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Mini Jerk Reactions to Week 2: Tom Brady vs. the Panthers

--In case I haven't mentioned this before, Tom Brady is a man of many skills. Throwing footballs. Reading defenses. Building health and wellness business empires. Making even the humblest rags look like formal robes from royal fashion designers.Being clutch. Being handsome. Inspiring hope in all of humanity through his splendid example. But today against the Carolina Panthers, one of his often overlooked talents was on full display for all the world. And that was his ability to make fools out of the people who say he's too old.

--Make no mistake, today is a bad day for the Cliff Dwellers who declared last week's loss was evidence he's standing in his own professional grave. Because this was vintage Brady. 

--I'm not claiming it was perfect. But he was in command. He made all the throws. Even without Chris Godwin, he spread the ball around. In fact, the offense he's running looks so familiar I'm more convinced than I was last week that Bryon Leftwich shipped him a blank notebook and told him to fill in as much of the Josh McDaniels offense as he wanted. 

--He threw a 50-something yard bomb to Mike Evans that could've been to 2007 Donte Stallworth or 2017 Brandin Cooks. A back shoulder throw to Evans at the goal line after he'd run the coverage off him that was prime Randy Moss. A 3rd & 1 ball that Evans picked off his shoelaces (so that it would either be a catch or a punt, but not an interception for the conversion that was straight out of Julian Edelman's signature moves. A deep dig route that hit Justin Watson for the toe-tap catch at the sideline that could've been Deion Branch, 2004. A route concept with the outside guy running a post and then Leonard Fournette running a pivot underneath him for that put the ball on Carolina's 1 that was pure James White. Hell, he even was yelling "Green! 18!" which pains me to hear because that used to be our song. 

--I shudder to think what kind of points he would've put up if he'd gotten some help. Like Scotty Mitchell letting one go right through his hands in the end zone. Or this one, for instance:

Which was followed immediately by Brady doing what has become sort of his signature dance move, which is to react to a mistake by a teammate with his hands up on either side of his helmet doing the exaggerated "Whaaa???" thing like the sitcom dad who walks in to find the kids trashing the kitchen trying to make breakfast. That's one thing about his game I don't miss. And we'll see how well it plays with the best receiving corps in football.

--While we're comparing some of Brady's passes to his former receivers, that one was vintage Aaron Dropson Dobson. And one up the sidelines against a coverage breakdown that Cyril Grayson let bounce right off his eyeshield brought back memories of Doug Gabriel, right before we never saw Doug Gabriel ever again. Welcome to Tom Brady's Casa de Canine, Grayson. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. 

--Like I said, it wasn't perfect. He had the defense beat on that fleaflicker, but just rushed his throw. And even that mistake went for like 36 yards. And I don't know whose fault this was, but I'm sure Bruce Arians will be happy to pin it on his quarterback:

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--Though I'll admit if he does, he's probably right about that. The ball was clearly behind his target. But a coach should still keep that in house like the greats do. At least the greats who only care about improving their team and not about proving their bona fides as a tough guy who's not afraid to call a guy out. 

--Speaking of coaching and public image and all that, I understand that Tampa is one of those teams who choose to have the captains' "C" on the jerseys. And that's swell. But Brady gets the gold one with the four stars on it because … why? Because he was the Patriots' captain for the years 2017-19? You can carry over you captaincy to another team like transferring college credits? Well OK then. It's not the biggest issue facing the world today, or anything. I just find it weird. I mean, what if you were the captain of some shitty team like the Jets. Does that carry over too, or is it like me trying to get my Massasoit Community College credits accepted at MIT? 

--I mentioned Brady did all this today despite playing without Godwin, who was the Bucs leading receiver last year. Is it too soon to say he's doing it without Rob Gronkowski too? I think the only time he was targeted was that seam route that drew the penalty. And he's practically unrecognizable. The Gronk I remember would've hauled in that pass despite the hand fighting. He did a stutter step that looked like he was running in the mud pit at a Spartan Race. He's finesse blocking. Getting pushed into the backfield. And he's getting sympathy penalties? Our Gronk couldn't draw a DPI call if in the middle of skinny post he was kidnapped and forced to become an ISIS bride. I don't know who this 87 is. 

--For the better part of an hour or so, Teddy Bridgewater was actually outplaying Brady in the 2nd half. But then like a kid climbing the rope at gym class who looks around and realizes how high he was getting, Bridgewater had to come back to earth with that terrible deep pick he threw. If he tossed that one into the turf and kept the drive going, there's a decent chance we'd live in a world where Brady was on a four game losing streak. But Bridgewater's gonna Bridgewater. Do you think Carolina is starting to question their QB changes?

--All in all, this game wouldn't have made New England Brady's Top 50 games list. But without question, it was the finest moment of Tompa Bay Brady's career. And I'd expect more of the same next week if it weren't for the fact the Bucs will be at Denver, which the site of some sort of temporal anomaly that makes Brady and his teams experience weird, inexplicable phenomena. Stay tuned. 

--One last thing: "Go Patriots." Just because I'm getting used to the idea of Brady in orange and pewter and playing in front of a cartoonish Magic Kingdom-like pirate ship doesn't mean I'm not still adding that.