It's been only two days since Sam Monson wrote his column on Tom Brady's decline and I'm already getting sick of hearing about it -- please tell me I'm not the only one. Nevertheless, it's the topic that everyone's talking about this week. If Monson's goal was to create controversy, he certainly accomplished it. Adam Kaufman, Mike Freeman, and Ron Borges each wrote a response to Monson's claim for their respective news outlets (Boston Globe, Bleacher Report, and Boston Herald) while Tom E. Curran gave an in-depth breakdown of the article for Comcast Sports Net.
"The 'quarterback in decline' got the Patriots to the AFC Championship game – his third straight – where he had a poor day throwing to the likes of Matt Slater, Austin Collie and Matt Mulligan on the regular," writes Curran. "Show me another quarterback who could have done what Brady did with last year's Patriots. You can't."
The fact that Brady was throwing to receivers named Slater, Collie, and Mulligan in the AFC Championship is what inspirted Doug Kyed's response to the Monson article. In his article on NESN.com, Kyed says that Brady can still prove he's a top 5 quarterback in 2014 if his weapons improve.
Personally, I tend to side with Eric Wilbur when he says 'who cares?' In an article in the Boston Globe, Wilbur argues that Brady doesn't need to be the best quarterback in order for the Patriots to win the Super Bowl -- he just needs to have the best team. That's what really matters right? Wilber notes that Brady only had one 1,000-yard receiver in the three years he won the Super Bowl. His numbers didn't matter then and they shouldn't matter now, so as long as the team's winning.
"Is Tom Brady still a top-5 quarterback? Who cares? Maybe the question is better worded as are there five other quarterbacks you'd rather have?," writes Wilbur.
As for Brady's receivers, the pressure is on for Danny Amendola and Kenbrell Thompkins -- but for different reasons. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe says that Amendola needs to perform well in 2014 after a sub-par season in 2013. Amendola was never able to reach his pre-season expectations after being sidelined in week 1 with a groin injury and by the final game of the year, he was playing behind Austin Collie.
"If he doesn't produce big numbers -- think at least 80 catches, 800-plus yards, and a clean bill of health -- then Amendola is all but gone after 2014, when he doesn't have as much dead money left on a contract that runs through 2017," says Volin.
On the other end of the spectrum, the pressure is equally as high -- if not even higher -- for Kenbrell Thompkins. As Doug Kyed points out, Thompkins' may be on "the bubble" if his play doesn't improve in the coming months. With the addition of former Panthers receiver Brandon LaFell and draft pick Jeremy Gallon, Thompkins could find himself on the outside looking in. Ryan Mallett, Stevan Ridley, Dan Connolly, Armond Armstead, and Tavon Wilson also found themselves on Kyed's list of players who may be on the roster bubble.
With all the questions at the wide receiver position, Chris Gasper ranked the group as his #2 biggest area of weakness on the Patriots roster. Gasper and Andy Gresh joined CSN's Early Edition to rank the team's top 3 areas of weakness. The only position that came up in both Gasper and Gresh's top three was the tight end position.
"Major questions on Gronkowski's health. Not sold on Hoo-man or D.J. Williams." said Gasper on the show. "You're going to have to bring somebody in. Take a flyer on a health guy like Dustin Keller or Jermichael Finley."
Other than Tom Brady, Jermichael Finley has been the other popular discussion piece this week. When reports came out on Monday that Finley had visited with the Patriots, people started to believe this could be a real posibility. Not so fast, says ESPN reporter Ed Werder. Werder says that the visit was exclusively for a medical evaluation of his spinal fusion surgery. As Mike Reiss points out in the article, an on-field tryout would most likely need to happen in the near future, if an agreement is imminent.