Tom Brady’s Top 10 Weapons On Offense With Patriots
Tom Brady’s career with the New England Patriots remains historic as the franchise prepares to honor the legendary quarterback during the home opener at Gillette Stadium on Sept. 10 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Brady had a number of superb weapons on offense throughout his time in Foxboro. From pure outside receivers to technicians in the slot, No. 12 had plenty of playmakers.
Who stands out among the best that Brady ever had?
Let the debate begin.
Here are the power rankings of Tom Brady’s top 10 weapons on offense with the Patriots.
1. Rob Gronkowski
There is not another player who had the impact for Brady for nearly a decade that Rob Gronkowski did.
The 2010 second-round draft pick gave Brady an elite, big-body target that could line up nearly anywhere on the field. The regular season moments go on and on with highlight-reel touchdowns as he physically dominated defenders in the open field.
The New England tight end scored at least 10 touchdowns in five of his first six NFL seasons. Gronkowski also tallied four 1,000 yard seasons as a centerpiece of the offense. As a four-time first-team All-Pro, a five-time Pro Bowler and the 2014 AP Comeback Player of the Year, the regular season resume speaks for itself.
Playoff production, however, makes a major impact on this list. When he was healthy, “Gronk” was an absolute force in January and early February Sundays.
In the 2014 AFC Divisional round, Gronkowski controlled the middle of the field for 108 yards in multiple two-touchdown comebacks against the Baltimore Ravens.
The Denver Broncos could not contain Gronkowski on multiple postseason occasions. In the 2011 AFC Divisional round, he hauled in three touchdowns with 145 yards. Four years later in the 2015 conference championship, the Patriots tight end put the team on his back on a fourth-quarter drive with a monster fourth-down conversion down the seam before grabbing a score in the back of the end zone that brought New England within a two-point conversion of tying the game.
When the lights were at their brightest, Gronkowski still made his mark, catching three touchdowns from Brady in his Super Bowl career with New England. (He hauled in two more as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer in Super Bowl LV).
Even when he didn’t find the end zone, Gronkowski’s diving catch in Super Bowl LIII set up the Patriots to punch it in and earn a sixth Lombardi Trophy with arguably the play of the game.
Like a few pass-catchers on this list, the moments that made Brady better from Gronkowski would run off the page.
As the top player on the list, the bottom line with Gronkowski is simple: He truly dominated the game as a tight end and consistently performed as a Patriot. New England may have added even more championships had he been healthier.
2. Randy Moss
The Randy Moss era with Brady at quarterback felt like it went by in the blink of an eye. If only it lasted a bit longer. They may have played just 40 total games together, but they were certainly memorable.
When the elite wideout arrived in Foxboro ahead of the 2007 season, Brady was already an above-average passer with three Super Bowl rings and a clutch gene like none other.
What he did not have was a truly elite threat to take his game to a completely new level. Moss did just that.
In their historic 2007 campaign together, Brady set the NFL record at the time with 50 touchdown passes to win his first MVP award. Moss set a record hauling in 23 of those, including eight games with multiple scores and a four-touchdown game in Buffalo when the Patriots hung 56 points on the Bills.
Fans will remember Super Bowl XLII for the loss that made the Patriots 18-1 and kept them from immortality. What people may forget is that this legendary duo stepped up in the fourth quarter for what could have been another Super Bowl rally from the Patriots. With 2:42 remaining in the game, Brady hit Moss on a slant route to put the Patriots in front before the New York Giants miraculously won the game minutes later on David Tyree’s “Helmet Catch” and Plaxico-Burress’ clinching score.
The duo had to wait a year for more production when Brady’s season came to an end just minutes into the 2008 year with a torn ACL. As a side note, Moss produced that year as well with 1,008 yards and 11 touchdowns from Matt Cassel.
In the long-awaited return in 2009, Moss had 1,264 yards and a league-leading 13 touchdowns to take the NFL by storm again.
The union came to an end in 2010 after just four games when New England traded a frustrated Moss to the Minnesota Vikings.
Brady already was a great quarterback. Moss made him historically great.
3. Julian Edelman
Julian Edelman worked for years to earn Brady’s trust in New England. When he got it, the former Kent State quarterback never looked back.
Edelman played four years with the Patriots in a variety of roles before emerging as a true top target in 2013 with 105 catches and 1,056 yards.
From there, the connection between the Californians only grew with No. 12 finding No. 11 consistently in the slot and constantly in big situations.
Edelman may just be the greatest postseason impact of any player on this list. Only Jerry Rice has more all-time receiving yards in the playoffs and Edelman made sure all of his counted.
