Brady Vs. Chargers
A Closer Look at His Game
How bad did Tom Brady play Sunday against the San Diego Chargers?
Consider the following:
It's not that Brady was bad more than the Chargers deserve a lot of credit. I don't know that they had him "confused" -- he didn't look confused. To me, it appeared he found nothing he wanted and he was frowning before almost every pass he threw.
While the offensive line, tight ends and running backs did a fantastic job keeping Brady alive -- certainly one of the keys to the game -- Brady was under a lot of pressure from start to finish, and San Diego took away a lot of Brady's (and the Patriots') options.
Start with the screen pass. I said before the game that screens -- not just to the running backs, but to wideouts and tight ends -- and play-action would be a huge part of establishing the running game, and, in turn, set up the "real" passing game.
But the Chargers shut down the screen completely (much as the Patriots shut down San Diego's -- another huge key to the game) by keeping someone on anyone coming out of the backfield, much the way New England did to Marshall Faulk in Super Bowl XXXVI.
The few screen attempts failed with Brady intentionally (but legally) drilling several passes into the ground at the feet of would-be screen receivers. One near the end of the third quarter even resulted in guard Logan Mankins flagged for offensive pass interference.
Another stat that shows how well the Chargers covered the Patriots passing game? Brady hit just 6 receivers for the whole game, and only one was a running back (Kevin Faulk, 2 for 11 yards). Otherwise Brady hit three wideouts, Jabar Gaffney (10), Reche Caldwell (7) and Troy Brown (5), and two tight ends, Daniel Graham (2) and Ben Watson (1).
These stats are unheard of this Patriots season. Almost.
The last time Brady connected with just six different receivers? Week 1. The only time he connected with just one running back? Week 2. The last time wideouts were the top three receivers accounting for more than 80 percent of the receptions? Didn't happen. The time any single player caught 10 or more Brady passes in a single game this season? Didn't happen.
The screen being shut down completely made it nearly impossible to run, and eventually the Patriots all but abandoned the running game. In the second half, Corey Dillon ran the ball three times, Laurance Maroney twice, Kevin Faulk once. Six rushes in the second half.
By contrast, Brady threw 32 passes -- yes, in the second half. In the whole game, the Patriots ran the ball 21 times, twice by Brady (and one of those was taking a knee on the last play of the game.
In the first half, Brady was 9 of 19 (47.4 pct) for 93 yards (10.3 yards per completion) with 1 touchdown and 1 interception.
In the second, he was 18 of 32 (56.3 pct) for 187 yards (10.4 ypc) with 1 TD and 2 INTs. And, from the last two plays in the third quarter to Dillon's three carries before Gostkowski's field goal (ya, his three second half carries were the Patriots last three plays from scrimmage with the offense), the only non-special teams plays were Brady passes.
So, with the screen and flank passes effectively eliminated, running backs taken out of the passing game, and tight ends covered like blankets, and with Brady under constant, relentless pressure, he was sacked just twice and found the three guys who were the only ones open the whole game.
Brady was charged virtually solely and explicitly to win it.
Sure, Brady made some bad passes -- at least two that would have been touchdowns -- but he also got rid of a lot of balls that would have been sacks, and he connected with guys who were all but non-existent until a few games ago.
Brady had a bad game?
How would you rate Brady's game vs. San Diego?
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