We knew back in 2006 when Deion Branch was traded to the Seattle Seahawks that Tom Brady missed his favorite target and friend, and the Patriots as a whole missed him too as they fell to the Colts in the AFC Championship. Many have argued that if Brady had his go-to guy, the Pats would have beaten the Colts and the Bears en route to a 4th Super Bowl championship. When the team brought Branch back last season, Brady was as giddy as a…well, he was really happy. His on-field chemistry with Branch was evident and it looked like they had never been apart. Branch caught 9 passes for 98 yards and a clutch touchdown in the 4th quarter to help the Patriots defeat the Baltimore Ravens.
The Brady-Branch connection was good last season even without a training camp together. It stood to reason that this season with a full training camp together, the two would be firing on all cylinders. However, the preseason came and went and Deion didn’t have a single catch. Some in the media began to speculate that Branch’s time may be nearing an end and some even went as far as to say he could be a camp casualty. Branch didn’t worry, and Bill Belichick gave him a vote of confidence was asked by the media about Branch’s lack of production.
Then the regular season started.
Once the games meant something again, Tom Brady began looking for his best buddy. In the opening game against the Miami Dolphins, Branch was targeted by Brady 9 times and made 7 catches for 93 yards. This past Sunday against the San Diego Chargers, Branch caught the first pass of the game and went on to catch 8 Tom Brady passes for 129 yards. He was targeted 10 times by Brady. For all the talk about the Patriots’ tight ends, and deservedly so, the Brady-Branch connection is not one to be overlooked.
After the Chargers game, the pair conducted their postgame press conferences together. Here’s a sampling of their joint press conference:
Brady: I’ve thrown a lot of passes to him over the years. There’s nobody that I enjoy playing with more than this guy. It’s always been that way. He’s my locker-mate and one of my great friends. He’s just everything you look for in a receiver.
Branch: I think my eyes light up too, like his. (in reference to getting open)
While the last quote is comical taken out of context, it’s evident that the two do share the type of chemistry on the field that breeds success. Combine that with Brady’s comfort with Wes Welker and his growing comfort with Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, and possibly even Chad Ochocinco, it’s no wonder he has thrown for 940 yards in two games. Branch may not have the physical tools of a Larry Fitzgerald or an Andre Johnson, but he runs crisp routes, has good speed, and has the most important trait a receiver can have: The trust and confidence of his quarterback.