Buccaneers fans have big expectations in 2020 due to Tampa Bay’s acquisition of Tom Brady. The quarterback shows an ability to play well into his forties so everyone’s expecting him to give the team a boost. But can he return to the career-best form he showed in 2007? One former player and current analyst, Maurice Jones-Drew, seems to think so.
He recently made some rather controversial comments about Brady’s ability to turn back to the clock as well as the Bucs being one of the toughest teams.
Maurice Jones-Drew’s comments about Tom Brady
Jones-Drew recently appeared on an NFL Network broadcast and was asked what he thought about Brady’s potential performance in 2020. Here’s what the former Jaguars’ running had to say:
“I think Tom Brady’s going to be lights out … You got to remember, Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich love to throw the ball … He’s going to thrash 2007. I think he’s going to throw 55 touchdowns, 4,500 yards passing, probably close to 5,000. The Bucs are going to be one of the toughest teams to stop.”
Those are big numbers to throw out. To understand the context of what Jones-Drew is saying, it’s important to take a look back at just how good he was during that historic 2007 season.
Just how good was Tom Brady’s 2007 season?
One thing some may not realize is that the 2007 season greatly shifted people’s perception of Brady as a quarterback. Before this, he was viewed as a winner but not on the same level as a player like Peyton Manning. Until 2007, Brady was the product of Bill Belichick’s great system. He was capable of filling that system role, but he was hardly considered otherworldly under center.
Brady’s performance in 2007 shattered that perception. He led the Patriots to the single greatest regular season performance by a team in league history, 16-0. While the entire team was responsible, Brady played a massive role.
According to Pro Football Reference, he led the league in passing yards and touchdowns with 4,608 and 50, respectively. Brady and the Pats regularly steamrolled teams, bringing to mind images of Power 5 college football teams crushing nonconference, small school opponents.
While Brady was no doubt helped by the addition of the first major receiving threat of his career (Randy Moss), he clearly turned a corner this season and became an elite quarterback. Consider that prior to 2007, Brady had never thrown for more than 28 touchdowns. He’s thrown for 30+ scores six times since then.
Will Brady recreate his 2007 season performance?
So is MJD correct in his assessment? Will Brady “thrash” his 2007 numbers? The answer is a bit complicated. It’s highly unlikely, but with Brady, anything’s possible.
The first point to consider is that Brady could hardly be in a better situation to do it. He’ll have three major receiving threats: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Rob Gronkowski. Evans and Godwin are money in the bank as elite receivers. Evans has been a top-flight wideout for many years, and Godwin is only getting better.
The biggest question mark is Gronkowski. He’s been away from the game and had plenty of injury issues when he did play. If head coach Bruce Arians can find a way to work him in without overusing him, he should be fine. The year off likely helped Gronkowski; he’s had a chance to heal and get reenergized for 2020.
There’s no question Brady has the tools in place to have a banner year. The only thing stopping him is his age. While Brady has still outplayed the average quarterback in recent years, he has shown some signs of decline. It’s only natural.
Brady may be an outlier, but no one can beat Father Time forever. It remains extremely unlikely he’ll approach 2007 numbers in Tampa next year, even if he is very good. That said: if anyone can do it, it would be the GOAT.