With the Patriots off this weekend, we’ve got our Bye Week Breakdown, a position-by-position look at the Patriots. We’ve looked at the running backs , wide receivers  and tight ends . Now, it’s quarterbacks.
Overview: Tom Brady  remains the centerpiece of the franchise, and while the Patriots added several key components on both sides of the ball over the last six months, it’s clear this team will go as far as the 35-year-old signal-caller can take it. Over the first eight games, there’s been a couple of bumps in the road for the two-time NFL MVP. First, there’s the offense’s occasional inability to take advantage of scoring opportunities, something that’s burned the Pats  in their three losses. Second, there was the ugly loss to the Seahawks  in which the quarterback was hooted off the field by Seattle defensive back Richard Sherman. However, he was New England’s unquestioned offensive MVP for the first half of the season and remains among the league’s elite quarterbacks, even in his 13th season. Between the health of Aaron Hernandez  and Rob Gronkowski , the up-and-down year for Wes Welker  and the continued acclimation of Brandon Lloyd , the New England offense continues to try to find an identity. But with help with a revived running game and a steady offensive line, it appears Brady and the Patriots offense  are well-positioned for a productive second half of the season.
Depth chart: Brady (209-for-320, 65 percent, 2,408 yards, 16 touchdowns, three interceptions), Ryan Mallett  (1-for-3, 17 yards)
Best moment: This is a tough one — we’ve gone back and watched film from the first eight games. And while we’re already on record as saying Brady’s work against the Broncos  was the best of the season (and his late performance against the Jets was vintage Brady), a closer look reveals that it’s actually last Sunday against the Rams. In that one, he only missed on a handful of throws, and was able to adroitly capitalize on a series of mismatches, particularly ones involving Gronkowski. He finished 23-for-35 for 304 yards with a season-high four touchdowns along with zero picks, zero sacks and a season-high 131.1 passer rating.
Worst moment: While Brady set a season-high for passing yards against the Seahawks, it was the one game he would like to have back. He was 36-for-58 for 395 yards with two touchdowns but also two really ugly picks. In addition, he was flagged for intentional grounding twice, including once in the Seahawks’ red zone. And he underthrew at least six balls on the afternoon. All in all, a forgettable afternoon for the QB.
By the numbers: Brady had 209 completions through the first eight games of the season. He’s on pace for 418 completions, which would be a career high. In addition, he has thrown for 295 fewer yards through the first eight games this year than he did last season (2,703 yards to 2,408 yards). And while he has four fewer touchdowns in that same stretch (20, as opposed to 16 this year), he also seven fewer interceptions (10 to 3). One more for you: according to Pro Football Focus, Brady has lost 280 yards on dropped passes this season, second most in the league.
Money quote: ‘The big picture in my mind? As long as they have Brady under center, they have a chance to win every Sunday, and that’s the bottom line.’ — A high-level NFL personnel man on Brady and his influence on the Patriots.