Pro-Tom Brady is not anti-Drew Bledsoe, but when the latter went down, it was hard to imagine how ugly things could get for the Patriots. Enter Brady, the second-year phenom (can we call him that yet?) out of Michigan who has not only taken over the reins, but has the horse fighting in the pack rather than taking up the rear.
While it was fair to question a quarterback who had never proven a thing at the NFL level, it has quickly become obvious that those who did were simply ignorant to his quick advancement as a pro quarterback. Who could blame them? How could anyone on the outside have known unless of course Head Coach Bill Belichick was to be believed during his offseason rants about Brady's improvement. He quite obviously saw the offseason of dedication and hard work pay off when he named him the No. 2 quarterback over free agent Damon Huard, who signed for that role and didn't do anything poorly in training camp. Brady's emergence led to the leap frog, not Huard's sour play.
The consistency Brady showed through six starts is what is the most amazing thing — unless of course you have been around him. He prepares consistently well. His approach is consistent. His attitude is consistent. His work ethic is consistent. He seems to learn from his mistakes. He spreads the ball around, plays confidently in the pocket, sees the field and takes what the defense allows. So it is no wonder the 24-year old, northern California native has successfully stepped into a position prone to criticism in a market that thrives on doling it out. While that will surely come as it always does, he has given the team a consistent presence at a crucial position on a team where consistency was lacking. Has that word been overused yet?
His preparation hasn't changed since taking over for the injured Bledsoe. "You are in every meeting and the quarterbacks always meet together and practice together and watch film together and talk about game plans together," Brady said. "From last year to this year, it's pretty much the same. You might do a little extra trying to familiarize yourself with the game plan early in the week, but for the most part it's the same.
"I've learned not to take anything for granted. Sometimes you can become so caught up in what they have done [in past games] as opposed to what they are doing. There are things that come up in every game that I learn from. But my confidence is good because I am confident in my coaches and real confident in the guys that I am out there with."
The feeling is obviously mutual. "We've seen his consistent play for so long since training camp that we expect it now," wide receiver David Patten said. "That says a lot for him. He prepares and works so hard that we expect him to play consistently."
That consistency can be seen through a thorough examination of Brady's performances. To be sure, there have been slip-ups like every quarterback has, but he has been solid and given his team a chance to win almost weekly since taking over in Week Three. The following allows a chance to break him down game-by-game as well as with statistical totals that warrant a ticket on his bandwagon. His numbers may not jump out at you and you will notice that many of his passes are high-percentage throws, but this will allow you to examine trends as well as team accomplishments such as red-zone and third- down production since Brady took over.
Brady vs. Colts
This was a dominating effort for the Patriots who embarrassed the 2-0 Colts, 44-13, behind an opportunistic defense that intercepted Peyton Manning three times and returned two for touchdowns. Brady played efficiently with the lead and while he didn't make any costly mistakes, he wasn't asked to take any chances.
Brady vs. Dolphins
Against an aggressive front four and tough corners, Brady and the Patriots offense struggled miserably all afternoon. The Patriots took a 7-0 lead following an early turnover, but then got blown out 30-3 the rest of the way.
Brady vs. Chargers
For the first time since taking over as the starting quarterback, Brady was turned loose, throwing 54 times and engineering a tremendous comeback from 10 down in the fourth quarter to get the game to overtime where he needed one possession to throw the Patriots into field goal range for the win.
Brady vs. Colts
Brady played brilliantly in completing 80 percent of his throws with three touchdowns including the longest play from scrimmage in Patriots history — a 91-yard touchdown pass to David Patten. That play is the longest in the AFC this season. At 3-1 in four starts, the Brady bandwagon is picking up steam.
Brady vs. Broncos
After playing well for three quarters, Brady saw his NFL record string of 162 pass attempts without an interception to start a career come to an end. Boy, did it come to an end. Brady threw four fourth-quarter interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown, as the Patriots dropped a 31-20 road decision to the Broncos.
Brady vs. Falcons
Brady engineered three second-quarter scoring drives, including a brilliant two-minute drill, to give the team two wins in three road games. The defense was dominant, but Brady remained consistent and started a new string of passes without an interception.
Totals as a starter