Patriots

Tom Brady: Aaron Rodgers is 'one of my favorite guys to watch' in NFL

Tom Brady: Aaron Rodgers is 'one of my favorite guys to watch' in NFL

Few quarterbacks in the NFL are more fun to watch than Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers.

The 35-year-old veteran can make any type of throw, and his ability to escape the pocket and throw on the run or pick up huge chunks of yards with his legs makes for plenty of highlight-worthy plays.

One player who very much enjoys watching Rodgers work his magic is New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

"I love (Rodgers') style of play," Brady told Jim Gray of Westwood One Radio before the Packers hosted the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on Monday night.

"Obviously he's an incredible passer, but how he manipulates the pocket and how he buys time in order to get his receivers open, he just does a great job of that. He throws incredibly efficiently, and he's probably No. 1 or 2 all time in terms of QB rating and his efficiency as a quarterback. He throws for a high yards per attempt. He has an incredible touchdown-to-interception ratio. He makes great decisions with the football, and he always gives his team a chance to win. He's one of my favorite guys to watch, and I'll obviously be watching (Monday night)."

Rodgers has had kind words for Brady as well, and he also had a great response to critics of the Patriots quarterback during an appearance on ESPN Radio in September. Each quarterback clearly has a lot of respect for the other.

Brady and Rodgers met last season at Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots earned a 31-17 victory in just the second head-to-head matchup between these legendary quarterbacks. The next time they meet could be in Super Bowl LIV. The Patriots are the class of the AFC with a 6-0 record, and the Packers are back among the NFC heavyweights with a 4-1 mark entering Week 6.

Belichick explains why he gave Week 6 game ball to Tom Brady>>>

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Will Tom Brady become an afterthought in this Patriots team's success? In his dreams, perhaps

Will Tom Brady become an afterthought in this Patriots team's success? In his dreams, perhaps

In Tom Brady’s fever dream, he walks down a long, antiseptic hallway filled with artificial light. This week. This week. This week we get it right. A mantra on repeat in Brady’s mind.

Smooth, soothing elevator music plays. Is it N’Sync?

A door is at the end of the hall. He pushes it open. It’s like a high school chem lab. Every seat at every table is full. Everyone is in full uniform. Brady recognizes none of them from the back of the room. They are all hunched forward, writing, their backs turned to him.

Bill Belichick stands at the front of the class. He’s dressed differently. A hooded cloak. A long white beard. A scythe leans against the wall behind him.

“So, like I said, we’re gonna play to our strengths …” Belichick is saying. He spots Brady. Belichick’s voice tapers. His face spreads into a grin. But it doesn’t stop. It keeps stretching wider. 

“I’m late?” Brady says, his voice a mixture of anger and disbelief. “Why am I late? What time is it?!”

“No, Tom, just finishing up here, not late. Right on time. I was just saying we’re looking to get the ball to Jake Bailey this week. Get it to Jake and let him do his thing…”

Bailey is at a lab table to Belichick’s right.

“Hi Tom!” he says, waving like a lunatic. “I’m here to help!”

In his left hand, he holds an hourglass. He flicks at it absently with his right index finger. Flick. Flick. Flick. Sand falls down.

Panic rises in Brady’s throat. How could he have gotten the time wrong? Is everything already done, really?

“We’re looking to get it to the punter? That’s the plan? What can I do, though? I can do things.” Brady asks, eyes darting around the room. He can't remember ever feeling so exposed.

“You know what, I think we’re all set for now, Tom,” Belichick replies, his grin somehow broadening so that his eyes begin to bulge slightly.

One player sits up straight, pivots rigidly and looks at Brady with dead eyes. It’s Ryan Izzo.

“All set for now, Tom,” he says.

Every other player sits bolt upright. They slowly turn in unison to face Brady. They are all Ryan Izzo.

“All set for now, Tom,” they say robotically. Then they smile and all the Ryan Izzos give a big thumbs-up.

“This shit ain’t real,” Brady mutters. Turning for the door he spins into a body that’s blocking it.

