Last Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, we saw the end of Tom Brady’s 52-game streak of throwing at least one touchdown.
To date, he ranks 17th among quarterbacks in passing yards (1,211), 16th in touchdowns (seven), 27th in completion percentage (56.6) and 22nd in QB rating (80.5).
Worse yet, Brady is only averaging 6.18 yards per attempt, good enough for 31st in the league.
Take into account that Brady is 36 years old and it’s easy to assume he is entering a career decline.
But to put this simply, no, this isn’t the end of Brady’s reign as one of the elite – if not the most elite – quarterback in the game.
When it comes to his teammates this season, though, he’s been dealt a particularly tough hand, starting with the loss of Wes Welker to Denver before it even began.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski has been recovering from multiple surgeries and is almost ready to return, but his absence has been even more significant with his counterpart, Aaron Hernandez, spending his time in prison.
Danny Amendola, signed to be Wes Welker Light, has been dealing with injuries of his own, which is nothing new for him.
Shane Vereen is out as well and Stevan Ridley, who many believe to be better anyway, has been spending much of his time in Bill Belichick’s dog house.
Anyone else left on the field for the Patriots – Kenbrell Thompkins, Julian Edelman, etc. – has mostly been a disappointment, plaguing the offense with drops.
And to put it all in perspective, Gerry Callahan of the Boston Herald writes that Brady has not played one down this season with any of his top five receivers from 2012. That means he’s been missing 338 of his 401 completions and 29 of his 34 touchdown passes from last season.
As is the case with any quarterback, he is truly only as good as his receivers allow him to be. Tom Brady has built a stellar career out of making everyone around him better, but even he has limits.
That’s not to say that Brady hasn’t had problems of his own too. At times, he is unsure in this revamped offense, perhaps unraveled by the fact that this is completely unknown territory for him. But even if that’s not the case, even if there isn’t some deeper meaning other than he just had a bad game against the Bengals, then that’s fine too. Even the best are afforded a mulligan or two in a season.
The man has weapons, and they will all be together at the same time soon. The Patriots are quietly 4-1, biding their time until they can field the team they envisioned in the offseason.
Tom Brady isn’t done, and he isn’t going anywhere.