and 8.3 yards per attempt — from 2007 will both be difficult to beat.
MORE: Why Tom Brady left the Patriots, explained
How Tom Brady’s stats compare to over-40 quarterbacks
The most impressive part about how Brady’s playing is his age. He’s 44 years old and is playing just about as well as he did when he was thought to be in his prime back in 2007.
Few quarterbacks have played well into their 40s, even legends like Brady. His age-44 season compares favorably to some of the other recent superstar quarterbacks who played into — or nearly into — their 40s.
Manning is the lone QB of these three that didn’t play until he was 40. The final season of his career came in his age-39 campaign, and he turned 40 in March of that year. As such, we’ll look at his age-39 season.
Manning was, frankly, bad during the 2015 season, his last in the NFL. He struggled to throw the ball as he dealt with a nagging throwing arm injury that took power off of his passes. He started just nine games during the regular season and was on pace to throw for 3,876 yards, 16 touchdowns and a whopping 30 interceptions over a 16-game span.
Brady’s late-career numbers blow Manning’s out of the water. You’d have to go back to 2013 to find a Manning season comparable to that of Brady. That came when Manning was 37 though, so the fact that Brady is matching or exceeding Manning’s best season at age 44 is incredibly impressive.
Brees played in two seasons during which he was at least 40 years old. They came in 2019 and 2020.
Brees had trouble staying healthy in both seasons and missed a total of nine games in the two seasons combined. He was still a quality quarterback, but he wasn’t the same dynamic playmaker that he was when he was younger.
In his final two seasons combined, Brees posted a 17-6 record and averaged 4,119 passing yards, 35 touchdowns and seven interceptions per 16 games played. Those numbers are certainly strong, but they still pale in comparison to what Brady is doing during his age-44 season.
Favre, like Brees, played two seasons in his 40s. Well, for Favre it was most of two seasons, as he turned 40 early during the 2009 season, so we’ll count it.
Favre’s first season as a 40-year-old went well. He posted a 12-4 record with the Vikings and racked up 4,202 yards, 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions while completing a career-high 68.4 percent of his passes. His interception percentage of 1.3 was the lowest in the league.
However, in 2010, Favre collapsed. He posted a 5-8 record and threw for 2,509 yards, 11 touchdowns and a whopping 19 interceptions. He battled injuries and appeared to be over the hill.
Even discounting Favre’s last season, Brady’s 2021 results are better than those of the former Packers, Jets and Vikings quarterback to date. Granted, the NFL is a bit more pass-happy than it was in the late 2000s, but Brady’s stats are markedly better than Favre’s.