In a few months, after Tom Brady has returned from his four-game suspension, nobody will remember how bad the New England Patriots’ offense looked with him at the helm for most of the preseason.
The preseason doesn’t matter, we all get it. Especially when injuries mean you’re working with a skeleton crew. But they do play the games, so there has to be some minor meaning to what happens in August. And there’s no denying that the Patriots’ offense has not been great this month while Brady has been leading it.
This is the same guy who orchestrated maybe the greatest fourth quarter in Super Bowl history in his last game that mattered, leading a great comeback against the Seattle Seahawks’ tremendous secondary. So it’s mostly inconsequential how he played while most of the football nation was enjoying its Friday night and not analyzing the Patriots on the Internet feed of a meaningless game at Carolina. Right?
In the first preseason game, Brady went 1-of-4 for 10 yards before he got the hook.
In the second preseason game, Brady got three series, and didn’t produce one first down before Jimmy Garoppolo came in and played the bulk of the game.
Brady was stuck on 13 yards passing until a little more than two minutes remained in the half. He threw a bad interception in the middle of the field when Panthers safety Kurt Coleman read him and stepped in front of a pass. Then in the two-minute drill, Brady finally got rolling. He had 71 passing yards on the final drive of the half, hitting Danny Amendola for a nice 25-yard gain and Scott Chandler for a beautiful touch pass 18-yard touchdown.
Before that, the Patriots’ offense was stuck. The Patriots got 117 yards and seven first downs in the first half, and 80 yards and five of those first downs came on the final drive of the half. At least they came up with something positive before they were done the third preseason game, which is generally the dress rehearsal for the starters.
Injuries and lineup issues have played a huge part in the August issues, obviously. One of the reasons the Patriots signed veteran Reggie Wayne was that they’re so thin at receiver. Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell and Rob Gronkowski were all out on Friday, for various reasons. Carolina’s offense wasn’t much better on Friday night because its receivers were bad and Corey Brown had his issues with dropped passes, but there’s not much help on the way for the Panthers. The Patriots will get their weapons back soon, so it should be OK.
Brady gave way to Garoppolo to start the second half. Depending on what the Patriots do with Brady next week — he didn’t play at all in the fourth preseason game last year — it might be the last time we see Brady on a field for a while.
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