It was a good win. The best they’ve had this year, in fact. Certainly the most lopsided on the scoreboard.
But in their victory over the 0-3 Buccaneers, the Patriots demonstrated just how far they have to go to get their passing game back to something resembling what it was a season ago.
Certainly that falls on the development of the rookie receivers, and the return of Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola will obviously be important factors. In the meantime, the defense has limited three (admittedly terrible) offenses to just three touchdowns in as many games.
But ultimately the Patriots are only going as far as Tom Brady can take them. He is their best player playing the most important position, and his ability to weather the incredible roster turnover around him will do more for the fortunes of this team than anything else.
And so, after training camp, a full preseason schedule, two regular season games and 10 days off to prepare, … Brady was terrible.
Okay, perhaps ‘terrible’ is a strong word. New England is, after all, still 3-0 and it’s an impressive feat to be able to use regular season games to learn how to play together and win in the process. But at times, Tom Terrific looked as lost as some of his young receivers Sunday, with a number of poor throws, late decisions and missed opportunities.
Let’s take a look at some examples in this week’s film breakdown.
Q1 14:31 … 1st and 10 at NE 32
Brady connects with Brandon Bolden for a quick 12-yard gain on the first play of the game and the Pats’ appear to be rolling.
But on the following play, Brady misses an easy throw to Josh Boyce (circled) on an out-route. Boyce likely ran farther up the field than Brady expected before breaking toward the sideline.
It likely would only have picked up three or four yards but that proved the difference. Julian Edelman picked up eight yards on the next play but with the incompletion to Boyce, the Pats were two yards short of a first down. On 3rd and 2 Brady got sacked and what easily could have been 2nd and long was now 4th down and the Pats had to punt.
Q1 1:32 … 2nd and 18 at NE 10
On this play Brady never looks at the left side of the field and misses an opportunity for a huge gain. Bolden (circled) is split wide left and runs a simple go-route, straight down the field.
The Bucs have two deep safeties so the cornerback covering Bolden lets him run by in order to step up and cover Aaron Dobson (also circled) underneath.
The thing is, no one picks up Bolden deep. Brady double clutches and steps up in the pocket but still doesn’t looked to his left. By now both Dobson and Bolden are wide open but Brady continues to stare down Kenbrell Thompkins (in rectangle below) and eventually tries to fire one to him despite being covered. Pass incomplete.
Q2 11:16 … 1st and 10 at TB 45
This was perhaps the most egregious error Brady made all day.
The Pats run a play-action left to Stevan Ridley (circled) and Tampa Bay’s safeties bite hard.
So hard, in fact, that when safety Mark Barron realizes it’s a fake, he tries to put on the brakes so hard that he falls on his butt. Circled behind him, Julian Edelman and Kenbrell Thompkins are both WIDE open, waving their arms.
For some reason, Brady looks to Zach Sudfeld, seen below circled, in double coverage.
Not only does he not throw to two wide open guys who stroll into the end zone, but he completely overthrows Sudfeld (below, circled. Arrow shows the ball’s location.)
A better look at where the pass ends up…
Q2 3:16 … 2nd and 10 at 50
Brady bounces a wide-open pass to Thompkins (cricled) with no pass rush hurrying Brady. Look at the room Thompkins has to run if he catches this in stride.
But look at where the ball ends up…
If missing both Thompkins and Edelman for a touchdown was the biggest missed play by Brady, the following series on the Bucs’ 6 isn’t far behind.
Q3 10:12 … 1st and goal at TB 6
Play-action left to Ridley (circled) draws the defense toward the line of scrimmage. Notice Dobson (17) toward the bottom of the image.
Pre-ocupied with stopping the run, no one on defense picks up Dobson (circled, below), who finds himself wide-open in the end zone.
As he is about to get hit, Brady zips a pass too far ahead of Dobson, who lays out but can’t pull it in.
On the next play Thompkins drops an easy screen pass.
3rd and goal … ball on TB 6
Third play from the 6, Brady stares down Sudfeld (circled), who is double covered. Just as Brady prepares to throw, Julian Edelman comes open across the middle of the field, but Brady tries to force one into Sudfeld and is picked off by Barron.
The throw looked like Brady expected Sudfeld to keep coming across the field and was thrown high to let Sudfeld go up for it.