The Brady "problem" and drafting wideouts

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    The Brady "problem" and drafting wideouts

    Okay, the title is a little misleading, as it's hard to call one of the 2 or 3 best QBs to ever play the game a "problem". But Brady has changed, by necessity I would argue, and the offensive philosophy has morphed to meet that change...and that has created somewhat of a problem. Fans on this forum like to point out that the Pats won Super Bowls with guys like David Patton, David Givens and Troy Brown as our top receivers, and while that is an inarguable fact, it is highly unlikely that they could do the same today.


    This past weekend, I found a couple of videocassettes of games I taped between the 2001-2004 seasons (finding the remote for the VCR was quite a task, lol), and I watched a good part of 4 or 5 games. And one thing jumped out at me over after over...Brady's toughness.  It was eye-opening (or, more accurately, memory-inducing) to review just how many times the young Tom Brady would stand in the pocket until the very last instant before delivering the ball...followed by taking a monster hit. He was Favre-like in that regard (though better than Favre in everything else). And when Brady took those hits, he would jump off the turf smiling, and talking smack to Jason Taylor or Dwight Freeney. Brady loved the contact, and that lack of fear bought an extra second or more for his receivers to get open downfield.

    Of course, you don't want your 30-something QB taking the same hits that your 25-year-old QB did. (Brady did not jump up smiling when Dumervil planted him into the turf the year before last.) The Pats' response to this has largely been changing the playbook, to where now most passes are out of Brady's hand in under 2.5 seconds, with many escaping in well under 2 seconds. While this forces opposing defenses to be highly alert, it also removes many routes from the receiver tree, making it easier for atheletic, well-coached Ds to focus on short routes to favorite targets. The bubble screen was an occasional call in 2004, not the staple that it is today. This new philosophy has become so ingrained that once the 3-second mark goes off in Brady's head, he begins to "turtle"...even when there is no imminent pressure around him.

    This philosophy also makes it harder to draft wide receivers, and folks are quick to point out BB's poor record here. Many of us talk about our wish for a "tall receiver" or a "speed demon who can stretch the field." But what the Pats covet most, in the current philosophy, is a guy who can consistently read the defense, get open, in the RIGHT SPOT, in under 2 seconds. It's damned hard to draft such guys (or scout free agent WRs, for that matter) when nobody else plays this way.

    While I don't knock the philosophy, I think it must be augmented by beefing up the offensive line to all-world levels. Joe Flacco is not a better QB than Tom Brady. But Joe Flacco looked light years better than Tom Brady in the playoffs this year because Joe Flacco has 4.5 seconds to throw the ball, allowing his guys to make the second or third move to get open. Even the 49ers great D couldn't get to him much; the nimble Kaepernick was out-sacked 3-2 by the Ravens' D. We need to stop just relying on Scar's skillset, and give him some exceptional talent to work with.

    Vollmer (when healthy) is an elite lineman, and Solder could be getting there. Mankins, however, is overpaid while the other guys, while hard-working and well-coached, are JAGs. I'd like to see the Pats cut ties with Mankins, and allot Vollmer type money ($3.5-$6 million apiece) to every position on the line, and grab the beastiest players that money can buy.

    I believe if they did that--so that Brady is given the confidence that he will have 3.5 seconds to get rid of the ball--they won't need to draft all-world receivers.

    Even Ocho and Galloway would have had more productive seasons.

     
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    Re: The Brady

    Well written, but flawed IMO.  I was with you through the first 2 paragraphs.  It is true that the ball is leaving TB's hands quicker.  I too believe that is by design.  But it is also true that his Y/C is above his career avg. in each of the last 3 years and better than his first 3 years.  This, without having a deep threat since Moss left and no great WR with YAC.  Also, while you say that the bubble screen was an "occasional call" in 2004, the reality is they employed the screen pass and checkdowns more in the Weis era.  Maybe it's semantics but middle screens, bubble screens, slip screens, and checkdowns were a huge part of Weis' playbook.  Heck, Kevin Faulk feasted off those plays.  Which brings me to point 3:  I did not see you mention the running game at all.  A successful running game is critical to an overall offense.  In the early years (again under Weis) they ran more 2-back sets and ran the draw more.  In today's NFL, partly due to rule changes, all offenses are more pass-centric.  With a 2 TE set and 1 back (or no back) backfields it stands to reason the QB has less pocket protection and will need to release the ball sooner.

