Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have looked like one of the best teams in the NFL over the first half of the season while cruising to a 6-2 record and the first place in the NFC South. His former team, meanwhile, has struggled: after losing four games in a row, the New England Patriots are sitting at 2-5 and facing an uphill climb to win their 12th straight division title or even position themselves to make a run at a wild card playoff spot.
When asked about the Patriots’ struggles during a recent media conference call, however, Brady would not touch the topic or stir up any controversy.
“I have a lot of relationships with a lot of teammates, so I wish everybody the best all of the time,” the future Hall of Famer said. “I don’t ever wish for anyone not to perform at their best and so forth. I certainly wish for our team to play the best. Maybe the only team I don’t root for is the team we’re playing on that particular Sunday.
“Other than that, it’s about us being the best we can be. It’s working hard every day to put ourselves in a great position to be successful. Like I was saying, there is no shortcut to that. You’ve got to put the work in; everybody has to be selfless. This is about what our team is trying to achieve. We’ve got a great opportunity Sunday night to face a team that already beat us in Week 1. It’s a very talented team in all phases and we’re going to have to play a great game to beat them.”
This is, of course, a predictable answer from a player famous for regularly revealing as little as possible in his interviews. This is just how Brady operates, even if it may be disappointing for those parts of the national and local media who are searching for saucy headlines and a chance to compare him and ex-coach Bill Belichick at every turn.
Since leaving New England as a free agent this offseason after 19 years and six Super Bowl wins with the organization, Brady has shown no signs of slowing down. Playing at an MVP-level, he has completed 66.2 percent of his pass attempts for 2,189 yards as well as 20 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Along the way, he was also named the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Month for October.
For comparison, the Patriots’ quarterback room has experienced some major struggles. With Cam Newton as the starter, and backups Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer also filling in on occasion, the position has combined to complete 63.5 percent of throws for a total of 1,397 yards, three touchdowns and 11 interceptions. While the unit did have its moments, consistency and turnovers have been an issue.
Newton and New England’s quarterback position as a whole will have their next chance to improve those numbers on Monday: the Patriots will take on the winless New York Jets on prime time. Brady and the Buccaneers, meanwhile, will go up against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night in a pivotal game in the race for the NFC South.