We have reached the conclusion of our countdown of the AFC East's top 25 players. View the whole list here.
Why Tom Brady?
I thought about just putting "duh" here, but that seemed like a copout for obvious reasons.
Instead, chew on this: Brady is the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for 34 or more touchdown passes and 12 or fewer interceptions in four career seasons. That's twice as many seasons as Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and 49ers legend Steve Young. Those single-season numbers have been achieved by only eight other quarterbacks in NFL history, and Brady has made it part of his yearly routine.
His career accomplishments read like a resumĂ© for a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback. We all know about the three Super Bowl wins, the two Super Bowl MVPs and the two regular season MVPs, but his accomplishments span over a decade:
- 334 career touchdown passes ranks fifth all-time
- 2.1 career interception percentage is tied for seventh all-time
- 63.7 career completion percentage ranks ninth all-time
- 44,806 career passing yards ranks ninth all-time
- NFL-record 50 touchdown passes in 2007
- NFL-record 358 regular-season passes without an interception from 2010 to 2011
- NFL-record 0.8 interception percentage in 2010 (for any quarterback with over eight starts in the season)
He has put together these remarkable achievements despite a constantly changing set of circumstances and players around him -- especially on the offensive line and at wide receiver over the past five years.
All those things happened in the past, but Brady is still spinning it with the best of them, ranking eighth in yards per attempt (7.6), sixth in passer rating (98.7), fourth in touchdowns (34) and first in interception percentage (1.26) last season.
He has been one of the best in late-game situations, as well. He is tied for ninth all-time with 26 career fourth-quarter comeback victories, and tied for fifth with 37 career game-winning drives when his team was not trailing in the fourth quarter.
As analysts, it's our job to nitpick, but Brady has left us with very few nits to pick except for questions about waning deep accuracy -- questions which are better addressed in the context that a) Brady hasn't had a deep threat since 2010 and b) he's been throwing more, not fewer, deep passes over the past few seasons.
There's nothing left for Brady to accomplish; at this point, anything else is simply adding to a legacy that's long been cemented.
Did you know?
Brady set a postseason record with a 92.9 completion percentage (26-of-28) against the Jaguars in the '07-'08 Divisional Round.
Carve out 10 minutes to read this amazing post by Peter King of Sports Illustrated, where Brady says he has "never felt better throwing the ball."
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