If you check Tom Brady's stat line from Sunday, you may be wondering what was wrong with the Patriots' future Hall of Fame quarterback, but to quote Bill Belichick, "stats are for losers." Well, some stats.
The Patriots' receivers dropped a season-high five passes against New York, which didn't do Brady's numbers any favors, nor did it help the Patriots' precision offense move the ball consistently.
The New England offense is built off of stringing plays together, efficiently, to create a greater whole. Brady works off of short passes, and when playing stout run defenses like New York's you can't depend on getting big chunks of yards on the ground. The key is to get what's given to you, and when a longer pass is available, Brady isn't afraid to go for it, but his receivers have to comply.
Rob Gronkowski and Brandon Lloyd had two drops apiece, while Wes Welker had one. Those were perfectly thrown balls by Brady that simply clanged off his usual dependent teammates' hands. Lloyd had an especially poor game, being targeted seven times and only hauling in one catch for six yards.
Since every play matters so much in the Patriots' offense, those drops are especially glaring. Not only can it potentially stall a drive, but it also stops the clock. When the Patriots are moving so fast in their no huddle, the clock needs to keep running to take any time off the clock on offense.
With the drops, Brady completed 26 of 42 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Completing 31 of 42 passes for however many more yards were lost off of drops looks a lot better, and more accurately depicts how well Brady played against the Jets.
Gronkowski has been a very dependable player for the Patriots over the last three years, but Lloyd is a newcomer to the team. If Lloyd continues to play like he did on Sunday, dropping passes, stumbling on routes and overall looking lost, he could find himself on the bench. And the Patriots have a serious lack of depth at the wide receiver position. With the amount of criticism quarterbacks like Jay Cutler and Cam Newton have received recently for giving glares to their teammates or throwing their team under the bus, it's nice to see a quarterback stay poised while his receivers let him down.
For the Patriots' precision offense to succeed to its peak potential, the players have to avoid costly mistakes like drops, penalties or misread coverages. That also includes the two dangerous throws that Brady made in the fourth quarter, one over Lloyd's shoulder in the end zone, and one with Gronkowski cloaked by defenders, especially Antonio Cromartie.
The Patriots are lucky they were given the opportunity to mount a comeback on Sunday, but if they want to avoid that dangerous situation in the future, they'll have to avoid sloppy play.