Yes, I know. "Every off-season, everyone talks abut how the Dolphins are gonna compete with the Patriots, and we never do...blah, blah, blah." Well, here's a slightly different take on this. It was inspired by the "Can the Dolphins compete with the Patriots and Broncos" thread, but I think it deserves a closer look. I did some digging on QB decline. If you want to look at where some of this info came from, it's here: http://forums.colts.com/topic/5234-t...great-nfl-qbs/
Those of you who are old enough to remember the 1998 season well might remember a game that Marino had against the Broncos in the playoffs. At the end of the game, Marino threw what was supposed to be a Hail Mary bomb downfield against the Broncos...only it went about 30 yards in a weak arc, and got picked off. There was a weird, awkward moment, when none of the announcers knew what to do or say. Because...Dan Marino didn't throw like that.
Dan Marino was 37. And all of a sudden, it hit me.
Holy crap. Dan Marino just got old.
He hung around one more year, and was done. The Dolphins have never been the same.
15 plus years later, the vaunted Patriots, with all of their genius, smart moves, villainy, and invincibility, are in a great deal of trouble without one specific person. That person isn't Bill Belichick. It's Tom Brady.
And Tom Brady is getting old. He'll be 37 before the 2014 season starts. QBs in general start a notable decline in performance at age 35.
Marino fell off at age 35. He was completely done by 38.
Montana fell off drastically after age 34. He was completely done by 38.
Troy Aikman fell off drastically at 34. He retired that year.
Terry Bradshaw was done at 35, after an injury.
Steve Young hung 'em up at 37.
There are plenty more: Namath (34), Staubach (37), Fouts (35), Kelly (36), Greise (35)
Here's a list of QB who had a "very good or better" QB season after age 35: Peyton (last year), Moon (39 - did not play in the NFL until age 28), Elway (37), Warner (37, did not play in the NFL until age 28), and Favre (40). That's all of the very good seasons by QBs over the age of 35. Ever.
Tom Brady started falling off last year, and once the wheels come off, they do NOT go back on. Unless your name is Brett Favre - but that's a different discussion.
Instead, the falloff escalates very, very quickly. I noticed it last year, when Brady started having problems with his accuracy on out and go routes. Then, in the playoffs against Denver, there was a moment. It was a moment similar to 1998 for Dolphins fans. Tom Brady missed a receiver at the end of the first half. And it wasn't close. It was a who the heck threw THAT ball? moment. And then there it was...that awkward silence, when none of the announcers really knew what to say.
And up in New England, millions of Patriots fans realized it. Holy crap. Tom Brady just got old.
And much like the Dolphins in 1999, the Patriots aren't ready. Their current backup is a thoroughly immobile QB who has as many interceptions as completions in the NFL.
The fall is coming.