The Patriots’ offense is struggling terribly right now, and the blame for those struggles deserves to be shared.
The passing game, and namely the rookie wide receivers, has taken much of the flak for the Patriots’ inability to score and sustain drives during the first two weeks of the regular season. While the young receivers have contributed to the deficiencies, they aren’t the only problem. Tom Brady knows that all too well.
“It’s overall execution of our whole offense, and it’s not the receiver position, it’s every position, including the quarterback position,” Brady said Monday during his weekly interview on WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan Morning Show. “The quarterback position, running backs, tight ends, receivers, offensive line — we all have to be on the same page. Until we are, we’re going to struggle.”
Kenbrell Thompkins, who has just six catches on 20 targets so far, has borne the brunt of the burden, after expectations for the undrafted rookie reached an unrealistic level during the preseason. Second-round pick Aaron Dobson caught a touchdown pass in his NFL debut, but he, too, has been the subject of frustration for Patriots fans. Fourth-round pick Josh Boyce, who hasn’t played much early in the season, has received his fair share of flak as well. All the negativity might be a bit unfair, though.
Brady’s pedigree as one of the NFL’s all-time great quarterbacks has earned him an almost lifetime exception from blame around New England, so it’s no wonder he’s escaped unscathed in the first two weeks. The 36-year-old quarterback is completing an uncharacteristically low 53 percent of his passes and hasn’t seemed completely comfortable in the offense just yet. He’s well aware of his own faults at this stage in the season, acknowledging his mistakes and backing up his receivers.
“It’s the quarterback position, too, I’m not making all the right plays, either,” Brady said. “It’s not like the rookie receivers are messing up all the time. No, not at all. Look, I’ve really been able to count on those guys. They’ve done an incredible job with what they’ve been asked to do. We’ve got to improve in all aspects of our offense, and that will hopefully remove the burden that has fallen on the receivers right now.”
Brady isn’t responsible for as much of the struggles as he’s accepting, but his willingness to take some of the pressure off his rookie receivers is exactly the type of leadership that will help them figure things out soon enough.