East Rutherford, N.J. — Todd Bowles figures he’ll have to continue drawing up game plans to defend against Tom Brady for years to come.
Forget the fact the New England Patriots quarterback is already 40. Brady still is 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 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 offense 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, 38, who has faced Buffalo’s Tyrod Taylor (28), Oakland’s Derek Carr (26), Jacksonville’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 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.
The NFL is keeping an eye on the wildfires in Northern California and has been exploring options to move Sunday’s game between the Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers if it becomes necessary.
Michael Signora, the NFL’s vice president of football communications, said Thursday that the league is getting updates on the situation from both teams and from city officials in Oakland.
“We continue to monitor air quality conditions in the Bay Area and are in close communication with both the Raiders and Chargers, as well as local authorities,” Signora said. “At this point, the game remains scheduled for Sunday in Oakland.”
At least 26 people have died and some 3,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed by the blazes, which began in California wine country Sunday. An estimated 25,000 people have been driven from their homes.
Oakland, which is some 45 miles south of the fires, has been blanketed by smoke.
College football games in Berkeley and Stanford are planned for this weekend, and officials from both schools are monitoring the situations there as well.
If the NFL decides that conditions in Oakland are too unhealthy to play Sunday, the Raiders game could be moved to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer has also offered up Qualcomm Stadium, where the Chargers used to play before relocating to Los Angeles this year.
“It’s up to them to make the final decision to either move us, prepare us to play here, or what not,” Raiders cornerback TJ Carrie said. “But we have to continue to practice and play as if we’re going to play here.”
Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert will miss the rest of the season because of a back injury that has put his career in jeopardy.
... Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster of the 49ers hopes to return from a sprained ankle.
... Injured Packers running back Ty Montgomery (ribs) could play Sunday.
... Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry says fans who lobbied for quarterback Jay Cutler to be benched are an embarrassment.