I’m a huge fan of these scrimmages that the New England Patriots have been hosting in practice. It forces the players to adjust to game speed, develops camaraderie, and it’s a way for back-up quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to develop a rapport with the first team receivers prior to the start of the preseason.
It’s also a great time to see quarterback Tom Brady tear it up.
Brady went a perfect 25 for 25 in the preseason scrimmage on Friday with the second team offense, so head coach Bill Belichick added another handicap for Sunday’s scrimmage. Tight end Martellus Bennett and wide receivers Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell flipped to play with Garoppolo, leaving Brady with the likes of tight end A.J. Derby, wide receiver DeAndre Carter, and Steve from Accounting.
Brady’s team won the scrimmage on the back of a last-minute 4th down touchdown pass to Carter and 2-point conversion to Derby.
Monday Morning Quarterback’s Peter King has a couple great quotes about Brady.
“He’s doing what he’s always doing: trying to massacre the defense at every practice,” someone “who knows Brady” told King. “That’s how he feels he gets better.”
King notes that no one sees any difference in Brady this year versus years in the past, which is a great sign. There is no injury looming over Brady with a ticking clock, counting down the life left in his arm. He’s basically plateaued over the past four or five seasons and all signs point to yet another top 3 caliber season.
“[Brady] reminds me of Benjamin Button,” Patriots free safety Devin McCourty told MMQB about the 39-year-old quarterback. “He does not age. I can honestly say there is no difference that I see from Tom now and when I got here.”
McCourty was drafted in the first round of 2010, which was the same year that Brady became the first and only unanimous league MVP after leading the league in touchdown and interception rates. While Brady hasn’t reached that same level of efficiency in the past five years, he has continued to evolve as a player and the offense has grown around him.
That 2010 offense was quietly awful, with Wes Welker returning from an ACL injury, Randy Moss and Deion Branch moved on and off the team (respectively) at midseason, and tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez still rookies. Running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead were #1 and #2 in yards from scrimmage that season.
That season marked the transition from a wide receiver heavy offense to a tight end focus that maximized the usage of the middle of the field- which is where McCourty gets to line up against Brady every day. McCourty has had a front row seat to Brady’s evolution, so I’ll take his word for it.