"Hines Ward and many others seem to recognize the fact that the Pats without Brady area completely different team - one not to be feared and one incapable of competing with the upper echelon teams. C'mon, have you forgotten that it's not just how Brady plays but his leadership and intelligence that have driven this machine. He's going to come back with a major chip on his shoulder, he's going to motivated as heck, and the Pats will resume their elite status. It's not that complicated. It's ALWAYS been mostly Brady. What worries me the most is not whether in ten years the Pats will be mediocre but whether the front office will fail to realize that you probably have 3-4 more years with Tom when you could win 2 more SBs (yes, I believe that). Take advantage of that opportunity. If you have to trade for an elite CB and another linebacker do so." ** Saw this on another blog and think it makes a very good point about the crossroads this franchise is at. After this season, should the Pats abandon the "constantly reloading for the long term" philosophy that has defined the Belichick/Pioli era? Instead of accumulating draft picks, should they instead be thinking of trading major picks for immediate defensive impact players while Brady is still around? .