A Campos View: Could Brady Be the Best of the Bunch?

Jason Campos

By the time Drew Bledsoe is able to come back from his injury, he may no longer be the New England Patriots starting quarterback.

In just his third start in the NFL, second year quarterback Tom Brady helped lead the Patriots overcome a ten point fourth quarter deficit and beat the Doug Flutie-led San Diego Chargers in overtime, 29-26. Brady completed 33 of 51 passes for 365 yards and two touchdowns without throwing an interception. He is now 2-1 as a starting quarterback with victories over Indianapolis and San Diego.

Although the Patriots did not play a great game last Sunday and could have very easily lost the game, Brady was the main reason that they did come away with the victory. The young man showed maturity, some nice touch on his passes, and great poise in the pocket.

When Bledsoe ended up in Mass General nearly four weeks ago with his injury, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick found himself in a dilemma. He had brought in Damon Huard as the number two quarterback in the offseason to back up Bledsoe. But Brady had shown tremendous progress in training camp. Belichick installed the Michigan grad as the starter and so far Brady has shown some promise and success.

But what about nine year starter, three time Pro Bowler Drew Bledsoe when he becomes healthy? There is an old football adage that a starter should not lose his job due to an injury. If Brady continues his consistent play and, more importantly, lead the team to more victories, a serious quarterback controversy may evolve.

It will be several more weeks before Bledsoe can resume practice, let alone play, so Brady has plenty of time to lose the affection of the fickle minded Patriot fans. But last Sunday’s performance was the best the Foxboro crowd had seen in quite a while and it won’t be forgotten very easily.

The most important questions that will be raised by fans and local football pundits: is Brady the future of the organization? If so, should Bledsoe be kept on the bench? There will be no easy answer. Last year, Bledsoe signed a ten year contract worth 100 million dollars. Although Bledsoe will never see the end of this contract, it is set up in essence that owner Bob Kraft is on the hook for 30 million dollars over the next four years. If the Patriots cut Bledsoe anytime soon, the team will still be on the hook for the 30 million dollars against the salary cap.

The one thing that Patriot fans must keep in mind is that Bledsoe’s contract keeps him here in New England for at least three years after this season. So, magnificent plays by Brady not withstanding, Bledsoe’s presence, contract, and past record of success will not allow Brady to simply take over the starting quarterback position. Nevertheless, it will be enjoyable to listen to the arguments for each side. Let the fun begin.