This is far from the first "backs against the wall" moment for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. But it sure feels like that time has arrived even sooner than usual.
Bill Belichick made his typical 'We need to do everything better' comments after Sunday night's ugly 26-10 loss to the Detroit Lions. Those words have rarely rang as true as they do this week. The Patriots are in a rare spot, having to rebound from a second straight loss in which they played worse in Game No. 2. The team's usual response to a loss didn't materialize like anyone expected in Detroit. Instead, they went in the opposite direction.
Tom Brady certainly knows this, and he's sending a message to the team in a new Instagram post that hearkens back to Super Bowl LI. Down multiple scores and looking all kinds of disorganized against the Atlanta Falcons, Brady paced down the sidelines imploring his teammates, "We've got to play harder! We've got to play tougher! Harder, tougher, everything! Everything we got!"
The 2016 Patriots showed as much fight as any champion in history, battling back from that now-famous 28-3 deficit to win the Super Bowl. Right now, they look far away from getting back to that spot. Plenty of alarming things unfolded on the field in the Patriots' loss to the Lions, which all need to be corrected in short order.
But the most disturbing thing, perhaps, was the failure to even fight the adversity they faced. Aside from a momentary ray of hope off a Brady-to-James White touchdown early in the third quarter, it felt like the game got worse for the Patriots as it went along.
Hopefully, Brady is directing this message at himself more than anyone. It's true, he got subpar blocking up front and his weapons had severe trouble getting open against Detroit. But his frustration boiled over with some sloppy throws and poor decisions late in the game. By the end, Brady wasn't playing at his usual level, definitely not good enough to overcome their deficiencies. These Patriots won't go very far if Brady isn't always playing at a high level.
And although they'll likely play better moving forward, they certainly need to play harder as well. Sunday night wouldn't be good enough for the Patriots to beat just about any team. It's obvious that Brady sees that as much as anyone. The hope is this Instagram message gets through to the team.
Hopefully, the team knows it needs to be way better - and tougher - than it has been if they want to get back to the Super Bowl. First, they need to be willing to do it.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].