The Patriots organization has always been surrounded by an aura of secrecy, whether it has to deal with a gameplan against a specific team, or feelings after a devastating loss or ahead of a big game.
While it will always be tough to take Bill Belichick or Tom Brady’s focus off the next game in their schedule, Patriots beat reporters occasionally get pieces of the puzzle as they look to get players’ thoughts on their teammates in any given year.
The 2019 season has been a rollercoaster for the Patriots offense, with injuries, suspensions and everything in between making it difficult for the team to build up consistent chemistry, especially with the absence of Rob Gronkowski.
Despite that, the reigning AFC East champions started the year with an 8-1 record heading into their bye, sitting atop the AFC standings as they enjoyed the week off.
The break allowed each of the team’s players to recoup their bodies and regroup mentally for the second half of the season, also giving players like N’Keal Harry and Ben Watson more time to get themselves back on track with the team’s gameplan before the last seven games of the year.
A lot has been written about what Brady’s feelings are when it comes to Harry as the rookie rejoins the roster following his stint on the injured reserve. That conversation inspired a thought: how does the Patriots quarterback feel about each member of his offense? Who does he trust the most, and can we sense any trends?
With that in mind, it was time to jump into the archives to see what Brady has said about each of his offensive cohorts over the last few years, with effusive praise for some, and words of encouragement for others:
Julian Edelman: “He’s one of the best players in franchise history,” Brady said during an appearance on The Greg Hill Show. “When you think of some of the great receivers we’ve had, Julian is right up there at the top, so you’ve got to get him the ball, and he’s making a lot of yards with it in his hands. We put a lot on Julian. Julian’s a very smart player, very tough. He’s mentally, physically tough. He’s an incredible player, an incredible teammate, and the more we get him the ball, the better it is for our offense.”
Mohamed Sanu: “I think it’s his willingness to embrace this opportunity,” Brady said during one of his weekly press conferences following Sanu’s trade to the Patriots. “He brings a lot of juice, so it’s good to have. It’s good to see someone that’s competitive. If you watch him play, he plays with an attitude. He’s got a little chip on his shoulder, too, so I think we can relate to each other. And he can relate to a guy like Julian [Edelman], because he was often overlooked in his career, and I think he plays that way.”
N’Keal Harry: “Unfortunately for N’Keal, he got hurt early in training camp,” Brady said during an interview with WEEI. “He didn’t have the development when other guys were practicing for over two months. He’s working hard. He’s extremely hard-working. He wants to do it. He’s got a great edge about him. I really love that. I really love his tenacity and he’s learning every day, and he’s working hard to get better. I think that is all you can ask of a younger player.”
Phillip Dorsett: “Phillip is a guy that I’ve played a lot of football with, and I have a lot of trust in,” Brady said in a press conference during the 2019 preseason. “Experience is a great thing in football if you use it well, and I think our experience together pays off. I read his body language. I think the great thing about Phil, he takes advantage of his opportunities. Phil plays all three wide receiver positions, remembers all the coaching points from all the times we’ve talked about certain things. Even though he may not have done it, he goes in there and does it the way that Coach wants it done. I love playing with Phil. He’s been a great contributor to our team.”
Jakobi Meyers: “He’s done a great job taking advantage of his opportunity,” Brady said after the team’s win against the Jets, which proved to be Josh Gordon’s final game in a Patriots uniform. “I’ll keep throwing to him. He does a good job of getting open. I’ll just keep trying to go to the open guy.”
Gunner Olszewski: “When you’re young, you gain trust in practice, and a lot of it is doing the right thing over and over and over again,” Brady said about Olzewski and the rest of the young Patriots receiving corps. “Those guys are working at it. I mean, they’ve been here a short period of time, so try to get as many reps as you can and talk about things. You get coached up, and any young player, they’re trying to earn the trust of the coach and the players every day.”
James White: “I’ve played with a lot of great teammates, and James is right up there with the best,” Brady said in 2017.
He backed up those comments in an interview in 2018, adding in why he feels White is so important to the Patriots offense.
“I know I talk about James White a lot, but you just couldn’t ask for a better player, a better teammate,” Brady said. “Someone who is as dependable and consistent as he has been for as long as he’s been here. It has just been an incredible thing for me to watch. It’s hard to remember [a dropped pass]. He has incredible hands, his run after catch. It’s an incredible job he has done and he is doing. He’s really invaluable to our team.”
Sony Michel: “What an incredible rookie season he’s had,” Brady said during Michel’s first year in the league. “Just so proud of him. He’s done an incredible job. Ran hard, got some tough yards. There wasn’t a lot of space at times but fought his way through.”
Rex Burkhead: “It’s great when he’s healthy because he can do some things in the run game [and] pass game,” Brady said in 2018. “He’s just a very versatile guy.”
Brandon Bolden: “F*** Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!” Brady commented on Instagram when it was announced that Bolden would be returning to New England for the 2019 season. I suppose that’s all that needs to be said as it relates to his thoughts on the running back…
Damien Harris: N/A
Tight ends and offensive line:
Ben Watson: “I’ve played with a lot of guys over the years, and Ben’s a great player,” Brady said after Watson was initially cut by the Patriots in October. “He’s been a great player for this team, for other teams. He’s had an incredible career. And for as great of a player he was, he was 10 times a better person. Just the highest integrity. I can’t say enough good things about Ben, what he’s meant to me and my family and our team.”
Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse: “Those guys, they’re competing hard,” Brady said. “I think they’re trying. Matt hasn’t been out there as much as we all would have wanted, certainly what he would have wanted. Ryan’s done quite a few things for us. We’re just trying to get out there and utilize the reps we can in practice, talk about things, communicate through the things that come up in practice so that we can execute when we get into the game.”
Offensive linemen as a whole: “We’ve had a lot of moving parts at that position dating back to training camp,” Brady said in October. “We added a bunch of new players right after the final cut. For Dante Scarnecchia to get all those guys together, and then dealing with Isaiah Wynn’s injury, then dealing with David Andrews, I mean I think that’s pretty exceptional what those guys have accomplished. I’m very proud of them.”
Jarrett Stidham: “As a young player he is getting a lot of opportunity and a lot of reps on the practice field as well as the game field, and he’s doing a great job,” Brady said during the preseason. “He’s going to keep working just like everyone else.”