Tom Brady is one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in NFL history, and remains an elite quarterback today, but there are still areas where he can improve.
No one can throw short to intermediate passes like Brady, but when it comes to the deep pass, Brady can certainly struggle at times.
In an interesting piece by Nathan Jake of Pro Football Focus, the top-10 most accurate deep passers over the last three years are listed, with Drew Brees topping the list with a 53.9 deep accuracy percentage. Eli Manning (46.8%) and Aaron Rodgers (46.5%) also made the cut, ranking fifth and seventh, respectively.
Brady, with a 39.5 deep accuracy percentage (stat courtesy Pro Football Focus), did not make the list.
The recent lack of talented vertical receivers may have played a part in these less-than-stellar statistics, but with the addition of Brandon Lloyd this offseason there will be no excuses in 2012.
Passing Outside of the Pocket
If Brady can get solid protection from his offensive line, he is nearly impossible to stop. However, if a defense can force Brady out of the pocket, his effectiveness as a passer diminishes drastically.
The most recent example of Brady struggling outside of the pocket was his deep pass to Rob Gronkowski in Super Bowl XLVI. Brady was forced out of the pocket, and without time to properly plant his feet and step into his throw, the pass was severely under thrown and intercepted by Chase Blackburn.
With Matt Light retiring this offseason and an injured Logan Mankins expected to miss time, New England's offensive line may struggle in 2012.
Brady improving his passing outside the pocket may be crucial to the success of the offense in 2012.
Passing Against the Baltimore Ravens
Though the Patriots have mostly been on the winning side of a heated rivalry with the Baltimore Ravens, Brady’s recent passing numbers against this squad are shockingly terrible.
Over his last three games against Baltimore, Brady has averaged a 59.1 completion percentage and just 5.7 yards per pass attempt. What’s even worse is Brady’s 3-to-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a ghastly 58.7 passer rating.
These numbers are bad for any quarterback, never mind one who once threw only four interceptions in one season and boasts a 96.4 career passer rating.
Along with the Patriots, the Ravens are one of the AFC’s finest teams. If the Pats plan on winning the conference again in 2012, better performances from Brady against the Ravens will definitely help, and there is plenty of room for improvement.
Even if Brady doesn’t improve in these areas over the duration of his career, he will still go down as one of the best to ever play the game.
His will to win, leadership and ability to make players around him better are virtually unparalleled.
However, even future Hall of Famers can make improvements late in their careers. Given Brady's tenacious competitive spirit, you can bet he's already working hard at turning these weaknesses into strengths in 2012.