Blame for the New England Patriots' inability to meet expectations for the 2009 season has spread to just about everyone on the team, but seldom do Patriot fans place any blame on their beloved wonder boy quarterback.
The team's head coach, Bill Belichick, certainly felt some ill will at the expense of fans, mostly related to many uncharacteristically unsuccessful decisions he made during the 2009 season.
Also gone missing during the 2009 season was the decision making prowess of quarterback Tom Brady.
The loss of effective decision making by Brady comes as a surprise, given that his career and his image were built on his impeccable ability to make the correct, least risky decision, one that was independent of oncoming defensive pressure.
If you rushed Brady in the past, he found a way to beat you. Brady was the best decision making quarterback in the National Football League.
Not so in 2009.
The 2009 Tom Brady was not the cool, calm, and collected quarterback we came to know in his first seven seasons with the Patriots. The 2009 Tom Brady seemed different.
The 2009 Tom Brady threw foolish interceptions when pressured, forgot pocket awareness, and forgot how to step up in the pocket to avoid the oncoming rush.
The statistics will present deception, disguising Brady's lackluster season with numbers giving the impression of a solid year of quarterbacking. What the statistics don't highlight are those end of game, pressure driven brain farts that New England fans associated most with Drew Bledsoe's final years.
In 2009, Brady became a quarterback that preferred to throw the ball up for grabs, as opposed to wisely taking a sack or stepping up to avoid pressure. Brady found himself sacked at times due to his own inability to find an opening in the pocket to settle.
Brady's impressive ability to stage fourth quarter game winning drives was another art he lost in 2009. This season saw Brady become experienced in ending the game with a turnover, as opposed to ending the game with a successful drive.
The success of 2010's Patriot season will of course rely on acquisitions to generate a defensive pass rush, along with additions to improve other areas of the team in need of substantial improvement; this cannot be disputed. But the success of the 2010 Patriots will rely most heavily on whether Tom Brady is able to find his lost PhD in decision making.