     
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    Re: The Brady

    The Brady "problem"can be summed up it very easily-He's getting older and it's showing. he looked like Sanchez against the World Champion Ravens and that's being kind.

     
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    Re: The Brady

    I have to say if it was just a "Brady" problem, why haven't any of these WR gone on to play better on other teams. These guy don't just fall of the map. If they are good... hell even ones who aren't get to other camps and often chance to prove what they are worth.

     
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    Re: The Brady

    Sing along with Leon won't you?

    You're old QB just aint what he used to be he aint what he used to be he aint what he used to be...

    Do old QB's get better with time or do they just get old?

     
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    Re: The Brady

    In response to RidingWithTheKingII's comment:

    Oh boy!  Now you've done it! How dare you be honest, take the time to construct a well thought out post, backed by truth and fact?!!

    TFB12, Pezzy, Babe, Mt Hurl, TripleOG (Am I forgetting anyone?! - lol) will be all in here to read you the riot act.

    Anyway, obviously, very obviously so, I agree with you completely. There is some strong logic behind it, but it's clear it's not enough to be used as the base of your offense.

    It's an offensive, passing league where all the rules favor the offense. It made sense to tweak it in 2006, upgrade it with better personnel in 2007,  but it's 2013.

    Negatives include:

    1. Blows leads.

    2. No, to little sustainability across 4 qtrs/Loss of momentum.

    3. More turnovers through the air.

    4. Predictability.

    5. More pressure on our own D to hold leads where they're on the field so many times in a row, repeatedly.

    It's gone too far.  I thought it be easy to blame O'Brien for it, but I realized McDaniels's calling wasn't really any better, which leads one to believe there is one lone common denominator, more so than BB.  It's BB and Brady. But, it's really Brady because he's the guy who runs this offense, prefers that shotgun spread, and his total autonomy at the line.

    He's also the one who got hurt in 2008.  He got a pass from me in 2009 where you could see he was a bit skittish, but I really felt he shook it in 2010 once Moss was dealt.  He did. He just panicked after the INT and Crumpler drop in the playoffs.

    Then, 2011 hit and we were back right at it. Enough. It's over.

    Get him back under center. for the love of god.

    By the way, you didn't need a VCR hook up. You Tube has a lot of this already.  I have tapes myself, but I am not hooking up my VCR over it. lol

    I know he works with a boxing training with his footwork, but I almost feel it's due to his injury, a problem he can't shake in his head, BB not demanding it more or whatever. I don't care what the solution is. It just has to stop. He's clearly way better with a run game established and playaction from under center. Not even debatable, excpet for pink helmets and new fans who just started watching in 2007.

    Look at how this drive is run here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEumzvnU9gY

    We're a long way from Brady juking Urlacher in 2006, yes.

    How can anyone deny this above video and how Brady looks today?  He's crisp, deliberate, doesn't look confused, etc.

    I also feel it's HARDER for taller WRs, certainly larger than Welker, to execute a route that fast and get open. In other words, Welker is an anamoly not the norm.

    We've gone from a makeshift West Coast hybrid, to a stagnant shot base spread that is clearly more detrimental to us scoring points and hence winning playoff games than the offense being beneficial.

    It'a gone too far into that direction. I am not even convinced BB and Brady realize it because I seriously thought the Moss trade signified they did, but reverting back to it in 2011 proves they didn't.

    This whole blaming of Ocho or Lloyd or whoever else is also ridiculous.  We scare off FA WRs with this circle of trust crap Brady has sort of created on his own, too.

