It's no secret the quarterback position is the most important job in football, maybe even sports.
Without a reliable quarterback who knows who he is, what he can do, and what his teammates can do (and where they are on the field), your team isn't going far. But if any QB is taking huge risks or trying new things in the second half of a tight game, then maybe he got knocked in the head a few times in the first half.
"As I tell our players, that's part of what practice is for, is to take risks, and to push it to see how far we can go, to see how much you can do," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "Sometimes it's going to come up a little bit short, but if it's done in the right context then you learn from that and you realize, 'This is how far I can go. I can't gamble beyond this but I can push it to this point.'"
Over the last two practices, both Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett have thrown interceptions. But it's too easy to blame them or chalk it up to a bad play. Maybe they were testing the limits of everybody involved.
"You don't want to come out here and throw a bunch of interceptions, but at the same time it's not a game so you want to install things and see how they work and try to give guys an opportunity to go out and catch the ball and make plays on the ball," Brady said. "So you probably do some things this time of year that you wouldn't normally do, but at the same time you're trying to make good decisions, read the coverage, and give the ball to the right guy."
The goal of camp is to prepare for the regular season. By tiptoeing around the practice field worrying about mistakes, a QB won't be ready for a situation that requires more than just a screen pass.
"You can always make the safe throw, make the easy throw. I mean that's OK, but at some point you're going to have to do more than that, and you better know what you can do and what you can't do," Belichick said. "Better to find out in practice than in the middle of the fourth quarter that, 'No, I can't. I don't want to be doing that.' That's not the time for it."