All hail: The king has returned from suspension. No, I’m not talking about Josh Gordon. If you haven’t been paying attention, that ship has already sailed and is likely lost at sea. I’m talking about the best quarterback in NFL history1.
I’m talking about New England Patriot Tom Brady.
Are you swooning yet?
About that Pats offense…
Your Cleveland Browns will look to avenge a disappointing finish at FedEx Field where they lost to the Washington Redskins, in large part, due to three late turnovers.2 It’s going to be a tall task against a New England team that has managed to win three out of their first four games while using their second and third string quarterbacks. Jimmy Garoppolo started at quarterback in the first week of the season for the suspended Brady, and acquitted himself well. Garoppolo played the better part of the first two games putting up some excellent statistics in the process. He completed 71 percent of his passes for 496 yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Garoppolo suffered a shoulder injury late in that second game and was replaced by third string quarterback Jacoby Brissett.
Brissett started the third game of the season for the Patriots, who shut out the Houston Texans, 27-0. He suffered a sprained right thumb in that game, but it didn’t stop him from finishing the game or playing the next week. He has completed 62 percent of his passes this season, good for 400 yards. Brissett hasn’t thrown an interception, but he also hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass, and the New England Patriots suffered their first loss of the season last week when the Buffalo Bills shut them out, 16-0.
Now that we know how the combination of backup quarterbacks has led the Patriots to their record of 3-1, we can move on to the matter at hand. None of those quarterbacks were Tom Brady, and yet the Patriots were still able to win three of four games. I think it would be naive to say that Brady will likely be rusty and the Browns have a good shot to win this game at home. A rusty Tom Brady is a better quarterback than Jacoby Brissett3 , and he will look to exploit a Browns defense that has struggled mightily against opposing tight ends. The Patriots happen to have two of the best tight ends in the league in Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett, which could make for a very long day on Sunday. With his squad putting up a meager six sacks through four games, Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton will need to find a way to turn up the heat on Tom Brady before he can get into a rhythm.
And that Pats D…
Offensively, the Browns are going to face a big challenge. Though they haven’t been mentioned with the likes of Minnesota or Seattle, the Patriots give up the fourth fewest points in the NFL at 15.3 points per game. Bill Belichick’s defenses are widely known for taking away the one thing that your team does best. In the case of the Browns, that would be running the football.
The Browns have the top rushing offense in the NFL at 149.3 yards per game, and you can bet that Belichick will bring his safeties in tight to help close down the running lanes. I anticipate that the man in the cut-off hooded sweatshirt will look to force the Browns’ offense towards the sidelines and up the field where Cody Kessler has struggled to throw the ball on a consistent basis.
Terrelle Pryor and Isaiah Crowell have both been absolutely amazing through four games, and they will likely find the Patriots’ defense keying in on them this Sunday. Hue Jackson will need to be as creative as he can possibly be to get the upper hand in this matchup with Belichick. The Browns have fared surprisingly well against the Patriots in recent years, but this is almost a completely different team than past years.
Hopefully Hue Jackson will have a little magic up his sleeve… and a whole lot of luck.
- You can rank him lower than Joe Montana if you like, and you will have a legitimate argument in doing so, but I will not. Given the weapons he’s had at his disposal versus what Joe Montana had, I give the edge to Tom Brady. I don’t think any other quarterback has a path to that throne. [↩]
- One of which certainly appears like it wasn’t a turnover as Duke Johnson popped right up with the football while the referees were still fixated on a pile of players who were cradling nothing at all. [↩]
- by a country mile. [↩]