We’ll give Tom Brady the benefit of the doubt and allow him a couple more games to get situated with Rob Gronkowski before it’s acceptable to worry about the surefire Hall of Famer. But the Patriots signal-caller has not been overly impressive thus far in 2013.
Sunday’s game against the Jets was one of this worst of the season. He completed just 22 of 46 passes for 228 yards with an interception. Brady averaged just five yards per attempt and had trouble with pressure in his face and with all the time in the world.
Of Brady’s 24 incompletions, five can be fully chalked up to drops. Rob Gronkowski had two and Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Brandon Bolden had one apiece (Dobson, Thompkins and Gronk also had targets that were close to being drops, but they were more bad passes than poor play by the receivers).
Gronkowski also lost one pass in the sun, and Austin Collie stepped out of bounds on a play in which he should have been able to drag a second foot. Another four of Brady’s passes can be called good defensive plays. Sometimes it’s a quality effort by the quarterback and receiver, but the defense is even better.
Another two incompletions were throwaways by Brady. Brady had 11 bad passes, though, that went for incompletions — and one interception — mostly because of inaccuracy. That’s slightly concerning to see out of a quarterback who, for so long, delivered bullet after bullet to his intended targets.
After games, it’s easy to find Patriots fans and analysts blasting the team’s receivers. And while they did appear to have trouble gaining separation for much of the game, they’re not forcing Brady to the throw the ball into the dirt or over their heads in the sidelines. Brady’s struggles are very real. And Gronkowski is not a cure-all.
Brady appeared to get especially inaccurate as the game was on the line in overtime. All four of his incompletions, to Dobson, Gronkowski and Edelman, were inaccurate passes. It certainly didn’t help matters that Brady seemed to be keyed in on Gronkowski too much as the game went on. No receiver should have 17 targets in a game, especially when they’re pulling in less than 50 percent of the intended passes.
Brady was at his worst to start the third quarter, though. The Patriots were leading 21-10 at the half, and on just the second play of the third quarter, Brady threw a pick-six interception to Antonio Allen. The next three drives for the Patriots went three and out.
It’s possible New England could have got more of a run game going if Brady wasn’t so inaccurate on all those drives. But the Patriots were only able to run the ball 20 times versus 46 passes.
We’ll get a better idea of where Brady stands this season when Gronkowski gets fully healthy. And we’ll have an even better idea when Shane Vereen returns in Week 11. Until then, Brady will have to hope for more performances like his one against Atlanta than the games two of the past three weeks against New York and Cincinnati. Those have been just plain ugly.