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Senior NFL Columnist

NFL Week 8 Monday Musings: Tom Brady will turn it around

What's wrong with Tom Brady? Are his best days behind him? Is this the beginning of the end?

Stop it. Please, just stop it.

Brady is struggling right now. He doesn't look the same. There are reasons. Maybe it's the problems with his throwing hand, which he denied but clearly looked like it was swollen. Maybe it's a lack of continuity with his receivers, or problems with pressure. There are issues. But fret not because Brady will be back to his old ways.


This image led to speculation about whether Brady injured his throwing hand. (Patriots Facebook)
On Saturday, there were breathless reports that Tom Bradywas battling through an injury to his throwing hand after a photo emerged showing the quarterback with two of his fingers taped together during a Make-a-Wish Foundation appearance.

He's Tom Brady.

After throwing for 112 yards in 27-17 victory over Miami Sunday, including just 25 in the first half, there is a lot of concern centering on Brady's season so far. The numbers make it so.

Brady is 27th in the league in passer rating at 74.9. and and 30th in yards per attempt and 29th in completion percentage. He hit on 13 of 22 for the 116 yards, one touchdown and one interception against Miami and his passer rating was 69.5. Bad.

Brady has two games with passer ratings over 90 this season and two in the 50s. His per-attempt average of 5.94 yards is the lowest by far of his career. The last time he was close to that number was in 2002 when it was 6.3.

That shows that Brady is not driving the ball down the field.

So what are the reasons? He outside receivers are young. He didn't have Rob Gronkowski until the past two weeks and the line has had some troubles with blitzes.

Brady has not looked comfortable at all this season Halfway through the season he has nine touchdown passes and six interceptions. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has more touchdown passes (11) in the past three weeks than Brady does all season.

That's so not like Brady.

But here's a prediction: In the second half of this season, he will start looking like the old Tom Brady.

He will start working inside-out and the outside receivers will start to make more and more plays.

Brady is far from done. He just had a rough first half.

The move to put recently acquired Bryant McKinnie into the starting lineup at left tackle and move Jonathan Martin from the left side to the right side didn't seem to help the protection much for Miami. Ryan Tannehill was dumped six times against the Patriots, although there were a lot of blitzes by the Patriots.

Should the Saints be concerned about receiver Marques Colston? He had just three catches against the Bills and hasn't been a real factor this season. Colston was never a speed receiver, and he might be slowing down ever more. In the past three games, he has six catches for 44 yards. Rookie Kenny Stills is emerging as a big-play threat outside for the Saints. He had touchdown catches of 69 and 42 yards.

That was a great play by Patriots safety Devin McCourty to bat the ball back into play so Marquis Cole could pick it off. That was a big assist and a smart play by a safety who is having a heck of a season. What was Tannehill doing on that play?

Anybody seen Mike Wallace? What a waste of deep speed.

The Steelers blew a timeout late in their loss to Oakland and it might have cost them a chance to tie it. They got a first down with 1:43 left at the Oakland 19 when Jerricho Cotchery went out of bounds on a 17-yard catch. Trailing 21-10, they needed a touchdown, a two-point conversion and a field goal to tie. So what happens? They can't get the play in and Ben Roethlisberger had to call a timeout. The Steelers scored and got the 2-point play to make it 21-18. But when Oakland recovered the onside kick, the Steelers could use only two timeouts and got the ball back with 18 seconds at their own 3. If they have all three timeouts, they probably kick it away and play defense. That's on Mike Tomlin.

Somebody please tell Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley that the wildcat is not innovative. Why run it when you have Roethlisberger? Stupid.

How do you defend Calvin Johnson? He had 329 yards on 14 catches against the Cowboys. And he was doubled a ton. The guy is a beast.

What a terrible game by Davone Bess for the Browns. He had three drops, including one that would have given them a first down late, and he also fumbled a punt away in the fourth quarter. Ouch.

I love the fire that Dez Bryant shows. But sometimes he goes too far. He went too far in Sunday's game with Detroit. Screaming at Tony Romo on the sideline when he didn't get the ball was bad enough, but then the late-game screaming match with Jason Witten andDeMarcus Ware was over the top. Show some respect. It's OK, to want the ball. All receivers do. But do it in a classy way. Passion is good, like he said after the game. But that was too much.

Why would the Browns even consider trading receiver Josh Gordon? The guy is sensational. Yes, he has some issues. And he could be banned for a year, but work with him. He has too much talent.

Upset of the week: Greg Schiano made it through the weekend as coach of the Bucs. For that, he gets a trip to Seattle to face the Seahawks. Is that the end?

The Bengals offense is getting better and better. Not only is Dalton playing well -- five TD passes Sunday -- but there are so many weapons for him to use. Marvin Jones had four touchdown catches heading into the game with the Jets and got four more in that game. The Bengals will be a tough team to beat come playoff time. They can score and they can rush the passer.

The Jets are up and down. Is that because they take on the personality of their coach? Just asking.

Geno Smith was benched after having two picks returned for touchdowns by the Bengals. Smith just never seemed to get into the game Sunday. Rookies have days like that. It's how he bounces back.

At 2-6, the Giants are smack in the middle of the NFC East race. They have three games coming up at home. Can they make a run? The one thing you noticed against the Eagles is the pressure is getting back to what we expect it to be. They had four sacks. And Eli Manning didn't turn it over for the second consecutive game. That's what they need to do to make a run.

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