Tom Brady is understandably unhappy with the Patriots’ offense. New England is third in the league in points per game, but its offense has stalled recently and no easy solutions are apparent. Yet the Patriots are 9-1, control their own destiny in the race for No. 1 seed in the AFC, and still have a defense surrendering just 10.8 points per game.
Though they are portrayed as daunting, New England’s next three games are all against teams (Dallas, Houston, Kansas City) with at least four losses. Two are at home. A 2-1 mark should be a base-level expectation, and 3-0 is within reach. Although the sky isn’t falling in Foxborough, Brady’s gripes have merit, and if New England’s offense doesn’t improve, it could be vulnerable in the playoffs.
If Brady wants to identify the root of the problems, he can start with himself. His passer rating is 90.4, below the league average of 91.5. Since cake-walking through the first three games with seven touchdowns and no interceptions, Brady has fallen off. He has just seven touchdown passes (and five picks) since.
Dig deeper into the numbers and things get worse. New England has faced three teams that entered the matchup with winning records. Brady’s cumulative numbers in those games are poor: 74-for-132, a 56-percent completion percentage, one touchdown pass and two interceptions.
Brady has feasted on cupcakes and crumbled against stiffer competition. Per Pro Football Reference, he has been bad more often than most quarterbacks, with a bad-throw percentage of 18.9, 10th worst in the league. His on-target throw percentage is just 75.3, 19th in the NFL and just behind Buffalo’s Josh Allen, who has well-documented accuracy problems.
Former NFL scout Matt Williamson is blunt in his assessment of the Patriots’ offensive woes. “Brady,” he told me about the 42-year-old quarterback, “isn’t what he once was.” He especially struggles to drive the ball, Williamson says.
That’s the Brady part of things, but Williamson cites the offensive line and wide receivers as other issues, saying, “The offensive line has been average at best, and Brady makes up for a lot of protection issues…getting [tackle Isaiah] Wynn back can’t be a bad thing though.
“Besides [Julian] Edelman, I don’t think he trusts any of their WRs and overall, this offense really lacks speed. Plus, this system is very complex, and the WRs besides Edelman aren’t up to speed with Brady.” Recently acquired Mohammed Sanu may help, but he has a high ankle sprain and could be sidelined for weeks.
The issues with wide receivers might provide a window into the rumors that swirled this week suggesting that the Patriots had at least had talks about bringing back Antonio Brown, whose tenure with the team lasted one game.
Brady liked Brown’s apology to owner Robert Kraft on Instagram, and it isn’t hard to imagine the Patriots’ quarterback lobbying the owner about bringing Brown back. Alas, we already know that won’t happen.