Tom Brady is declining. Just writing that sentence is giving me Pavlovian flashbacks to the week I suggested something similar and consequently burned the internet down.
This, of course, came before he reversed the trend, put together a couple of the greatest seasons of his entire career and won another three Super Bowls, but I'm going to go back out on a limb again and suggest that it's finally happening. Tom Brady is declining.
Father Time eventually catches up with everybody, and Brady is 42 years old, but the fact that it is even a debate still shows how great a player he was and also how badly things have begun to erode around him in New England. His passing statistics were certainly ugly this past season, but his PFF grade wasn't nearly as bad.
Brady finished the year ranked 22nd in passer rating and 31st in both completion rate and yards per attempt, but he was 10th in overall and passing grade.
Remember that PFF grades aren't the product of some complex statistical algorithm that's just weighting esoteric statistical categories higher than those box score numbers. They are the product of a play-by-play analysis of his actual play, double- and triple-checked and verified using the expertise of NFL veteran passers with more than a decade of experience in the league.
That's not to say that they're the gospel truth with no more to say, but it is to say that when there's such a difference, it's worth exploring why.