FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Patriots' defense has been locked and loaded for some time. They start 2019 with basically the same group for the third straight season. No one really missed much time in training camp, and they even got meaningful game snaps together in the third preseason game.
The offense is almost the exact opposite. When TomBrady takes the field Sunday night against the Steelers, he'll be throwing to an assortment of receivers where all but three (Phillip Dorsett, Ryan Izzo, Rex Burkhead) he didn't complete a pass to in the preseason: JulianEdelman (injured), JoshGordon (suspended), DemaryiusThomas (injured), MattLaCosse (injured), and JamesWhite (rest).
Throw in the fact that IsaiahWynn is making his first career start at left tackle, and TedKarras has replaced captain DavidAndrews (illness) at center, and you have the makings of one of the strangest starts to the season for an NFL offense.
That would be true if, you know, the quarterback was anyone other than Brady, and if the Patriots' offense, Bill Belichick and coordinator JoshMcDaniels weren't used to dealing with this ... every ... single ... season.
Just take a look at some of the turnover/adjustments needed among the featured players in the passing games since 2015 (changes in bold):
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Some other players would moan and complain — and perhaps he does that in private (he's been known to occasionally) — but at this point, Brady has almost come to expect the passing game to be a work in progress.
"It's part of football," Brady said. "It's a challenging thing, and that's why it's not always as fluid as you would hope it to be because you prepare for eight months for this game, and then you're getting used to guys we haven't really played with. Or we signed, whatever, three or four new players at the end of cuts that are backups to different positions and they don't have any experience."