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State of the New England Patriots Nation: Quarterback Situation

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Tom Brady had a good year.

Tom Brady had a bad year.

Tom Brady was recovering from an injury.

Tom Brady will never be good again.

Tom Brady had time off to re-light his competitive fire.

Tom Brady does not care anymore.

Tom Brady is a handsome man.

No one's going to argue that.

Tom Brady had a statistically well rounded and successful season.

Tom Brady did not come through when we needed him most.

There's a lot to debate about Tom Brady and the State of our New England Patriots. Let's take a look at our current situation at quarterback and see how that will affect us heading into the off-season and next year.

Compare these two stat lines.

QB A: 68.8% Completion Rate, 4500 yards, 7.9 yards/rec, 33 TDs, 16 INTs, 10 sacks.

QB B: 65.7% Completion Rate, 4398 yards, 7.8 yards/rec, 28 TDs, 13 INTs, 16 sacks.

There's little to argue (and I'm sure most of you can tell who I'm comparing a certain QB to) that QB A had a slightly better statistical year than QB B. However, one could easily claim, judging by the stats, that both QBs would be comparable. Sure, QB A had a slightly better completion rate (around 1.5 completions/game more than QB B), around 100 more yards on the season (that's under 7 extra yards a game), 5 extra TDs and 3 extra picks. QB A won the MVP of the league, QB B is under a lot of scrutiny.

QB A in Peyton Manning. QB B is Tom Brady. Is it fair? I don't think so. Want to know the difference?

1 Comeback Victory in Week 1. 3 Fourth Quarter Collapses.

7 Comeback Victories. 0 Fourth Quarter Collapses.

Should those team victories and losses lie entirely upon the shoulders of Tom Brady? Probably not. Do they? Absolutely.

1. Tom Brady, 6-4, 225 lbs. 32 Years Old, 10th Season in NFL

Stats: 371/565. 65.7% Completion Rate. 4398 Yards. 7.8 Yards/attempt. 28 TDs. 13 INTs. 16 sacks.

How he did: Looking at his numbers as a whole, this was still the 2nd best offensive output of his career. 2nd highest completion rate, 2nd highest yardage output, 2nd highest average, 2nd highest TD total. That's pretty good. However 8 of his 13 INTs were on forced passes to Randy Moss, which (as anyone who watched the Patriots this season could tell) means that at least 4 of those picks could have been avoided. People who lasted the entire 1st quarter against the Ravens could tell you that Brady lost us the game as the Ravens read his snap count and exploited it. That said, this was a recovery season for Tom AND a growing year for the Patriots. I'll take it.

Where he did well:

  1. He put up points in the first half like it was his job (what's that? It IS his job?). He threw for 65.4% and 2600ish yards in the first half, for 17 TDs and 8 INTs (post-season not included). That's pretty reasonable.
  2. He was his best in the 2nd quarter, going for 13 TDs to only 3 picks (playoffs included). He usually put us ahead at the half, which usually means a sure win with Belichick at the helm.
  3. When Brady was in the red zone, he threw for 18 TDs and 2 picks.
  4. When we played at home, Brady threw for 17 TDs to only 3 INTs.
  5. Throwing across the middle, for under 10 yards, Brady went for 1207 yards, 4 TDs and 0 picks
  6. Throwing behind the line of scrimmage (screen passes and dumps), he went a perfect 18/18 for 143 yards and a TD to the left, 7/8 for 78 yards to the right and 34/45 for 265 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs to the center.
  7. Facing no pressure (436 times), Brady completed 71.2% of his passes for 3502 yards, 8.1 yards/attempt, 20 TDs and 5 INTs. 0 Sacks.
  8. When blitzed (188 times), Brady threw for 65.8%, 1397 yards for 7.4 yards/attempt, 9 TDs and 2 INTs.
  9. He put together a great season against one of the fiercest passing defenses gauntlets of ALL TIME.

Where he can improve:

