But that isn't always the way, and anybody who tuned in around halftime of Sunday's Patriots-Falcons game saw a Tom Brady who wasn't real happy about the way things were going. New England's Golden Boy QB was openly screaming at teammates, clearly frustrated by his team's red zone failures and general inability so far this season to get into sync.
"I think I was just really into it," Brady would say later, by way of denial-drenched explanation. "Just trying to keep everybody focused. Football is a team game, and it's about everybody being on the same page."
He smiled as he spoke, and he could, because the Patriots had won this game. They had ground one out in spite of Brady's obvious rustiness and continued red-zone inaccuracies. They had beaten a pretty good Atlanta team with their running game and their maligned and undermanned defense, smothering the Falcons' All-Pro running back and Hall of Fame tight end while they were on the field and making sure they spent most of the game on the sidelines.
They won the way you'd expect a team like the Bears or the Steelers to win -- nothing at all like the high-flying, record-setting Patriots of two years ago. By the end of this season, they may get back to that level. But right now, as they cope with all manner of nagging problems, it's the rest of the Patriots who are picking up Brady and the passing game.
"Total team effort," cornerback Terrence Wheatley said. "We didn't blow any coverages. We played physical. We played hard and just did our assignments, and that's what you get when you play smart football."
New England's defense had looked like a weak spot so far this year, and for good reason. It lost Rodney Harrison, Mike Vrabel and Richard Seymour in one offseason and saw Jerod Mayo go down in Week 1. Just before Sunday's game, the Patriots announced that defensive backs Jonathan Wilhite and Darius Butler would also be inactive for this game. And early in the game, nose tackle Vince Wilfork went down (and missed the rest of the game) with an ankle injury.
And still, they held Matt Ryan and the Falcons to 10 points.
"That's what our team is all about," cornerback Shawn Springs said. "We have depth at a lot of positions, so that if one guy goes down, then another guy can pick it up."
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"He's a guy, game plan-wise, you've got to account for," Belichick said. "He's almost impossible to match up with. So we took away from some other spots just to make sure he didn't go off for seven catches and 110 yards or something like that."
Gonzalez ended up with 16 yards on just one catch. Star running back Michael Turner had 56 yards on 15 carries. The Belichick defensive philosophy of taking away the one thing the offense most wants to do and hoping it collapses in on itself was on impressive display, and his players -- shorthanded though they were -- made it stand up.
"My hat's off to Coach Belichick and his staff," Atlanta coach Mike Smith said. "They did a tremendous job. Tony had one catch. That's all you need to know."
Clearly, the Falcons imagined he'd have more. They also imagined the Patriots would pass the ball more than they'd run it. And while that did in fact happen, it was much more even than usual. Brady threw 42 passes, and the Patriots ran 39 run plays. Fred Taylor rolled up 105 yards on 25 carries. An unusual Patriot formula to say the least.
"Coming into this game, they had run the ball 43 times and thrown it 100," Smith said. "But it doesn't surprise me. Coach Belichick, he'll show one thing one week and then next week do something different."
That's not by choice, though, in this case. The Patriots didn't go to the ground game until it was clear that Brady, once again, was not having his usual easy-breezy time throwing the ball. Brady was 3-for-10 for 10 yards on red zone plays, and while he was the one barking at the receivers at halftime, he was also too often the one responsible for the missed throws.
"We can't keep kicking field goals, I know that," Brady said. "We've got to be better than that. Just figure out what the problems are and try to fix them."
Yeah, there it is. A little orneriness bubbling up underneath the smiles. Clearly, all is not 100 percent well for Brady right now. He's happy to be 2-1 because he knows he could be playing much better. He even got a little smarmy when asked about some overthrows he made with the wind at his back.
"When you throw it 50 yards, you wish you could throw it perfectly every time, but I missed a couple of them," he said. "Hopefully I hit them next week."
And everybody chuckled because he wasn't mad. Oh, he was mad at halftime, no matter what he says. And he's clearly not 100 percent comfortable with the way things are going for him out there. But he's smart enough, and experienced enough, to know it's okay if the rest of the team has to carry the star for a little while. Especially when the record says 2-1.
"When you win the games, everything feels a lot better," Brady said. "Even though not everything's perfect yet."
Hey, give the guy credit. For a guy who's used to having everything be perfect, he's handling this pretty well.