It’s been a big story over the last week that Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady has missed the last week of practice. This absence will include last week’s preseason game vs the Miami Dolphins and the coming preseason game vs the Tennessee Titans. This type of absence from camp is extremely rare, especially considering the mysterious reasoning of “a personal matter”.
This has led to great speculation about what is going on with Brady. The theories have ranged from family problems, to retiring again, to filming a TV show. Regardless of the reason, the only thing that matters is that Brady is missing time.
But Does That Really Matter?
The 22 year NFL veteran has done it all. Brady has broken essentially every passing record and is showing no signs of slowing down after leading the NFL in passing yards and passing touchdowns last season. All this leads me to the question: does it matter that Brady is missing all this practice?
Of course, practice is very important. After all, it’s not like Brady has played with this group of teammates for 22 years. Okay in fact there will be several new offensive starters that he’ll need to build chemistry with.
Having said all this, the answer I keep coming to is no. I don’t think it really matters that Brady is missing camp right now. For every reason that it might, it feels like there’s a counterpoint for why it doesn’t. Here’s what I mean.
Timing With The WRs
Regardless of the type of offense, timing with the pass catchers is incredibly important. Precision and efficiency go hand in hand when it comes to throwing the ball. So building chemistry and rapport between quarterback and receiver is a big deal…Except maybe in this case.
With Mike Evans and Russell Gage nursing hamstring injuries and Chris Godwin still working his way back from season end surgery last year, Brady can’t really work on timing with his receivers. Sure he can build chemistry with some of the depth guys like Jaelon Darden and Deven Thompkins, but how many of the guys catching passes right now will actually make this team.
Sure, you can point to new guys like Julio Jones and Kyle Rudolph. On the other hand, those guys have each been in the NFL for over a decade. It’s fair to expect them to pick things up quickly and be where they need to be. If everyone is doing their job then it shouldn’t take long to build that relationship.
Everyone else has worked with Brady for several years now. Cam Brate has been in Tampa Bay his whole career and knows both Brady and the system. You can say the same of Scotty Miller, granted he’s had a much shorter career. It shouldn’t take long to get back in the old rhythm for guys like this.
Communication With OL
There is a special relationship between quarterback and offensive line. The quarterback has to trust that all five guys will do their job to protect him. Sometimes this involves detailed communication between the two.
Keep in mind that Brady already has this with the offensive tackles. They are both returning and were part of the Bucs Super Bowl run. He also has a history with newcomer Shaq Mason who played with Brady for five years in New England. That just leaves two guys to focus on.
The first is center Robert Hainsey. The second year player is filling in for Pro Bowler Ryan Jensen who is out with injury (possibly for the season). At this point Hainsey has enough to be thinking about with his own responsibilities before worrying about chemistry with Brady.
The starting left guard on this team is still to be determined. Right now it’s a three way battle between Aaron Stinnie, Luke Goedeke and Nick Leverett. At this point, none of them are getting enough reps as the starter to build any kind of consistency or chemistry.
For now I would just as rather Brady be away than try to figure things out behind a work in progress offensive line.
There is no question that Brady is a leader on this team. He leads by example and sets the tone with his intensity and attention to detail. There’s no doubt that this is missed to a degree.
However, this team has many leaders on it. Established Buccaneers legends such as Mike Evans and Lavonte David are still in camp. Incoming Pro Bowlers and Super Bowl champions like Akiem Hicks and Shaq Mason are new leaders in their own right.
As unusual as it is to see any player out like this, especially one of Brady’s caliber, there are plenty of stars to pick up the slack while he’s gone. This locker room is strong. This roster is established and excellent. Tom Brady missing a few scrimmages won’t change that in the least.
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