Will Buccaneers QB Tom Brady be an MVP candidate in 2021?
By: Reese Nasser
Tom Brady is entering the 2021 season coming off of one of the greatest years of his storied career. The soon-to-be 44 year old quarterback won his seventh Super Bowl, his first with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has somehow managed to find a resurgence with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
The all-pro quarterback found success in his first year with Tampa Bay. In both the regular season and playoffs, Brady saw near career highs across the stat sheet. Over 16 regular season games, he threw for 40 touchdowns and 4633 yards, finishing in the top-5 of both categories. With the good also came the occasional bad. He threw 12 interceptions, his most since 2011.
The playoff run that Brady led was just as good as his regular season, if not better. In his four postseason games, he passed for 10 touchdowns and just over 1000 yards.
His finished stat line from both the regular and postseason was arguably his best since his 2007 season where he threw 50 touchdowns. By the end of 2020, Brady compiled 56 total touchdowns and nearly 5700 yards. He proved to still be one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL.
Entering his 22nd season, all eyes will be on Brady. After coming off yet another Super Bowl victory and the Bucs returning all 22 starters, the expectations will be high for both the team and their QB1.
A decline has been expected for years now for Brady, but it is yet to come. It is almost as if every season, people believe that father time will catch up to Brady. Could 2021 be the season for it to happen? Potentially.
Brady could find himself having yet another great season. Or, he could find himself in the situation of many past superstars that have stuck around too long and have a season that goes very poorly. Let’s take a look at both the potential floor and ceiling for Brady in 2021.
It is hard to imagine a Tom Brady performance that is anything less than average. The floor for Brady is still seemingly better than what many quarterbacks would have to offer. Throughout his career, even when he hasn’t had the greatest weapons around him, Brady has still been able to be an above average quarterback. His understanding of the game and just all around football IQ has kept him at a high level, even as he has gotten older and began to slow down from a physical standpoint.
When looking at his most recent seasons, Brady’s worst performance was arguably the 2019 season. He threw 24 touchdowns, the least he’s had in a full 16-game season since 2003, which was his third year as a starting quarterback. His 24 passing touchdowns still ranked him within the top-15 of all quarterbacks. He also threw for just over 4000 yards, his least since 2016, when he played in just 12 games.
Even at his most mediocre points, Brady has managed to consistently still be an above average quarterback. His floor should reflect that. Even at his worst, Brady should be good for at least an above-average season in 2021. A “down” seasons statline could potentially look like this. 26 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, and 3800 passing yards.
A 2021 stat line looking something like that would be considered poor for Brady. But, it would still be enough to put his team into a position to win. This should be the bare minimum for the longtime quarterback.
The best that can be expected from Brady should be a performance similar to what he did in 2020. He has proven time and time again that he can still lead a team and perform at a high level while doing it.
The team surrounding Brady will also play a role in how well he performs. He will go as far as they can take him, and vice versa. Brady is clearly a catalyst in how well this Tampa Bay team can play.
With the offense that the Buccaneers have, Brady’s ceiling will be that of a top level quarterback. Tampa Bay is bringing back all eleven starters from last season. The group was good at every level on offense. An elite offensive line, a talented wide receiving group, a hall of fame tight end, and two above average running backs, will help Brady maintain his ability to be elite.
The skills group alone would make any quarterback have good numbers. With wide receivers Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, and Scotty Miller, Brady can’t go wrong with who he is throwing the ball to. He also has arguably his most consistent target of his career still with him in Robert Gronkowski. There is also still potential in tight end OJ Howard. If he can perform as he is expected and come back from his achilles injury, this receiving group could be the best in the NFL.
The ceiling for Brady is high, as it should be. A regular season with around 40 touchdowns and single digit turnovers would be a top performance from him. If he performs at that level, another Super Bowl run could be in the cards for Tampa Bay.