Re: Pressure Really On Brady
posted at 6/14/2014 10:37 PM EDT
ProFootballFocus.com just came out with throwing numbers sorted by the number of yards in the air.
For distances of 1 to 10 yards, Peyton Manning is in first place and Tom Brady is in second place.
Curiously, Brady's explosive, shifty receivers are always catching the football running away from tacklers, yet their YAC average is one of the NFL's worst. I suspect a Bill Belichick strategy here.
Every play from scrimmage earns or loses, statistically, a certain number of points. The goal on first down is to make second down easy, because an easy second down is statistically almost a sure first down and an extra opportunity to smashmouth the defense. The secondary goal is to pick up a first down. The incremental value of ripping off an extra ten yards beyond the first down is nearly zero! So, receivers have their marching orders: catch the ball and get some positive yardage, get the first down if it's there, but then just about always prepare to go down rather than get hit and fumble.
The exception to the "go down" rule is if your team is 14 points behind, you need a touchdown fast. That doesn't happen often in Foxboro.
Now, back to Brady. Between 21 and 30 yards, Tom Brady is almost at the bottom of the list of 2013 NFL quarterbacks. He can throw the ball 30 yards, and in fact his average comes back up a bit on throws beyond 30 yards. My guess is that Brady's shoulder bothers him on those long lobs, so much that he has little control over where the ball is going. On long bombs Brady just heaves the rock as far as he can throw and then the receiver (Dobson, Gronk, LaFell) has to run under it, push the little tiny defenders away and outleap everybody for the ball. Worth noting: Last year Peyton Manning couldn't lob the ball over 30 yards, ever.
It's possible that Josh McDaniels can get Brady's shoulder back on track by managing his pitch count. Then again, Brady always was a dink-and-dunk quarterback. I note that BB is fielding a lot of giant receivers, good targets 30 yards downfield for a lobbing quarterback.
I'd say that Peyton Manning has lost his long ball forever, as a result of his neck surgeries. He's still the league's best dink and dunk guy.
"Pressure Really On Brady" is all relative. Geno Smith will lose his job if he doesn't perform at his tip-top best. Brady will make the playoffs no matter what his wife's hair stylist does to his head. In January and February, it's partly about which team has the most injuries, and (my personal opinion) it smells like the huge playoff wagering pools are influencing who wins and by how much.