2011 NFL Patriots Season: Brady Putting Up Huge Yards, Enough to Win Super Bowl?
Tom Brady is off to his best statistical start in his career, and yet the Patriots are 3-1. In 2007, Brady put up similar numbers, and went 16-0 before losing in the Super Bowl. In 2001, Brady put up sub-average numbers, but the Patriots had a strong run game and defense that propelled them to a Superbowl victory. The same remains true in 2003 and in 2004. Last year, Brady put up huge numbers as well and the Patriots went 14-2 before falling to the Jets in the Divisional Round of the Playoffs.
There should be a visible pattern here. Huge passing seasons do not translate into Super Bowls for the Patriots. After the loss against the Bills, it seemed as if the Patriots realized that. They don't need to put up huge yards to win. They just need to be productive and hold on to the ball.
This all starts with the running game: Against the Raiders, the Patriots began to integrate Steven Ridley into the offense which is seemingly already paying huge dividends. The Patriots easily disposed of the game, and although it wasn't as fun and glamorous as the games against the Dolphins and Chargers, it was the way the Patriots should play football.
Tom Brady shouldn't have to throw for 400+ yards for the Patriots to win a game; he just needs to be efficient. And against the Raiders he was just that. Brady didn't turn the ball over and didn't throw for huge yards. He was what he had to be, which is what the Patriots should accept as their identity: Use him as an efficient quarterback, and allow the running backs to take a lot of the weight off his shoulders.
Just look, Cam Newton has had three games with huge passing yards, and one game with a relatively weak game. The only game they have won has been that one weak game. While the NFL has turned into a passing league, it helps to be great while running the ball. Just take a look at the Jets who have become a run-first team. They have made it to the AFC championship game two years in a row.
The Patriots are doing all the right things, and if they continue to play games like they did against the Raiders they should be able to go far into the playoffs, if not win the Superbowl. We still have a lot of football left to play though.
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