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Disputing One of the Narratives of the Brady/Patriots Split

There are lots of rumors and reasons for Tom Brady’s departure from New England. So let’s dispute one of the narratives surrounding the Bucs new QB.

Brady In Pocket by Alan Kotok is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Disputing One of the Narratives of the Brady/Patriots Split

Estimated Reading Time: 7 Minutes

There is a lot that’s been said about who is to blame for Tom Brady taking his next snap as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And to be honest, I don’t have a lot more to add here.

My take has always been Brady has every right to say he wants the Patriots to give him $50 million dollars for 2 years guaranteed based on everything he has done, and Belichick has every right to say he doesn’t want to go past a year-to-year pact for a 43-year-old quarterback.

Much like when Dwight Schrute said he thought both Jim and Pam could do better, I think both Belichick and Brady are to blame in some way for what happened. Or you can look at it like neither are to blame and this is what had to happen for both of them. Either way, that’s not what I’m doing here.

What I want to discuss, and more accurately dispute, is the idea the Patriots did SUCH a disservice to Tom Brady with the talent level on the 2019 offense, which motivated the thoughts the Patriots had to prove to Brady things would be handled differently in 2020.

Was the offense mediocre in 2019 and could they have used more weapons? Definitely. But my viewpoint is even though the result wasn’t good, the Patriots process was correct and had been similar to what Pats fans have been seeing and rooting for over many years.

The Draft Picks

Here is what the Patriots have done with the last 4 first-round picks they have had:

The first-round pick is arguably the biggest resource an NFL team has and the last four times the Patriots have used one, it has been for offensive help. Now obviously injuries knocked out half of Harry’s and Wynn’s seasons last year (and all of Wynn’s rookie year), but it can’t be argued that the Patriots have made improving the offense a priority here.

Not to spoil the rest of this, but because the offense was not where it needed to be during the season, the Patriots also traded a 2020 second-round pick for Mohammed Sanu.

The Free Agent WR Fliers

Admittedly, this isn’t a group that should have been seen as potential All-Pro’s, but the idea is by bringing in a group of guys like this the odds are likely of at least one being a productive member of your offense.

Here’s who the Patriots brought in last summer as well as their stats from the previous season to show these were legit NFL players and not complete scrubs:

Now to compare, Chris Hogan’s last season in Buffalo before coming to NE he had 36 rec, 450 yards, 2 TD and he joined the Pats when he was 29.

The idea one of these guys could have become a reliable 4th WR is not outrageous, and probably could have even been expected. But that obviously did not happen.

The Vet Looking For a Ring

You may have forgotten, but the Patriots signed Demaryius Thomas last year, and he actually looked pretty good in the final pre-season game. In kind of a weird situation, the Patriots almost immediately cut him, then brought him back, then traded him when they added another player to the roster (we’ll get to him).

This was somewhat similar to the Joey Galloway, Reggie Wayne, Torry Holt experiments the Pats have tried in the past, but this one might have actually worked if they kept DT as he had 36 rec/433 yards/1 TD for the Jets last season.

That’s pretty much the stat line this team was missing but I also can’t completely fault them for trading an old Honda Accord when they found out a new Ferrari was in their price range, even though the Ferrari has emotional issues.*

*Confession: I do not know anything about cars. I have a Honda Accord and I have seen “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” quite a bit, that’s how I landed on this metaphor. I hope it made sense.

Antonio Brown

This did not work out.

Having said that, I do not blame the Patriots for taking the opportunity to bring in this type of talent and from everything we’ve seen with their social media love affair, it seems like Tom Brady was very much in favor of this.

The Patriots also spent quite a bit of money here that is likely hampering them somewhat this offseason, keeping them from getting more “weapons” for 2020.

I also want to point out that Antonio Brown didn’t become the Antonio Brown people think of now until he was on the Patriots and then much more so after he was released. It feels like people treat the Patriots signing this guy as if he was doing Insta stories with the police the day before he joined the team.

Pre-Patriots Antonio Brown was definitely a diva and arguably a bit of a headcase, but what he did that week he was on the team and after is a whole other brand of, let’s say “distraction”.

The Patriots had acquired immensely talented divas in the past and have had great success there.

This did not work out.

2019 Holdovers

Here were some other pieces on the 2019 team on offense, and I am stressing how many had received a second contract from the Patriots which is as close as saying, “I love you” as it likely gets from Belichick and constitutes a pretty valuable player.

  • Julian Edelman
  • Three starting offensive linemen on their 2nd contract w/ the Pats (Cannon/Mason/Andrews, who was lost for the year in the summer with blood cots)
  • Another starting offensive lineman who was one of the top guards in the NFL (Thuney)
  • The most skilled receiving back Brady has ever had on a 2nd contract (White)
  • A dual-threat RB who received a decent-sized FA contract (Burkhead)
  • One WR with limited talent (Dorsett) and one with limited dependability (Gordon) who had at least earned Brady’s trust, which has become increasingly difficult to get in recent seasons

The Disaster That Is Post-Gronk TE

Here’s where people who push the “no weapons” narrative have a bit of a point. I am an admitted “In Bill We Trust” guy, but even I feel like he effed up here. In 2016, they realized they needed a backup TE due to Gronk’s injury risks and acquired Martellus Bennett. Gronk got hurt for the year, and the Pats still won the Super Bowl with Bennett making big plays in the comeback.

Then they acquired Dwayne Allen for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and while he wasn’t the receiving threat the Pats hoped for, he was a great blocker.

The issue is during those 3 seasons no attention was paid to an eventual future without Gronk. And what happened was the 2019 season saw Gronk retire and the Pats didn’t have the “Gronk insurance” from the past three seasons on the roster.

Here’s a couple of names they brought aboard to replace the best tight end of all-time:

For a guy who was clearly on the 18th hole, Watson was fairly solid. However, the Pats also cut him at one point during the season too, so it’s not like he was indispensable.

I actually think LaCosse would have been a really good 2nd TE if he stayed healthy. The issue was he didn’t and he was asked to be the #1 TE.

The fact we’re almost a week into 2020 Free Agency and the team still doesn’t have an answer at TE is a concern, but that’s for another day.

In Summary

The 2019 Patriots struggled and Tom Brady had one of his worst statistical seasons. This was likely due to the talent and experience among the offensive personnel.

However, to paint this like the Patriots just asked 10 guys from Saugus to show up and relied on Tom Brady’s excellence to carry them to the Super Bowl is being disingenuous.

The Patriots spent multiple first-round picks on the 2019 offense and traded a second-rounder in season for more help.

They signed several free agents that had NFL experience and at least potential to succeed in their system.

They brought aboard aging vets with the idea they had one last round in the chamber.

They signed an All-Pro WR that behaved so erratically the organization had no choice but to release him.

They still had several solid pieces on the team from previous seasons.

What happened was almost all of their additions underperformed, they sustained several injuries to new and returning players and again, the Antonio Brown signing did not work out.

In other words, if you buy everything to make your wife dinner for your 10 year anniversary and you burn it, that’s not the same as forgetting it completely.

And if you’re reading this in Tampa, please tell Tom I love him.

Terry is from Massachusetts and is a passionate fan of the Patriots, Celtics, Red Sox and Bruins. He also will admit he only pays attention to Syracuse basketball when they're good. If there's a Twitter trade rumor even remotely associated with one of his teams, he's likely fallen for it. Finally, he believes 100% that if the Celtics had beaten the Heat in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals they would have swept the Thunder in the Finals.

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