Welcome to Boston.com’s Sports Q, our daily conversation, initiated by you and moderated by Chad Finn, about a compelling topic in Boston sports. Here’s how it works: You submit questions to Chad through Twitter, Facebook, email, his Friday chat, and any other outlet you prefer. He’ll pick one each weekday to answer, then we’ll take the discussion to the comments. Chad will stop by several times per day to navigate. But you drive the conversation.
Was Bill Belichick right to leave Tom Brady in the game against a dirty Dolphins defense Sunday? The lead seemed pretty safe. He seemed [annoyed] to even be asked about it. – Ryan N.
Before I get to my answer, here’s Belichick’s:
“It’s easy for you to sit there and say the game is out of hand. But if you watch games in the National Football League, a lot can change in a hurry. The only time I think the game is in hand is when they’re not going to have enough possessions to get the points they need. Sorry, we just see that one totally differently.”
He did seem annoyed, but I think he assumed we know his approach there by now. If the opposition theoretically has enough time to come back and it is — as Charlie Weis explained on NBC Sports Boston’s postgame show — less than a four-score lead, he is leaving the varsity out there. And that includes Brady.
Was he right? Yeah. The Patriots won, and Brady didn’t get hurt in what we see as garbage time.
But we could also look at it this way:
It worked out — this time. But there’s so much risk there, and so much to lose, that it’s the nature of the fan to wish he would pull Brady even when the score isn’t a mathematically clinched victory.
Yesterday could have been one of those circumstances. His touchdown pass put the Patriots up 35-17 with 6:35 left. Theoretically, it wasn’t over. But the Dolphins aren’t the ’16 Patriots, and the Patriots sure as heck aren’t the ’16 Falcons. It was over.
Brady stayed in on the next possession with a little more than 4 minutes left, but did not throw a pass, instead handing off to Rex Burkhead three times. Should Belichick have pulled him then? Ideally, I say yes, but at least he didn’t throw a pass.
You’re never entirely out of harm’s way when Ndamukong Suh is on the field. But that’s about as safe as it gets. Brady then closed out the game on the final possession with a series of kneel-downs.
I think the Patriots should be extra-protective of Brady, especially now that Jimmy Garoppolo is on the other coast. Belichick does not, and he’s not about to listen to the likes of me now. He’s done all right without my advice.
But what do you guys think? Should Belichick have pulled Brady late in Sunday’s game? I’ll hear you in the comments.