The one thing you never want to see in sports, as a fan or even a teammate, is your team’s star player suffer a season-ending injury at the beginning of the year. Did I mention that the star player set the single-season touchdown record for a Quarterback last year, led his team to a perfect 16-0 regular season and is the reigning league MVP?
Sorry Pats fans, but you could be in for a long season without the golden arm of Tom Brady.
In the first quarter of the season opener against Kansas City, Brady was tackled low by Chiefs’ safety Bernard Pollard and left the game with an injured left knee. If you listened to the crowd’s reaction when Brady went down, you would think they witnessed someone get killed.
The only thing killed on the play was New England’s chances at making the Super Bowl this season. If you really think backup Matt Cassel is going to come out of nowhere and lead them to the Promised Land, either you are extremely hopeful or simply delusional.
Whether you want to admit it or not, the Patriots are not even close to being the same team without Tom Brady. Their offense starts and finishes with the leadership, poise and playmaking ability that he has consistently shown at quarterback over the last seven seasons.
Sure, when Drew Bledsoe was seriously injured at the start of the 2001 season, Brady was the backup who stepped in and led the Pats to the Super Bowl. But Brady had experience playing in big games during his collegiate career at Michigan, while Cassel has been riding the bench since his days backing up Matt Leinart at USC.
The search for another quarterback is already underway at New England, and the team will be working out free agents Chris Simms and Tim Rattay during the week. Maybe they could convince Daunte Culpepper to come out of retirement and reunite him with former Viking teammate Randy Moss.
Brady’s injury affects more than just the New England Patriots, considering its magnitude and his importance to the team. With the defending AFC champions in a state of panic at the quarterback position, the whole conference is wide open for the taking and a team like San Diego or Jacksonville could be going to Tampa in February.
Before worrying about winning the conference, their focus should simply be on defending a tougher division than usual. The Patriots should have some company in the suddenly competitive AFC East with a solid Bills team and the new-and-improved New York Bretts.
This weekend’s battle against the Jets will tell us a lot about this Brady-less Patriot squad. The Pats could have a tough time defensively with a Jet offense clicking under gunslinger Brett Favre, who threw for two touchdowns in his impressive debut Sunday.
In the meantime, Bill Belichick needs to go back into his bag of tricks and find a way to survive the season without his superstar. No video cameras allowed.
Bold Prediction of the week: Notre Dame Football will go to 2-0 with a win over Michigan, 27-23. Go Irish!