Was Tom Brady’s 2016 Season His Best Ever? Pro Football Focus Makes Case


At this point in his career, nothing Tom Brady does should surprise us. Well, consider us surprised.

The New England Patriots quarterback, at the ripe age of 39, put together a 2016 campaign for the record books. After serving his four-game suspension for Deflategate, Brady returned with a vengeance, completing 67.4 percent of his passes with 28 touchdown passes to just two interceptions — the best single-season ratio in NFL history — over 12 games.

So, just how good was Brady this season? Since its inception in 2006, Pro Football Focus has given every player a season-ending “grade” based on a host of advanced statistics. Brady earned a 99.3 rating this year, the highest grade the website has given to a quarterback — ever.

Brady essentially was the league’s best QB for all of PFF’s criteria — except, of course, the run game, where “The Clydesdale” ranked just below the website’s league average grade.

Here’s more from PFF’s Steve Palazzolo:

“Brady dominated the grading in every major situation this season. In PFF’s play-by-play grading, he sits atop the list when pressured, against no pressure, against the blitz, against no blitz, on third down, and on intermediate (10-19 yard) throws where he is dominating the field and has a 152.2 passer rating (a perfect passer rating is 158.3).”

There’s an obvious caveat here: Brady missed a quarter of the season, and it’s easier to put up eye-popping numbers with a smaller sample size. Brady’s absence in Weeks 1 through 4 is the reason Matt Ryan was named the league’s first-team All-Pro quarterback, and why the Atlanta Falcons quarterback likely will beat out Brady for MVP.

It also puts a damper on the argument that this is Brady’s best season ever. But his PFF grade in 2016 is higher than it was in 2007, 2011 or any other Brady campaign since 2006, which is a pretty remarkable indicator of how much he’s elevated his game as his career progresses.

Thumbnail photo via Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports Images

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