Tom Brady is feeling and looking good coming into Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp from everything we've seen and heard. He is now fully immersed and comfortable in Bruce Arians' offense. His body apparently remains capable of playing professional football entering Year 22. Brady told Peter King he hopes 2021 will be the "best year" of his career earlier this week.
That's an extremely high bar to set for a Hall of Fame quarterback with numerous statistical records under his belt and seven rings. But we all learned long ago that with Brady, nothing is out of reach. Brian Griese went on the Dan Patrick Show to express his confidence that his old college teammate would actually do what he hopes and put forth the best season of his career in 2021.
That seems insane. Brady is the architect of arguably the greatest season of quarterbacking ever when he set multiple records and won every single regular-season game in 2007. It doesn't seem possible to get much better than that. Sure, other signal-callers have exceeded the statistical landmarks he set that year when he threw for 4,806 yards and 50 touchdowns with only eight interceptions. But he was the engine that drove the most dangerous offense ever while setting records. Not winning the Super Bowl is obviously quite a stain to have on that season, but even that doesn't prevent it from appearing on short lists of Brady's best seasons ever.
So let's look at things realistically. For Brady to have what we would all unilaterally consider his best season ever, he would have to surpass those statistical benchmarks while captaining the best team in the league and establishing one of the best offenses in history. He wouldn't necessarily need to win every game, but it would have to be close. We're talking 16-1or 15-2 at worst. Brady will, however, have an extra game this season to accomplish all this.
Throwing for more than 4,806 yards is the most attainable goal out of those items. The Bucs quarterback threw for 4,633 yards last season when he was still getting acclimated to a new system and teammates, and getting into sync was a constant work in progress that didn't really finish until the playoffs. It would not be a surprise at all for Brady to surpass that number, even if his season is average in all other regards when it's all said and done.
The touchdown count is a different matter entirely. The future Hall of Famer threw 40 touchdown passes last season, the second-highest mark of his career. For you math whizzes out there, that is 10 less than his 2007 season and 11 less than the number he'd have to hit to help the season qualify as his best. That will be rather difficult, even with an extra game to pad the stats. The offense will benefit from sophomore Tyler Johnson getting better and the return of O.J. Howard, but 10 more touchdowns is quite a bit.
The Bucs' receiving corps was pretty banged up for most of last year and better health in that regard would go a long way towards Brady reaching his goal. But even in an 18-game season, expecting a line of 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns while only losing a game or two is a lot! Tampa will get some help from what is a fairly middling schedule in terms of difficulty since they face all four NFC East teams -- a division which features two of the NFL's worst defenses from 2020. Brady will probably be able to pad his stats in those games. But enough to hit all those benchmarks?
Brady will surely have another great season because to expect anything less at this point is a direct route to disappointment. He'll be firing on all cylinders with arguably the most talented receivers in the league and exquisite chemistry with everyone after the Bucs brought back pretty much every contributor from their Super Bowl run. The point of this is to highlight how difficult it would be to be better than he ever has.
The greatness of Tom Brady is unparalleled. But even he will have trouble matching the accomplishments of his youth in 2021.