BOSTON (CBS) — With Wes Welker in a Denver Broncos uniform and Aaron Hernandez wearing a completely different kind of “uniform,” the 2013 season was a transition year for the New England Patriots offense.
Brady was without two of his go-to targets, and to make matters worse, all-world tight end Rob Gronkowski was on the mend following an offseason of surgeries. The Pats were hoping that newly signed Danny Amendola could replace the production of Welker, and were counting on three rookie wideouts to help with the temporary absence of Gronk.
The results were mixed though, as Brady and his new receivers struggled to get on the same page, and the Patriots quarterback had one of the worst statistical seasons of his career. Now, the team is hoping that Amendola, along with second-year wideouts Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce, can all make a big jump in their second year in the system.
With training camp just a week away, Will Brinson of CBSSports.com joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s The Adam Jones Show on Thursday night to talk some Patriots football. He said the unfamiliarity between Brady and his new targets last season played a major role in their struggles, and things should be better when they take the field in 2014.
“All of a sudden you had a group of guys that Tom Brady wasn’t familiar with. It’s hard for young guys to come in and work with a veteran established quarterback,” Brinson told Jones. “It’s difficult, even if you bring in young and talented guys, to have them be on the same page from day one. I would anticipate that another season would help them, and if Gronk is healthy it’s a game-changer. They don’t have world beaters in their wide receiver corps, but they have talent, and they’ve done enough over the years with less talent that I expect them to do it again.
“When Gronk is healthy, he’s the most-dominant non-quarterback in the game. He just changes the offense so much for the Patriots,” said Brinson. “He put up record-breaking stats when he played a full season, and then you look at the numbers for Tom Brady when Gronk is healthy, he’s Tom Brady. When you look at the numbers for Brady when Gronk isn’t in the game, he’s less dynamic.”
Hopefully Brady didn’t hear that “less dynamic” bit, because Brinson thinks the Patriots’ QB is one to hold grudges on certain things (like writers saying he is no longer an elite quarterback). But having Brady head into a season with a chip on his shoulder is never a bad thing.
“Tom Brady is the type of guy who is nice and friendly when he talks to the media, but you can tell he holds a grudge. And you know he’s seen the QB rankings and all that off-season stuff we do – Tom Brady is no longer elite or a Top 5 quarterback. People are beating down the door, but I think he has plenty left in the tank,” said Brinson. “If Gronk is healthy, [Brady’s] going to eviscerate people. I love a good revenge factor, and I think Brady has a little bit of that cooking.”
Over on the defensive side of the ball, Brinson, like everyone else, is anxious to see what corner Darrelle Revis and Bill Belichick can do together.
“Revis is a perfect fit for what Bill Belichick likes to do,” he said. “When you saw what he was doing last year (in Tampa Bay), it took him awhile to get back to being Darelle Revis. Then the Bucs didn’t use him in the way he should be used; he wasn’t locking down the top receiver for teams and playing more zone than he should have. That’s why I think it was smart of the Bucs to move on, because he’s not a great fit for what Lovie Smith does on defense. But he’s a perfect fit for Belichick, because just like he did with Aqib Talib, he can sit Revis on the top offensive weapon that other teams bring to the table, and all of sudden you’re shutting down the number one option.”
Brinson doesn’t think the Revis-New England marriage will be for just one season either.
“I think he’ll be there longer. Revis has a ton of money and he likes to be a high paid cornerback, but Bill Belichick wants to create ‘Revis Island’ in New England. Bill Belichick will let him do that. He’ll be playing on a team that doesn’t lose a lot of games and are in the hunt for a Super Bowl every year,” he said. “If you can be a top-paid corner, play the style of play you want for a really good defensive coach, and have a shot at the Super Bowl every year, what more could you ask as an NFL player? I don’t think he’ll take a pay cut and the Patriots will have to pay him what he’s worth, but if he’s playing at Revis-level, and I think he will, then it will be totally worth it to pay him what he wants.”
Listen to the full interview below: