The Pats dropped another pre-season game last night, this time to the Philadelphia Eagles 27-17. It was an all around disappointment. Donovan McNabb carved up a Pats' defense that could not generate a consistent pass rush while the secondary looked just bad as the maligned Phily QB went 13/17 with 180 yards and one TD toss. The special teams allowed two returns for a touchdown while the offense managed just three points through the first three quarters of play until Matt Gutierrez came into the fourth and led the Pats to two scores.
This has been the story throughout the pre-season as the offense has posted a mere 42 points in 3 games while the defense has surrendered 54 points in the last two. The defense was expected to have some hiccups along the way as a bevy of new faces attempt to learn the defense and blend in with the holdovers from last year (though some could say they are having more than just a few hiccups in pre-season). What was suppose to make this learning process somewhat easier was the return of the most prolific offense in NFL history.......hard to do that with your MVP QB on the bench.
Tom Brady's injury has been something of a mystery, as they usually are with the Pats, and no timetable has been set for his return. While it is disconcerting that Brady has missed substantial time during training camp, like Peyton Manning, Brady knows the offense so well and has his full compliment of receivers returning that missing time in camp should not negatively impact the offense (remember that Moss missed much of training camp and he and Brady gelled from the start) , so there is no need to panic......yet.
Alarm bells should ring if Brady were to miss the first few weeks of the season, however. New England has their first three games at home, including a week 1 matchup with the Brady Croyle led Chiefs and match-ups against AFC East rivals Jets and Dolphins. Without Tom Brady under center, the Pats' offense goes from elite to mediocre, and the Chiefs, Jets and Dolphins could expose that. The Jets, with their revamped offense, will also test the new faces in New England's linebacking core and secondary and Larry Johnson is capable of taking over a game. Most importantly the Pats do not want to give the Jets, a team with question marks on both sides of the ball, the confidence that they can compete with New England and make it a race in the AFC East.
It is only the pre-season, the status of Tom Brady is still not certain, and regardless of what happens against the Giants on the 28th the Pats will start the season 0-0. Despite this, the Pats look like a shell of the team went to 5 AFC title games in the past 7 seasons without Mr. Brady.