The time finally came. The greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady, is back from his four-game suspension. The Patriots’ quarterback woes are over; no more worrying about who will start and who won’t. The GOAT is back, and just in time. New England had an interesting four weeks without Brady, but those days are over.
Brady, of course, made the start Sunday at Cleveland. The long awaited Week 5 at none other than the Browns. It’s a shame that Brady had to come back to play in such a crappy city, but it is what it is. Nonetheless, Patriots fans showed up. Like, really showed up, which had to help Brady and his confidence. Patriots fans always travel well, but this was like none other. There were multiple Brady chants throughout the game, and the stadium was overtaken by Brady jerseys. It’s not that Brady needed any help, but the fans came through anyway.
Now to his actual play. Tom Brady looked like, well...Tom Brady. He threw for 406 yards, went 28/40, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, and even turned his wheels on a couple of times. I don’t know if I could even say that he was playing "angry," he was just playing like Tom Brady.
There was a lot of speculation as to how much rust he would have and show in this game, as he hadn’t had any real action since the preseason. Pretty much everybody expected him to at least start out shaky. That was not the case. From the very beginning, Brady barely looked like he had missed four weeks. He got hit only a couple of times, but didn’t seem shaken up by it or anything. He used his feet very well, and his timing was flawless, per usual. After the game, Brady and his teammates were both asked about the QB's rust. They had differing opinions:
Brady didn’t pull this off by himself, either. His receiving core only did him favors on Sunday afternoon. Gronkowski had 5 receptions for 109 yards, Edelman 5 receptions for 35 yards, Chris Hogan had 4 receptions for 114 yards, and last but not least, Marty Bennett had 6 receptions for 67 yards and 3 TDs.
Let’s talk about Gronk. Gronk had been virtually nonexistent in his first two weeks back, prior to this game. He only had one reception total all season before this game. Many think that he just didn’t want to play without Brady, others think his injury was a legitimate problem, and some think both were factors. Nevertheless, Gronk and Brady were a force against Cleveland. Right from the start, the two were connecting as well as they had in previous years. No sign of any rust between the two of them. Gronk came up huge on a couple of third down situations.
The two wide receivers, Edelman and Hogan, had big roles of their own. Out of the four players I listed, Edelman, was used the least out of them, which may have been due to a new foot injury that surfaced earlier in the week. No fear, though, he looked fine, and when Brady and Jules did connect, it was a beautiful, nostalgic sight. As for Chris Hogan, we may have something going here. Brady and Hogan barely played together in the preseason, so not too much was expected to happen. Hogan ended up being a downfield threat, as Brady slung it to him on a couple of occasions. Who knows if this was just a one-game thing or not, but either way, Hogan played a huge role in this win, as Edelman wasn’t used as much as folks had hoped.
Again, last but not least, Martellus Bennett. Marty B. This guy scored a hat trick: three touchdowns on the day. Brady threw three TDs, all to Bennett. Brady seemed to favor Bennett over Gronk in the red zone, which is totally fine. Bennett can block and catch, so God forbid anything happened to Gronk, there’s a plan B. Keep in mind, Bennett had limited preseason action, so similar to Hogan, not much was expected to happen. Brady relied heavily on the new guys, and succeeded. Both Bennett and Hogan could be key pieces to this offense throughout the remainder of the season, especially as both Gronk and Edelman are recovering from injuries.
In summary, Brady looked like Brady. You’d think that not being in the middle of any real action for an entire month would throw you off. Not with this guy. Tom Brady is 40-years-old, and just threw for 406 yards in less than four quarters of his first play in a month, 271 of those yards coming in the first half, when he was supposed to be rusty. This is just the beginning; that was only one game. This ain’t over yet. Tom Brady’s Patriots are the team to beat. The team he has around him, on both sides of the ball, can easily be an all-time great football team. New England can seriously destroy the league if they want to. All I can say, is watch out, NFL. Watch out. Also, sorry not sorry, Goodell. Your plan did not work out too well. Better luck next time.