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    dan shaughnessy

    It’s Tom Brady ... and not much more

    Tom Brady yelled in frustration after one of his passes fell incomplete.
    Jim Rogash/Getty Images
    Tom Brady yelled in frustration after one of his passes fell incomplete.

    FOXBOROUGH — Dropped balls. Poorly run routes. Penalties. Reviews. Interminable commercial breaks. Eleven Patriot punts. The Patriots converting four of 18 third downs. Tom Brady’s worst game in at least four years. Frustration bubbling over.

    It’s like Gisele says, Tom cannot throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time. He looks like he’s reached his boiling point as Bob Kraft and Bill Belichick ask him to throw passes to Marky Mark and The Funky Bunch.

    The Patriots staggered and sloshed to a 13-10 victory over the Jets Thursday night. It was virtually unwatchable professional football. In the words of my new favorite Twitter friend, it was like watching a start by Daisuke Matsuzaka. Brady completed only 19 of 39 passes for 185 yards. It was his first sub .500 percentage game since 2009.


    Tom was unusually demonstrative throughout the night. He was John Lackey-like (circa 2011). He was clearly frustrated with his young receivers. Brady put his hands to his helmet after one blown route. He did a lot of yelling.

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    “It’s unrealistic for them to think they can do it like 10-year veterans,’’ said Brady. “That’s not what they are. They’re great kids and we just have to keep battling.’’

    And the histrionics?

    “I think I have to do a better job with my body language,’’ Brady acknowledged. “I definitely can improve that. I wouldn’t say it’s real strong right now.’’

    No. Not at all.


    Belichick came to Brady’s defense.

    “Tom’s the best leader I’ve ever been around,’’ said Belichick. “I wouldn’t be too critical of him.’’

    OK, we won’t. But here’s a little hyperbole for you: The 2013 Patriots look like the worst 2-0 team in the history of football. “The Waltz of the Tomato Cans” is playing over the loudspeaker at Gillette. Again. The locals are artificially inflated by the incompetence of their division opponents. Again.

    The 2013 home opener was primarily about Missing Persons. It was about the people who were not there more than it was about the people who were.

    You know who.


    Wes Welker, the guy who’s missed three games since 2004, was not there. He was a wiseguy, made too much money, and plays for the Broncos.

    Aaron Hernandez was not there. He spent the night where he spends all his nights, in an 8-by-12 foot cell at the Bristol County House of Correction and Jail in North Dartmouth.

    Rob Gronkowski was not in uniform. He’s still recovering from surgery and we don’t know when we’ll see him.

    Rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld was not in uniform. He’s got a hamstring pull and will have to wait another week before he joins Russ Francis and Ben Coates as all-time Patriots greats.

    Danny Amendola wasn’t dressed for action, either. He suffered a groin pull in the first half of Sunday’s season-opening victory at Buffalo, came back to save the game in the second half, but was listed as “inactive” Thursday. Ian Rappaport of the NFL Network reported Amendola could miss up to six weeks. It needs to be stated that Amendola — the replacement for Welker — has missed 21 of his last 34 NFL games.

    None of it matters, of course. Not now. Not in the Powder Puff Division.

    “It wasn’t easy out there,’’ Belichick said after the sloppy win. “It’s early in the season. We’ll see. Keep grinding it out. Keep playing and get better. I thought we competed well as a football team. Everything we did wasn’t perfect, that’s for sure . . . We ran what we know how to run. We’ve got to do it a little bit better. It was what it was. We made enough to win, but we’re going to have to keep making more than that.’’

    “I’m glad we won, but we obviously have a lot of room for improvement,’’ said Brady.

    Is he frustrated?

    “I think everybody was,’’ said the quarterback. “When you don’t execute the way you want to execute. We have a long way to go. No one’s coming to the rescue to save the day. We’ve got to fight through it. Do better and be more consistent and score more points.’’

    Does it really matter? Not until January. Remember when Moses Malone said he could take four guys from his hometown in Petersburg, Va., and beat the Celtics? That’s pretty much what we have here. In 2006, Brady went 12-4 throwing to Jabar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell. Now he’s got Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins. And Julian Edelman — who caught a whopping 13 passes Thursday.

    These games are a cruel trick. The Patriots beat everybody in their division because they play in a hideous division. Imagine Belichick being fed rookie quarterbacks in the first two games of the season?

    The Patriots win and we have no measure of their ability. We know where they are going. They are going to win the bottom-feeder AFC East. Again. And then they are going to play a real team in January and then all the conversation about Brady’s weapons (or lack of weapons) will be relevant.

    Brady’s athletic biological clock (colleague Christopher L. Gasper came up with that one) is ticking. It’s hard not to think that this could be a wasted season in the career of one of the NFL’s all-time great quarterbacks.

    Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @dan_shaughnessy.