NFL Nation selects Patriots' Tom Brady midseason offensive player of the year

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In a Washington Post story on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, columnist Sally Jenkins relayed the story of Gisele Bundchen awakening at 3:30 a.m. and seeing Brady watching game film.

Brady's commitment to his craft is well documented, so a 3:30 a.m. film study doesn't come as a major surprise as much as it is a reminder that the passion still burns intensely for Brady at age 38.

He's arguably never been better over his career, and at the midpoint of the season, he is a runaway winner of NFL Nation's midseason offensive player of the year award.

Each of NFL Nation's 32 reporters were polled, along with national reporter Kevin Seifert, and Brady received 27 of the 33 votes. Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones (2), Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (1), St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley (1), Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (1) received the other votes.

A few notable aspects of Brady's body of work at the midpoint, from ESPN's Stats & Information:

  • Brady's 22 passing touchdowns are the second-most through eight games among quarterbacks with two interceptions or fewer, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The only player with more was Brady himself; he had 30 at this point in 2007.

  • Nearly 34 percent of the Patriots' offensive drives have ended with touchdowns. The only team with a higher rate since 2012 was the 2013 Broncos.

  • More than 77 percent of his throws have traveled 10 yards or fewer downfield, the third-highest rate in the league behind Alex Smith and Eli Manning.

One area that statistics can't truly quantify is how the Patriots have put more on Brady this year because of an unsettled situation along the offensive line, where a combination of rookies being thrust into starting roles and injuries have led to him getting rid of the football as quick as ever.

As for his early-morning film study, Brady said on sports radio WEEI this week: "I think you can get great evaluations from teams at this point, eight games in. After four games, it's really hard to tell. After eight games, you really start to see their dependable players, their strengths and weaknesses. This is where you can really start honing in on your opponent, and for me, that's when I really love starting to play. ... I love playing football all the time, but this is the time of year I really enjoy it because there is a lot to study, a lot to digest. The more you study, the more of an advantage you can get."