As everyone connected to the NFL has heard, whether one is a fan, a player, or a member of the media, New England Patriots star QB Tom Brady is under fire for a bad performance, along with the team on Monday Night Football, September 29, 2014, against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. On that night, the Chiefs blasted the Patriots by a score of 41-14. The Patriots defense made Chiefs QB Alex Smith look like Joe Montana. Tom Brady and the Patriots were so lifeless and lost, that Brady was replaced by rookie QB Jimmy Garropolo. Garropolo threw a TD pass in garbage time, and that created grief for Brady.
[adinserter block=”1″]Since the game, Brady has been attacked from all sides. He has been heavily criticized by the local Boston media, by ESPN, other media, and by fans, both non-fans and Patriot fans alike. The criticism that has been going around centers on the following themes: Brady is declining. Brady is scared. Brady was a poor sport not to congratulate Garropolo for the TD. Brady is no longer elite. I have read many of the articles, and listened to some of the commentary, and much of it made me shake my head. I wondered if anyone has either watched the game of professional football, or just wants to see their names in public. I mean, some of the criticism that Brady is receiving is going beyond the pale, as I see it.
I don’t think I have hidden the fact in my past blogs that I think very highly of Tom Brady and I am a huge fan of Patriots. I have written past blogs praising Brady and the team. I make it no secret that Brady is my favorite QB of all time. In my opinion, along with San Francisco 49ers legend Joe Montana, Tom Brady is the best ever. On social media, I’ve defended the man against ridiculous attacks, much to my own detriment.
In this blog, I plan to discuss some of the criticism that has been leveled against the Patriots star quarterback. I plan to list each of the main themes. Next, I will discuss what I think, and demonstrate why I disagree. So, I am going to present my case for the defense of Tom Brady. I hope that my readers will read this blog with an open mind, and enjoy it as well.
THEME 1: Tom Brady is sharply declining.
There’s the old saying, “Time waits for no one.” One of my fellow parishioners at my church coined this similar phrase, “Time is undefeated.” However you want to say it, Father Time catches up everyone. I don’t care if it is a lawyer, doctor, or professional athlete. Eventually, there comes a point where we can’t do things as well as we used to be able to do them.
Let’s see what has been happening with Brady. His accuracy has been off. I noticed that last season, and the beginning of this season. He will either throw the ball 5 yards in front of the receiver, or will overthrow the receiver on long pass attempts. He also looks very skittish in the pocket, especially when the pocket collapses, and there’s pressure up the middle. His decision making has definitely taken a downturn.
However, I think the cause may be elsewhere, especially this year. Is there an undisclosed injury that he’s dealing with that he got while taking one of those huge hits? I was wondering why he didn’t run for that 1st down late in the Monday Night Game. Perhaps he didn’t want to take the hit due to a physical reason.
THEME 2. Tom Brady is the sole reason for the Patriots’ problems.
I have seen this argument from many pundits on all the networks. I have seen this in the Boston media, and from fans, both of the team, and non-fans. I was under the impression that football was a TEAM sport, unlike a sport such as figure skating or golf. Tom Brady, unlike say, 1988 Men’s Olympic Gold Medalist Brian Boitano or Phil Mickelson, is not out on that field by himself. If Mickelson and Boitano (when he competed both in amateur and professional competitions) screw up, it’s on them alone. If Brady (and for every QB), screws up, it is not only on him, as he is on a team. I will concede that a crucial mistake by a QB can lose the game, I still say they win as a team and they lose as a team. The QB gets too much praise for wins and too much blame for losses.
Let’s examine some other problems with the Patriots. Their offensive line has been attrocious. How can any reasonable person expect a top QB like Brady to play behind that offensive line? Even when Garropolo came into the game, he got sacked. It doesn’t matter who they have as QB, that O Line is awful.
The retirement of former O line coach Dante Scarrnechia is really hurting the offense. The inability to pick 5 guys and stick with them is not helping matters. Trading Logan Mankins is coming back to bite them. Some have played the trade down, but I think it is more than a small issue.
Brady does look “scared” as former teammate, and NBC Sports commentator Rodney Harrison said, because I don’t think he trusts that offensive line, and Mankins is gone. Mankins was also a great leader. Never underestimate the loss of a great locker room leader like Mankins.