    Get him under center, simplify it down a bit with far less shotgun. It's so simple.

     

     



    I do agree with you to the extent that the offensive philosophy has changed with this team.   QB ability has a lot to do with how the coach staff designs their offense.  You really have to be blind not to realize everything from how the team has been drafted to how games are called is ultimate on all the coaching staff.  They use what they have and try to do what they think will give them the best chance to win. 

     

    I know you think the shot gun spread is the cause but it is the symptom of other weak areas of the team.  No one factor is at fault but many contribute to any systemic failureā€¦. if you want to call it that. 

     

    If it was so simple don't you think these coach with vastly more football knowledge and experance than you wouldn't see it.  This is  not just a one year fluke, this has been an system aproach, right or wrong.  You have the right to have your opion but "I" really wish you would start clearly looking at the whole picture and start looking at it as a team problem not just a Brady problem.   


     
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    Re: The Brady

    In response to RidingWithTheKingII's comment:

     

    In response to csylvia79's comment:

     

    I have to say if it was just a "Brady" problem, why haven't any of these WR gone on to play better on other teams. These guy don't just fall of the map. If they are good... hell even ones who aren't get to other camps and often chance to prove what they are worth.

     




    We don't know yet. Welker will be playing with Manning. Givens got hurt. Branch was pretty good but did get hurt in Seattle at times, too.

     

    No one is saying Brady isn't elite, but that the formations and ideology he prefers is way, way to excessive.

    Why is this so hard for you to grasp? It cannot be laid out or proven for you any better at this point?


    Why do you think others keep coming around to the problem?  The light bulb goes off after a period of denial, but people like you are so sick that you can't just finally admit it. At least NYPats is admitting it.

    You'd rather blame Brandon Lloyd.

     




    I was talking more about the drafted wrs that never made an impact with the Pats.  I CAN'T find one guy who under preformed with the Pats and went on and did better with another team.  All I can find is a few that play at a similar level after BB let them walk over money. Can someone point out these "Brady Effect" players?

     

     

     
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    Re: The Brady

    In response to csylvia79's comment:

    In response to RidingWithTheKingII's comment:

     

    In response to csylvia79's comment:

     

    I have to say if it was just a "Brady" problem, why haven't any of these WR gone on to play better on other teams. These guy don't just fall of the map. If they are good... hell even ones who aren't get to other camps and often chance to prove what they are worth.

     




    We don't know yet. Welker will be playing with Manning. Givens got hurt. Branch was pretty good but did get hurt in Seattle at times, too.

     

    No one is saying Brady isn't elite, but that the formations and ideology he prefers is way, way to excessive.

    Why is this so hard for you to grasp? It cannot be laid out or proven for you any better at this point?


    Why do you think others keep coming around to the problem?  The light bulb goes off after a period of denial, but people like you are so sick that you can't just finally admit it. At least NYPats is admitting it.

    You'd rather blame Brandon Lloyd.

     




    I was talking more about the drafted wrs that never made an impact with other teams.  I CAN'T find one guy who under preformed with the Pats and went on and did better with another team.  All I can find is a few that play at a similar level after BB let them walk over money. Can someone point out these "Brady Effect" players?

     

     



    Brady effect players are Wes and Gronk. All pros because of Brady. Hernandez. BB took a chance on a potential problem because of Brady. Ditto Stallworth the first go around. Gaffney and Branch made a lot of money because of Brady. Ditto Givens. Ditto Moss. Ditto Watson. 

