Between the hot coals burning beneath Wolverine’s head coach (as of Tuesday) Brady Hoke and Ann Arbor’s own Tom Brady, it’s been an arduous week for “Michigan Men”.

One is sitting on a grenade at work. The other is tossing grenades indiscriminately and blowing up emotionally on the sidelines. The latter probably realizes he may have to update his resume if the 2014 season continues on this route.

 During this past week’s primetime edition of Monday Night Football, the 2-2 New England Patriots not only failed to find a cure for what ails their faltering defense in Kansas City, but they staged their ugliest outing of the season.

These days, telling someone they throw like a Brady is the biggest insult to masculinity you can receive.

 

EDIT: Sorry wrong clip. That was from the Brady home video collection.

Brady phoned in one of the worst performances of his entire career, simultaneously dashing Super Bowl or bust expectations and have the masses wondering whether this is the final stand for a declining 37-year-old legend.

When Brady threw a pick-6 that looked more like QB dementia than a bad coverage read, his sulking and body language gave the impression of a beaten man questioning his mortality.

When rookie backup Jimmy Garoppolo was inserted, Brady sunk further into the bench. After Garappolo drove the offense own the field in a hurry completing 6 of 7 passes for 70 yards and threw his first career touchdown pass to Brady’s favorite intermediate receiver on the ensuing pass, some were ready to begin Brady’s embalming process.

Brady’s had more issues with off-target throws than any starting for a few years in a row and the problem has only magnified the closer he creeps nearer to AARP status.

Yet, the Patriots are still the best organization in the AFC East. Not only is Brady STILL the highest-rated quarterback in the division, but I’d argue Garopolo is the second-best signal caller and has the highest ceiling.

Brady's 46.5 Total QBR is still superior to Ryan Tannehill's 42.3, Geno Smith's 27.6 and EJ Manuel's 19.8 rating.

However, in a limited sampling, Garoppolo is the highest-rated passer in the AFC East.

A second round pick unseating Brady and taking the reins of the Patriots is a captivating storyline. It’s not realistic—at least not this season. But it is a possibility if Brady never progresses towards his mean.

Garoppolo is no Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers or Steve Young—yet, but he’s also not a stooge. In fact, he’s why the Patriots felt comfortable trading Ryan Mallett. The reigning FCS Walter Payton Award winner hails from Easter Illinois where he broke a slew of Tony Romo’s records during a senior season where he tallied 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns.

Prior to the preseason draft evaluation period Garropollo was considered a mid-round prospect, but he was too talented to remain under wraps. After standout performances at the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game, there were murmurs that he could sneak into the first round or get picked up by the Houston Texans with their first pick of the second day.

About four years ago, I asserted that Peyton Manning wouldn’t end his illustrious career in a Colts uniform.

More specifically, in October of 2010 I forecasted that “by this time in 2012, Tennessee Titans quarterback Peyton Manning and his new fiancé Kat Stacks will be featured on the cover of Ebony Magazine.”

Okay, so maybe my prediction was off by just a bit, but the point is still the same. Brady’s struggles aren’t occurring in a vacuum. Teammates were already being forced to defend the previously irreproachable Brady, so this was a confirmation of every Brady fan’s worst fear. This is the prelude to the final chapter for Brady.

In addition, to his increasingly worrisome issues with accuracy from the pocket, all three of Brady's callow AFC East peers are on the verge of being benched or in the case of Manuel, already have.

Smith has the league's 25th ranked completion percentage, Tannehill is drafting right behind at 26th, Brady's 59.1 percentage is 27th and Manuel trails Mr. Uggs at 28th.

The Chiefs vicious pass rush barged right through the Patriots spongy offensive line. Entering Sunday night, the fearsome foursome of Tamba Hali, Justin Houstin and Dontario Poe headline a front seven that was fourth in sacks per pass play.

Naturally, Brady melted like wax over a flame.

You could say this about Smith or Tannehill (probably not Manuel), but the paucity of game-breaking receivers has also put an additional strain on Brady.

Those factors don’t excuse Brady’s misadventures, but they are mitigating factors.

More importantly, Bill Belicheck doesn't look at his team like a family. They're a stock portflio and he is a penny-pinching czar who makes callous empirical decisions based on the numbers and the accompanying diminishing returns risk. It’s a reputation that began with his unpopular decision to part ways with Lawyer Milloy prior to the 2003 season.

The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin even broached the subject of how Brady’s contract makes him a potential trade piece.

Brady will be 38 next Aug. 3, and his contract is insanely team-friendly — if he is on the Patriots’ roster on the final game of 2014, his salaries for 2015 ($7 million), 2016 ($8 million), and 2017 ($9 million) become fully guaranteed, but at less than half the going rate of top-tier NFL quarterbacks ($20-plus million). That’s cheap money for the Patriots, but it’s also cheap money for a team desperate for a quarterback — like, say, Houston, where the coach (Bill O’Brien) is a close ally. Or, say, Tampa Bay, where the general manager (Jason Licht) used to work for the Patriots and is close with Belichick.

Considering how miffed Brady was after Logan Mankin’s trade before the season, the possibility of rejoining him has to be considered an upside in this scenario.

We’re not even close to that stage yet, but the looming threat could explain why Brady gave Garoppolo the cold shoulder finishing move Brett “The Hitman” Favre trademarked while Aaron Rodgers served as his apprentice.

Brady may not be dead yet, but if there’s no spike in his play, watching out for the pass rush will be a secondary concern behind Garoppolo and The Hoodie burying him with a shovel.