Hannable: This is Patriots’ reality, Tom Brady is not right

Ryan Hannable
December 23, 2018 - 7:24 pm

Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports

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FOXBORO — Something has seemed off with Tom Brady the last few weeks.

It began at the end of the first half in Miami three weeks ago when after a touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski, he dropped to the ground on the field and adjusted his knee brace appearing to be in some pain. He chalked that up to an equipment issue, but he wasn’t the same after that in the game.

Last week in Pittsburgh, Brady appeared to be avoiding contact more than usual, especially on the final play of the game when he faded to his left while throwing, except there wasn’t a player within four yards of him.

Then came this Sunday against the Bills when the 41-year-old couldn’t even make his pregame jog to the opposite end of the field for his customary fist pump. Brady didn’t even get past the 30-yard line before he stopped and began his warmup session.

The game itself wasn’t any better, as Brady was 13-for-24 passing with 126 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions for a quarterback rating of 48.3, his lowest ever in a win. The first half was one of his worst statistical halves of his career, going 7-for-13 with 40 yards and an interception for a 27.7 QB rating.

Finally, Brady was removed from the game in favor of Brian Hoyer with 6:39 left and the Patriots leading 24-6. It usually takes more than a 18-point lead and less than seven minutes to go typically to get Brady out of a game. Heck, the Patriots were up 37-0 in the fourth quarter against the Dolphins in Week 4 and Brady was still in the game passing.

Overall, the game was the same as the last few weeks — lots of avoiding contact and not stepping into throws like we’ve seen for the last 18 years.

The eye-test says something is up with Brady, likely his left knee. That was the knee he was working on in Miami, and that is the same leg he steps into with his throws — something that has been missing the last several weeks.

Naturally, Brady was asked about it after the game.

“I feel great. I feel 100 percent,” he said, while also saying an injury did not force him to leave the game with 6:39 left.

While Brady wasn’t on the injury report this past week, or the week leading into the Pittsburgh game, he was with a knee injury heading into the Miami game, and the two games before that. The quarterback first found himself on the injury report after the bye week, the game after playing the Titans.

And if you remember, it was reported following that game, Brady suffered a knee injury on the play in which he went out for a pass and landed awkwardly on his left knee.

All of that, along with some speculation on a recent local radio appearance from NFL Media’s Mike Giardi, would seem to indicate Brady is playing through a knee injury. Of course, Brady is not going to publicly admit it, but it sure gives a reason for him playing as poor as he has in recent weeks.

Since Brady adjusted his knee brace at the end of the first half in Miami, he is 49-for-83 (59 percent) passing with 551 yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions and a quarterback rating of 71.9.

Because of all this, it would seem Sunday’s run-heavy offense is what we’ll see for the remainder of the season, unless Brady can get back to his old form soon. The Patriots ran for 273 yards on the ground Sunday, which are the second-most in the Bill Belichick era.

Sure, the Bills came into the game with the No. 1 ranked pass defense in the league, but an offense led by Brady is not calling for 47 running plays unless something is up with its quarterback.

As much as some will still not like to admit it, it’s OK to acknowledge the quarterback is dealing with an injury. Otherwise, isn’t there an even bigger issue?

We’re not going there.

Related: Chris Hogan explains why he wasn't sitting with Patriots wide receivers, offense on sideline

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