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Patriots Overcome Injuries and Suspensions, Stay Afloat during Tom Brady’s Absence

Matt Stone

Matt Stone

David Korn, Sports Editor

To be honest, who would have thought that in the games that the Patriots would be playing without Tom Brady, they would have beaten early season Super Bowl favorites Arizona Cardinals, rookie third string quarterback Jacoby Brissett would have picked apart the J.J. Watt led Houston Texans’ defense, rushing for almost 50 yards and one touchdown, and that Legarrette Blount would be named AFC Offensive Player of the Month, rushing for 298 yards and four touchdowns in September. The only blemish on their record during that time was a 16-0 defeat against the Buffalo Bills. That loss can be blamed on the Patriots not having a single healthy quarterback on the roster, with backup Jimmy Garoppolo having hurt his shoulder and Brisset his thumb.
If you haven’t been paying much attention to this football season, here’s a little refresher on why Tom Brady had to miss the first four games of the season. Two years ago, in the AFC championship game, the Patriots beat the Indianapolis Colts 45-7. After the game, the NFL stated that the Patriots had used underinflated footballs during the game, and later after the Patriots won the Super Bowl, Tom Brady was given a four game suspension, and the Patriots were forced to forfeit two draft picks. After a long process of appeals, Brady was allowed to play the whole 2015-16 season. At the end of the season though, his suspension was reinstated by the U.S. Court of Appeals, thus he was suspended for the first four games of this season.
The Patriots have not only been without Brady, but have also been missing star tight end Rob Gronkowski because of recurrent injury issues, veteran defensive end/linebacker Rob Ninkovich also missed the first four games of the season due to another questionable suspension, and running back Dion Lewis, who can return from his knee injury as early as week 7. So far, the only real constants have been new tight end Martellus Bennett, running back Legarrette Blount, and a solid defense led by linebacker Jamie Collins.
During Brady’s suspension, Bill Belichick has cemented his place as the greatest coach of all time, showing the he can win football games with virtually any type of quarterback. He showed us that he could win with Garoppolo, a player who had almost no NFL experience, and Brisset, a rookie who had never played a snap in the NFL. It is even more impressive that he managed to win a game with Brisset, as he had to change up the whole offense to fit his more mobile, option-based style of play. Against the Texans, we saw Belichick call plays that allowed Brisset to run the ball, which had ever been done by a Belichick coached player.
The beginning to this season was in no way ideal for the New England Patriots, but through the mastery of Bill Belichick and the way several former role players have stepped up, the Pats have managed to salvage what many thought to be a lost season.

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Patriots Overcome Injuries and Suspensions, Stay Afloat during Tom Brady’s Absence