“This is serious as a HEART ATTACK!!!!” Marshall Newhouse says and throws his head back. All the Ryan Izzos laugh.

Pushing past Newhouse with surprising ease, Brady is now in a different hall. There’s a door with a small picture taped to it. He looks at the picture. A goat. With a cane. And a top hat. His cane points at a door. Squinting, Brady sees that, on the door in the picture, there is also a picture. Of a goat. With a cane. And a top hat. That is pointing at a door.

The door opens on its own. Slowly. It’s Brady’s locker room. Same as it’s been since 2002. But at his locker, there’s a scrum of people. They are holding cameras and tape recorders. They are interviewing someone at HIS locker. The MOTHERSCRATCHER!

“Hey!!!” yells Brady. No one turns.

Brady rushes over and grabs a shoulder. Rohan Davey turns to face Brady. Then Matt Guttierez. And Matt Cassel. And Kevin O’Connell. Ryan Mallett. Jimmy. Jacoby. Jarrett. Damon Huard. Michael Bishop. John Friesz. Drew Bledsoe. They all look at Brady with detachment then turn back to the figure at Brady’s locker.

Wedging himself through Brady sees someone in a full-body cast. Only the head is visible. The face looks familiar. Brady can’t place it.

“Hi Tom!” the head suddenly cries. “I’m Tua!!!! We’re gonna work together!”

The music. Brady hears it again. It’s louder now. Deafening. “Bye, bye, bye!” It is N’Sync.

**********

Tom Brady’s purgatory season of 2019 activates the imagination so if you’re still with me, I appreciate you.

Facts are facts, Tom Brady is New England’s Achilles and his NFL Odyssey has never failed to fascinate. 

Now – in season 20 – quarterbacking a team that stylistically resembles the 2001 team that won the first of six Super Bowls, it’s hard to overlook the ironic symbolism.

The joy that coursed through that season radiated from Brady. He was the sun around which the team revolved. This season, he’s a dark star of despondency, morose about the direction of the offense and his inability to do anything but stay out of the way. 

On too many Sundays, it feels like the thrill is gone for the greatest quarterback of all-time.

His team keeps stacking wins and is 9-1 and atop the AFC. But his job right now is to not eff anything up. In less than two years he’s gone from being revving the engine of a Formula One car to pushing a bike with training wheels around a parking lot.

He’s Jimmy Page playing with a garage band, Picasso with crayons, Steve Jobs with an abacus.

Brady’s on record saying he’ll keep playing until he sucks. Maybe sucking won’t be an inability to throw hard, far and accurately and avoid a pass rush.

Maybe sucking will be being unable to play like he’s capable because of circumstances beyond his control. Maybe sucking will be an inability to suck it up and deal with what’s around him because, he figures, should he really have to at this point?

And that’s where the real conflict exists.

The most selfless and accomplished professional athlete of his generation, the guy who’s probably taken about $50 million less than he could have in salary over the course of his career, the quarterback who’s buttoned his lip and succeeded with a succession of merely OK players around him, the player who dealt with Bill Belichick’s verbal slings and arrows and attempts to replace him so that he could try and win the all-important “next one”?

Are some going to see him bummed out after a win on the road that moved his team to 9-1 and say he’s being a bad teammate? Are some going to accuse the player that authored perhaps the most memorable comeback in team sports history of running up the white flag?

Some could. Some will. Some are.

Are others going to see the whole picture in full relief and realize Despondent Tom has been marinating for a while? Through attempts to replace him. Through lowball contract offers that took advantage of his aversion to conflict. Through the lopping off of talented offensive pieces and the half-assed or lamebrained efforts to replace them.

Others could. Others will. Others are.

The Eeyore act isn’t a hit in Foxboro.

It’s understood that he’s used to a certain level of performance. And nobody believes this offense is about to transform into a unit that will approach Brady’s accustomed level. But the moping creates a firestorm and – even if Brady was publicly sounding the alarm about the offense as far back as training camp – now is not the time for “I told you so …” Even if he did tell us so.

