New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady isn’t hiding his ongoing displeasure with this offense – and that’s actually encouraging.
Don’t get mad, get even. Or better yet: get mad, and then get even.
Tom Brady was none too pleased with the state of the New England Patriots offense Sunday night after mustering just 17 points in a narrow win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Never mind that the Patriots played the game on the road in a hostile environment, that the Eagles are a playoff-caliber opponent who came into this matchup leading their division, or that these two teams obviously have some deep-seated history and animosity after meeting not just once but twice now in the Super Bowl.
New England responded well as a team to early adversity after falling behind 10-0 to Philadelphia by the second quarter, rattling off three field goals before a Julian Edelman touchdown throw to Phillip Dorsett on a trick play put the Patriots up for good. Bill Belichick’s defense stiffened down the stretch and frustrated Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz and his injury-ravaged supporting cast for most of the final three quarters, shutting them out and shutting them down.
Judging by Brady’s clipped answers, sullen expression, and dour body language during his postgame presser, however, a casual observer would have thought it was the Eagles and not the Patriots who left Lincoln Financial Field with the ‘W.’
For his part, Brady initially denied that he was upset during his session with the media, claiming instead that he and his teammates were all just “a little tired” after the hard-fought victory over the Eagles, per Bleacher Report’s Scott Polacek. Less than 24 hours later, though, Brady acknowledged during his weekly interview on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” that fatigue wasn’t the only feeling he’d been experiencing on Sunday night.
Here’s some of what he said, via ESPN’s Mike Reiss:
“It’s just frustration with the offense; we’re trying to grind them out. I’m happy we won on the road, but at the same time, I just wish we’d score more points. We have to figure out how we can fix our problems as best we can… As crazy as it sounds, we’re still kind of relatively new; getting familiar with each other on offense.”
It was clear to anyone with eyes and ears that Brady was more upset than he wanted to admit during that victory presser.
His attitude underscored what was once again a relatively disappointing outing for the Patriots offense. Even during the game itself, television cameras frequently caught Brady on the field looking exasperated and perturbed, dropping his chin to his chest in silent reflection while sitting on the sideline bench, and even visibly shaking his head in disgust and frustration at one point when rookie receiver Jakobi Meyers ran the wrong route on a play.
It’s important to acknowledge that this Patriots team is still the third-highest scoring in the NFL currently behind the Ravens and the 49ers. New England is averaging 28.7 points per game, and while some of that number is certainly inflated because of defensive and special teams touchdowns scored earlier this season, the majority of that figure comes courtesy of Brady and the Patriots offense.
There are still dozens of other teams in the NFL that would kill to have an offense like New England’s this season. The problem for Brady, his Patriots teammates, and fans, of course, is that we’re all used to this offense operating at a borderline-unstoppable level. Anything less than lethal, machine-like, scorched-earth-style point-generating seems like a “struggling” operation when you’re the New England Patriots.
Here’s the thing though: we should want Brady just as angry, frustrated, and disappointed as he seems so far this season. Obviously not forever – ideally we want Brady playing from a place of joy and satisfaction, the way he balled out during his 2007 and 2011 campaigns, or the way he played briefly with Antonio Brown in the fold during practices and in the Miami game back in September.
But until we get to that point – until Brady gets back to that point, that is – there’s no better state for TB12 to be in than the one he’s presently occupying.
If Brady wasn’t upset, if he just stood up there in front of the cameras and reporters after a perfectly commendable road victory over a respectable Eagles squad, smiled, blushed, and waved with beaming satisfaction, that would be concerning. Why? Because it would indicate that Brady maybe was starting to do something he’s never done before in his football career: settle.
He’s playing with arguably his best defense ever – certainly his best defense since he first took the NFL by storm during the Patriots’ three-peat in the early 2000s. It would be all too easy for the 42-year-old future Hall of Famer to simply phone it in, manage the game, and let Bill Belichick and his powerful defense do all the heavy lifting. Heck, it might even be enough to garner Brady a seventh Super Bowl title before he inevitably(?) decides to retire one day.
But that’s not Brady. That fire still burns as hot and bright within him now as it first did when he dropped to the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft. He’s mad at himself when he makes mistakes and misses his open receivers, he’s mad at his teammates when they run the incorrect route or drop the easy completion, and he’s mad at the offense in general for failing to execute as well as he knows they all can.
No one is better than Brady at channeling that fury and that passion into success. He can bend all the emotion he’s feeling and redirect it into his game, working all the harder in practices, meetings, and in all aspects of his life so that he can hold himself to a higher standard on Sundays than every other player on the field. It’s what he’s come to expect of himself after 20 years as a professional, and it’s what we’ve all come to expect of him as Patriots fans.
And really, none of us should want to have it any other way.
A pissed-off Brady is the quickest conduit to Brady improving himself and those around him, an improved Brady and an improved offense is the fastest path to surer Patriots victories, and surer Patriots victories lead directly back to a happier Brady. It’s all a circle, a continuous loop really.
Right now, Brady sounds like he’s on the verge of transforming his frustration into action… which is just a short distance away on the circle from winning football games in dramatic and decisive fashion once again. So in actuality, Brady is exactly where he needs to be this time of year – and we should all be thrilled because of it.