By Kevin Saleeba
Hard work and passion for football can only get you so far in the NFL.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been able to take a strong work ethic and turn himself from a little known sixth round draft pick in 2000 to a future hall of fame quarterback, but he's an exception.
With the Patriots fielding mostly rookies and undrafted free agents at receiver and tight end, it may take more than hard work to turn the Patriots young receiving corps into a respectable passing attack. It could just take a miracle to turn this inexperienced crew of Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, and Josh Boyce at wide-out, and Zach Sudfeld at tight end into something resembling an NFL passing game.
Thompkins and Sudfeld are undrafted rookies while Dobson and Boyce were drafted in the second and fourth round respectively. Brady will need to show more patience with his young receivers if they have a chance to improve.
At age 36, patience may be running thin for Brady. During the game against the Jets last week, Brady's young receivers dropped several balls and ran bad receiving routes. Brady was very demonstrative toward his new teammates, yelling and screaming at them for their mistakes, but his impatience could be counterproductive to their growth.
Brady said it himself. "I think I have to do a better job with my body language," he said following the game. "I wouldn't say it’s a real strong point of mine right now."
Showing up his young teammates won't make them any better and won't magically provide them with instant NFL playing experience they need either. If anything, the yelling and screaming will only cause the receivers to tune him out. If Brady shows no respect for them on the field, on the sideline, and especially on national television, he will get nothing from them.
"Nobody is coming to the rescue and save the day, so we've got to fight through it," Brady said. But they will have to fight through it together.
Although Brady's career seemed to have come from hard work, that's not completely true. He still had the talent and football-IQ to become the quarterback he is today.
Sometimes undrafted players were undrafted for a reason and all the hard work in the world can’t change that. With the overt frustration Brady has shown on the field recently, he may know this as well.
When Brady had rookies like Deion Branch and David Givens in 2002, their ability and talent to play the wide receiver position was evident immediately. The question is whether these current rookies can actually play and will Brady have the patience to help these new receivers become better.
Time will tell, but at age 36, it may be time and patience that Brady no longer has.
Kevin Saleeba is the senior editor and columnist for Patriots Insider. A former beat writer for local media, Kevin has extensive knowledge of the team and experience covering the Patriots. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinSaleeba