October 27, 2010
Can Brady Stay Healthy?
BY: Mike Saver
Tom Brady hasn't had the luxury of a healthy season the last couple of years. In 2008, he missed the entire season with a torn ACL and MCL and then battled a finger injury and broken ribs in the 2009 season. Last week, Brady recognized the risks of the game when talking about the NFL's crackdown on helmet-to-helmet hits, "...the physical nature of this sport is that people do get hurt. We all have gotten hurt, everybody in this locker room. I've had four, five surgeries. It's just part of what you're signing up for."
So far this season there have been 19 quarterback changes caused by injury. That's an astounding number. 13 of the 32 teams in the league have watched their starter go down, some have even watched the backups go down shortly after. Even the "Iron Man", Brett Favre, has his amazing 291 consecutive start streak being threatened by a fractured ankle.
This is a dangerous year for quarterbacks.
Of course, the offensive line plays a big role in making sure the signal caller stays upright. The results of a missed block can be disastrous as many saw on Monday night when rookie FB Chris Gronkowski missed Giants' linebacker Michael Bolley, leading to Tony Romo breaking his collarbone.
The Patriots offensive line started off the year looking great, yet they've recently started to slip. In the last three games they've allowed at least 3 sacks - hitting a season high against the Chargers with 4. Currently they are middle of the road as far as sacks go (tied for 13th in the league) allowing Tom Brady to hit the ground 12 times.
While a lot of the credit can be given to the aggressive defenses of Miami, Baltimore and San Diego, the trend has to be a concern for the Pats, especially at the left guard position.
Dan Connolly had filled in nicely for the disgruntled Logan Mankins for most of the year. However, Sunday's game left a lot to be desired. Brady was under duress for most of the game, which could help explain why it was hard for them to get anything going offensively. Most of the pressure the Chargers generated seemed to come from the left side. It got bad enough that the coaches eventually benched Connolly in favor of Ryan Wendell at the start of the second half.
Logan Mankins' absence hadn't been felt all year until now. It's hard to say the Patriots didn't miss him on Sunday. With the injuries to quarterbacks all around the league, it has to be something of concern.
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