    Thats the Brady effect

     

     
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    Re: The Brady

    In response to CatfishHunter's comment:

     

    Well written, but flawed IMO.  I was with you through the first 2 paragraphs.  It is true that the ball is leaving TB's hands quicker.  I too believe that is by design.  But it is also true that his Y/C is above his career avg. in each of the last 3 years and better than his first 3 years.  This, without having a deep threat since Moss left and no great WR with YAC.  Also, while you say that the bubble screen was an "occasional call" in 2004, the reality is they employed the screen pass and checkdowns more in the Weis era.  Maybe it's semantics but middle screens, bubble screens, slip screens, and checkdowns were a huge part of Weis' playbook.  Heck, Kevin Faulk feasted off those plays.  Which brings me to point 3:  I did not see you mention the running game at all.  A successful running game is critical to an overall offense.  In the early years (again under Weis) they ran more 2-back sets and ran the draw more.  In today's NFL, partly due to rule changes, all offenses are more pass-centric.  With a 2 TE set and 1 back (or no back) backfields it stands to reason the QB has less pocket protection and will need to release the ball sooner.

     

     

    Hey catfish,


    On bolded point 1 above, it's good that his Y/C is better, but that is not pertinent when you need to make a first down during the playoffs against a top-notch defense. (In fact, it would be interesting to see if his playoff y/c rate is better.) Those D's could key on Welker and the quick middle hits that the Pats have relied on. In these situations, you need to expend more time so the receivers can get open if the quick-hit isn't there.

    On point 2, I mention the bubble screen because it's such a fast developing play. The ball is usually out of Brady's hands in less than a second. The screens Weis would call took time to develop; the opposing D had to defend near the line of scrimmage and downfield.

    On point 3, I agree completely. A running game is key. I think they have the backs to have an excellent running game. A beefier, beastier OL can only help that.

     

    In essence, what I am saying is before pouring a ton of money into wide receivers, pour it into world class lineman, so the receivers have more time to get open. You can still go quick 2/3 of the time. But when you NEED a first down, you want the extra second.

     
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    Re: The Brady

    In response to RidingWithTheKingII's comment:

    Oh boy!  Now you've done it! How dare you be honest, take the time to construct a well thought out post, backed by truth and fact?!!

    TFB12, Pezzy, Babe, Mt Hurl, TripleOG (Am I forgetting anyone?! - lol) will be all in here to read you the riot act.

    Anyway, obviously, very obviously so, I agree with you completely. There is some strong logic behind it, but it's clear it's not enough to be used as the base of your offense.

    It's an offensive, passing league where all the rules favor the offense. It made sense to tweak it in 2006, upgrade it with better personnel in 2007,  but it's 2013.

    Negatives include:

    1. Blows leads.

    2. No, to little sustainability across 4 qtrs/Loss of momentum.

    3. More turnovers through the air.

    4. Predictability.

    5. More pressure on our own D to hold leads where they're on the field so many times in a row, repeatedly.

    It's gone too far.  I thought it be easy to blame O'Brien for it, but I realized McDaniels's calling wasn't really any better, which leads one to believe there is one lone common denominator, more so than BB.  It's BB and Brady. But, it's really Brady because he's the guy who runs this offense, prefers that shotgun spread, and his total autonomy at the line.

    He's also the one who got hurt in 2008.  He got a pass from me in 2009 where you could see he was a bit skittish, but I really felt he shook it in 2010 once Moss was dealt.  He did. He just panicked after the INT and Crumpler drop in the playoffs.

    Then, 2011 hit and we were back right at it. Enough. It's over.

    Get him back under center. for the love of god.

    By the way, you didn't need a VCR hook up. You Tube has a lot of this already.  I have tapes myself, but I am not hooking up my VCR over it. lol

    I know he works with a boxing training with his footwork, but I almost feel it's due to his injury, a problem he can't shake in his head, BB not demanding it more or whatever. I don't care what the solution is. It just has to stop. He's clearly way better with a run game established and playaction from under center. Not even debatable, excpet for pink helmets and new fans who just started watching in 2007.

    Look at how this drive is run here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEumzvnU9gY

    We're a long way from Brady juking Urlacher in 2006, yes.

    How can anyone deny this above video and how Brady looks today?  He's crisp, deliberate, doesn't look confused, etc.