  1. 8 of his 13 regular season interceptions were thrown towards Randy Moss and at LEAST half of them were unnecessary and could have been avoided with better play calling (why force a ball to Moss under triple coverage?) or a better throw (don't throw it behind a receiver who is about to get lit up).
  2. When we were on our half of the field, Brady threw for 5 TDs to 9 INTs (and 3 additional in the playoffs).
  3. He became a 1 trick pony. Brady threw for 20+ yards only 43 times. In comparison, Drew Brees did it 58, Phillip Rivers did it 64, Peyton Manning did it 59, Matt Schaub 62, Tony Romo 61, Hell, Joe Flacco and David Garrard did it 44 times each. Is this on Brady? Partially. Maybe the plays weren't designed to give Brady the opportunity to air it out to an open receiver down field and maybe he didn't have the personnel on the other end of the pass. Whether or not that's Brady's fault, he needs to be able to hit the deep ball more frequently.
  4. In the 2nd half, Brady's yards/attempt average dropped from 8.1 to 6.8. He needs to keep up his performance and make necessary adjustments over the half to keep the opposing defenses guessing. It seems like other teams were able to catch on to our offense and stop it at will.
  5. Playing from behind, Brady had 6 INTs to go with his 6 TDs. His judgment seemed off this season and he forced numerous bad throws that cost us the close games.
  6. In the 4th Quarter, within 7 points of the opposing team, Brady went 53.6% completion, with 4.5 average, 1 TD and 3 INTs. Yuck.
  7. During away games, Brady threw for 10% fewer completions (70.4% at home vs. 60.4% at away), while throwing 11 TDs to 10 INTs.
  8. When under pressure (151 plays), he completed only 47.8% of his passes for 6.7 yards/attempt, 8 TDs, 8 INTs and 16 sacks. This is partially the O-Line's fault, but Brady needs to do a better job dealing with opposing pressure if we are going to succeed against top teams in the league.
  9. Brady had 34 dropped passes, which was good for 3rd worst in the league (behind Aaron Rodgers and Matt Cassel, tied with Tony Romo). Some of that was lack of receivers. 8 were by Moss, 6 were by Welker. However, watching the games leads me to believe that all of those drops aren't the receivers faults. Brady often led his receivers into coverage and into big hits. He threw into double and triple teams. He needs to re-work his decision skills. This isn't 2007 anymore.

What does this mean?: Brady is still an elite QB- he won't have to face as intense of pass defenses next year (he played 6 of the top 8 passing defenses in the league, and he played two of them (#1 Jets and #2 Bills) TWICE. He played the #6 Ravens in the playoffs. Unfortunately, he usually didn't do well against these top defenses, leading us to a 5-4 overall record against these teams. Hopefully Brady can step up in the future and raise his performance against these elite defenses. He has to if we are to get back to the Super Bowl.

I know he has gas left in the tank and he's still (sniff) my quarterback, man. He's my quarterback. If we upgrade the line in front of him, as well as provide him with a quality 3rd receiver and a running game, he has it in him to bring us back to the promised land.

However, if he gets hurt...

2. Brian Hoyer 6-2, 215 lbs. 24 Years Old, Rookie.

Stats: 19/27. 70.4% Completion Rate. 142 Yards. 5/3 Yards/attempt. 0 TDs. 0 INTs. 2 sacks.

How he did: He performed admirably in mop up duty against the Titans, going 9/11 for 52 yards and rushing for a TD. In the final against Houston, he went 8/12 for 71 yards. What I liked? I saw improvement. Each time he was put in the game, his yards/attempt increased (4.7->4.8->5.9). Will I be comfortable if he steps in for Brady? Hell no. Do I think he would give us his all? Absolutely.

Where he did well:

  1. He played well in his first pro game against Tennessee in terrible elements.
  2. Looking at his stats, Hoyer did well in any situation, home vs. away, 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th quarter. He did equally well.
  3. He completed all of his passes behind the line of scrimmage.
  4. Hoyer went 6/9 across the middle for 45 yards.
  5. Under no pressure (29 times), Hoyer threw for 73.1% completion.

Where he can improve:

  1. When blitzed (9 times), Hoyer was 3/7 for 6 yards and a sack.
  2. When under pressure (3 times), He threw once (incomplete) and was sacked twice. He needs to gain experience and learn the pace of the game and how to react to tense situations.
  3. He was 1/4 on passes beyond 10 yards for 11 yards. He will learn with time.
  4. Stay behind Brady. With another year or two under his belt, I think he has what it takes to be the QB of our future.

What does this mean?: I by no means want Hoyer to start in the near future (not for another 3-5 years) and I don't think we'd have a small chance in this league with him at the helm next year. I DO believe that he looked like one of the best QBs from last years draft, when he was playing in garbage time (so take it with a grain of salt). Hoyer is in one of the greatest positions he could be in, sitting behind a future Hall-of-Famer. Sit and learn, my friend. Your time will come.

How does this affect our off-season and draft strategy?: I believe that we're comfortable with Tom Brady as our QB. I also believe that we'll go another year with just Hoyer as our #2. We could bring in a veteran, but I feel like we want to use the roster spot on another position. If Brady ever was injured again, I believe that we wouldn't hesitate to bring someone in. However, we won't be drafting another QB, nor will we pick one up in the off-season.

Statistics courtesy of Pro Football Focus and the NFL.