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Tom Brady, Patriots receivers share blame for offensive miscues

Posted by Erik Frenz  September 13, 2013 08:00 AM

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The growing pains loomed large for the Patriots offense all offseason.

As large as 299 lost receptions between wide receivers Wes Welker, Deion Branch and Brandon Lloyd, tight end Aaron Hernandez and running back Danny Woodhead.

We expected those growing pains from young, rookie wide receivers, but not from 36-year-old quarterback Tom Brady. At times, Brady's misfires were a result of he and his receivers not being on the same page. At other times, Tom himself hasn't been his terrific self in the first two games of the season.

Brady knew it was an uncharacteristic performance for this -- or any -- Patriots offense.

"I just want us to do a better job on offense and carry our end, and do the job that we're supposed to be able to do," he said. "We just need to do it better: all of us."

How uncharacteristic was Brady's performance? You have to go back to Dec. 20, 2009 in a Week 15 contest against the Buffalo Bills to find the last time Brady completed less than 50 percent of his passes.

Want to find the last time Brady threw for fewer than 200 yards? Go back to his performance on Jan. 2, 2011 in a Week 17 home game against the Miami Dolphins, and he didn't even play a full four quarters in that game.

Want to know the last time Brady got that upset with someone on the sideline? Okay, it wasn't that long ago -- Dec. 11, 2011, in a shouting match against offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien.

"I think everybody was (ticked off)," Brady said, "you know, when you don’t execute the way that you're capable. We just have to keep fighting."

We knew there might be some chemistry problems between Brady and his receivers early on in the season. We did not know that Brady would be as much at fault for some of those problems as his receivers.

"I feel like there are definitely things we can improve on," said rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson. "We had a short week this week, so we got that 10 days right now, so we just got to get our timing together this week going in to the next game."

There were timing issues, but there were also some drops -- at least three on catchable passes, by my count.

There will always be drops, though. Just ask Welker, who dropped key passes with the best of them.

On this night, however, Brady's mistakes magnified the mistakes of those around him.

There were more than a few of nearly every variety. A deep throw to a wide-open Julian Edelman was at least five yards overthrown. The missed deep throw to Dobson was catchable, though still slightly overthrown. He threw one behind wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins on a slant over the middle.

Yet, Brady didn't huff and puff his way to the sideline after any of those failed throws.

Add "body language" to the list of areas Brady has work to do.

"I think I have to do a better job with my body language," he said after the game. "I definitely can improve that. I wouldn’t say it's a real strong point of mine right now. We'll just try to keep doing better. That's what we’ve got to do."

And for all the growing pains, there was little to show for it on Thursday night.

Yes, there was the deep pass to Dobson that got the night started with a bang. The next Jets defender you see in coverage on that play will be the first, and despite his receiver being wide open on a wheel route out of the backfield all the way to the end zone, Brady still admitted that it "wasn’t even a great throw." Dobson, however, made a good adjustment to the ball in flight and reeled it in.

There was also the deep throw to Thompkins down the left side line for 37 yards. That catch, while only one catch, was the culmination of a lot of hard work in training camp and the preseason. Now, they have something to build off of. A little more inside, however, and Thompkins might have scored a touchdown, saving the patriots a nerve-racking final quarter of football. The quarterback and receivers will perfect their chemistry over time, but for now, it's going to be a learning process for everyone.

There are some signs of progress, and even if things were going perfect, the Patriots it would be quick to remind us that there is it still a lot of work to do.

Luckily for the Patriots, there are still 14 games left in the regular season, so there's still a lot of time to get a lot of work done.

With 10 days until their next game, things could improve as early as the next time we see them take the field against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

If Brady looks anything like he did against them in preseason (11-of-12, 107 yards, touchdown), that's not an unfair expectation.




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About the author

Erik Frenz delivers analysis of the biggest news with the Patriots, including insight into the AFC East and New England's biggest rivals from a Patriots perspective. Erik is an interactive writer who engages his audience in his posts’ comments sections and on Twitter. Readers are encouraged to share their thoughts and ask questions. More »

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