Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady came out of a brief retirement to play in the NFL for one final season, vying to win his eighth Super Bowl. After 12 games, the decision has backfired in a significant way.
Many viewed Tampa Bay as the team to beat in the NFC with Brady a favorite to win NFL MVP. Instead, the Buccaneers enter Week 14 with a 6-6 record and their quarterback is showing signs of regression for the first time since he came to Florida.
- Tom Brady stats (2022): 91.6 QB rating, 66.2% completion rate, 16-3 TD-INT, 6.4 ypa
The Buccaneers’ offense ranks 27th in scoring (18.1 PPG) and 17th in total yardage (340 total YPG). After so many projected Brady’s physical decline with each passing year, it appears as if Father Time has finally started catching up to him.
Jeff Howe of The Athletic spoke to NFL executives regarding Brady’s future and his level of performance this season. There is a strong belief that the future Hall of Famer is in a noticeable decline, but the Buccaneers’ issues also go much deeper.
“When asking executives around the league who have watched Brady this season, they have noticed some level of regression in play — he is 45, after all — but they also noted Tampa’s lack of a running game, injuries at receiver and less production from the tight ends and offensive linemen as bigger issues. Conservative coaching was also cited.”The Athletic’s Jeff Howe on how NFL executives view Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ struggles
Evaluating Tom Brady’s regression from 2021 to 2022
Through 12 starts, Brady’s quarterback rating is at its lowest point since his final season with the New England Patriots. Similarly, he is averaging under 7.0 yards per attempt for only the second time since 2013.
Related: Tom Brady’s contract with FOX sports
While Brady is still protecting the football, he isn’t quite as sharp this season in specific situations. Brady’s fourth-quarter passer rating (100.1 to 95.9) and his second-half passer rating (103.5 to 92.5) have dipped significantly this year.
Losing All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski and veteran center Ryan Jensen certainly haven’t helped matters. The absences, paired with an ineffective rushing attack, have played an instrumental role in Tampa Bay’s issues on third down (39.3% third-down conversion rate).
Brady might no longer be the quarterback who can win NFL MVP on his own and he is more of a statue in the pocket now than at any point before 2022. However, he still does more than enough as a pocket passer and leader of a locker room to be one of the top NFL free agents in 2023.