On offense, says Tom Brady, ‘We’ve got to maximize our potential’

“I think every week we’re making a little progress."

Tom Brady at practice Thursday as the Patriots prepared to face the Bengals. –barry chin

FOXBOROUGH — Patriots quarterback Tom Brady posted an Instagram photo with a fitting caption Friday morning.

“Whole team about to figure it out, ice cold that’s what winters about,’’ read Brady’s post, which was accompanied by a picture of him throwing the football during practice.

The line, a lyric from the late rapper Mac Miller’s song “2009,’’ seems to hint that Brady is confident the team will soon find its groove. After starting the season 8-0, the Patriots have dropped three of their last five games and fallen from the AFC’s top seed.

During that stretch, New England is averaging fewer than 18 points per game. Brady has completed just 54.5 percent of his passes, thrown six touchdowns and three interceptions, and posted a quarterback rating of 74.2. He’s also been sacked 11 times.

Advertisement

With three regular-season games remaining on the schedule, Brady and the Patriots are still seeking to establish an offensive rhythm, one that involves two rookie receivers in N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers as well as two veteran, albeit injured, receivers in Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu.

Edelman by far has been Brady’s most popular option this season, with 135 targets. Running back James White is a distant second, with 83.

Others will have to step up, however, if the Patriots intend to light up the scoreboard with the offensive firepower that averaged 30-plus points through its first eight games. There’s no Antonio Brown and no Josh Gordon, but the weapons at Brady’s disposal have all shown promising flashes.

So, how close is this offense to firing on all cylinders?

“I think every week we’re making a little progress,’’ Brady said Friday. “Every week, we’re trying to learn from our mistakes and just put all the right things together and hopefully just keep improving.

“Guys are working really hard. That’s been great to see, and that’s what we’ve got to keep doing. Things just don’t kind of happen magically, so we’re working pretty hard at it.’’

Advertisement

Both Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels have emphasized there are no shortcuts in developing chemistry with some of the newer faces in Foxborough. Both have also preached the importance of being consistent in practice to further one’s dependability come game time.

The combination of great playmaking ability and reliable performers makes for a challenging offense to defend, Brady said. The Patriots just need to bring it every week because that lack of consistency can create “other issues,’’ he explained.

“We’ve got to maximize our potential,’’ Brady said. “I don’t know what our potential is. We’ve got to be the best we can be. If we do it well one time, it’s how well can we do it consistently?’’

Brady acknowledged each season presents different challenges, noting that the team cannot just revert back to what worked last year or what worked last week. To be most effective, he says, the team has to reinvent itself every week.

“It’s always a little bit of a challenge, but football season is not supposed to be easy,’’ Brady said. “We’re in the middle of it, we’re deep into it, and just got to have the mental toughness and the competitive stamina to keep showing up every day and working as hard as you can to be ready to compete when we’re called upon.’’