Pro Football Focus posted an in-depth evaluation of QB Tom Brady and the New England Patriots presnap adjustments. While the website doesn’t factor in presnap adjustments into the grades- which can ultimately hamper the ceiling for Brady within their evaluation system- PFF is the ultimate site for compiling intelligent statistics.
PFF has noted that Brady’s “average time before attempt”, which measures the amount of time between the snap and when Brady gets rid of the football, has dropped in each of the past five seasons from 2.47 seconds to 2.42, 2.39, 2.34, and 2.26 in 2015. The average depth of each pass has fluctuated from 8.6 yards beyond the line of scrimmage to 9.1, 8.9, 8.2, and 8.3.
“On passes thrown within 2.2 seconds of the snap a year ago that weren’t screens (40.9 percent of attempts league-wide), Brady led all quarterbacks in completions (226), attempts (332), and yards (2,407 — first in the league by more than 500), while he was second in touchdowns (20) and only threw three picks.” PFF analyst Mike Renner writes. “He did all that while still maintaining the seventh-best yards per attempt on those throws in the NFL (7.25). The statistics are mind-boggling.”
In the article, Renner shows a few clips of how Brady moves players prior to the snap in order to reduce the time necessary prior to releasing the football. Brady will read the defensive coverage and flex players around the formation to capitalize on the weaknesses. The motion puts defenses on their heels and allows the Patriots offense to dictate the pace and the field.
PFF also tracked Brady’s success with and without the presnap motion and it turns out that he ascends from pretty good quarterback to Goku against Cell when he moves the pieces on his chessboard.
When Brady uses motion, his yards per attempt spikes from 6.23 to 8.22, his touchdown rate climbs from 6.9% to 10.4%, and his quarterback rating jumps from 91.8 to 118.2.
According to PFF, “Brady led the league in every single one of those statistical categories with motion...it’s scary to think that with the addition of Martellus Bennett and return of Dion Lewis, New England’s offense could get even better- and quicker- in 2016.”
There’s no question that Brady benefits greatly by playing within an offense that capitalizes on quick throws yards after the catch, but it’s undeniable that Brady plays a major role in setting up the plays prior to the snap in order to dominate opposing defenses.
This isn’t a case of system quarterback being afraid of throwing the ball more than 3 yards beyond the line of scrimmage; it’s a cold and calculated attack that has been constructed to destroy opposing defenses, capitalize on Brady’s mental game, and extend the quarterback’s career.
PFF says that the Patriots “have the best short-pass game in the NFL.” It’s going to be even better in 2016.