Written by: Alex McKinnon– Staff Writing Intern (@1ReturnOfTheMac)
Week 5 marks the triumphant return of Tom Brady to the 3-1 New England Patriots. This past Sunday at midnight, Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. become eligible to re-enter the Patriots facilities and rejoin his teammates for the Week 5 matchup against the 0-4 Browns. While the Patriots were getting shutout in Foxboro, Tom was practicing at a high school in Brookline, MA
Deflategate has finally come to an end after Brady’s four-game suspension was served in full 21 months after the initial accusations of tampering. With a controversial 243 page report, sanctions handed down from the NFL, two overturned court appeals and an unmitigated disaster in the media and any conversation between the common fans, the pain and torture has come to a conclusion. We will leave this topic be and talk about the return of a first-ballot hall of fame quarterback.
During his absence, the rumor mills churned with the stellar performance of Brady’s understudy Jimmy Garoppolo in the game and a half he played. Garoppolo looked poised and accurate and added the element of a QB run game. However, ‘Jimmy G’ was injured and game two paving way for rookie Jacoby Brissett to go 1-1 plus the half game vs. the Dolphins to complete the 4 game Brady absence. Although Garoppolo looked spectacular, he was unable to stay healthy beyond game two. The impressive thing about Tom Brady is his durability and more importantly, his pocket awareness has kept him healthy over his elongated career. Other than the 2008 season where his ACL was torn during an ugly tackle, he has started 16 out of 16 games every season since 2002.
Tom returns to the Patriots who were able to go 3-1 for him in his absence, which is disappointing to some fans. After the first three games including a 27-0 shutout of the Texans, Jacoby Brissett was exposed during the Bills game and the Patriots lost a divisional game to a team who is desperate for wins. Rob Gronkowski has seen 3 targets and has 11 yards on the season. Julian Edelman hasn’t caught more than 76 yards in the first four games. Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan haven’t been the additions to the offense that they were expected to be, and outside of a 2 TD game, Danny Amendola has also been rather quiet. The defense has been pretty spectacular but the only other bright spots have been Martellus Bennett with two 100-yard performances and LeGarrette Blount who is third in rushing with 352 yards and third in rushing TD’s with 4.
Over the years, Tom has exposed opposing defenses with two tight end stacks and the use of the slot position with Troy Brown, Wes Welker and Julian Edelman. Danny Amendola’s career has been revived and Chris Hogan is another perfect fit in Belichick and Tom’s system. Although LeGarrette Blount will see a decrease in workload, he will remain a red zone threat and will certainly continue on his touchdown pace. The past five seasons have arguably been Tom’s best during his 15-year career. Over the five year span, he has averaged 4657 yards, 33 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions per season. This excludes his epic 2007 season with 4806, 50 TD and 8 INT season and 2010 with 3900 yards, 36 TDs and 4 INTs. The past five years have covered ages 34 thru 38. From a statistical standpoint, Tom has shown signs of improvement as opposed to a decline often seen in QBs at this age. Creating a 53-man unit that rivals the 2007 team with multiple offensive weapons and now the addition of a proven defense gives Brady an excellent opportunity to win a minimum of 14 games this season and make another incredible run for a Lombardi trophy.
Since 2001, Tom’s first season, the Patriots have made the playoffs 13 times, the conference finals 10 times and the Super Bowl 6 times. Tom is tied with Montana and Bradshaw all having 4 Super Bowl wins and Tom stands alone with the 6 Super Bowl appearances. The Patriots have never had a record worse than 9-7 during Brady’s entire career including an 11-5 season with Matt Cassel as the QB. With the current competition in the AFC, it would take a catestrophic turn of events for the Patriots to be left out of their 11th conference finals with Tom Brady as their QB. Despite having only 12 games left in the 2016 season, Tom only needs 2.5 TDs per game to hit 30 TDs again. Adding Martellus Bennett to his artillery should create a dimension that Aaron Hernandez couldn’t even supply. Bennett is a elite blocker for a tight end and has proven his worth in the passing game. Having Blount, Bennett, Gronkowski and Edelman in the red zone is an outrageous amount of options for Tom. Gronkowski has been extremely limited despite being described as healthy enough to play which points to a revival with Tom back in the pocket.
The statistical reasoning for another incredible season are cemented for 2016. The motivation for Tom to get ring number five is another story. Over the 21 months that Deflategate has existed, Tom has seen endless rants on his tarnished legacy, experts who say Tom can not continue on the same pace for an almost 40-year old quarterback, that Jimmy Garoppolo is the present and future of the team, that Brady is a system quarterback and the Belichick is the reason for the historical success and an endless stream of articles and interviews against Tom. There is still conversation of Manning v. Brady because of Peyton’s recent super bowl win and many who say Tom will never be considered the greatest of all time.
“It’s a lot of fun to be back” Brady said this week, “It was great to be back in the building and see my coaches. And to get to work on actual football. I really enjoyed it.”
Tom Brady’s revenge tour will begin against the Cleveland Browns. You have to feel bad for the Cleveland Browns for more than one reason, the current one being the hosts of Brady’s return. One AFC Defensive coach said “Thanks to Roger Goodell, Tom Brady is going to kill all of us”. Tom has not spoken out about his punishment or what most believe, mistreatment, but you can just sense his angst to prove everyone in the world wrong including Goodell and the NFL brass. “THIS Tom Brady scares the sh*& out of me” said another AFC Defensive coach. The AFC East is especially weak this season with the Bills posing the biggest ‘threat’. Outside of the division, the Patriots may only have to worry about Pittsburgh with their explosive offense and the Broncos defense which has proven itself to be here to stay. The Steelers have had issues with injuries over the past few seasons and are pretty thin on defense and the Broncos are relying on a rookie quarterback and inconsistent play by their wide receivers. On paper, the Patriots should barrel through the AFC. The NFL certainly does not want to see Brady build a chemistry with guys like Martellus Bennett and match that with his unspoken bond with veterans Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski. The Browns have given up 10 passing touchdowns this season and Brady should easily start out hot right out of the gate for the DFS player costing a modest $7500. Gronkowski only costs $6500 and Edelman is still at $6700. Any sort of stack with his favorite targets would be wise this weekend even though ownership will be HIGH.
I will leave you with this Game of Thrones spoof, ‘My Watch has Ended’ created by 17 productions …Tom ‘Jon Snow’ Brady has returned and the league should get out of his way.