Eighteen years. Thirteen Pro Bowl nominations. Eight Super Bowl appearances. Five Super Bowl victories. Four Super Bowl MVPs. Two-time NFL passer rating leader. And yet, one terrible, horrible, no good, very bad season. Or so the talking heads and football guru’s are alluding to.
Tom Brady and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Season
Tom Brady has lost five games so far this season and the New England fan base has started to lose its bearings. How? What! Why? We do not lose in December! We have the GOAT. This is preposterous. It’s over! Max Kellerman was right. The cliff is here. The dynasty is disintegrating. Tom Brady is washed up. How could this be happening? Meanwhile, those NFL fans that cannot stand Tom Brady’s presence are hooting and hollering because this might be the end! The end of a dynasty and the end of Patriot dominance, once and for all.
But, is this “very bad season” really the end of a legend?
Let’s take a look at the record this season and see. Surely, if the social media lynching of arguably the greatest quarterback to play the game is this serious, they MUST be last in the AFC East. Must be. Except they aren’t. The AFC East looks the same as it does most years. The Patriots are sitting pretty at 9-5 with the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets respectively bringing up the rest of the conference. Robert Kraft still owns the team & Bill Belichick is still the head coach.
But all of a sudden, Brady looks vulnerable. Passes that would normally sting your hand as they zip into the waiting arms of Julian Edelman or Rob Gronkowski are wobbling precariously on the sidelines. The pocket protection from his offensive line has been waiting for him to step into it, however, he would rather throw the ball away. As a result, the risk-taking “Ice Ice Brady” that we are used to seeing is now “Ice Icing his shoulder”. Is age really the factor? Is preservation a reality?
We might need to rewind history
In order to go back to the ghastly recollection of five losses by the New England Patriots, you have to rewind the tape ten years to 2008. Except, 10 years ago, Brady was absent from the stat sheet. The opening game of the 2008 season, he tore two ligaments in his left knee and backup quarterback Matt Cassel took over. The Patriots ended up with an 11-5 record on the season and missed the playoffs. NFL fans were stunned at this performance, calling New England a washed-up franchise once again. Yet, the franchise had four Super Bowl appearances, three Super Bowl rings and was only halfway through dominance on the gridiron.
If we rewind the tape a bit more to Tom Brady’s sophomore season in the NFL, his record was 11-5. They pushed their way to win the AFC East and ultimately, Brady won his first Super Bowl. No one knew at the time, that this would be the beginning of the dynasty. Las Vegas could not have predicted that the Patriots would be first in the AFC East fifteen times. To look back on the past 18 years, seeing the passion and fervor that New England possessed gave fans hope. Hope that finally, there was a team that brought joy and laughter to the area. Winning sparked the other professional teams to play their hearts out and make the city of Boston, Title Town.
So, where do we go from here?
In short order, the New England fan base should not be groaning and complaining about this season. Yet, because of the sheer dominance over the last 2 decades, they cannot help it. All fans have been spoiled by the silver spoon Lombardi trophy and anything less is just unacceptable. To lose more than four games in a season meant that life was rough as a Patriots fan. Or so they thought. That rare occurrence has only been completed five times since Tom Brady jogged onto the turf.
Because of this, the fan base has become nervous. Nervous that, in due time, Tom Brady, in all of his pliability, forty-something, zen-ness, will one day take the field for the last time. Step up into the pocket, orchestrating a perfect two-minute drill and watch the confetti flutter down from the sky. The NFL has been privileged to witness greatness, amiss all of the chaos over the last two decades. Legends like this only come around every so often. We should appreciate the moment because this will not last forever.
As the regular season comes to a close, teams are starting to align themselves for the playoff run. Most fans are living on a prayer, hoping that their team will win out and maybe, just maybe gain a spot in the Wildcard games. For those in New England, these next two games at home in Foxboro will be watched with a hawk’s eye. Will Tom Brady shake off the uncertainty one last time? Can the defense stop the run game? Will the play calling by Josh McDaniels open up the field and allow the Patriots to be their regular selves? Or are we just completely reliant on the expectation that New England always, somehow, ends up in the AFC Championship game?
When you have had the continued success year in and year out that seems to follow the Patriots, the doubt should not consume you. As of this moment, yes, the five losses so far this season seem to show a vulnerable New England roster. But as we all know, as long as you have Tom Brady in the driver’s seat, miracles tend to happen!
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