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Tuesday, 23 July 2013 03:03

New England Patriots: Don't leave it all on Tom Brady

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With the first pick in the 2000 NFL Draft the Cleveland Browns select Tom Brady, Quarterback, Michigan.   Hindsight being 20/20 that is what should of happened.  However Brady was not considered a hall of fame worthy quarterback and the Browns had selected Tim Couch the season before.  How things can change, when looked at with the help of history books.  NFL Network did a fine job with the Brady 6 program showing how Brady had dropped to the 6th round.  The Patriots have done a fine job taking a skinny kid, who was 20-5 as a starter in college and making him into arguably a top 5 quarterback of all time.   With the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft the New England Patriots select Tom Brady, Quarterback, Michigan.  That is how it turned out.  I remember watching the draft wondering why the Pats needed to select a QB.  They had just signed Drew Bledsoe to a 10 year pack.  They had backup and fan favorite Michael Bishop, and journeyman John Friesz on the roster.  Here was a 6th round QB who couldn't outright win the starting job at Michigan, what use was he to the Patriots.  His measurables were not great at the combine running one of if not the slowest 40 times  at quarterback of all time.  He didn't jump, run or throw particularly great. Yet he told Robert Kraft he was the best decision the organization had made.  He was right.   By the end of his first preseason he was kept as the 4th QB on the roster. In the 2001 preseason he out preformed every quarterback on the roster including Bledsoe.  In game 2 of the regular season he would come in for an injured Bledsoe and 11 wins later the Patriots were in the playoffs. 3 playoff wins later they were Super Bowl champions.  Bledsoe was dealt in the offseason and Brady was here to stay.   The Patriots won three Super Bowls in four years.  They have been to five Super Bowls in the Belichick/Brady era. This we all know.  While I believe Brady is the best quarterback of his generation I think the Patriots have put too much on his back since the 2007 season. This is by no means a slight on Tom Brady, but even Tom Terrific needs a little help from his friends.  I have talked ad nauseam on my radio show Patriots  Goal 2 Go (Sunday's at 8:30 on CLNSRadio.com) about what I will explain in the next few paragraphs.  The way you win championships in the NFL is with a diverse offense and a solid defense.  The Patriots proved that from 2001-2004 winning 3 of 4 Super Bowls.  Balance on offense goes a long way into beating teams.  The season that Pats fans tend to overlook is the 2002 season.  It could be because 2001 was such a pleasant surprise that we gave them a pass. It could be because 2003 and 2004  were such great teams that we don't worry about a down year between championships.  2002 remains the only season where Brady and Belichick were together for the entire season that they missed out on the playoffs.  That team tried to be something it wasn't and its model has led to other disappointments in the playoffs since the last championship.   In the three championship seasons the patriots were remarkably balance running and throwing the ball. They averaged 501 passes per season and 490 runs. Those teams were allowing Brady to develop and play to his strengths at the time.  Good decision making and throwing to the open receiver.  Couple that with strong defense and you have a winning formula.  In 2002 the Patriots went 9-7 including losing 4 in a row after starting out 3-0.  They threw the ball 605 times with only 467 rushes.  Too much was put on Brady to win with his arm when he wasn't ready.  They threw the ball almost 57% of the time.  Too much for a young quarterback.  So what does this have to do with the Patriots between Brady's NFL infancy and the older hall of fame worthy quarterback?   Balance, balance, balance.  Sometime between the AFC championship game loss to the Colts to conclude the 2006 season and the 2007 NFL draft the Patriots decided to morph into the Colts. From 2001-2006 the Patriots passed on 52.6% of their offensive possessions.  They were 70 - 26 in the regular season.  12-2 in the playoffs with 3 championships.  From 2007 to 2012   (Minus the 2008 seasonnwith Brady out) the Patriots passed on 54.9% of their offensive possessions  65 - 15 in the regular season but only  5-5 in the playoffs with no championships.  2.3% might not seem like a lot but it is.  From 2003-2006 the Indianapolis Colts passed on 54.8% of their offensive possessions compiling a regular season record of 50-14. Winning 1 championship with a 7-3 post season record.  Helped greatly by the 4-0 2006 season.  The Patriots since they went pass happy like the Colts cant win the big one.  Sure the Colts have a championship in 2006 and Peyton Manning won the Super Bowl MVP, but in the 4-0 championship run the Colts had 301 total plays.  They passed 154 times and ran 147 times.  BALANCE!!!   This should serve as a lesson to the Patriots as we move into the twilight of Tom Brady's career.  The early postseason success coupled with the amazing passing numbers from 2007 on have cemented Brady as a hall of fame quarterback.  The Patriots can make him the best of all time by moving back to a balanced offense.  John Elway won his Super Bowls with Terrell Davis.  Manning won his with a balanced post season offense.  Last years Super Bowl was played by 2 balanced teams in Baltimore and San Francisco.   The good news for the Patriots in an offseason of bad headlines is they are set up to become what they once were.  While losing Welker, Lloyd, Woodhead, and Hernandez will hurt the passing game, Players like Ridley, Vereen, Washington, Blount, Amendola, and Gronk can help make this team better.  By not relying on always passing to a guy like Welker on every third down, Tom can go back to finding the open receiver.  Ridley is better than former Patriots running back Antowain Smith.  Establishing a solid running game with the aforementioned group of running backs is the key to keeping Brady healthy and winning in January.  That and a good defense.   When it comes to the defense, they are rebuilt.  While the Patriots were winning games with offense at an alarming rate, the defense was hanging on for dear life.  Since the last Super Bowl championship the Pats have tried to rebuild their defense.  They tried the quick fix free agent in Adalius Thomas.  Plenty of failed draft picks, Brandon Meriweather, Ron Brace, and Tyrone Wheatley to name a few.  Finally the defense could be a help not a hindrance.  Last year's team while they gave up a ton of yards was ranked 9th overall in points against at 20.7 points per game.  That was roughly a points less then the 2011 team.  The problem with the Patriots is they gave up 5.7 yards per play ranking them 26th in the league.  That has a lot to do with giving up 60 plays of 20 plus yards and 13 of 40 plus yards.  That needs to be corrected.  The team has the outside pass rush with Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich to get after the edge rush.  The hope is Big Vince will get help pushing the pocket in with newly signed interior rushers Tommy Kelly and Armond Armstead.  As long as Talib can stay healthy and Dennard can stay out of trouble, the team has the makings of two really good corners.  As with everything time will tell the truth.  I believe the Patriots will have a solid all around team that will contend for the remainder of Tom Brady's career.  Just follow the first few years as a blue print.       https://twitter.com/bostonfatguy https://twitter.com/PatsGoal2Go   
Jeff Kane

Jeff Kane is the Patriots Beat Manager for CLNS Radio He is the lead host for Patriots Beat and Host of the Patriots Post Game Show. His quick-witted style and knowlege of the New England Patriots are some of his endearing qualities to CLNS listeners.

Jeff is a lifelong Boston sports fan who grew up right outside of Boston. His passion for the New England Patriots dates back to watching his first game in 1984. Jeff grew up with love for the Larry Bird led Celtics, watching games after his bedtime with his father Chuck.

A self describe football know-it-all. Jeff says his favorite sports memories are the Snow Bowl Game and attending game one of the NBA playoffs with his father in 2008.

Jeff currently resides in New Hampton, New Hampshire with his Wife Michelle and his two sons Connelly and Saygen.

Jeff can be reached by email: jkane@clnsradio.com

Download the Patriots Beat Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher