Tom Brady was very realistic in his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan. He didn’t try to act like the Patriots could fire on all cylinders until all the injured pieces are back on offense.
New England was missing Stevan Ridley, Rob Gronkowski and Shane Vereen on Sunday. They won’t be getting Vereen back until Week 11, so the Patriots’ offense won’t be complete until Nov. 18. And who knows whether everyone can stay healthy until that date.
“We’ve missed Danny for most of the season. We’ve missed Gronk for most of the season. We missed Shane for most of the season,” Brady said on WEEI. “So, those are some pretty good players that we depended on going into the season to play a big role. And the fact of the matter is they haven’t been out there. Those other guys are forced to do more and they’ve done a great job with it. We need to all get on the same page and we really haven’t had a practice where we’ve had our whole offense out there yet. We gotta do that first of all and see what we can really do.”
Brady understands that it will be a grind without those starters in the offense. Against teams with weaker defenses like Atlanta, it shouldn’t be a problem for the Patriots to move the ball. But against a team like the Bengals, it proved to be nearly impossible.
“Part of it is establishing what we do well and trying to figure out the things that we can end up doing in critical situations when we need it the most, that we have confidence in,” Brady said. “We’re still trying to find those things and hopefully once some guys get healthy, that will give us a little margin for error because we’ll have some real physical mismatches out there. Until that happens, we’re going to have to continue doing what we can to grind it out and be as consistent as we can be.”
Brady doesn’t have a better idea than anyone else when Gronkowski will be back. But the All-Pro tight end is the most impressive physical mismatch the Patriots have. Gronkowski contributes in the pass and run game, so both facets of the offense should improve once he returns.
“I have no idea. I kind of wait and see like everyone else. It’s not my decision,” Brady said. “The guys that I’m out there with I have plenty of confidence in. Whatever role anyone plays is really up to them and the way they feel. We haven’t had him all year, we haven’t had him all spring. So we’ve had plenty of practices without him. But our overall execution needs to be a lot better regardless of who’s out there.”
Players like Aaron Dobson, LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden should continue to improve as they fill in for the injured starters. That should only help the team later in the season when all the playmakers return. Until then, it could be a tough go for New England’s offense.