Talk has surfaced in recent weeks around whether the Patriots are vulnerable as the defending AFC East champions, a notion advanced by new Dolphins linebacker Dannell Ellerbe.
It's been a unique offseason for the Patriots with substantial turnover at the receiver position, leading some to question if the AFC East is more up for grabs now than it's been in quite some time (with the Dolphins as the presumptive challenger).
Despite all that has taken place this offseason, Clark Judge of CBSSports.com writes that the Patriots are not vulnerable, and it boils down to one reason. More specifically, one player: Tom Brady.
"As long as the Patriots' quarterback is in the lineup, everyone in the AFC East -- Ellerbe, the Dolphins, Rex Ryan, everyone -- plays for second," he writes. "That's not an opinion; it's fact. In all but one season where Brady finished as New England's starter the Patriots won their division ... and in the year they didn't they lost to the Jets in a tiebreaker."
Judge alludes to 2006, a season during which Brady worked with a relatively unknown receiving corps and still managed to guide the team to an appearance in the AFC Championship game.
He goes on to write about the challenge of enduring changes in 2013, then adds, "But Brady has been here before. When he lost Branch, he found Caldwell. When he lost Caldwell, he found Randy Moss and Welker. When he lost Moss, he found Gronkowski and Hernandez. The point is that two things never change in New England: Brady and winning. Connect the dots."
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