The 2013 season ended in defeat for the New England Patriots, and now the team will be evaluating their roster as the draft and free agency are quickly approaching. Over the course of the next few weeks, PatsPulpit will take a look at each key player and review their performance, as well as their role on the Patriots moving forward.
It makes most sense that we start off assessing the leader of the team, Tom Brady.
Tom Brady, QB
At first glance, it looks like Tom Brady had his worst season since his 2006 campaign. He spent a lot of time yelling at his teammates early in the season, and he couldn't even get a high five towards the end.
While it wasn't Brady's best, the statistics most certainly lie in this case. The offense went underwent a total renovation and Brady still managed to lead the team to the AFC Championship, the eighth of his career.
The 36-year-old quarterback posted 25 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, with 4,343 passing yards on a 60.5 completion percentage. Even though the numbers aren't overly impressive, it was how he got there that makes it one of his most remarkable seasons ever.
For one, there was no continuity on offense, outside of wide receiver Julian Edelman. Brady's longtime favorite, Wes Welker, went to Denver, and was replaced by Danny Amendola, who struggled through torn groin muscles throughout the season.
Rob Gronkowski got hurt once again and played for less than half the season, Aaron Hernandez is stuck wearing an orange jumpsuit behind bars, and even Shane Vereen, the Danny Woodhead replacement, spent more than half the season on injured reserve.
Tom Brady has already proven that he is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, and probably could've gotten a pass had he put up subpar numbers, but instead, he continued to show why he's one of the best, leading the charge during three memorable comebacks for the Patriots this season.
The first of which came early in the season against New Orleans, when Brady drove the team 70 yards down the field before throwing the game-winning touchdown in the closing seconds.
But nothing matched what he did versus Denver, when the Patriot trailed 24-0 at halftime. Brady tossed three second-half touchdowns while leading the team on six total scoring drives.
And of course, there was the "two touchdowns in 30 seconds" game versus Cleveland, though quite a bit of luck was involved with this one after the Patriots recovered an onside kick with little time remaining. In any case, Brady's magic never went away, until the team was just overmatched by Denver in the AFC Championship.
Going forward, there's no doubt that Tom Brady is the quarterback of the New England Patriots. If he has regressed at all since it has prime, it has only been minimal. The reason for his drop in production is due to the lack of elite (and healthy) talent surrounding him. If the Patriots have a successful offseason replenishing his weapons, especially at tight end, Brady's numbers should jump back up. There's no doubt that the 2013 season was another A+ year for Brady.