Tom Brady’s tone and short time at the microphone for his postgame press conference at Lincoln Financial Field told us all we needed to know following Sunday evening’s 17-10 victory over the Eagles.
The Patriots quarterback said many of the right things as he tried to express his contentment with a road win over a quality opponent to improve to 9-1 on the season, best record in the NFL.
“It's good to win," Brady said. "It's good to win. Go on the road and win is always tough. They all count the same. But any time you go on the road and beat a good team is a good feeling."
It was a good feeling that didn’t appear to leave Brady feeling too good.
Brady “led” his lackluster offense to punts on eight of 13 possessions against Philly, including the unit’s final six possessions of the game.
The New England offense went just five of 16 on third downs, a mere 31 percent. Three trips into the red zone led to only one touchdown, and that one came on a 15-yard throw from Julian Edelman to Phillip Dorsett on the opening drive of the second half, a play that ended up the difference in the game.
Trick play, double passes aren’t exactly how efficient, confident offenses led by elite quarterbacks go about their business in the red zone. It’s how struggling, desperate units scheme up a way to steal a much-needed score.
Afterwards Brady seemingly wanted no part of joking around about Edelman’s touchdown throw or the slot receiver wanting to talk about his own perfect passer rating.
The frustration felt from TB12 was obvious. He’s a competitive, emotional leader who can say the right things, but at times struggles to hide what he’s really feeling.
As has been the case all season with New England riding a dominant defense to victory on a weekly basis – the unit forced the Eagles into a punt, turnover or turnover on downs on 11 of 13 possessions in the win while recording five sacks and taking the ball away from Carson Wentz on the game’s only turnover – Brady’s postgame presser included questions regarding his assessment of the offense at this point in the process.
“We could probably do everything better,” Brady acknowledged.
He’s not wrong.
The work-in-progress offense exited the bye week showing limited progress and seemingly needing much more work.
Sony Michel continued to struggle to find any consistency on the ground, averaging the same exact 3.3 yards per carry as he has all season.
The makeshift offensive line allowed Brady to feel the pressure once again against a talented Philly front and failed to consistently execute the screen passes that Josh McDaniels dialed up.
First-round pick N’Keal Harry’s NFL debut resulted in three catches on four targets for a ho-hum 18 yards.
The Brady-led offense was good enough to win, thanks primarily to the 10-play, 84-yard, up-tempo drive to open the second half that was capped off by the Dorsett touchdown. But the unit was far from good, a fact that Brady’s tone and countenance expressed quite clearly in his postgame remarks that lasted less than two minutes.
Was he mad? Sad? Disappointed? Pissed off?
Or, is the best way to describe Brady’s emotions right now as resignation? Is the 42-year-old G.O.A.T. who is set to be a free agent after the season resigned to the fact that he’s a complementary player on the defending Super Bowl champions run to possible title defense?
If that’s the case, it’s certainly a role and an emotion that Brady is not used to and may not be one that he’s able to digest easily.
Watching a shell-of-himself, injury-limited Peyton Manning ride the Denver defense’s domination to a Super Bowl ring is one thing.
But Brady is healthy and few could have imagined even just a few weeks or months ago that he wouldn’t be a focal point of whatever success the latest version of the New England dynasty has this season.
Eleven weeks of NFL action are in the books and Brady is the 21st-rated passer in the league.
There are few signs pointing toward a late season surge for him or the New England passing attack.
Sure, the expected return of second-year lineman Isaiah Wynn from injured reserve next Sunday afternoon against the Cowboys at Gillette Stadium should help the offensive line. But is a left tackle with one game and a quarter of playing time under his NFL belt really enough to transform a sputtering, lackluster offense that struggles to run the ball with any consistency and has limited proven playmakers in the passing game?
Is anyone really putting any stock at all in the supposed big announcement that retired tight end Rob Gronkowski has set for Tuesday morning on Instagram being anything more than another bought-and-paid-for marketing ploy?
There are no quick fixes for Brady and the offense.
No miracle cures for what ails the Patriots passing attack.
As the quarterback himself said last week, these are the players that will be the ones tested and expected to produce down the stretch and into the postseason.
The Patriots got a quality win over a talented if undermanned playoff-caliber opponent Sunday evening in the City of Brotherly Love.
It was a win that left Brady in less than a celebratory mood.
Brady and the Patriots offense are what they are right now. They’re the reason that the Patriots’ margin for error is growing smaller by the week as the competition improves and the calendar approaches Thanksgiving.
Pragmatically, Brady was obviously happy to get a win in Philly. He was certainly happy to improve to 9-1 on the season.
Just don’t expect him to show it, because he clearly has higher standards and expectations for both himself and his offense than what they are achieving right now. He also knows that talk is cheap and his own confidence or concerns with his offense are as meaningless.
"I don't think it matters what I think. It matters what we do," Brady concluded.
That’s so very true and probably good news for New England. Because right now, based on his tone, it’s doesn’t seem like Brady feels like he or his offense are good enough.