I’ve always seen Tom Brady as a perfectionist to a point. He’s not the kind of perfectionist that isn’t ever satisfied with his work or the fruits of his labor. He is the kind of perfectionist that is never completely satisfied with his or his team’s progress to their craft: the game of football.
Brady has quarterbacked the New England Patriots to five Super Bowl appearances and three wins. Those wins, however, were in Brady’s first three Super Bowls and his last two, both losses to the New York Giants, have had their own unique sting to them. The first loss prevented the Patriots from becoming the first 19-0 team in the history of the NFL while the second was the Patriots’ chance at revenge, and they blew it. What both games have in common is that Brady and the Patriots’ offense played one of their least productive games of their respective seasons in these Super Bowl losses. That is something that no doubt has stayed with Brady, especially with the second Super Bowl loss coming just last season.
A big factor surrounding the Patriots’ offense and their chances to win it all is tight end Rob Gronkowski being out of the season after re-injuring his forearm last week when he came down on it attempting to make a catch. Gronkowski has become one of Brady’s favorite targets over the past few seasons and one of the best tight ends in pro football during the same time.
Luckily for Brady, he’s got plenty of talent and plenty of targets to throw to. There’s Gronkowski’s replacement, Arron Hernandez, who has become a very good tight end in his own right. There’s Shane Vereen, who came up big last week with a huge day that included two touchdown catches, one of them being a 33-yard diving catch. There’s Wes Welker, Brady’s favorite target and possibly the most reliable receiver across the middle in pro football. And any member of the Patriots’ running attack has shown to be a decent enough target for short or swing passes when needed.
No doubt that Brady is in the downswing of his career, the apex having come during that undefeated season that was spoiled in the Super Bowl. That is part of the reason that Brady seems driven to get another ring: that father time’s countdown clock is ticking for him. And even though the Patriots do appear to be a team that could be in the Super Bowl discussion for each of the next few seasons, strike when the iron is hot is something that any pro franchise has to do when a potential championship is in their sights.
And maybe part of it is Brady knowing that this team has the tools to win a championship. The fact that they are so close to a second straight Super Bowl appearance demonstrates that, but there are other indications. For starters, the Patriots’ running attack has become a very real asset to their offense, almost guaranteeing victory for their team when they can run for 150 yards as a team. Even last week without Danny Woodhead, the Patriots’ running attack had no problem functioning the same as it has for most of the season: with efficiency and effectiveness. I’ve already gone over Brady’s deep receiving core. Then on defense, the Patriots have gotten better against the run this season and though they still give up plenty of yards through the air, they’ve made enough big plays, made enough key stops, and forced enough turnovers in key situations that it hasn’t killed them yet.
For the Patriots and for Brady, this seems to be a good time to win one more if this team is going to win one more while Brady is their quarterback. It’s almost fitting that the Patriots would have to go a familiar foe in a rematch from one year ago if they are to get to another Super Bowl.