Two of the NFL’s oldest quarterbacks do battle in a key matchup when the Jets play host to the Patriots on Sunday
New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles figures he’ll have to continue drawing up game plans to defend against Tom Brady for years to come.
Forget the fact that the New England Patriots quarterback is already 40. Brady is still performing as if he’s a spry youngster.
“Brady will probably be playing after I’m long retired at the rate he’s going right now,” Bowles said with a smile.
Brady is off to a terrific start statistically, leading the NFL with 1,702 yards passing while ranking second with a 112.0 passer rating. He also has the league’s two best passing yardage games of the season, throwing for 447 yards against New Orleans on Sept. 17 and 378 against Houston a week later.
“Everybody knows what he can do,” Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson said. “You can never doubt him or count him out.”
Brady and the top-ranked offence of the Patriots (3-2) head to MetLife Stadium to take on the Jets (3-2) on Sunday for early-season supremacy in the AFC East.
On the other sideline, Brady will see a quarterback who’s just two years younger in New York’s Josh McCown.
Playing against a signal caller who’s actually older than him will be something rare these days for McCown, who has faced Buffalo’s Tyrod Taylor (28), Oakland’s Derek Carr (26), Jackson- ville’s Blake Bortles (25) and Cleveland’s DeShone Kizer (21) and Kevin Hogan (24). At least his opponent in Week 3, Miami’s Jay Cutler (34), is in his 30s.
“It’ll be nice for once and hopefully it will happen again later this year,” McCown said of facing an older QB. “Obviously, Tom has set a standard and a mark for quarterbacks in our league. What he’s been able to do is nothing short of remarkable and, to a degree, it’s special to go against him because he’s widely regarded as the best to ever play. In my opinion, probably rightfully so.”
With a victory, Brady would break a tie with Brett Favre and Peyton Manning for the most regular-season wins by a starting quarterback in NFL history with 187. Brady’s 211 combined career wins, including regular season and playoffs, are already a league record.
“To get to play against him and to get go against him, it’s part of it that when you’re done with your career, it’s a cool thing to look back on,” McCown said. “But my focus will be on doing the best I can to move the football against their defence.”
Here are some things to know heading into this battle of the aged:
Brady was on the injury report for the first time this season with a left shoulder injury. The quarterback hasn’t missed a regular-season start due to injury since 2008, and he played down the significance of this one.
“I’ll be there Sunday,” he said. “Don’t worry about that. I’ll be there.”
While Brady’s passing numbers have been sound, he’s getting sacked a high rate. He’s already been taken down 16 times after going down just 15 times in 12 regular-season games last season.
Meanwhile, Wilkerson and fellow defensive lineman Leonard Williams are looking to get their first sacks. Wilkerson has been dealing with a sprained shoulder and now also has a toe ailment. He hasn’t used the injuries as an excuse, but he has just one quarterback hit this season.
Williams, who made the Pro Bowl last season after having seven sacks, at least has a teamleading six quarterback pressures.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady attempts a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Oct. 5, in Tampa. At 40, Brady leads the NFL in passing yards through five weeks.