Tom Brady is playing at a level that exceeds any he reached as a young player still figuring out the NFL. Turns out he's faster than he was then, too.
Since 2014, stories of Brady's mobility in the pocket -- and his occasional ability to scramble -- have dotted the internet on an almost weekly basis. It just doesn't make sense that a quarterback in his late 30s can move the way he can, especially since that wasn't one of the hallmarks of his game earlier in his career. Still, week after week, he checks in with plays made based on his agility.
Sunday was no exception as the 39-year-old deftly escaped pressure on each of his last two touchdown throws to sap San Francisco's will.
Asked about his ability to move around the pocket and extend plays, Brady told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show that his 40-yard dash time is quicker than the one he ran at the NFL combine before the 2000 draft.
"I'm never going to run a 4.7 [second] 40," Brady said. "I mean, I'll never . . . I never have been able to do that. I never will be able to do that. But I've timed my 40 from what it was when I was coming out of college, and what it is now, and it's maybe two or three tenths faster than it was."
Brady ran a 5.28-second 40-yard dash at the combine, putting his current time right around a 5.0. For reference, there are some big-bodied Patriots who clocked in with that kind of 40 time over the years -- Vince Wilfork ran a 5.08, while Logan Mankins ran a 5.06 before being drafted -- but that still represents a significant improvement for Brady.
"Well, I was really slow back then," Brady said. "I think it was like a 5.25. So much for me is just that initial step. If you can have a little quickness in the pocket to evade an oncoming DL, you can extend the play. If it's a lethargic first step, then they always kind of get you.
"I’ve really tried to work on that first step. I don’t think my instincts in the pocket to move and scramble -- well, I would say to scramble -- those aren’t really inbred in me just based on my style of play. It never has been. I’ve just tried to stay in the pocket and buy time in the pocket to allow my receivers to get open.
"Now, it’s just extended where that pocket is now. Now that pocket can be probably maybe 20 yards wide as opposed to six yards wide. What has been, I think, maybe a little more innate is avoiding the rush, sliding in the pocket, buying a little bit more time. But now being able to avoid a rush a little bit to buy time has been good.
"You see the way that so many of these great quarterbacks in the NFL can do that. I will never be able to do it like a Russell Wilson or Tyrod Taylor. Those are their physical gifts. Also, if I can add one or two plays a game and yesterday it was maybe three, four or five times a game, it really does help our offense."