Now? Well, not so much. A legendary quarterback remains, but the help he has around him just isn’t the same.
We mentioned the New York Times’s Fifth Down Blog running down position rankings a couple days back, and since, the folks at the Times have posted their lists of the Top 10 receivers and backs in the NFL. Not one Patriot makes either list.
Now, part of it is Wes Welker’s injury, which leaves his future a little murky. Another is Randy Moss’ age — which has cropped up late in seasons (he last had a 100-yard game in December or January in 2007) the last couple years.
The fact is, Brady doesn’t have an all-star cast the way he used to.
And an offense that finished 2009 as the league’s oldest (again, according to calculations over at the Fifth Down) — one that projects to start at least three 30-something linemen, and is loaded with mid-30s tailbacks — is entering a stage of transition.
There are young players there. Julian Edelman. Brandon Tate, injury-prone as he might be. Sebastian Vollmer. 2010 draftees Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski and Taylor Price.
Looking at the age of the offense, and the sudden need for playmakers on that side of the ball, the development of those guys over the next few months and into the season might be as vital as anything else.