    I also feel it's HARDER for taller WRs, certainly larger than Welker, to execute a route that fast and get open. In other words, Welker is an anamoly not the norm. That's why Moss ran like 4 routes. Again, these are like anamoly exceptions within this offense. Everyone else has struggled or needed time to adjust.   Moss would either get a single man cover and beat it or at worst be a decoy, but it just wasn't enough. They need a run game to get to balance over the 4 trs. They always pull away from teams with massive blowout situations (think Pitt 2010) when they'e patient in the first half of a game in the traditional offense, too. It's because they've sold the run game to the D, so the D has to consider it in Qtrs 3 and 4.

    We've gone from a makeshift West Coast hybrid, to a stagnant shot base spread that is clearly more detrimental to us scoring points and hence winning playoff games than the offense being beneficial.

    It'a gone too far into that direction. I am not even convinced BB and Brady realize it because I seriously thought the Moss trade signified they did, but reverting back to it in 2011 proves they didn't.

    This whole blaming of Ocho or Lloyd or whoever else is also ridiculous.  We scare off FA WRs with this circle of trust crap Brady has sort of created on his own, too.

    Get him under center, simplify it down a bit with far less shotgun. It's so simple.

     

     




    Hey Rusty,


    The thing is, I'm not saying that Brady has suckked in the playoffs. I'm saying that the philosophy of always throwing quickly handicaps Brady when the quick strike isn't there. He's absolutely brilliant between 0 and 2.5 seconds, when the throw is there. But the teams that have learned to take it away force Brady to either:

    A) Throw the ball into too tight a spot, or

    B) Ad lib

    Neither of these scenarios is good.

    By focusing investment on better protection up front, the Pats don't have to scheme to always go quick. Everyone knows Scar is a genius, but if he had had the Ravens' line and a more patient philosophy, no one would have stopped the Pats last year.

     
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    Re: The Brady

    In response to csylvia79's comment:

     

    I have to say if it was just a "Brady" problem, why haven't any of these WR gone on to play better on other teams. These guy don't just fall of the map. If they are good... hell even ones who aren't get to other camps and often chance to prove what they are worth.

     




    The thing is, it is not a Brady problem, per se. It's a scheme problem to protect Bradyfrom getting hit. But the designed solution to the problem--extra fast throws--is a crutch, that cannot be relied on in the playoffs, when the better defenses jump those favored, quick-strike routes.

     

     
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    Re: The Brady

     

     

     

     




    Hey Rusty,

     


    The thing is, I'm not saying that Brady has suckked in the playoffs. I'm saying that the philosophy of always throwing quickly handicaps Brady when the quick strike isn't there. He's absolutely brilliant between 0 and 2.5 seconds, when the throw is there. But the teams that have learned to take it away force Brady to either:

    A) Throw the ball into too tight a spot, or

    B) Ad lib

    Neither of these scenarios is good.

    By focusing investment on better protection up front, the Pats don't have to scheme to always go quick. Everyone knows Scar is a genius, but if he had had the Ravens' line and a more patient philosophy, no one would have stopped the Pats last year.

    [/QUOTE]

    I think some of it is the line not being able to get Brady enough time. Against top tier D lines they can struggle. Now imagine is Brady didn't get the ball out fast.  Do you think the line would be considered more middle of the road or poor?

     

     
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    Re: The Brady

    The Patriots just set an NFL record for most first downs in a season.  The offense is carrying the defense like Joe Andruzzi carrying a wounded mom.  "Problem" is a curious way to describe the phenomenon.  I'd rather say that BB is deliberately changing the way the NFL game is played, and the other teams can go lump it.  Someday the other 31 NFL teams will figure out that they too need lightning-fast dink and dunk quarterbacks and either explosive guys or guys with massive wingspans that can get wide open 8 yards downfield.  

