Take away Danny Amendola, Shane Vereen, and Zach Sudfeld and what do the New England Patriots have? They have an apoplectic Tom Brady. And it is amazing enough that he was able to pull out a win with so few weapons at his disposal.
But add to that the deplorable conditions that all the players had to endure...
And let's go back and review the losses that Brady has endured this offseason:
1. Wes Welker is allowed to walk... all the way to Denver and arch-nemesis Peyton Manning.
2. Aaron Hernandez is carted out of Foxboro in handcuffs.
3. Danny Woodhead, third-down back extraordinaire, is allowed to leave in free agency.
4. Brandon Lloyd, second best receiver from 2012, is released.
5. Deion Branch and Donte Stallworth, basically the only other receivers to have much contribution to the Patriots' near-record offense is gone.
6. And the aforementioned Rob Gronkowski out with inujuries/surgery/rehab for who knows how long...
Tom Brady has only one receiver, Julian Edelman, who caught more than a handful of passes from him in 2012. Edelman may have to become his new, go-to guy all of a sudden.
Even the tight end position is nearly nonexsistent. Michael Hoomanawanui? Who?
And to ice the cake - the running backs are either injured or dropping the ball like a hot potato. Neither Brandon Bolden nor LeGarrette Blount appear to be the every-down back that can lead this team, leaving Stevan Ridley to figure out how to cope with his own issues.
So... Tom Brady was not the picture of poise and confidence on Thursday night in New England. In fact, he lost it! We all know what he can do on the field. He is a living legend. But every human has his limits.
Brady was far from perfect on a dark and stormy night. To be fair, his front line is still not offering the protection to which he is accustomed. And his young receiving corps seems to be lost at times, much like the Chad Ocho Cinco experiment that went down in flames.
Is that the scenario facing the Patriots in 2013? I don't think so. But I do see a very, large, growing curve in the immediate future here. A short week so early in the season, coupled with the inexperience of the combatants, and a horrible field of play was too much to place on the shoulders of rookies Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins.
But even seasoned veterans like Tom Brady can suffer a meltdown like we witnessed this week. Yeah, he was apoplectic! They have a longer week to work on things, including the attitude and temper; but the competitor will always be on one shoulder, while the mentor will be on the other- spurring Brady toward that elusive fourth ring.
He knows his time is shortening with every year, every week, but he is determined to end his career as strong as he started it. That is where the antics originated Thursday night, and it won't stop there. Tom will, as is his right, expect incredible effort and performance from any player who takes the field with him.
Brady will yell, but he will teach and encourage as well. And Brady will win games; he will pull out close contests and he will unleash blowouts on his opponents - that is what he does.
Criticize Brady the competitor if you like; he isn't going anywhere.