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Brady reliving 2006?
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The last time the Patriots were undergoing an overhaul at receiver and seemingly leaving Tom Brady with limited proven weapons to work with was 2006. That was the year that David Givens left via free agency and Deion Branch was traded. Those moves left Reche Caldwell as No. 12’s No. 1 target. Benjamin Watson was also in the mix, along with Troy Brown, Kevin Faulk and, for a short time, Doug Gabriel. Along the way, Jabar Gaffney joined the fun.
Like 2013, New England opened that 2006 season with a pair of victories over the Bills and Jets. The Patriots beat Buffalo on opening day 19-17 and then improved to 2-0 a week later with a 24-14 win in New York.
Right there, we see the interesting comparisons to this fall. Brady’s offense scored 41 points in two games. This year it’s 36 points in two weeks. A two-point win to open the year followed by a one-score win the next week, against the very same division foes.
But the comparisons continue if you dig deeper and look at Brady’s numbers. Through two weeks working without his previous favorite targets, back in 2006 Brady completed 26 of 52 passes (50-percent) for 483 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions for an 85.6 passer rating.
Through two weeks in 2013 Brady has completed 48 of 91 throws (52.7-percent) for 473 yards with three touchdowns and one interception for a 74.1 rating.
While the completion rate, yards and touchdowns are all very similar, the big difference is in the number of attempts. New England is now a pass-first offense and Brady has thrown the ball almost twice the number of times through two weeks of the offensive overhaul as he did in a similar spot back in 2006.
The good news is that the 2006 Patriots went on to make it to the AFC title game and were a Colts comeback away in Indy from going to the Super Bowl. By late in the year Gaffney was a trusted playmaker and 100-yard guy, even though he actually only had 11 receptions during the regular season. New England scored 40 or more points in two of the final three regular season games. Then put up 34 or more in two playoff games on the way to the tough title game loss.
They say history repeats itself. If that’s the case, the tough times Brady is going through in the passing game right now might just pay off in the long run. This sort of feels like 2006 all over again. And that season was within a stone’s throw of another Super Bowl appearance.