FOXBORO - At 12:13 a.m. Friday morning, I got a two-word text from former Patriot Dan Klecko. “Poor Tom.” What else can be said? Seven seasons ago, Tom Brady – already a quarterbacking PhD - was at the controls of the most advanced and explosive offense in NFL history. Now, this PhD is reading Dr. Seuss and trying to keep his young wide receivers from eating paste.
On national television, the injury-riddled and callow Patriots offense managed nine first downs in a 13-10 prime-time win over the Jets. Brady went 19 for 39 for 185 yards. He threw one touchdown and several hissy fits. He threw 18 times to Julian Edelman – a nice but pedestrian player who generated zero interest as a free agent this offseason – completing 13. He threw 17 times to rookies Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins. He completed five.
It was painful to watch Dobson, throws glancing off his hands regularly, sprawled on the turf while, back at the line of scrimmage, Brady was screaming into the night. When the game was over, Brady appeared as sullen and disconsolate as he’s ever been when meeting the media. “I’m glad we won,” he began. “We just have a lot of room for improvement. We’ll just get back to work and see if we can play better next week.”
Brady is a demanding teammate. After watching him verbally undress guys like Joey Galloway over the years, argue with Wes Welker and freeze out Chad Jackson, Bethel Johnson and even Randy Moss, you knew Brady’s patience was going to be tested.
With Welker in Denver, Rob Gronkowski injured and Aaron Hernandez in jail, it was going to be tough sledding. Mix in losing Shane Vereen and Danny Amendola this week and having no legit tight end target to throw to, it was easy to foresee a tough Thursday night.
It was every bit of that. Brady knows few tears will be shed for the Patriots. “No one’s coming to rescue and save the day so we just gotta fight through it,” he said. “Gotta work harder and do better and try to be more consitent and hopefully we can score more points.”
Brady’s anger bubbled over just before halftime when a third-down pass to Dobson skipped into the turf at his feet. Brady was seen on the bench ranting toward Edelman about Dobson (presumably) being “[Freaking] wide open!” He acknowledged he has to keep his emotions in check or risk making things even harder. “Yeah. It does,” Brady agreed when asked if getting inflamed can be counterproductive. “I think I have to do a better job with my body language. I definitely can improve that. I wouldn’t say it’s a real strong point of mine right now. We’ll just try to keep doing better, that’s all we can do. “We’re all working at it,” said Brady. “It just takes a little bit of time. We just didn’t execute as well as we’re capable.”
Bill Belichick isn’t about to second-guess Brady’s comportment. Especially now when some of his personnel decisions – while made with an eye on staying among the elite – have left Brady with limited options. “Tom’s probably the best leader I’ve ever been around,” Belichick answered when asked about Brady’s in-game tenor. Even with his disappointment apparent, Brady was already summoning resolve to get back at it.
“We have to evaluate and try to get right,” he explained. “It just doesn’t magically come together. You got to work hard at it and concentrate. The passing game is all about anticipation. They have to anticipate what I’m gonna do, I have to anticipate what they’re gonna do and we can do a better job of that. I think it’s unrealistic for them to think they can do it like 10-year veterans, that’s not what they are. But they’re trying hard and they work really hard and they got a lot of skill and they’re great kids.”
“We were 1-2 last year,” he pointed out. “We ended up having a great season. Glad we won but I just want us to do a better job on offense and carry our end of the … do our job and what we’re supposed to do. You learn from every game. Win, lose or draw. It’s not easy. It’s hard to win games.”
- Tom Curran, CSN New Enlgand