By Justin McKinney, Staff Writer
At this very time two years ago the New England were not only preparing for their eighth trip to the Super Bowl, they were also having to deal with what has now become known as the most mishandled sports scandal in history, Deflategate.
Deflategate essentially turned into Patriots quarterback Tom Brady versus NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell.
Goodell clung to the conviction that Brady had deflated footballs passed the league’s minimum PSI requirement, despite the fact that there was zero evidence to prove this.
Deflategate become the most discussed topic in sports for most of the summer in 2015 as Brady had a lengthy legal battle against the NFL which resulted in him having his four game suspension overturned to start the 2015 season only to have it reinstated to start this season.
If you were to ask most Patriots fans what their opinion of Brady’s suspension was they’d probably give you an earful of why it was wrong and Brady was railroaded by Goodell.
While they aren’t wrong that he was wrongly accused, the fact is as we reflected on the season thus far and prepare to watch Brady play in his seventh Super Bowl I would argue that Brady’s four game suspension is responsible for the Patriots success this season.
It may sound insane but with a quick analysis of the team it is very clear that the suspension has greatly contributed to the Patriots success.
First and foremost Tom Brady is 39-years-old, he is certainly one of the healthiest players in football, but the fact is he is pushing forty and his risk of injury is increasing because of it.
However, because of Deflategate Brady only has to play fifteen games this season. Plus because of the regular season bye week, the Patriots getting a first round bye for the playoffs, and the Super Bowl bye, Brady is getting all the rest he needs to in order to play at his best in the Super Bowl.
Patriots also had to start Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett, the Patriots had to change their offensive style slightly from what Brady usually runs.
Among other things the run game become a lot more important to the offensive and Patriots fans saw LeGarrette Blount become a freight train from hell as he racked up over 1,000 yards and eighteen touchdowns this season.
While Blount has been a very reliable back for the Patriots for years, I would argue that his production this season can be attributed to the fact that once Blount was given more carries due to a Brady-less Patriots, O.C. Josh McDaniels took note of how well he was playing and kept feeding him after Brady’s return.
This improved run game is extremely important because it gives Brady a rest, as I already said he’s 39, he is going to need more rest than he did when he won his third Super Bowl twelve years ago.
Having extra run plays peppered into the offensive strategy lets Brady conserve his arm and take less hits in the pocket, not to mention it simply adds depth to the offensive scheme in general.
On the defensive side of the ball we have seen a Patriots defensive post an NFL low in points against.
From the first week their performance in the red-zone has been stellar and it was certainly on display in the AFC Championship as they stumped the Steelers on the one yard-line.
In the first four games when Brady was out the defense could not rely on Brady bailing them out, there was no Brady-esque fourth quarter comeback. The offense was being led by two players who had never started a game at the NFL level, it was clear that the defense was going to have to lead the way through the Patriots four game suspension.
They certainly did as even in the team’s only lost that stretch the defense only let up a very manageable sixteen points. After gaining confidence from stepping up in those first four games, the defense has carried that same swagger with them after Brady’s return.
Not to mention you have to respect the fact that Deflategate pissed off the entire Patriots team, Brady is the most respected player in that locker room and as you could imagine most of the players probably didn’t take kindly to the way the Goodell treated Brady.
Goodell gave the Patriots a common enemy, he gave them a reason to win and nothing is more dangerous than a team with a reason.
As if the want of accomplishing the ultimate goal in football is not enough for this Patriots team, with a win on Sunday they would force the very man who slandered Brady for two years, Goodell, to hand him the Lombardi Trophy.
The Patriots have been playing stellar football all season and it only seems to be getter better with each passing week.
While Delfategate will always be a black eye for the NFL and some would argue Brady. It may have very well played a definitive and positive role in the Patriots road to the Super Bowl.