2021 Tom Brady vs. 2013 Peyton Manning: The GOAT Comp As Bucs QB Returns to New England To Face Patriots
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images. Pictured: Tom Brady
- What happens when an NFL Hall of Fame quarterback moves on from his longtime team?
- Well, if Peyton Manning's transition from the Colts to the Broncos is any indication, they should be primed for a Year 2 leap with their new squad.
- Tom Brady is well on his way to smashing his second season with the Buccaneers as he gets ready to return to New England to face the Patriots this Sunday night.
Tom Brady wasted no time adding a seventh Super Bowl ring to his collection after leaving the New England Patriots, but history suggests Brady is primed for an even bigger season in Year 2 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
What history is even comparable to the GOAT?
Well, it’s not a clean comparison — at 43 years old, Brady was much older at the start of his second act than a then-36-year-old Peyton Manning was at the start of his. But there are plenty of similarities between the two that all signs seem to be pointing toward Brady making a Year 2 leap similar to the one Manning took in Denver.
After 14 seasons in Indianapolis with the Colts, Manning’s first season with the Broncos was strong by all accounts: With 4,659 yards and 37 touchdowns, he was sixth and third on the season leaderboard, respectively. And he led the Broncos to the 2012 playoffs with a first-round bye before losing in double overtime of the Divisional Round to the eventual Super Bowl-wining Ravens.
Then with a season under his belt, Manning erupted in 2013, passing for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns en route to winning his record-setting fifth NFL MVP award and making the second Super Bowl appearance of his career.
I still remember watching Manning go off for 462 yards and seven (!) touchdowns in the opening game of that 2013 season. It was around the same time that I started to make my weekly player projections accessible through content, and that night, I told myself to never underestimate how much of a leap a Hall-of-Fame quarterback could take in Year 2 with a new offense.
That’s because Manning’s leap can be at least partially attributed to his increased familiarity with Denver’s offense and improved chemistry with his teammates — factors that Brady is already benefitting from in Year 2 with the Bucs.
Brady didn’t even have a full preseason heading into Year 1 in Tampa Bay thanks to the pandemic, yet still learned a new offense after spending decades in a completely different system. And he looked solid — he finished third in passing yards (4,633) and touchdowns (40).
Now he has a healthy MCL, more than a season under his belt with this team and a Super Bowl title to defend. And his early-season production suggests he’s already mid-Year 2 eruption, Manning style. Because through only three games, Brady is second in passing yards (1,087) and leading the NFL in touchdowns (10), averaging an insane 362.3 yards per game.
Brady’s Year 2 arc will continue to take shape this Sunday night, when he makes his return to Foxboro. He should already be extra motivated in his first game against the Patriots since leaving New England — especially on his former home turf — but he also needs only 68 passing yards to pass Drew Brees for the most all-time.
Needless to say, I’m expecting Brady to go off. That’s why I love betting the over on his passing yardage prop up to 330.5 yards.