- Maddie Meyer/Getty
- Though Tom Brady had an MVP-level season this year, the New England Patriots think they see signs of aging, according to ESPN.
- At 40 years old, some aspects of Brady’s game have changed, leaving the Patriots to think a decline may be coming.
- Brady’s decline becomes complicated as the team traded his successor, Jimmy Garoppolo, and does not have a future quarterback on the roster.
Tom Brady is once again in the MVP conversation, having put together a season as good as any for the 13-3 New England Patriots.
It doesn’t show in the numbers – Brady completed 66% of his passes for 4,577 yards this season, with 32 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, and a 102 passer rating. But according to ESPN, some Patriots staffers think it has shown in other ways.
Wickersham wrote: “Atypically, he has missed a lot of practices and, in the team’s private evaluations, is showing the slippage of a 40-year-old quarterback even as he is contending for MVP and is as deadly as ever with the game on the line.”
Wickersham points to an example when the Patriots played the Los Angeles Chargers this season, and instead of hitting a downfield target, Brady threw over the middle to receiver Chris Hogan, who got hit immediately and injured his shoulder.
Though there was a clean pocket for Brady, one staffer told Wickersham: “Tom was trying to get it out quick. As fragility has increased, nervousness has also increased.”
Brady has battled a shoulder and Achilles injury this year, which, as Wickersham notes, some Patriots staffers think undermines Brady’s beliefs that his training methods leave him less susceptible to injury, as he explains in his book, “The TB12 Method.”
Brady has stated that he would like to play into his mid-40s, which complicated the team’s timeline and approach to Jimmy Garoppolo. Bill Belichick reportedly had concerns about giving Brady an extension into his 40s and believed that Garoppolo could one day succeed Brady. But with Brady wanting to continue playing and Garoppolo turning down extensions to remain a backup, Belichick was reportedly ordered to trade Garoppolo, making Brady the Patriots’ present and future.
The signs of Brady’s decline are difficult to see, but the Patriots apparently notice it. While Brady and the Patriots have a shot to win the Super Bowl again this season, their third in four years, as the saying goes, “Father Time is undefeated.” Eventually, Brady will age and slow down, and the Patriots now seem to be figuring out what happens after the Brady era is over.