Good news, everyone: I think Bill Belichick finally figured out why the 2013 Patriots have been so inconsistent.
It's not because of the injuries. It's not because of all of the rookies. It's not because of how many players the team lost to free agency and violent crimes. And it's for sure not because of some ridiculous push rule that will likely only be called once all season. No...the reason for the up and down year so far are much simpler than that.
Tom Brady hasn't been on the injury report.
Anybody who has been a Patriots fan for the past decade or so got very, very used to seeing the words "Tom Brady," "Shoulder," and "Limited" on the New England weekly injury report. It was the Bill Belichick injury equivalent of "they do a lot of things well," and became more or less a staple of pregame routine. We all know the drill by now: Brady's right shoulder, his throwing shoulder, has been giving him problems, and so the coaching staff has decided to limit his practice reps and keep him fresher for game day.
However, for some unknown reason, we haven't seen Tommy B's name on the injury report since Week 16 of last year, which may go a long way towards describing what has been transpiring over the past 10 months or so around Patriots Nation. There are certain things that you just get used to, and to suddenly remove them from the equation is to play with fire. Who knows how deep this lack of injury reporting goes! Is Brady's shoulder responsible for Wes Welker leaving? Maybe. Is Brady's shoulder responsible for Gronk's setbacks? It's possible. Was Brady's shoulder responsible for Vereen, Wilfork, Mayo, Talib, and Amendola getting hurt? We may never know.
But good news, folks: the wrong has been righted. All is once again well in Patriots Nation, because Tom Brady was officially limited in practice today and was placed on the injury report with a right shoulder issue. So let's all relax and breathe a nice sigh of relief. Looks like things are finally returning to normal. The ship has been righted.
Unless, of course, this is the one time in the past eight years it isn't just a matter of resting Brady's arm as the season wears on and there really is a cause for concern. In that case, let's all get ready to panic.