Brady, Brees seem to be ageless in NFL

by Gary Shelton on January 14, 2021

in general

Brady has the edge in Super Bowls./@Buccaneers

Thursday, 4 a.m.

It isn't that they're so darned old.

It's that they're so darned good.

Keep that in mind in the avalanche of stories that refer to Tom Brady and Drew Brees as the NFL's Grumpy Old Men. Yeah Brady has played since the single-wing was in fashion, and Brees has played since the flying wedge.

But the reason both men are still in the league is, well, both men deserve to be in the league. Both men remain the key factor for their teams. Both men are among the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL.

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Brees has been tough on the Bucs./JEFFREY S. KING

Sunday night, they play each other. And both teams still need their quarterback to be sharp to win.

Oh, you can credit advanced training and diet. You can point to rule changes that better protect today's quarterbacks. You can point to the competitive spirit of both men.

But at an age most quarterbacks are finished, and the ones who aren't are usually emergency backups, both are still playing well.

Okay, okay. Lifetime, Brady has the edge. He's won six Super Bowls (Brees has won one), which is a defining factor for all players. But Brees has had a rating of more than 100 for six straight years. Brees missed four games this year with an injury, so his touchdowns and yardage fell off in the competition. But his Saints have dominated the Bucs lately.

Brady, however, has struggled in his two games against the Saints this season. He has five interceptions and six sacks in two games, and he's lost them both.

So why are they still here?

“It speaks to the two guys that are playing," said Bucs' coach Bruce Arians. "They take great care of themselves and are two of the best that have ever played the game. Whether they’re 25 or 43 and 42 [years old], it’s spectacular when those guys play.”

The Bucs didn't find their groove until the last quarter of the season, which is why the team has hope it can pull an upset.

“We just got better and better," Arians said." I just think it was a matter of continually work in progress. I think back to the second half of the Kansas City game – I think if we had gotten the ball back, we might’ve had a chance to win that one. Things were growing each and every week, and then after the Bye [Week], everything kind of solidified itself.”

Arians said that Brady, too, has grown.

“The protection has been great," Arians said. "I think knowing his receivers inside and out now – since Week 9 [when] A.B. (Antonio Brown) had just gotten here – he knows where he’s going a lot faster than he did before because it was a growing process. It was a normal growing process.”

Receiver Chris Godwin is hoping for a better outcome, too.

“I think we’ve just been going through our growing pains throughout the season, which happens whenever you have a new quarterback," Godwin said. "It takes some time to build that chemistry and I think over the last couple of weeks we’ve done a better job of doing that. We’re still working on it. I don’t know if much has changed outside of that. We’re just a little bit more confident and executing a little better. We have to do a better job of that moving forward.”

The Bucs play the Saints in New Orleans at 6:40 p.m. on Sunday.

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