The Patriots offense will improve over the final six games. Isaiah Wynn will help. N’Keal Harry and Mohamed Sanu are still new additions. Tight end Matt LaCosse is working his way in. It’s not going to get “good” relative to what we’re used to but it will be better.

Brady’s got valid reasons to be pissed off about how his contracts have been handled, how the offense has been constructed, the team’s reluctance to believe he’s got enough in the tank to play until 45. Things pile up over two decades. It might seem like he’s mad after Jakobi Meyers runs a bad route but that anger may really have its root in a mistake he saw Chad Jackson, Aaron Dobson or Brian Tyms make 13, seven or four years ago.

After all he’s done, if Brady wants to continue kicking rocks in press conferences about what the Patriots can’t do, that’s his prerogative. For me, it won’t undo a millisecond of the Tom Brady Experience or change my belief he’s been the ultimate teammate and still is.

But do you know what it sounds like the longer it goes? A death rattle.

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Tom Brady addresses frustration with struggling Patriots offense

Tom Brady addresses frustration with struggling Patriots offense

The New England Patriots were victorious on Sunday vs. the Philadelphia Eagles, but something still clearly didn't sit well with Tom Brady.

The Patriots quarterback was visibly frustrated in his postgame press conference, and it's easy to understand why. Brady completed only 26 of 47 passes and he failed to find the end zone in what was another lackluster performance from the New England offense as a whole.

In his Monday appearance on Westwood One with Jim Gray, Brady discussed his frustration with the offense's ongoing struggles.

"It's just part of how our season's gone," Brady told Gray. "I think there's a lot of things we talk about internally. Things that we see that we need to do to continue to try to improve ... we're going to have to just execute better than we did and better than we have.

"We're 9-1, our defense is playing great, our special teams unit is playing great and they're keeping us in every game. Offensively, I've said we've got to take advantage when we have opportunities in [a] short field and we had a few of those yesterday. Those are the ones that probably frustrate me the most."

Gray asked Brady whether this team -- with an offense that can't seem to find its rhythm -- has what it takes to make it through the playoffs and win Super Bowl title No. 7.

"That's the question that probably everyone wants to know and tries to predict, but nobody knows at this point," Brady answered. "There's only one team that's going to be able to reach the ultimate goal. Out team's in a decent position, so we're not going to know until we're in that position.

"Like I said, we're 9-1. We've got to play great complementary football. There's certainly things that we need to do better offensively. Again, it's not what I think, or what I predict, or what somebody on TV can predict or what they think, or what their parents say, or what their kids say. It's really about the mental toughness of our team to show up and try to improve."

While Brady's play hasn't exactly been spectacular as of late, the 42-year-old QB hasn't gotten a ton of help around him. The offensive line has seen its fair share of struggles through the first 10 games and there's been plenty of turnover at the wide receiver position.

The way Brady sees it, his offense simply has yet to show its full potential.

"Look, everyone thinks, you know, they analyze every game and they know everything that's going on. We talk about ignoring the noise," Brady said. "There's a lot of noise and when you play great, you're the best team in the world. When you play bad, you're the worst team in the world, you can't beat anyone. And that's just riding the rollercoaster of emotions.

"We have a lot of good players on our team and we're trying to excel, we're trying to play at a very high level. I don't think we've reached our potential yet and I'll be excited when we do."

There's no doubting the struggling Patriots offense is a concern heading into Week 12, but Brady makes it a point to look at the positive side of things with his team boasting a 9-1 record on the year.

"I don't think any team's really a finished product. As critical as we can be of our team at times, we're still in a good position," he said. "We're 9-1 and that's a good place to be this time of year. It's not perfect ... but we've got an opportunity that we're going to try and take advantage of.

"I'm going to try and play the best I possibly can. I'm going to try to motivate my teammates as best as I possibly can, and we're going to try to go out there and put our best performance on the field Sunday against Dallas."

Brady and the Pats offense will look to get on the right track when they host the Cowboys on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET.

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