As Brady continues to play out his possible final season in New England, it’s becoming more and more clear that the 42-year-old quarterback’s skills have diminished in his 20th season. While it remains true that the receiving core remains lackluster, one thing is for certain — Brady is simply afraid to take hits.
It’s the reason why you often see the veteran quarterback throwing the ball away and also why, at times, he’ll elect to take an incompletion and go down instead of actually trying to prolong the play.
It’s a matter of self-preservation for a QB who has very little mileage left on his body, in terms of future NFL outlook. As far as observers who see Brady’s days as the Patriots starting QB dwindling, you can count former Seattle Seahawks QB and three-time Pro Bowler Matt Hasselbeck as somebody who believes that to be the case.
Why Brady Is Looking at the End With the Patriots
According to the ESPN analyst, Brady’s career with the Patriots could be ending very soon.
Via Justin Terranova of The New York Post:
Q: Do you expect Tom Brady to be back on the Patriots?
A: I don’t. I have a wild projection based on no facts. But I know this firsthand, people look at players and all they consider in the decision is Xs and Os and football. I can tell you from experience that those things are important, but they are not most important in your priorities. Your family is most important: wife, kids, health.
As Hasselbeck attributes in his answer, the key here is health. Brady has now started in 280 career games, making it the second-most starters by a quarterback in NFL history — behind Brett Favre’s 298 career starts. Assuming Brady starts the last three games of this season and the entirety of next season, he would shatter the all-time mark for starts in NFL history by a quarterback.
Hasselbeck Reveals the Problem With Pats’ Offense
As far as the issues with New England’s offense, the former 18-year veteran reveals that there’s more to the Patriots’ struggles than just their wide receivers.
Q: What’s wrong with the Patriots offense?
A: Brady is under pressure a lot. Defenses are not afraid of the Patriots running the ball. They are throwing the ball as much as anybody and they are not scoring from it. They are 10-3, you would think they are 3-10. The body language is bad. They just look dejected. There seems to be a bit of a disconnect, but there one was last year, too. After the Miami Miracle game last season, they got back to playing Patriots football: owning time of possession, playing great on special teams, solid red-zone defense, then they are fine. But that’s not what they are doing right now.
As much as has been made about the passing game’s struggles, the running game has been worse — they rank 23rd in the NFL in rushing yards and 29th in yards per attempt. The offense’s average time of possession ranks 16th in the league.
Considering there is no real cure to the Patriots’ struggles, it’s hard to envision New England turning it around anytime soon — which means Brady could be looking at his final season with the Patriots after all.