Brady's Bucs campaign was among his best statistical seasons ever originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The speculation began in late March and persisted well into the 2020 season: How would Tom Brady fare in his first season without New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick?
We heard Brady himself admit learning the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offense would be a challenge during a COVID-limited offseason. We heard Bruce Arians' blunt criticisms and rumblings of trouble between the head coach and quarterback. We saw Brady throw seven interceptions over a four-week span in which Tampa Bay went 1-3.
But the 2020 season is officially over, and here are the facts: This was one of Brady's best statistical campaigns ever.
Below are Brady's 2020 stats, where they rank among this season's NFL leaders and how they stack up among the best seasons of his 20-year Patriots tenure.
|Stat||NFL Rank||Brady's Career Rank|
|Completion % (65.7)||19th||T-6th|
|Passing Yards (4633)||3rd||5th|
|Passing TDs (40)||T-2nd||2nd|
|Passer Rating (102.2)||9th||T-6th|
|Game-winning drives (3)||T-6th||T-5th|
Brady's 40 touchdown passes were his second-most ever in a single season, trailing only his then-NFL record 50 TD passes in 2007. And only once has he completed more passes in a single season (402 in 2015).
Add those numbers up, and you could make the case that Brady just completed one of the five best seasons of his career at age 43 in a completely new offense.
Brady had a few factors working in his favor, namely a loaded offense that included wide receivers Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, ex-Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and running backs Ronald Jones II, Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy. With the possible exceptions of 2007, 2010 and 2011, this may have been the best skill group Brady has ever played with.
But the six-time Super Bowl champion also had to learn an offense that differed greatly from Josh McDaniels' system in New England and didn't have OTAs or minicamp to get up to speed (even if he found ways to toe the NFL line on COVID-19 restrictions).
Brady's first season with the Bucs will be judged largely by how far Tampa Bay travels in the playoffs, and a loss to Washington in next week's NFC Wild Card round would render its 11-5 season a disappointment.
The numbers paint a pretty clear picture, though: Brady thrived in his first season without Belichick, while his former boss' team sputtered to a 7-9 record with the NFL's sixth-worst offense.