Passing Chart - Tom Brady
It’s hard to find an area of the field where Tom Brady struggled on Sunday as the Patriots quarterback delivered a vintage performance against the Raiders.
Brady was deadly accurate within 20 yards of the line of scrimmage, completing 28 of his 33 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns on non-deep throws.
However, Brady delivered two crucial deep balls, both two wide receiver Brandin Cooks, including a game-breaking 64-yard touchdown to Cooks in the third quarter.
In all, Brady had a game-high 146.8 passer rating when targeting the speedy Cooks against the Raiders on Sunday.
Furthermore, Brady was dominant targeting his tight ends on Sunday, as the trio of Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett, and Dwayne Allen combined to go 8/8 for 75 yards in Mexico City.
The tight ends working in the intermediate part of the field and Cooks taking the top off the defense were key reasons for Brady’s stellar performance.
Brady has also begun to find a groove in terms of getting rid of the football in a timely manner.
His time to throw in this one was just below his season average of 2.56 seconds, which was a few ticks slower than last weeks 2.39 seconds.
However, over the last five weeks, we have seen Brady’s time drop to just above 2.5 seconds on average after holding onto the ball for roughly 2.7 seconds in the first five games.
Since Week 6, Brady’s time to throw of 2.54 seconds ranks 7th among quarterbacks that have played a minimum of 50% of their team’s snaps.
Not quite the lightning-fast release we are used to seeing in years past, but still among the league leaders.
Danny Amendola dominated the opposition in the slot once again, including a sweet touchdown grab working the back of the end zone.
Amendola now has 38 receptions out of the slot which ranks third in the NFL, and averages 2.01 yards/route run from inside which ranks fifth among all wide receivers.
The Patriots also continue to use their tight ends in the slot as often as they line up in-line as a traditional tight end would.
Rob Gronkowski, in particular, has been a bit of a slot monster as his 312 yards out of the slot this season, 36 of which came on Sunday, ranks second among tight ends only to Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.
This was another excellent performance by the Patriots’ offensive line, and it came despite the unit being short two starters.
It doesn’t seem to matter whether or not the Patriots are healthy up front offensively as fill-in’s LaAdrian Waddle and center Ted Karras picked up right where the injured/ill starters left off.
Waddle deserves high praise for his work against reigning Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack who lined up on the right side of the offensive line for the majority of the day.
Mack was still disruptive tallying a sack and four total pressures on the day but didn’t dominate snap to snap as you might expect.
As for Karras, he filled in seamlessly for starter David Andrews who missed this game due to an illness.
Karras allowed just one total pressure on Tom Brady and also performed well in the running game.
The Patriots offensive line continues to turn things around after a rocky start to the season.
Pass Rush/Run Stops
The Patriots front seven continues to be the weakness of this year’s Pats, but on the bright side, defensive end Trey Flowers had a monster game in Week 11.
Flowers doesn’t have the gaudy sack totals that some expected, but he continues to pressure the quarterback on a regular basis.
Flowers notched another quarterback hit which brings his season total to 12 which ranks second among edge defenders in the NFL this season.
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy also continues to be another bright spot in the Patriots’ lackluster pass rush.
Van Noy added another sack to his team-leading 4.5 on the season.
Along with a pedestrian pass rush, the Patriots defense also had one of its worst game against the run against Oakland.
The Patriots defense has allowed an NFL-worst 4.98 yards per carry to its opponents this season, and the Raiders averaged 5.2 yds per carry on Sunday.
Furthermore, the Patriots only managed six run stops in Week 11, which is their fewest in a game this season.
The lack of penetration both by the pass rush and run defense continues to be a problem for the 2017 Patriots.
The Patriots secondary had arguably its best of the game season on Sunday holding Derek Carr to 237 passing yards on just 4.8 yards per attempt, the lowest yards per attempt output by an opposing quarterback this season.
Carr targeted cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore (11 times) and Jonathan Jones (10 times) throughout the game but had little success (12/21 for 97 yards), and Malcolm Butler had an excellent bounce-back game covering Raiders WR Amari Cooper after a poor performance last week in Denver.
However, the real surprise from this one was how well the Patriots’ linebackers held up in coverage.
In all, the Patriots used five different linebackers in coverage, a high number for them this season, and Derek Carr was 8/12 for 46 yards and a passer rating of 78.6 when targeting the Pats linebackers.
That’s a massive improvement from where the group was earlier in the season, a trend that will hopefully continue to improve down the stretch.
We said it at the beginning of the season.
The Patriots’ issues in the secondary were fixable with improved communication and better play from a few key members.
They have gotten that and then some in recent weeks, and the stats back it up.
(h/t Pro Football Focus: https://www.profootballfocus.com/products/elite#edge)