Tom Brady has been a model of consistency and excellance this season.
|Cincinnati Week 6: Tom Brady 25/32 (78.1%) 231 yrds, 3 TDs 1 INTs QB rating 115.0|
For 13 straight games, he had thrown for 260 yards or better, each and every week.
His completion percentage was near the 75% range or better, almost every week.
He had just 5 Interception through 13 games, against a whopping 45 TDs.
But just in the last two weeks, something very different has been going on.
Tom Brady has been developing some serious bad QB habits, that we have never really ever seen him do before.
1. His concentration is so focused deep downfield, that he now routinely holds the ball way too long.
2. He no longer hits his checkdowns anymore, when coverage is good downfield.
3. He seems to be commonly locking in on just one receiver (usually Randy Moss), and no longer getting the ball to whoever is open (whether that be a fullback/halfback or whomever). Instead of seeing Brady distribute the ball to 9+ guys (like we're accustomed to for years), now only 5 guys are even touching Brady's passes.
4. He doesn't call screen passes anymore, that have been such an effective part of the Patriots passing game, moving the chains, keeping possession, and keeping the opposing defenses off-balance.
5. His concentration is focused so deep downfield, that he is now often too slow at seeing the pocket pressure and eluding it (in his Brady-esque fashion).
6. He recently just forces the ball up into no-win type of coverage situations, even when other options are possible, thus resulting in more punts, less production.
In the last two weeks, Brady has thrown for just a feeble 140 yards against the Jets (a team he torched earlier in the year), and then he threw only a wobbly 200 yards against the Dolphins (a team he set passing records against earlier in the year). What is most glaring about those statistics, is that Brady was trying to throw the ball on most of their plays and failing. His completion percentage has gone down in the dumper, and more often then not, and for the first time this season , Patriots offensive passing plays are now coming up a bust.
The "new" Tom Brady of the past two weeks, would not be able to lead the team on a 1-minute, no-timeout, game winning drive against the 2001 Rams anymore, or lead the team to a come-from-behind victory march against the 2003 Panthers at the buzzer.
|Miami Week 16: Tom Brady 18/33 (54.5%) 215 yrds, 3 TDs 2 INTs QB rating 79.7|
Now people can say that this doesn't matter because those two games were easily won anyway, in spite of the big dropoff in the passing game. But, these bad QB habits, which we have never seen Brady ever get into before, are the explanation as to why his production has gone way down in the last two weeks - not the scoreboard, not the weakeness of the competition, or the fact that the Patriots were ahead. The fact of the matter is here, that the once-potent Patriots have only scored a measley 3 points of Offense against the NY Jets for the entire game, and then they got shutout offensively against the 1 - 14 Dolphins in the entire second half (despite trying to pass a lot and really trying to score).
The question here then becomes, what then happens in the Playoffs, when the Patriots are not playing the Jets or Dolphins, but instead playing the red hot Jaguars, or the red hot Chargers, or the likes of the prolific Indianapolis Colts (whom they only just barely beat the first time around at a time when the Patriots were unstoppable on Offense).
Suddenly, the legendary Tom Brady, and the record-setting Patriots offense, now seems very failable and beatable. You can rationalize this away by saying that the Patriots are only just playing down to their competition, but what about the persistence of bad QB habits? This is a new development here, and unless it is recognized and understood as such, it won't be remedied - and, in addition, new "habits" are habit forming and may be hard to reverse now even if you want to.
If the old, get-the-ball-out-quickly, find-the-open-guy, hit-the-checkdowns, throw-screen-passes-to-keep-Defenses-off-balance, Tom Brady does not reappear soon, and against their upcoming playoff opponents -- and, instead, we just keep on seeing this hold-the-ball, chuck-downfield-into-traffic stuff, then the Patriots might be in for a very rude awakening when they are going up against the likes of the Colts, or Pittsburg, or the one of the other hot streaking playoff teams when it matters.
Bad QB habits are a real concern.
We've never seen this from Tom Brady before.