Patriots Mailbag: What’s The Biggest Cause For Tom Brady’s Struggles?

NFL fans are getting an early Christmas present on Saturday afternoon.

The postseason actually begins in January, but they’re essentially being treated to an additional playoff game when the Buffalo Bills play the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots have said all week they’re treating Saturday like it’s the playoffs. If they win, they’re AFC East champs. And if they win out, then they’re essentially winning a playoff game by getting a first-round bye.

Now let’s see if Patriots fans can bring a playoff atmosphere.

How injured is Tom Brady actually? Would you attribute more of inaccuracy to age or injury?
— @MKcCooper
I do think Tom Brady’s right elbow was bothering him over the last few weeks. He wasn’t listed on this week’s injury report, however, so we’ll find out if that was causing his recent struggles or not.

I think the biggest issue is actually the players surrounding Brady on offense. Brady’s stats were pretty similar in 2013 when he had an 87.3 passer rating. It’s 86.5 this season.

In 2013, he had Julian Edelman, Stevan Ridley, LeGarrette Blount, eight games of Shane Vereen, 12 games of Danny Amendola, seven games of Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, Brandon Bolden, Michael Hoomanawanui and a few others.

That’s pretty similar to Edelman, James White, Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers, six games of Josh Gordon, Bolden, Mohamed Sanu, Ben Watson, Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo, N’Keal Harry and one game of Antonio Brown.

Brady’s numbers traditionally go up or down depending on the cast of characters surrounding him. They’re not great this year.

I think the injuries and Brady’s age have caused him to regress a little since that 2013 season. It’s also worth noting Brady had a drop rate of 8.4 percent in 2013, and he threw the ball away just 13 times. Brady’s drop rate is 6 percent this season, and he’s thrown the ball away 41 times.

So, Brady’s receivers have been slightly more dependable this season, but he’s not trusting his offensive line to the same degree as he was six years ago.

#MailDoug why does it feel like everyone has counted out the #Patriots when they were a fumble away from beating the ravens, poor officiating from beating the chiefs, and a pass incompletion from beating the Texans? #11-3vs14-0
— @PurdyUnstable
I think the biggest reason to question why the Patriots are being counted out is the fact that they will likely finish the season 13-3 this season. They went 11-5 last year, and they still won the Super Bowl. Sooo …

And let not pretend that the 2019 Baltimore Ravens are any more hyped up right now than the 2018 Chiefs who lost to the Patriots in Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game.

Not saying the Patriots are winning another Super Bowl, but it’s definitely possible after last season.

@DougKyed #maildoug Stopping the pass or stopping the run, what is more important this week for #Patriots vs the Bills? Will they do it?
— @KenMcCartney
Definitely stopping the run. There’s no reason to be overly concerned about Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen going against the Patriots’ pass defense. But the Patriots struggled to stop the run last week against the Cincinnati Bengals. Joe Mixon is a good back, but the Bengals stink. If the Patriots let Allen, Devin Singletary and Frank Gore run roughshod over them, then they could run into some issues.

Thoughts on Pats using Slater or Bethal’s coverage skills on defense vs Ravens to ‘cover’ Lamar on pass downs? Jones better fit for Hollywood Brown than QB spy
— @bcas25
I think you’re getting too cute. Let defensive players play defense and special teams players play special teams.

Matthew Slater and Justin Bethel are good open-field tacklers, but if they were good enough to regularly play defense, then they would.

Let’s go rapid fire.

You can change one scene/detail/snippet of dialogue in Home Alone. What do you change?
— @NEPatriotsDraft
I think I would make it more obvious which siblings are Kevin’s. I don’t think it necessarily matters, but I can never really remember which kid goes with which family except that Buzz is Kevin’s brother and Fuller is Uncle Frank’s son.

I think one of the funniest lines in the movie is when Old Man Marley asks Kevin, “What’s your point?”

Imagine saying that to an 8-year-old stranger.

“Hey kid, what’s your point?”

@DougKyed #maildoug I haven’t heard much of Bentley at LB this year. Last year he started so strong. How has he been doing?
— @KenMcCartney
Like many young players on the Patriots’ roster, Ja’Whaun Bentley just has better, more experienced players in front of him on the depth chart. He’ll likely take on a bigger role next season.

Based on how things are going, who do you think puts up better numbers for the rest of the season: Sanu or Harry?
— @ZakSalant
I’d still go with Mohamed Sanu. I think he breaks out again now that his ankle is healed.

How bummed are you that there’s not a Thursday Night Football game tonight?
— @jaimedonovan
I would have been more bummed if I didn’t see “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” on Thursday night. I liked it, by the way.

Since everyone is going to ask/complain about the Pats offense/personnel/internal rift/the world ending: what’s your favorite holiday cookie?
— @DTFisher4
I’d say a molasses cookie. I like a gingerbread cookie, but I only really like soft cookies, and gingerbread cookies tend to be hard cookies.

How possible is the following scenario in 2020: Patriots without Brady, Mcdaniels and Caserio?
— @fmacedocosta30
It’s possible. I’ll say that.

USA Today recently listed some free agents Miami should go after. One was Joe Thuney, who the author thought they could get at 4 years/$32.25 Million. If that was the price, wouldn’t the Patriots re-sign him?
— @MarkJohnBennett
He’ll get more than that.

Are you mad at me?
— @PayneTrain44
Yes, how’d you know?

Best to rest Edelman last 2 games for playoffs?
— @RommelRoo
Maybe, but it’s not going to happen.

Thumbnail photo via David Kohl/USA TODAY Sports Images