There’s No QB Controversy, Again Heading Into Show Down vs Rams

Ian Logue
January 28, 2002 at 12:09 pm ET

FOXBORO, MA — There is no quarterback controversy, and this week is certainly no time to resurrect what has taken months to finally disappear.

After replacing quarterback Tom Brady who suffered an ankle injury with just under two minutes remaining in the first half, quarterback Drew Bledsoe made his return to the football field for the first time since suffering internal bleeding in their week-two loss to the New York Jets, and threw three straight passes, the last of which ended up in the endzone on a touchdown pass to David Patten. It put New England up 14-3 at halftime and showed every player on the New England sideline that everything would be all right.

And it was.

Bledsoe helped lead them to a 24-17 win over the Steelers and back to the Superbowl, a place they haven’t been since their 11-5 campaign of 1996 when he last took them there. But in all likelihood Bledsoe will return to the sidelines in favor of Brady in the event the second-year quarterback is ready to go this weekend.

While Bledsoe lost his job to injury, it’s probably pretty certain that Brady will not. Belichick appears to be pretty set on who his quarterback of the future is going to be, and while he praised Bledsoe for his performance after the game, it’s doubtful he’ll forget about the guy who also got them to where they are right now. His long-term commitment does not seem to belong to #11, and people have had all season to get used to that idea.

Fortunately Sunday did however remind everyone that Bledsoe does still know how to play this game, and you can bet that the asking price for him when the inevitable trade happens just got a little higher. When quarterback Jim Miller went down with an injury in the NFC Divisional playoffs for the Chicago Bears, they replaced him with Shane Matthews. The result was a first round exit from the playoffs, and they are likely sitting there right now trying to figure a way to get Bledsoe in a Bears uniform after watching him do what Matthews had no chance of doing.

Fortunately for now he continues wearing a Patriots uniform.

Brady left the game on Sunday 12-of-18 for 115-yards, and looked sharp heading into the drive where he suffered his injury. He has done all he has been asked to do this season, and it’s doubtful considering how well he’s played that Belichick would give up on him now. Granted you can call it a double standard and think “Why can’t Brady lose his job to injury?, Drew did,” but that is simply the way it is. To try and think Belichick is suddenly going to change his mind is simply a waste of your valuable time.

So if Brady is ready to go, or even close to 100%, it’s likely you’ll see him start again next Sunday. There’s no room to open this debate up again, and if you are a fan of either player there’s no point in fanning a flame that will likely be started by every sports caster and writer between now and next weekend.

They are heading into a game that doesn’t happen for most teams very often, and that’s what their focus should be on. Belichick has made the right call all season, and he did the right thing when he felt it was best to leave Bledsoe in during the second half on Sunday.

Forget about the controversy and put your faith in what every player in that locker room places theirs, and that’s in Belichick. For the first time since the days of Bill Parcells, they believe in their coach completely, and they know that Belichick will make the right decisions.

That’s why he’s here, and it’s why they’re now heading to New Orleans. He’ll be the one to make that call, and look at it this way:

Why not let the Rams wonder who they’ll face in the biggest game of the season?

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