Being New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has not been easy this season. Brady has had almost all of his most reliable Patriot receivers taken away from him in the first weeks of play. Rob Gronkowski is out on injury. Danny Amendola was sidelined in the second game of the season, aggravating a previous groin injury. Former favorite target Wes Welker has been signed by the Denver Broncos (with Peyton Manning!) and Aaron Hernandez has been indicted on murder.
Brady spent years grooming and gaining confidence and familiarity with these players. Each of them knows his style of play, his movements, and patterns as well as he knows theirs. They understand subtle communication cues from him that only comes from long, grueling practice and obsessive repetition.
This season Brady has a young inexperienced group of receivers and he is a man rebuilding a burning house with charcoal. Brady and the Patriots continue to win despite the chinks in their offensive and defensive armor. He has overcome past adversity and had to groom and indoctrinate a patchwork offense before. The Patriots are undefeated after Week 4 because Brady is an elite quarterback.
Anyone who watched football this century knows Brady is not a quarterback who can be mollified with the near miss victories he’s had in the first three weeks. Brady is accustomed to dominating decisive wins with the precision of a Swiss watch’s inner workings. Closing Week 4, Brady’s passer rating is at 87.4 with just seven touchdowns and two interceptions, throwing for 1,014 yards thus far. Needless to say, Brady has been frustrated.
We have seen an unsettled, upset Brady on the sidelines. His receivers were dropping on-spot passes or completely out of position. Brady’s drive for perfection has kept the ball rolling in the Patriot’s favor. He simply cannot and does not quit. Brady will always strive for the win from kickoff to the very last play of the game. If a win can be pulled like a rabbit from a magician’s hat, Brady is one of an extremely select group of active quarterbacks that will find a way.
Never a demonstrative personality, the first quarter of the season has revealed to the football watching public just how passionate Brady is about his job. On field and off, we saw his customary aplomb shaken as he led a limping Patriot’s team through three grueling wins, some that came so close that fans had no nails left to bite off. This Sunday past, however, Brady has regained his balance, and so too have the Patriots.
In press conferences, reporters inquired into his “body language” in prior weeks, and Brady put his poker face back on this week. Facing the Atlanta Falcons, Brady seemed to be purposely avoiding too much camera exposure on the sidelines, even turning his back to the on-field action a few times. He maintained his poise as the Patriots almost blew a 30-13 lead. The Falcons threatened to push the game into overtime with a recovered onside kick, but Matt Ryan’s incomplete pass into the end zone sealed their fate and closed the book on Week 4 for both teams.
Being Tom Brady has been challenging this season. Patience pays, however, and Brady, Belichick and the Patriots, maintain their perfect season for the time being. The Patriots face the Cincinnati Bengals next week and this game should once again bring out the best in one of the best the sport has ever seen.
Written by: Brandi Tasby