Going into the season, we knew Tom Brady might struggle a bit in light of the major offensive overhaul the New England Patriots opted for in the offseason. I doubt that anyone thought he would struggle this much though. Just about halfway in, Brady is on track for possibly the worst season of his entire career. He’s sporting a 75.3 QB rating, under 80 for the first time since he became a starter in 2001. He’s thrown only eight touchdowns to go along with five interceptions just a year after throwing 34 TD’s and only eight picks. Say what you like but there was no way of knowing things would be this rough.
It’s unfair to put all the blame on Brady, and in reality most of it doesn’t actually belong with him. His 55.4 completion percentage (also the lowest of his career) can be largely attributed to a horrendous number of drops by his rookie receivers, Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson. With Danny Amendola predictably getting hurt in the very first game of the season, the two were thrust into the spotlight and asked to carry the load. Not to make excuses, but that’s a tough onus to place on two guys with no experience at this level. The growing pains have been significant and thus they haven’t been nearly good enough for Brady to count on. So with the situation being what it is, Brady’s struggles are understandable.
If you think that Brady has just lost it this season, then you’ve lost it completely. One-in-a-million players like him don’t just lose their talent all of a sudden. No, Brady’s struggles are the result of getting little-to-no help from his receiving corps for most of this season. The good news is that his numbers can’t get any worse and actually there is reason to believe they might get a whole lot better in the very near future.
Last week the Patriots finally got something they’d been waiting anxiously for the whole season — the return of a healthy Rob Gronkowski. Gronk didn’t play a full compliment of snaps, but when he was on the field it was if he and Brady hadn’t skipped a beat. He was targeted a whopping 17 times on just 51 snaps and with his game-legs back, he’ll now resume his full-time duties as Brady’s go-to. No team has ever really been able to stop the two of them from making sweet music together, so they should now pick up right where they left off.
The glass-like Amendola is also expected to return to the field this week after missing last week with a concussion. Amendola has so far been a complete non-factor but that’s only because he’s barely played at all. If he can stay upright he’s going to be Brady’s second-favourite target and he’s shown himself to be incredibly effective when healthy throughout his career.
This Sunday, Brady will have all of his main weapons on the field at the same time, healthy and at his disposal for the first time this season. That makes this an incredibly important game for fantasy owners to take note of because the implication will be significant one way or the other. Either Brady will continue to struggle and it will become abundantly clear that he doesn’t have a shot at returning to elite-status this season, or with all the pieces in place he’ll put the puzzle together and show us the kind of performance we’ve come to expect from him.
My hunch is that the latter is going to happen and he’ll finally give his owners something to smile about. It’s a situation to keep a very close eye on because a good game would likely just be the start of a long string of them. Brady gets a fresh start this week and much better days could lie ahead.