Another issue that I am seeing with the Patriots is where is the offensive help? I know the Patriots business model is to build the team through the draft, and don’t spend a lot on free agency, and such. Robert Kraft is one of the few NFL owners I have full respect for. I’m disappointed that in the Rice case, he’s full supported Goodell, but that’s another thing. Mr. Kraft has built a successful franchise. Coach Bill Belichick is a first ballot Hall of Fame coach. People can say what they want, Coach Belichick can flat out coach.
Both of these men work very hard for their success. I am not taking that away from them.
That being said, I’m seeing the last years of Tom Brady’s greatness going to waste. Brady has been throwing the ball to virtually no one almost his entire career, with the exception of 2007. It appears to me that the team’s mindset is that, “if Brady won us 3 Super Bowl victories with nobodies, we will keep it the same.” Well, I am sorry, but it looks like the team got a very rude awakening on that Monday Night Football game. WR Julian Edelman is the team’s offense. TE Rob Gronkowski is still working his way back in the offense. He and Brady are not on the same page. WR Kenbrell Thompkins has been released, and WR Aaron Dobson has been benched.
Brandon LaFell is the only person they got this past free agency period. I mean, look at who was available this off season. The team could have spent money on Emmanuel Sanders. They could have gotten Steve Smith, who was unceremoniously released by the Panthers. Steve Smith may be “old,” but he’s doing well in Baltimore.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is not helping the team at all. His play calling is horrible. The team is going up against a Chiefs team that can’t stop the run. What does McDaniels call? He calls pass plays. He also did that against the Raiders, who also have a hard time stopping the run. McDaniels needs to find a way to stick to the run. Brady won’t last the season this way.
The problems with the team lay at the doorstep of Bill Belichick. He is the General Manager and the Head Coach. The team is suffering from poor drafts in the past few years. Some of Coach Belichick’s own decisions as coach make me wonder if he’s outsmarted himself. The decision to bench WR Wes Welker (as punishment) for that first drive in that playoff game against the New York Jets is still a head scratcher). He needs to do what he does best, and coach. It is too big a job for one person.
He’s also a defensive oriented coach What has happened to the defense over the past decade? The defense has declined rapidly since the departure of guys like Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, etc. Even when they were there, the team never drafted players who were good enough to help those guys, and replace them. One of the reasons why the NY Giants won SB 42 and SB 46 is because of defensive lapses, particularly SB 42.
THEME 3: Brady didn’t congratulate QB Jimmy Garropolo after the game.
This theme goes under the, “Are you kidding me? ” category. I know that jealous people slam Brady for some of the dumbest reasons (talented, rich, Gisele Bundchen, cute kids, handsome) , but this takes the cake. Tom Brady is a competitive person. He’s not thinking about what the camera is showing or not showing. He and his team are getting their rear ends handed to them. He was not thinking about who scored what when. I thought the whole thing was ridiculous. People were making more than it was.
I thought that it was ridiculous for people to suggest a QB controversy. I mean, Garropolo throws a TD pass in garbage time, and people want the rookie to start? How about some patience and some loyalty? Honestly, I think there’s those that have forgotten when the Patriots were a horrible team, and have gotten spoiled. Now, when the team has a bad stretch, I am seeing folks calling for Brady’s head. That’s not right.
I also am seeing a lot of media people, especially folks like Kurt Warner, getting their pound of flesh, and taking some real unfair shots. Kurt Warner, an analyst on NFL Network, said that Brady had to start taking responsibility for his bad playing. I don’t know what press conferences Warner watches, but Brady always says he has to play better. In every interview, Brady says, I have to play better.”
[adinserter block=”2″]In summation, I feel that Tom Brady is still a top QB. I think the drop off in his play is not so much due to him, but the team, and the coaching. The bad play calling, the Mankins trade, and the offensive line are the more likely reasons for the Patriots’ recent problems. Tom Brady is the least of the problems. I am not saying that Brady is blameless. He needs to start trusting other players (Danny Amendola, LaFell). He can’t lock onto just Edelman and Gronkowski.
Can Tom Brady and the Patriots turn the season around? As of this writing, Brady and the team, are preparing to take the field tonight at Gillette Stadium to take on the 3-0 Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday Night Football. Win or lose tonight, I have confidence that the team will be playing much better. It’s still early in the season, and the Patriots are in a very weak AFC East division. I still have confidence in Tom Brady. I have yet to write him or the Patriots off, as there have been other teams that in the minds of pundits and fans, have been left for dead. The 2005 Steelers should come to mind.
That, my readers, is my case for the defense of Tom Brady. I hope my readers enjoyed it.