Hannable: Tom Brady missing start of Patriots OTAs is a big deal

Ryan Hannable
May 21, 2018 - 11:19 am

Bob DeChiara-USA Today

Yes, it’s only May and players are not in pads, but Monday was the start of Phase 3 of the Patriots voluntary offseason workout program with the first OTA session taking place, and Tom Brady reportedly continued to stay away.

When Brady didn’t attend the start of the program last month, many said it wasn’t a huge deal since it was more about strength and conditioning and the quarterback was doing it on his own. But, it was noted if he were to miss Phase 3 and OTAs when on-field work started, then it would be considered a big deal.

So, here we are.

Over the years Brady has noted how important these on-field sessions are. Even when he missed the voluntary workouts because he was in California from 2008-10, he returned for the OTAs.

With all the success the organization has had under Bill Belichick, one of the reasons many have pointed to as to why is how the offseason is approached. The Patriots take the offseason more serious than most teams, as the work done in May is just as important as the work done done in July during training camp. This is where the groundwork for the upcoming season is started.

“We’re one of those teams that everybody shows up [for voluntary OTAs], so it’s important to us,” cornerback Logan Ryan said in 2016 when he was with the team. “It’s important to get a good start, and get that jump over everybody else, because the whole team’s here, and we’re building that camaraderie.”

Even just last year, Brady noted how important the sessions are.

“Everything is important – the walkthroughs, the OTAs, minicamp, training camp,” he said last November.

While some want to note these sessions are voluntary and it’s not really a story the 40-year-old quarterback is absent, why for years did these same people go out of their way to praise Brady and the Patriots for how they approached the offseason? Additionally, are we supposed to ignore comments made by Brady and other players in the past?

For all the pat on the backs Brady got for being the first player at the facility on the first day of offseason workouts in recent years, he needs to also be criticized for not attending at all this year. It sends a bad message to the rest of his teammates.

There’s no question Brady is on a different level than everyone else, but him attending all these sessions in the past was what made the Patriots so good. If Brady was the first person in the building, what would an excuse be for other Patriots players who chose not to attend voluntary workouts at all. His work ethic clearly rubbed off on the rest of the team and made everyone else better.

Brady not being there also impacts the work on the field. Without Brady being there, the only quarterbacks throwing passes and working with the offense are Brian Hoyer and rookie Danny Etling.

The wide receiver position is viewed as one of the most competitive on the entire roster and players likely could be trying to get an edge going into training camp with their work this spring, but it’s hard to do so without the starting quarterback throwing the passes. Newcomers like Jordan Matthews and Cordarrelle Patterson, as well as relatively new receivers like Kenny Britt and Phillip Dorsett typically would use the spring to start building chemistry with Brady, but with him not there obviously that cannot happen.

For as particular as Brady is with receivers and the way they run routes, what happens during training camp if Matthews is a split second off on his route and Brady misses him? Normally, Brady might get upset at his wide out, but the reality is that may not have happened if Brady had been around in the spring and worked on that timing and chemistry then.

Brady missing these sessions is forcing the team, and offense specifically, to be behind from past years when training camp rolls around in July.

Let’s make this perfectly clear: Brady not attending these voluntary sessions will likely not prohibit the Patriots from potentially winning 11 or 12 games and another AFC East banner, but since it’s so out of the norm for the quarterback and is actually impacting the rest of the team, it is a big deal.

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