When you’ve won six Super Bowls and set the bar so high in terms of what you’re expected to do each week, it’s easy to point the finger at Tom Brady this season. Looking back to Sunday night, especially to start the game, Brady had one of his worst halves in his career going 7-of-19 for 82 yards and an interception. However, a lot of those miscues weren’t entirely on him.
Despite that bad first half, the New England Patriots found themselves in a position to win the game in the second half with an opportunity to cut the lead to a one score game with the ball at half. Brady did all he could, throwing for 320+ yards and three touchdowns for just the third time all season, a lot of it came from a late scoring surge in what we call “garbage time.” As far as the whole game goes, there was some incompletions that were on him, but of his 23 only eight were really on him — five inaccurate passes and three miscues.
As bad as the offense has been up to this point, it has never felt like Brady has been the significant issue. Let’s therefore go through certain points of the game.
First, the opening drive of the game for the Patriots when Brady led them down field in his usual way. A great mix of run, pass and converting on two big third downs to Julian Edelman. On 3rd and goal, Brady showed obvious frustration with veteran receiver Phillip Dorsett. It seemed as if Brady was expecting Dorsett to get to the back of the letters for an easy touchdown. Instead, he stutter-stepped and paused for a split-second forcing Brady off-target and obvious frustration.
This is something that is simply not acceptable from somebody like Dorsett who has been in the system for three years now:
.@Patriots and the frustration between a QB & WR. It’s not unique to the #Patriots. The passing game can only be executed with the precision of a diamond cutter. The margin for error is NIL. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/1bkD3D4ArP— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) December 3, 2019
The real turning point of the game, as you’ll see below, came halfway through the third quarter. The defense was starting to get stops and off the field, and the offense was stringing a drive together — really its first since the opening series.
On a third down completion, however, Mohamed Sanu cut off his route a yard short and the Patriots are handed a 4th and 1 instead of a new set of downs. On the next play, Brady hit Sanu right in the hands and the in-season trade acquisition dropped it. Houston would then score just over a minute later, making it 21-3 and essentially putting the game out of striking distance. Not sure about you, but it seems ridiculous to blame the quarterback here:
Turning point of the game: #Patriots offense was starting to string something together. Sanu cuts his slant route off a yard short forcing 4th & 1. Next play, (which was DPI on Cunningham, imo) he drops the crosser on 4th & 1. TOD, HOU scored a minute later, 21-3 = backbreaker. pic.twitter.com/gi2IUrN1uQ— Ryan Spagnoli (@Ryan_Spags) December 2, 2019
In what you will see below, Brady’s decision making and pocket awareness were actually still top-notch against Houston. His zip on the ball is still there, he made several throws into tight windows — especially on a few key third downs to Edelman and Meyers. His mobility in the pocket, which has been on display a lot this year, was fantastic all game long and on display during the James White touchdown and on a scramble earlier in the game:
Here are Tom Brady's best plays from Sunday:— Ryan Spagnoli (@Ryan_Spags) December 4, 2019
Narrative surrounding Tom is that he's the issue and declining. However, as you see in some here, drops, WR's not finishing routes etc. affecting him/offense. Zip on the ball obv. there & still one of the best in the pocket. #Patriots pic.twitter.com/w9Ep1soIu0
The costly penalties, receivers not being where they need to be, two rookie wideouts — the list goes on and on. Do you really blame Tom Brady for his obvious frustration? Here are his 23 “incompletions” from Sunday night and as you can see, more than half of these throws are due to his receivers just not executing properly:
Here are Tom Brady's 23 incompletions Sunday night:— Ryan Spagnoli (@Ryan_Spags) December 4, 2019
- One batted down
- One QB hit
- One INT
- Three drops
- Three miscommunications
- Four PBU's
- Five inaccurate throws
- Five throwaways
How many are truly on him? .... 8? It doesn't seem like he's the issue to me. #Patriots pic.twitter.com/HnVXize4fp
Sure, if you’re on the other side, I’ll meet you halfway and say that Brady needs to be more of a leader on the field and on the sidelines with a lot less sulking and moping. However, to put the blame solely on Tom Brady just isn’t fair.
If he and his pass catchers can get on the same page in a timely manner, Brady will have no problem shredding opposing defenses like we’re used to. It took the offense until about Week 16/17 last year to find its true identity and we could be seeing some of the again this year.
But please, relax with the Tom Brady takes. Like he said, they’re 10-2 not 2-10. He isn’t the problem, it has been a tough couple of weeks due to a variety of issues. He’s 42 but that isn’t the reason his numbers are where they are, you’ll just have to wait and see.