This is not what the New England Patriots offense was supposed to look like.
This season’s version of the Patriots was expected to look different than the 2012 edition. How could it not with key contributors like Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Danny Woodhead gone? But Tom Brady probably never expected this.
Through the first three weeks of the season, Brady’s three leading receivers are Julian Edelman and a pair of rookies, Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson. Entering offseason workouts, there’s no way in a million years that Brady would have guessed they would be his leading receivers not when he had a trio that included Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski and even Aaron Hernandez to rely on.
Since the end of the Patriots’ minicamp in June, though, Brady’s seen first hand how much difference a few months can make. Gronkowski underwent a number of offseason surgeries, Amendola injured his groin in a gutsy performance in Week 1 and Hernandez is, well, gone to put it simply.
Even with all the unexpected adjustments, Brady is keeping positive about the outlook of his offense.
“The expectation is for us to get better and improve,” Brady said on Monday during his weekly segment on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan Morning Show. “The guys that we have are the guys that we’ve practiced with and played with the first three weeks. I mean, look, no one thought Gronk would be out at this point. No one thought what happened with Hernandez would have happened. No one thought Danny would be out. No one thought Shane [Vereen] would be out. There’s kind of some unusual circumstances, but that’s where we’re at, and you know what? We’re 3-0.”
There’s no question that the offense Brady led onto the field on Sunday is far different than what the two-time MVP was expecting heading into this season. Yet, even after a dismal outing against the Jets last week, he seems to be adjusting just fine without Hernandez (who he surprisingly mentioned publicly by name for the first time in months) and the rest of his missing pieces.
Brady guided the Patriots’ offense in an impressive 23-3 win against the Buccaneers on Sunday, completing 25 of 36 passes for 225 yards and a couple touchdowns. After last week’s stinker, Brady and his new stable of weapons seem to have made some big strides through three games.
Gronkowski and Amendola are expected to return in the coming weeks, with Gronk potentially eyeing his first game action in Atlanta this Sunday. Their returns should bring some much-needed stability to the Patriots’ offense, which Brady will no doubt welcome with open arms.
It’s not exactly what he pictured, but this unexpected version of the Patriots’ offense seems to be coming together just fine for Brady after all.