He returned from a broken foot in 2015 to snag 10 balls for 100 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs after missing nearly two months. At Arrowhead Stadium three years later, Brady found Edelman on third-and-long twice in overtime to send the Patriots to a third straight Super Bowl. Edelman took advantage of that opportunity with another 10 catches and 141 yards to win Super Bowl MVP when New England bested the Los Angeles Rams 13-3.
His juggling catch in Super Bowl LI to keep the 28-3 comeback alive remains one of the greatest catches in the history of support. Edelman constantly put his body on the line for Brady and his teammates, especially in Super Bowl XLIX with a series of big hits on clutch catches, including the game-winning score with two minutes to go when Brady earned his highly-important fourth Super Bowl with a 28-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks.
Edelman was as clutch as they come. His chemistry with Brady became unmatched and helped the New England quarterback drive the second half of the dynasty.
4. Wes Welker
To put it in the simplest form, Wes Welker set a standard for players like Edelman and cemented the slot as a remarkably valuable aspect of the Brady-era New England offense.
Moss will also stand out for the historic 2007 passing attack, however, he was not the only first-year Patriot to shine that season.
Welker caught the first of Brady’s 50 touchdowns in that campaign and created mismatches every week as a true route technician. The former Miami Dolphin played six seasons in New England with five 1,000-yard campaigns and led the NFL in receptions three times in that span.
His Super Bowl XLVI drop with the Patriots leading in the fourth quarter may leave a small mark on his perception in New England. Regardless, Welker was consistently Brady’s favorite target during their years together.
5. Troy Brown
Finding areas of football that Troy Brown did not impact would be a very difficult activity.
The current New England receivers coach was a dependable offensive player. He filled in at cornerback in 2004. He returned punts. Brown was a classic Patriots player who lived the “Do Your Job” mentality.
Brown was a major security blanket as Brady settled into his own as a starting quarterback in the NFL. He consistently assisted his quarterback with huge plays. His catch-and-run to set up Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning field goal in Super Bowl XXXVI as the Patriots took home the franchise’s first championship.
Brown made another game-saving play during the 2006 playoffs when he forced a fumble on Marlon McCree’s interception return as the Patriots kept the ball and pulled off the upset on the road in the 14-2 San Diego Chargers.
Brown was not an elite receiver, but Brady’s early career would have looked very different without him.
6. Deion Branch
In two separate stints with the Patriots, Branch gave Brady a consistent playmaker.
The Louisville product took over Super Bowl XXXIX with a ridiculous 11-catch performance for 133 yards as the game’s MVP.
After leaving for Seattle, Branch returned to the Patriots in 2010 when Brady needed help following Moss’ departure. Branch delivered and helped fuel the overwhelming offense toward a 14-2 record and Brady’s second MVP season.
Branch became another target who truly made Brady better.
7. James White
The first running back is on the board!
Among a series of pass-catching backs, White helped Brady convert as a third-down back. He also scored a touchdown in all three games of the 2017 postseason.
For White, however, as expected, his capstone performance came in Super Bowl LI when the Wisconsin product just may have had a strong enough case to steal the game’s MVP honors from Brady.
As a major contributor, White set a Super Bowl record with 14 catches for 110 yards and three total touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime.
The Patriots never win the most impressive game of Brady’s career without James White’s legendary performance.
8. David Givens
The Notre Dame product only played five NFL seasons and never put up flashy numbers.
What he did do was catch the ball when Brady threw his way and scored a touchdown in seven straight playoff games.
Givens caught a touchdown in both Super Bowl XXXVII and XXXIX as an important receiver in Brady’s early years.
9. Brandin Cooks
For a player who only spent one season with Brady, Brandin Cooks made a rather sizeable impact.
The young receiver brought speed and a deep threat to Foxboro following a trade with the New Orleans Saints that Brady did not have for years.
During his 2017 campaign, Cooks racked up 1,082 yards with seven touchdowns in a strong year in New England. His most memorable touchdown came on an impressively athletic toe-tapping score to beat the Houston Texans in the final seconds at Gillette Stadium.
Cooks also had a rather underrated performance during the 2017 AFC Championship. As Brady, playing with stitches in his throwing hand, led the Patriots back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cooks stepped up with six key catches for 100 yards.
Although he left Super Bowl LII after a hit to the head from Malcom Jenkins, Cooks more than performed for Brady in his lone season with New England.
10. Kevin Faulk
As the second running back on his list, Faulk also helped Brady out of the backfield, especially as a consistent target on third down.
Faulk scored valuable touchdowns during his New England career that earned him a spot in the Patriots’ Hall of Fame. He found the end zone in the 2006 AFC Wild Card win over the New York Jets and scored the game-winner when the Patriots beat the Indianapolis Colts in the “Undefeated Bowl” of the 2007 season.
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Tom Brady’s Top 10 Weapons On Offense With Patriots
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