Tommy football is back baby, tearing up the league one week at a time.
The Patriots managed to squeak out a 3-1 record without Tom Brady thanks to the contributions of second string quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and third string quarterback Jacoby Brissett. LeGarrette Blount took most of the workload as the Patriots ran a ground attack scheme in the 4 weeks Brady was absent. But now that Brady’s back, its bad news for the rest of the league.
Despite what Belichick says, everyone on that team, including the coaches, are ecstatic that Brady is back. I guess you can say that the fans are a little excited too. But Brady took the field last week in Cleveland, and performed as well as he ever has. Brady threw for 406 yards, 3 touchdowns, and completed 28/40 pass attempts ( 70 % ). His performance earned him AFC player of the week for the 26th time in his career, and New England left Cleveland with a 33-13 win, improving to 4-1 on the season.
After the game Tom was asked about his performance, and his response was classic Tom Brady.
“I think there was plenty of rust out there. I can do better in a lot of areas.”
Its hard to imagine Tom had any rust after his stellar performance, but if this Tom’s version of rusty, its hard to imagine what he’ll be doing in a few weeks. Brady clearly was motivated to be back, as his emotions were very present during the game. The Browns picked a bad week to play the Patriots, and Brady let them know why.
Belichick made it clear in his press conference after the game that there would be no dwelling on the game or Brady’s performance, as he usually does. The only thing Belichick had to say, was that the Patriots “were on to Cincinnati”. It would be the homecoming of Brady, and the Patriots were playing a Bengals team that was predicted to give the Patriots the most trouble in the AFC.
The crowd at Foxboro was electric as always, but was understandably louder than normal with the return of Brady. The Patriots were coming off a great win with a huge game from Martellus Bennett ( 6 receptions, 67 yards, 3 touchdowns ), and had a big conference game at home.
Tom Brady started out slow because of the Bengals aggressive pass rush, but eventually found his groove. Brady ended up throwing for 376 yards, completed 29/35 of his passes ( 83% ), and threw for 3 touchdowns in the Patriots 35-17 win. Brady went his second straight week without committing a turnover, and the Patriots as a team, haven’t committed a turnover since his return.
Gronk broke out having a monster game, piling up 162 yards on 7 receptions, and had a touchdown to go with it. It was Gronk’s first touchdown of the year, and and his career high in receiving yards.
The Patriots were very good without Brady, but now that he’s back, he’s bringing out the best in every player, and the Patriots should be scaring every other team in the league.
The Patriots defense currently ranks as the second best defense in the league, holding opponents to only 15.2 points a game. The special teams efficiently currently ranks as the best in the league, and the running game is as strong as ever. LeGarrette Blount has already run for 439 yards, and punched in 6 touchdowns. As if the run game wasn’t already flourishing, James White has stepped up as a versatile offense weapon behind Blount, raking in 2 touchdowns in Sunday’s win over Cincinnati.
Another reason to be scared? Dion Lewis, who was easily one of the best running back in the league last year ( while he was healthy ) is expected to make a return in the next few weeks. He will be taken off the PUP list soon, and will most likely suit up shortly after.
The defense also got Rob Ninkovich back in week 4 and has made his presence visible on the field. The newly acquired Chris Long has been dominant at defensive end, and the tandem of Hightower and Collins at linebacker is deadly. Not to mention the recent play of Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan at cornerback. The defense is as strong as ever, the special teams unit is the most efficient in the league, and the offense just got arguably the best quarterback to ever play back, and he’s playing angry. The Patriots have too many offensive weapons to be stopped, and some aren’t even back yet. Its hard to imagine the Patriots will be slowed down at any point this year.
Brady ranks first amongst all active quarterback in yards per game, completion percentage, touchdowns per game, and quarterback rating. But then again, he’s still a little “rusty”.
These are early signs of a Super Bowl winning team, and the league should take notice. The Patriots, who were already great, are only getting better every week, and show no signs of slowing down. Tom Brady is back, and the Patriots are rolling. Hopefully this momentum can carry them to the Super Bowl, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
So a message to the rest of the NFL; good luck, you’ll need it.