With each passing lackluster performance, murmurs of Father Time catching up to Tom Brady grow increasingly louder.

The New England Patriots quarterback hasn’t been his best self this season, delivering not just a less-than-stellar stat line, but seemingly also does not have as much poise as he usually does.

Brady lately has been a little too quick to release the ball under pressure, which has led to a couple out-of-character interceptions. At age 41, questions long have circulated about when Brady’s play finally would come down to Earth, and some think we’re seeing it right now.

NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport appeared on WEEI’s “Not Sunday” podcast with Ryan Hannable, and he described the signs folks should be looking for to tell if Brady is just in a rut or truly on the decline.

“You can’t talk about Brady and production without wondering about his age,” Rapoport said. “You don’t always know what it looks like, kind of at the end because it doesn’t happen gradually. A lot of times it happens suddenly like with Peyton Manning. But, what does tend to happen is you get rid of the ball a little quicker because you don’t want to take the hits and that kind of sometimes is you know like, maybe that is it. I would say of all the signs, that is probably the biggest one to watch for — does he start dodging hits and just kind of unloading.”

Maybe the best example of Brady dodging came on the final play of New England’s 17-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. With four receivers streaking to the end zone, Brady appeared to go down to the ground and unload without being touched. The throw went into traffic and ended up being incomplete.

Likely by Brady’s standards, his performance and the play of his team haven’t been up to par, but of course, the Patriots organization is one that tends to have exceedingly high expectations. So while the results may be seeing a bit of a dip at the moment, time will tell if this truly is the beginning of the end.

Thumbnail photo via Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports Images