Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense struggled Sunday in New England’s 17-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
It’s not the first time the unit has stalled, and it might not be the last. The Patriots usually find their way ahead of the NFL playoffs, though, and therefore it’s probably foolish to write off another Super Bowl run based solely on New England’s recent offensive ineptitude.
But why exactly are Brady and Co. sputtering despite New England’s 9-1 record? It depends on who you ask, but Max Kellerman explained Tuesday on ESPN’s “First Take” that he believes the quarterback is more to blame than the Patriots’ lack of offensive weapons, in turn breathing new life into the pundit’s infamous “cliff” take predicting Brady’s downfall.
“To his credit, they’re 9-1. And (Bill) Belichick, yes, and the defense, yes, but game-manager who can take you to 9-1 without offensive weapons, my hat’s off to him,” Kellerman said. “But this is not the guy (Brady has been in recent years) — let’s remember who Brady was when he came into the league: He was a young, pretty strong-armed guy who had that thing about him that you liked but was not gonna beat you. He was going to get you into field goal range at the end so they could kick a field goal and let the defense do the work. Then, over time, and we’ve seen this with other quarterbacks, too, with Belichick, he got to the point where Brady could beat you offensively. Even when the weapons weren’t there, the receivers would turn over, they weren’t studs, running backs would come and go, Brady would be the offensive star. We are past that point now.
“At the end, it looks more like the beginning for Brady, where he is back to being game-manager who really needs the offensive help. I know (offensive lineman) Isaiah Wynn hasn’t been there, (Brady’s) running for his life, he doesn’t have outside speed, all those things are true, and that would help him. But the point is he needs all that stuff now. It’s the circle of life.”
Kellerman pinning the blame on No. 12 didn’t sit well with his ESPN colleagues, Stephen A. Smith and Marcus Spears, both of whom poked holes in the theory. There’s mounting evidence to suggest Brady (finally) has regressed, however, even though it’s coming several years after Kellerman’s initial “cliff” stance.
As such, Kellerman seems to be relishing in Brady’s inconsistency. Which, if history holds true, might simply be a blip on the Patriots’ radar en route to another championship.
Thumbnail photo via James Lang/USA TODAY Sports Images