By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
First it was Bill Belichick. Then it was the young, inexperienced receiving corps. Now there is the suggestion of a fraying relationship between Tom Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels during the final days of the quarterback's time in New England, something Brady has vehemently denied.
Brady – or, more specifically, Brady’s attitude – certainly appears to have been a problem last season, and we might now be positioned to learn precisely how much.
In the span of roughly eight hours on Tuesday, longtime NFL writer Gary Myers and Brady himself exchanged barbs on social media, Myers on Twitter shortly after noon and Brady on Instagram just after 8 p.m. Myers reported that Brady’s relationship with McDaniels had soured at the end, largely because of Brady’s unwillingness to trust his young receiving corps. Brady then shot back.
Here’s the crux of the exchange:
Hard to present an order of why Tom Brady didn't want to return to Patriots. But one thing has been very much overlooked, according to an excellent source: His deteriorating relationship with OC Josh McDaniels. Tom was worn out by Josh after all these years. That surprised me.
The first question here is obvious: whom do you believe? Myers is respected. Brady isn’t too often in the business of addressing media reports. At the end of the day, the staunch Brady supporters will undoubtedly fall on the side of their hero, who remains the greatest quarterback and player in the history of the NFL.
But it’s not that simple.
Fact: it’s not beyond Brady to have blowups with his offensive coordinator. Bill O’Brien once rightly aired Brady out on the sideline in Washington during the 2011 season after Brady chastised Tiquan Underwood – a young, inexperienced receiver – for making a mistake. In 2017, Brady and McDaniels famously had a blowup on the sideline in Buffalo and Brady publicly apologized a few days later.
In the end, as we all continue to watch “The Last Dance” that chronicles of the inner conflicts of Michael Jordan, Brady had his moments, too. And now that he is gone, the 2020 season may afford us the unique opportunity to assess just how much of a problem Brady was at the end.
Think about it: for all of the changes the Patriots have undergone this offseason, Brady is really the only significant loss on offense. The others starters are coming back, from the offensive line to the skill positions. Certainly, the return of injured center David Andrews will make a difference, too. But you get the idea. Unless you count James Develin – a valuable role player, but nothing more – quarterback is the only spot of major change on offense. (The defense, meanwhile, has suffered multiple losses.)
What if the offense this year improves? What if, with Jarrett Stidham at quarterback, the Patriots offense is more harmonious and more productive, even if it is less talented and experienced at the most important position in sports? What if Stidham is better at working with his young receivers, better at taking coaching, less unhappy?
Would people believe then that Brady – or, again more specifically, Brady’s state of mind – was a problem?
Ultimately, here’s where we can land now. Internally, on offense, the Patriots were something of a mess last year. They had injuries and issues on the offensive line. They had a young, inexperienced receiving corps. And it certainly feels as if there was dysfunction in the nerve center of the entire offensive operation, from the coach to the quarterback and with the offensive coordinator in between.
In 2020, we might get a far better picture as to just how much.