Tom Brady’s attention has been inward since Thursday night when his neck veins had their star turn on national television.
Speaking Monday morning on WEEI, Brady soothed any feelings he hurt during the Patriots ugly win over the Jets by assuming his share of blame when things go sideways offensively.
“I’m not making all the right plays, either,” Brady said. “It’s not like the rookie receivers are messing up all the time -- no, not at all. Look, I’ve been really able to count on those guys. They’ve done an incredible job. I think we’ve got to improve in all aspects of our offense, and that will hopefully remove some of the burden that is fallen on the receivers right now. We have a lot of veteran players that aren’t playing right now, too, that if they were playing, the burden would be spread around to different guys who have actually been able to, would shoulder a lot of that responsibility that’s now fallen on the younger players.”
Brady’s engine was running hot when he hit the field Thursday night. You could tell from his reactions to the first couple of misses -- scolding Julian Edelman for not working outside on a short dig route, angry at himself for missing Edelman on a double-move -- that he was a little wild-eyed. And it only got tougher as Aaron Dobson had four drops, Kenbrell Thompkins had one, and there were perceived misreads on several routes.
After Thursday’s game, Brady noted he needs to do a better job with his non-verbal signs. And verbal signs. And show some patience lest he crush young spirits.
“The younger players are doing a great job,” Brady insisted. “They’re working really hard. Their attitude is great. It’s been fun to work with them. Hopefully it all pays off in November and December when if we can ever get to a point where we have a lot of our guys back and healthy and playing really well.”
That would be the plan.
That Aaron Hernandez sits in jail on a murder charge is the most significant hit to this Patriots offense. His versatility in where he could line up and the need for a defense to devote 1.5 players to covering him is beyond replicating.
His absence is more significant than Rob Gronkowski’s, a fact of life the team got used to down the stretch last year. Combined though, not having either player must make Brady feel like he’s stepping into the ring being told he can’t throw a jab.
But Brady realizes that, while he can get exasperated -- Peyton Manning looked on several occasions Sunday as if he smelled bad gas after Wes Welker drops -- furious is a bad look.
“I think it's just overall important to show poise and to really -- my level of frustration, yeah, everyone gets frustrated when things don't go right," he said. "And I'm frustrated when the coaches are frustrated and other players are frustrated. I think being frustrated is one thing, letting that affect how you play is another. And I don't really want it to affect how we play, and that goes for everybody. You can't reflect negatively too long on what happened because it will affect what's going to happen."
In the end, Thompkins and Dobson will be better later because they are going through this now. Their rate of improvement is going to increase because it has to -- they are doing and not watching. But it won’t be angst-free for a while.