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BOSTON (CBS) – A 36-year-old Tom Brady has done nearly everything in his 13 NFL seasons, but the 2013 campaign has the Patriots quarterback in a new job he never thought was possible: teacher.
With an entire new receiving corps made up of three rookies in Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce and Kenbrell Thompkins, along with newcomer Danny Amendola, Professor Brady has found himself not just barking out orders on the field, but helping in many aspects off of it — especially in the film room.
“There are a lot of things I’ve done this year that I’ve never done in the past, so it’s been new for me, in terms of the learning, the meetings, the extra time spent,” Brady said on Wednesday. “It’s a different situation that we’ve been in here, so there’s a ‘new-ness’ to that. There is a ‘new-ness’ in the teaching and the learning and the work we’ve done over the course of the years.”
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With the watchful eyes of his new receivers on the video screen, Brady has found a new way to be a quarterback: commanding the remote. And though many a man has mastered that necessary talent, Brady takes it to a whole new level.
“You’re going over play after play after play, you can go through 70-80 plays, and when you’re holding the clicker, you just keep teaching,” he said. “It’s good to see it from the other side. I’m not a coach, I’m a player, but there’s teaching of things I see and we’re trying to get on the same page.”
“It’s different seeing things in a quarterback’s eyes than a wide receiver’s eyes,” said Thompkins. “We’re looking in the backfield while he’s looking at the whole field. The meetings have been going well.”
“[The meetings are] important for us. It all comes down to being on the same page. When we see things in his eyes, we can execute the game plan how he wants it to be executed,” added Thompkins.
Brady isn’t known for having worlds of patience with new receivers, and if those new targets of his don’t catch on quick the quarterback may not look their way come game-time (remember Joey Galloway?). But this season he doesn’t really have a choice, so, in addition to becoming more of a teacher/coach, he’s also learning to be patient with newcomers.
“I’m not the most patient guy to begin with, so that’s something that I’m working on,” he said with a smile. “You understand that there is a learning curve and there are things that are going to come up that some guys haven’t experienced. You try to talk about what possibly could happen, and if it happens then I want you to make this adjustment. If it happens and the adjustment isn’t made I say, ‘well, I told you.’”
“Sometimes it’s what I do with my three-year-old too, and he doesn’t listen either,” Brady joked. “You try to just hang in there.”
But Brady has done more than hang in there. Amendola said his new quarterback has done well with that new-found patience, and it’s making a big difference when the Patriots take the field.
“He’s been great, he’s like a coach on the field,” said Amendola. “He’s been in the offense for a long time. Having a lot of new faces at wide receiver, he does a lot of great things to help us out. That’s why he is so smart and so good.”
“I’m one of those new guys too in a sense, but hopefully I’m like one of his six-year-olds,” joked Amendola. “It’s all about getting on the same page. These young guys have a lot to learn in terms of the whole NFL, and they’ve picked up a lot quickly. The older guys in the room are passing on a lot of knowledge, and it’s helped them out.”
Brady said improving his communication was a priority this off-season, and so far it’s looked to be A-OK, especially with Amendola and the undrafted rookie Thompkins. Brady looked to be on the same page with that duo in their brief time on the field together in the preseason, and there’s little doubt all the work they’ve put in together off the field had a lot to do with it.
But now it’s time for the regular season, when everything gets taken up a notch or two. It will be important for Brady to continue to teach his new receivers, and even more important for them to learn.
Summer school is over. Now the real class is in session.