By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- The entire football world is still wondering when Tom Brady will slow down at all, let alone drop way off from his recent performance. The five-time Super Bowl champion is sailing into treacherous waters for NFL quarterbacks, however, as 2017 marks his first full season after turning 40 years old.
Brady has yet to fall off the proverbial "cliff" and he looked strong once again in the Patriots' 2017 minicamps. Still, some anonymous NFL assistant coaches are apparently expecting a major drop-off in the coming season. That's what they told Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman in his "10-Point Stance" column on Wednesday.
"Some assistant coaches believe time is the only thing that can beat Brady, and they expect him to dramatically age this season," wrote Freeman. "They believe it will be highly noticeable. That isn't my view, but some people in the sport feel that way."
Freeman continued: "I've heard various versions of this for years now. This will be the year age finally catches up to Brady. Heard it over and over, yet he keeps winning. There's no reason to believe the number 40 will stop him."
One of the reasons these assistant coaches believe that age 40 will be Brady's undoing is that if he had another outstanding season, it would be rather unprecedented. History has not been kind to quarterbacks entering their first full seasons after turning 40. One strong example is Warren Moon, who led the NFL in passing yards per game with the Seahawks in 1997, earning his ninth Pro Bowl selection. But the vast majority of age-40 seasons do not go well, even for Hall of Famers.
A writer recently penned an in-depth column about Brady's diminishing arm strength in the 2016 playoffs, which he and others may point to as a sign that the QB is beginning to drop off. But even if that were true, it's easy to look past diminished arm strength when the player in question is breaking Super Bowl records and winning MVP awards en route to historic comebacks.
Brady will drop off at some point, and it shouldn't come as a shock to anyone if 2017 is the year that it happens. But he has yet to strongly signal that this is the year Father Time catches up. That won't stop observers - and, apparently, actual coaches - from predicting it until they're right.
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, CBS, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @Dolloff985 and email him at email@example.com.
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