By Jackie MacMullan | ESPNBoston.co
I listen to Tom Brady and I'm always left wondering what he's really thinking.
When he says, after a pregnant pause, that "it's not for me to evaluate" Danny Amendola's performance, does he really mean, "If I evaluated him, I'd take Wes Welker back!"? When he says Amendola "fought through some pretty tough injuries," does he really mean, "The guy can't stay healthy!"? And when he says, "He did everything the team asked of him,'' you know he really wants to add, "Except catch touchdowns!"
There was a time, back in the good old days, when Tom was still young and brash and unbridled, he told it to us straight. When the Patriots cut four-time Pro Bowl safety Lawyer Milloy in 2003 because they couldn't reach an agreement over his cap number, Brady didn't bother to hide his disgust, declaring he was "surprised as you could possibly be" about the move.
He was hauled into the principal's office and received a tongue-lashing for not touting the party line the way the face of the franchise should.
Since then, Brady has been maddeningly restrained, leaving us to speculate on how he truly feels.
Sounds fun. Let's speculate!
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Hope the disappointment of our AFC Championship Game loss has softened a bit, although by the sound of your comments on Monday, there's a fat chance of that, huh?
You are a fierce competitor, a perfectionist, and I'm sure you are feeling the same way I am: frustrated, drained, and well, kinda beat up.
I'm just not sure why you are taking it out on Welker. I knew you and Wes clashed, but geez, Coach, let it go. You embarrassed yourself -- and us -- with your suggestion that Wes deliberately tried to take out Aqib Talib. It smacked of sour grapes, and made you look like the person you've instructed us NEVER to be: the guy who makes excuses when we come up s hort.
Did you ever stop to think what kind of position you put me in by saying all that stuff? Of course everyone was going to ask me about it. You are my coach and I have the highest regard for you. We are in this together, forever intertwined whether we like it or not, and I know you work as hard as I do at this, maybe even harder.
I will always have your back, but you attacked my close friend, my former teammate, one of my favorite receivers of all time. I don't believe for a minute Wes intentionally tried to take anyone out. He is one crushing collision away from ending his own career because of all the hits he's absorbed in this game -- many of them on your watch, Coach. I know you hate to lose. Me too. I take responsibility for my shortcomings in that loss to Denver. I'm still banging my helmet over that long ball to Julian Edelman. I should have made that throw. It was only 3-0 at the time. If we score there, who knows what happens?
Then again, maybe we do know. I'll never say it publicly, but it was pretty obvious to me theDenver Broncos are a better football team than we are. They have more weapons than we do.
Hell, everyone does!!
I'm not going to lie to you: It gnaws at me when I see Peyton Manning step to the line and survey the plethora of targets in front of him. He has multiple deep threats, receivers that thrive in coverage underneath. His running back had more than 500 receiving yards. He had four guys who caught 10 touchdowns or more (including Wes).
We have none. I have a gutsy, undersized slot receiver we'll probably let walk in free agency. I was throwing balls to a recycled Colts veteran who we cut two days after Christmas. We've got a guy Josh McDaniels swore would fit perfectly in our system, but he couldn't stay healthy to establish any kind of rhythm. We had a rookie who shows some promise, but only after I had to undress the kid and his fellow first-year sidekick, because neither one of them seemed able to run the proper routes for the first third of the season.
Coach, you gotta get me some weapons. I know the "Patriot Way" doesn't include going the extra mile financially for skill positions, but we've come up s hort for nine seasons in a row now. I'm 36 years old and I'm not getting any younger. You aren't, either, by the way.
I've done everything you and Mr. Kraft have asked. I've completely submerged my ego and my personality to the point where I want to nod off during my own news conferences. I restructured my contract to provide extra cap flexibility for the team. I was hopeful you'd use some of that cash to re-sign Welker, but you never had any intention of doing that. You were so convinced he was a "system receiver'' that you could plug in anyone and turn him into someone as tough and as reliable
Julian fit that bill, and I certainly hope you plan to reward him. He was the best thing about this season, but I wouldn't blame him if he walked. When he came looking for a contract last season, he was given just $715,000 with a couple hundred thousand more in difficult incentives because he hadn't proved he could stay healthy. Fair enough, but then why did we throw five years and $31 million at Amendola, who has missed 24 games over the past three seasons?
Listen, Coach, we both know Aaron Hernandez isn't walking through that door. And let's be honest: There's a real chance that Rob Gronkowski might never be the same. The big lug is a game changer, but he's had more work done on him the past two years than Joan Rivers. We'll be lucky to have Gronk back by November of next season, and even when he does return, we have no idea what kind of physical toll this latest setback has caused him.
So find me a tight end, a big, strong, durable pass-catching target. I know we can't s hoot for the moon (although I have fantasized about what free agent Jimmy Graham could do for us). I know you probably can't afford Dennis Pitta, but let's trade up in the draft so we can grab the kid from Washington (Austin Seferian-Jenkins), or Eric Ebron of North Carolina, or Jace Amaro of Texas Tech. No more Zach Sudfelds off the street, please.
Even more critical, we need to bring in a receiver who can stretch the field. Randy Moss has been gone so long his tenure here feels like a mirage. Did it really happen? I feel like I haven't thrown a deep ball since Super Bowl XLVI.
Here's what you need to do, Coach. Sign Eric Decker. He's a free agent, and he made $1.3 million this season (I looked it up). I'm not sure how much he will cost, but overpay if you have to. This would be a win-win: You'd get me a reliable target to balance the field and you take one away from Peyton and the Broncos.
I'm proud of what our team did this season. We lost one guy after another and we kept on trucking. But you can't ask me to keep pace with Peyton when he's cruising along in a Cadillac and I'm clunking after him in a lemon.
Give me some juice. Give me a chance.
After all we've been through together, I think I've earned it.