     
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    Re: The Brady

    In response to NY-PATS-FAN4's comment:

    Okay, the title is a little misleading, as it's hard to call one of the 2 or 3 best QBs to ever play the game a "problem". But Brady has changed, by necessity I would argue, and the offensive philosophy has morphed to meet that change...and that has created somewhat of a problem. Fans on this forum like to point out that the Pats won Super Bowls with guys like David Patton, David Givens and Troy Brown as our top receivers, and while that is an inarguable fact, it is highly unlikely that they could do the same today.


    This past weekend, I found a couple of videocassettes of games I taped between the 2001-2004 seasons (finding the remote for the VCR was quite a task, lol), and I watched a good part of 4 or 5 games. And one thing jumped out at me over after over...Brady's toughness.  It was eye-opening (or, more accurately, memory-inducing) to review just how many times the young Tom Brady would stand in the pocket until the very last instant before delivering the ball...followed by taking a monster hit. He was Favre-like in that regard (though better than Favre in everything else). And when Brady took those hits, he would jump off the turf smiling, and talking smack to Jason Taylor or Dwight Freeney. Brady loved the contact, and that lack of fear bought an extra second or more for his receivers to get open downfield.

    Of course, you don't want your 30-something QB taking the same hits that your 25-year-old QB did. (Brady did not jump up smiling when Dumervil planted him into the turf the year before last.) The Pats' response to this has largely been changing the playbook, to where now most passes are out of Brady's hand in under 2.5 seconds, with many escaping in well under 2 seconds. While this forces opposing defenses to be highly alert, it also removes many routes from the receiver tree, making it easier for atheletic, well-coached Ds to focus on short routes to favorite targets. The bubble screen was an occasional call in 2004, not the staple that it is today. This new philosophy has become so ingrained that once the 3-second mark goes off in Brady's head, he begins to "turtle"...even when there is no imminent pressure around him.

    This philosophy also makes it harder to draft wide receivers, and folks are quick to point out BB's poor record here. Many of us talk about our wish for a "tall receiver" or a "speed demon who can stretch the field." But what the Pats covet most, in the current philosophy, is a guy who can consistently read the defense, get open, in the RIGHT SPOT, in under 2 seconds. It's damned hard to draft such guys (or scout free agent WRs, for that matter) when nobody else plays this way.

    While I don't knock the philosophy, I think it must be augmented by beefing up the offensive line to all-world levels. Joe Flacco is not a better QB than Tom Brady. But Joe Flacco looked light years better than Tom Brady in the playoffs this year because Joe Flacco has 4.5 seconds to throw the ball, allowing his guys to make the second or third move to get open. Even the 49ers great D couldn't get to him much; the nimble Kaepernick was out-sacked 3-2 by the Ravens' D. We need to stop just relying on Scar's skillset, and give him some exceptional talent to work with.

    Vollmer (when healthy) is an elite lineman, and Solder could be getting there. Mankins, however, is overpaid while the other guys, while hard-working and well-coached, are JAGs. I'd like to see the Pats cut ties with Mankins, and allot Vollmer type money ($3.5-$6 million apiece) to every position on the line, and grab the beastiest players that money can buy.

    I believe if they did that--so that Brady is given the confidence that he will have 3.5 seconds to get rid of the ball--they won't need to draft all-world receivers.

    Even Ocho and Galloway would have had more productive seasons.



    Pretty good post up to the Mankins part. I am sorry but I just do not agree with you there. He is a beast. The prototype of lineman BB wants. If he has underperformed at times it has mostly been due to health I think (consider the last SB v the Giants for example).

    I think Solder is going to be especially good - and he is pretty decent now. But he does need to get to the next level. Volmer is a bit better though I do not think he has the upside of Solder as a pass blocker. I think the two places we can upgrade the most are C and RG though both are decent players. BUt I would love to see one of those positions upgraded to a stud and for the reasons you give. And it would help the running game as well.

    I also think we need to continue to improve the running game in order to keep the D more honest and so give TB that extra 0,5 to 1.0 seconds.

     

     
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