Seven weeks into the 2022 season, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are Thelma and Louisa’ing it over the cliff. The 3-4 Bucs’ and 3-4 Packers’ anemic offenses are the weak links being carried by their defenses, as their venerable future Hall of Fame quarterbacks are throwing away winnable games. At this point in 2021, the Bucs were averaging 31.4 points per game. In Brady’s age-45 season, Tampa’s offense has plummeted to 27th in the NFL averaging 16.7 points per game. The Packers were a top-10 scoring offense in 2021, but that was before losing Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders.
For the second consecutive week, Tampa Bay failed to produce a single touchdown. Against a Christian McCaffrey-less Carolina, the Bucs mustered only three points. Mike Evans dropped a moonball from Brady that would have been Tampa Bay’s only touchdown of the day, and later said that his clumsiness sucked the life out of the team. However, this didn’t begin against Carolina.
At least Brady got outplayed by an XFL cult favorite in P.J. Walker. Being outdueled by an XFL legend is a little more respectable. Don’t roll your eyes. Walker was the shit in the XFL. Rodgers was beaten and outplayed by Taylor Heinicke, an XFL backup who never saw the field and the third-best quarterback on their roster behind rookie Sam Howell.
In a loss to the Commanders, Rodgers continued his streak of playing like fertilizer. The situation is bleak. Rodgers’ 228 passing yards per game ranks 23rd-best in the entire league, he has yet to have a 300-yard game this season and he has not thrown more than two touchdown passes in any single game. Rodgers’ top receivers are half his age and struggling to get on the same page with their QB, and Green Bay is on pace to finish without a 1000-yard receiver for the first time since 2017 when Rodgers spent nine weeks healing a broken collarbone.
Brady and Rodgers’ come-of-old-age seasons were a long time coming. They’ve become senescent caretakers of drowsy offensive attacks that need a LifeAlert. Statistically, Rodgers and Brady don’t look awful. Combined they’ve thrown 19 touchdowns to four interceptions. For instance, Patrick Mahomes has thrown 20 touchdowns on his own. The efficiency is there, however, the explosive passing plays over 40-yards have vanished.
Brady’s 2.7 percent touchdown rate (touchdowns per passing attempt) is the lowest of his career. Both Brady’s and Rodgers’ downfield passing numbers have fallen off a cliff. Rodgers is among the league leaders in completions thrown behind the line of scrimmage, but his passing woes were more predictable. Brady lost his BFF Gronk and O.J. Howard, but he returns a healthy Mike Evans and a semi-healthy Chris Godwin.
Both quarterbacks lead bottom-10 scoring offenses, and although neither is playing as poorly as Russell Wilson and the NFL’s worst-scoring offense, they seem significantly unhappier. Russ might be weird as hell, but he’s content.
Brady is clearly enduring an intense year off the field, which is leaking onto the field. He’s been granted numerous practices off, skipped Saturday walkthroughs, and destroyed several tablets. He’s 45 going on his Terrible 2s. And yet, time hasn’t run out, yet. There are nine games to go. It wouldn’t be shocking for these two savvy elders to wipe off the cobwebs and string together a strong second half. At the deadline, the Packers should be proactive in acquiring a No. 1 receiver at the trade deadline. Julio Jones could finally touch the field long enough to get in sync with Brady.
You would have thought by now that we would have learned not to close the casket on Rodgers or Brady before the death certificate is official. Just poke ’em with a stick first. Brady was supposed to be done in by Jimmy G a decade ago, and Rodgers has demonstrated his resilience before.
Given Rodgers’ and Brady’s histories, it’s not over until they’re mathematically eliminated from the postseason. That’s never happened for Brady who has made the postseason every season he’s made it through as a starter. However, the stars may be aligning to present us with our first Brady-Rodgers free postseason since 2008.
The arrangement of their NFC South comp would make it unlikely that the Bucs won’t win the division, but Atlanta’s lackluster roster shouldn’t be tied with Tampa Bay for the division lead seven games in. Rodgers is more comfortable missing the postseason, having done so in 2018 and 2017. And yet, he’s probably fortunate he didn’t follow Nathaniel Hackett to Denver.
Rodgers and Brady are slumping, but have not slumped over… yet. However, at their age, and given the composition of their rosters, this season was championship-or-bust. While Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen have the league in their vice grips, Brady and Rodgers are as far from resembling Super Bowl contenders as they are from their athletic primes.