EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 21, 2009

Wanted: Pats playmakers

Pats receivers not doing the job

On Pro Football

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – A little football SAT teaser to ponder this somber Monday morning.

Greg Lewis is to Doug Gabriel as Joey Galloway is to?

A. Deion Branch; B. Wes Welker; C. Reche Caldwell.

After two weeks, including yesterday's disappointing 16-9 loss here to the New York Jets, the answer has to be "C".

Don't think that ugly thought wasn't racing through Bill Belichick's mind on the flight home and as he lay awake in bed wondering where the offense of 2007 has gone.

Tom Brady is healthy. So is Randy Moss. In 2007, that was plenty. Defenses have wised up, though. Buffalo obviously roughed up Wes Welker on Monday night. The underneath specialist sat out yesterday with a knee problem.

Galloway, for the second straight week, displayed little life and even less urgency yesterday. Thrown to a dozen times, he caught just five and tumbled to the turf after the softest of shoestring tackles on more than one occasion.

He and Lewis - who came to New England in the offseason via trade but didn't survive the final cut - were supposed to be the final pieces in an offensive dynamo.

You have to wonder if bringing the 37-year-old graybeard Galloway (yes, his beard is gray) wasn't just a waste of time and money - just like Lewis.

The Patriots have expended some serious resources on receivers the last half-dozen seasons: Lewis, Galloway, Gabriel, Caldwell, Jabar Gaffney, Chad Jackson, Donte Stallworth, Bethel Johnson, even 2009 third-round pick Brandon Tate.

Moss and Welker are gems. But a severe depletion of playmakers has left the Pats too easy to defend.

The Jets ran their silencer, Darrelle Revis, at Randy Moss. Revis pitched a Deion Sanders-like near shutout, with Moss pulling in four balls, his longest a 9-yard catch.

"Beside Darrelle doing what he does, we mixed up coverages on him," said safety Kerry Rhodes. "Once we started rolling toward Moss, he couldn't look to him that long."

By halftime, Brady wasn't looking to him at all. As great as Moss is, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, Revis neutralized him.

Without Moss and Welker, the Pats were left for dead, despite a maximum effort from rookie Julian Edelman (8 catches, 98 yards) in Welker's absence.

Brady deserves better. He deserved better from this offseason than a lifeless Galloway, who had zero catches in Week 1, and an incapable Lewis.

A quarterback needs weapons, not statues.

This team lists six receivers on its roster. Two of them, Matt Slater and Sam Aiken, caught a total of eight passes last year.

The sixth, Edelman, is a rookie seventh-round pick who played quarterback at Kent State.

It's not 2006, when Brady had nobody.

"I think the frustration sets in when we kick our own selves in the foot," said Moss.

Welker will be seeing more and more head-hunting linebackers in his sleep. And Moss' aura has dimmed quite a bit.

With the running game struggling - 145 yards in two weeks - New England needs more playmakers on the outside.

You just wonder where Brady and the Pats are going to find relief.

E-mail Hector Longo at hlongo@eagletribune.com.

Ryan has Brady's number

This isn't the first time a Rex Ryan defense has given Tom Brady fits.

The last time Brady completed less than 50 percent of his passes was Dec. 3, 2007, against the Ravens (18 of 38, 257 yards, 2 TDs, 1 interception).

Ryan was their defensive coordinator.