The Patriots are 9-1, sharing the best record in football. But the New England sky is falling because Tom Brady is unhappy. And Brady is not taking blame for anything regarding the Patriots’ struggling offense. Evidently, we all need to give Tom a hug and tell him it’s not his fault.
Postgame Sunday, Brady looked as if his dog just died. Frowny face. Mr. Mope.
He came to the podium after New England’s 17-10 rock-fight victory over the Eagles and presented like an 8-year-old about to get a flu shot. He took nine questions and delivered nine clipped answers, speaking a total of 130 words in just over 100 seconds.
UNHAPPY TOM BRADY— Scott Sullivan (@SliceOfSully) November 18, 2019
Despite beating the #Eagles 17-10 #GoPats QB @TomBrady not too happy following the game in his shortest postgame press conference of season lasting less than 2 minutes. #WBZ #Brady #Pats #Patriots #EaglesPatriots #eaglestwitter #eaglesvspatriots #EaglesNation pic.twitter.com/QNNNHRqRra
There had never been anything like it with Brady, certainly not after a victory. When ESPN’s Mike Reiss asked Brady if he’s discouraged, Brady answered, “Well, we just played for three hours. So I think everybody is a little tired.’’
Sunday’s ugly victory yielded to Monday’s paralyzing analysis regarding the state of the Patriots offense and Brady reaching his limit of frustration.
Under siege for most of the game, Brady threw for only 216 yards, completing 26 of 47 attempts with zero touchdowns. He had 14 incompletions in the first half, a personal worst. The offensive line continues to be a hot mess. New England rushed 22 times for 74 yards. Julian Edelman dropped a touchdown pass. Jakobi Meyers turned the wrong way on a route, and Brady gave him a prolonged stink-eye. The Patriots punted on each of their last six possessions, including three three-and-outs. They couldn’t even run out the clock to end the game.
When asked if he’s concerned, Brady said, “I don’t think it matters what I think. It matters what we do.’’
Brady was back with a few more words early Monday when he called into WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show,” fulfilling a contractual obligation he’s had since he became a starter two decades ago.
Hill started by telling Brady that it looked like the QB needed a hug after Sunday’s game. Then he asked if this was the most frustrated Brady had been after a win.
“I don’t know,’’ Brady started. “I think I’m always generally frustrated during football season . . . so, yeah . . . I was very happy we won. But I just wish we played better offensively. You have to go do it. I don’t think it’s about talking about it, it’s about doing it and trying to get the best we can out of our offense to see if we can be more productive and score more points.’’
Hill followed with, “You’re a really competitive guy, and I’m sure some of that was frustration with yourself.’’
Brady wasn’t biting.
“It’s just frustration with the offense,’’ he said. “Just trying to grind them out. I am happy we won on the road, but at the same time, I just wish we’d score more points.’’
It was an uncharacteristic pivot for Brady.
The GOAT looks unusually skittish in the pocket. He’s giving up on plays early. There are a lot of balls drilled into the feet of receivers or sailing out of bounds. Nineteen of his 26 completions were passes of 5 yards or less. Pitch-and-catch stuff. Some might take this as an indication that Brady is finally looking 42 years old. But Tom’s not having that. He’s not owning any of this. He’s unhappy with his protection and his receivers, and he’s not saying anything remotely resembling, “I could do better.’’
This feels different. Un-Patriot-like. In bad moments, Bill Belichick will always deliver a standard, “We need to coach better.” Brady is not doing this. He sounds like a man who is fed up.
“It could be a lot of different things at a lot of different times,’’ Brady told Hill. “I think guys are giving good effort, trying to do the right thing and so forth. Guys are battling injuries. But we’ve just got to try to take these opportunities when we get them.
“We had some opportunities with some short fields and didn’t necessarily execute as well as we could. We’re just going to have to try to find ways to play better.”
Second-year tackle Isaiah Wynn is scheduled to return Sunday when the Patriots play the Cowboys at Gillette Stadium. It’s supposed to be a big fix, even though the oft-injured Wynn has only two games of NFL experience. Brady no doubt will welcome the help.
“We’re just not doing a good enough job to consistently move the ball down the field and score points,’’ said the QB. “I don’t think that’s saying anything that’s not pretty obvious when you’re watching. We’ll just try to get back to work and try to find some solutions and see if we can do better.
“I don’t want to make a bunch of predictions, saying, ‘We’ll go do this, and we’ll do that.’ It comes down to all of us doing it and not speaking about it, but actually going out and doing it.
“We’re 9-1, and hopefully we can keep learning and growing. As crazy as it sounds, we’re still kind of a relatively new . . . getting familiar with each other on offense, and we’re going to have to play our best football as we go forward.
“I think that we’re just going to have to try to maximize what our potential is . . . and we’re going to try to score as many points as we can.’’
Brady stayed on the line with Hill and friends for almost 20 minutes. When it was over, cohost Danielle Murr said, “That was like the therapy scene out of ‘Good Will Hunting’ when they keep saying, ‘It’s not your fault.’ ’’
OK. It’s not your fault, Tom.
Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org