With the NFL season almost at the midway point, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is the favorite for the MVP award, however, it is Tom Brady’s to lose.
The 43-year-old quarterback delivered another vintage Brady performance in the Buccaneers 45-20 victory over the Raiders on Sunday. Brady completed 33-of-46 attempts for 369 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. He has just one pick in his last five games. In addition, Brady added another touchdown on the ground to give him 20 total, 18 passing, on the year with just four interceptions. His 1,910 yards are good for sixth-most in the league. All this on a new team, with no preseason games (three of his four picks came in the first two weeks), and a non-traditional training camp… in his 21st season.
For Brady, it’s not just the numbers. He is on pace for 4,300 yards and 41 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. It’s the precision in which he has been delivering the ball over the field. In 2020, he has been one of the best deep-ball passers in the game as he was a year ago. Something many claimed he was incapable of doing. That ability was on full display on his touchdown pass to Scotty Miller. In addition, at this point, the “lack of arm strength” myth should be thrown in the trash. At 43, Brady’s arm is as strong as it has ever been.
Let’s be clear, Brady never lost these abilities. You don’t lose your ability because of age and then miraculously get that back when you get older. The problem is, in 2019, many put far too much stock in Brady’s numbers during his “down” season without taking into account the circumstances. Injuries and a revolving door of skill players hampered Brady and the Patriots during the 2019 season. They still finished 12-4 and Brady tossed 24 touchdowns to just eight interceptions. Nothing too flashy but considering what we have seen from the 2020 Patriots through the first seven weeks, that stat line may end up looking far more impressive when it’s all said and done.
Now, when it comes to Wilson, he has had a phenomenal start to the 2020 season for the 6-1 Seahawks, although his three-interception performance against the Cardinals won’t help his case. Wilson leads the league in touchdown passes with 22 as well as owning the best passer rating at 119.1. In addition, he is not playing with the Super Bowl-winning defense from 2013. Far from it. A lot of the Seahawks’ success rests on the shoulders of Wilson and the offense. On the flip side, Brady plays with perhaps the best defense in the league outside of Pittsburgh.
Advantage Russ, right? Not necessarily. Especially when you consider that the Bucs had a pretty good defense in 2019 when they finished 7-9. Save for the addition of Antoine Winfield Jr. in the draft, the Bucs returned much of the same personnel. Same on the offensive side of the ball aside from the addition of a “washed up” Rob Gronkowski and rookie Tristan Wirfs on the offensive line.
So why, through seven weeks, are the Bucs 5-2 in 2020 as opposed to their 2-5 record through the same stretch in 2019? Simple, they made the biggest upgrade at the league’s most important position… quarterback. This is not a knock on Jameis Winston… Brady is just better. He may very well be better than every quarterback STILL at age 43. (Yes, even the irreproachable Patrick Mahomes).
2020 – Tom Brady
2019 – Jameis Winston
|TDs||18 (2 rushing)||14|
Compared to his most recent MVP season in 2017, Brady is off to a similar start in 2020. Through seven games in 2017, Brady tossed 15 touchdowns to just two interceptions and completed 66 percent of his passes for 2,208 yards. He finished the season throwing 32 touchdowns to just eight interceptions and eventually threw for 505 yards in a Super Bowl loss to the Eagles. Mahomes, in 2018, started his MVP season scoring 24 total touchdowns in his first seven games to just five interceptions and 2,223 yards passing. In 2019, Lamar Jackson had 1,650 yards through the air and 576 on the ground but scored just 14 times through his first seven games of his MVP campaign.
Yes, he will have competition from Wilson down the stretch. Aaron Rodgers has had a fine season but not at quite the same level. Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry may ultimately take votes away from each other but deserve to be in the conversation. As do others.
The bottom line, a team that has just six playoff wins in franchise history entering this season became relevant overnight following the signing of Brady back in March. It took just seven weeks of play for them to look like the very best team in the NFC. Not only is Brady out producing Winston through this point of the season but he is, predictably, protecting the ball far better than his predecessor. In doing so, he has drastically changed the fortunes of a franchise who has the worst winning percentage in sports. Oh, and in due time, Antonio Brown will join the bevy of weapons at Brady’s disposal.
So, if Brady continues on this pace and the Bucs finish with one of the best records in the league after a 7-9 year (and decades of losing), how can you deny that he is the most valuable player to any team this season?