His advanced age also brings to mind a major question—when should he and the Patriots begin to dial it back a bit?
Ever since Josh McDaniels took the training wheels off of the New England offense in 2007, Brady has been tooling on the league's defenses statistically. He never sits, never relents, and is never content with his effort.
Brady is known to play through serious injuries, and he takes the lion's share of snaps during practice. He's a complete contradiction of what should realistically be expected. The question stands, however—should the franchise consider a different approach in order to preserve that productive aptitude?
This question was raised in a recent mailbag feature now run by Field Yates of ESPNBoston.com. Yates has scouting, coaching and interning experience with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Patriots franchise, and had this to say in response to to the prompt:
Although Brady has not shown signs of age in recent seasons, at the age of 35 (which he turns in August), it’s likely that the team is ever mindful of his workload. While Brady may prefer to stay on the field, I would not be surprised to see the team cut back (perhaps just slightly) on some of his reps in both practice and pre-season games. I wouldn’t expect to see a steep drop off, but curtailing his workload a bit would seem sensible.
Yates did skirt the question a tad, though, as the real issue at hand is the cutthroat philosophy in New England. Bill Belichick and Brady have been bent on doling out offensive beatings since the Spygate scandal broke and damaged the organization's once gleaming image.
It's been a whole heck of a lot of fun to watch, but one has to wonder how long this tandem can keep it up, and how long they should keep it up.
Lessening Brady's intense commitment to perfection certainly isn't the goal, and if he wants reps in practice to perfect his offense I'm all for it. But it's in everyone's best interest if he comes out late in the fourth quarter during games that are already clearly decided.
Why expose him to unnecessary cheap shots from disgruntled defenders who finally get around the two 6'7'' tackles late in the game? Why does this team rely so heavily on the pass in clock-killing scenarios when their ball carriers could be getting work?
These are all factors to be considered, and when looking at the Patriots offseason activities it appears that a new-look running game will indeed be implemented. Employing youth at the tail back position behind a blocking fullback should be a great asset for Brady moving forward.
The offensive line got a lot of attention as well, with contracts going out to Dan Connolly, Robert Gallery and Dan Koppen.
Backup quarterback Brian Hoyer was signed as well, after the team tendered him for $1.927 million, the second round level. I'm not going to be happy camper if he's allowed to walk with no concession prize coming back in return.
New England can drive the price up on Hoyer the more they display him in game scenarios. The fact that he's lasted so long as one team's backup is nice, but look how well Charlie Whitehurst worked out for the Seattle Seahawks.
It's three-fold—the Patriots can see exactly what they've got in their backups while improving their price in possible deals. And they could do all of this while limiting Brady's workload just a tad.
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