There was once a dream that was Rome. You could but whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish. It was so fragile.....
I remember Super Bowl XXXVIII (38). I remember it because for me it was the crowning achievement for Tom Brady. He threw for over 350 yards. He had 3 touchdown passes. And he was cool and calm for most of the day save for one interception.
I remember a team that had defense too. Cornerstones who made their presence felt. But I'm getting off subject here. The last 2 Super Bowl winning quarterbacks have referenced one man. Sighting that they too are just as good as Tom Brady. And truthfully for that fateful moment they have been as good as Tom was. Skillful, masterful, efficient, cool and collected. Sticking the dagger in you and watching your eyes roll back as you knew, it was over for you.
I remember that Tom Brady. I remember the man who confidently guided the offense in a time of great need to the goal that every true football fan dreams of. Or at least I hope they do. A championship. The iron clad destination where few ever tread more than once. And even fewer ever achieve.
I find it interesting that neither Joe Flacco, nor Eli Manning reference Peyton Manning. The man they put out there was Thomas Brady. There was no mention of Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or Kurt Warner either. They both said Tom Brady. I find that to be VERY significant. Even in the face of spying tactics. They both still said Tom Brady.
For me each football season reminds me that Tom, for all that he has done, has not been able to win another title. And there are many reasons why he has not. The Patriots defense does not intimidate any more. The once solid unit now has plenty of youth and questions surrounding it. At times they are slow everywhere. They lack play makers. And they have yet to claim their standing TRULY as a team. There are times I feel as though they are out there on name only. They don't carry themselves with the knowledge and confidence of a championship team.
The offense has relied on Tom. And their best offensive play maker, Rob Gronkowski, has sat out key games with ankle and arm injuries. The running game has relied on backs that are decent, but young. The line, for my money, could use more players like Marcus Cannon. A behemoth who can move opposing players out of the way.
Another factor is that the receivers for most of Tom's career have been below 6 feet. Moss, Donte Stallworth, Jabar Gaffney, Aaron Hernandez, and Gronk have had good height for Tom. If I have missed anyone, I apologize. This season, Tom will have the tallest group of receivers he's ever had. Kenbrell Thompkins, Zac Sudfeld, and Aaron Dobson present good height. And they can compete for passes thrown their way. They won't be pushed around like Deion Branch could be at times. They can all sky to get the ball when it is thrown towards them. Even Josh Boyce can be competitive at 5'11. Something which he was good at in college.
But with the expectation to win or come close to winning it all every year, I often look at the season as a formality. Not because New England is just that good. But more do to the fact that during the season they play very well. Almost too well. When the playoffs roll around there is some flaw that has always been there that pops up again. Like an offense that has to outscore its opponents. A defense that is incomplete. Or a team that flat out misses its opportunities.
I do not look at each season as if Tom is running out of time. I look at each new season as an opportunity to step up. The clock has been ticking for a long time. And the reason why it is ticking louder for some Patriots fans is because the success of the franchise has everything to do with Tom Brady's presence.
For me, I'd like the efficient Tom Brady to come back. I want him to resurface during playoff time. That in part would go a long way towards the team playing better on offense. He needs to take less risks than he has over the last few seasons in such situations. There have been time he has played like he needs to do it all. NO NFL quarterback can do that during the playoffs.