How Much Blame Does Tom Brady Carry for Patriots' Offensive Struggles?

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How Much Blame Does Tom Brady Carry for Patriots' Offensive Struggles?
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Tom Brady has three Super Bowl rings and two NFL MVPs to his name, so it's easy to blame his supporting cast when things aren't clicking for the New England Patriots.

Putting aside the past and focusing on the present and future, let's attempt to figure out how much blame the future first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback deserves for his team's early-season offensive woes. 

Through two games, Brady's squad is 2-0, but he's completing less than 53 percent of his passes. 

While a few of his pass-catching options have certainly contributed to the atypical inefficiency, Brady's been far from perfect.

He's even said so himself. 

Appearing on WEEI's Dennis & Callahan Show (h/t Jeff Howe of The Boston Herald), Brady said the following about his unit's troubles:

It’s overall execution of our whole offense. It’s not the receiver position. It’s every position, including the quarterback position. So it’s the quarterback position, the running backs, tight ends, receivers, we all have to be on the same page. And until we are, we’re going to struggle. 

Here's a look at the catch rates of the skill-position weapons at Brady's disposal as the Patriots head into Week 3's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 

Catch Percentages
Targets Receptions Catch Percentage
Julian Edelman 27 20 74.1
Danny Amendola 14 10 71.4
Shane Vereen 10 7 70
Kenbrell Thompkins 20 6 30
Aaron Dobson 10 3 30
Totals 81 46 56.7

ProFootballFocus

While Danny Amendola and Shane Vereen were fantastic in the win over the Buffalo Bills in Week 1, both are injured.

Edelman was seemingly the only target Brady trusted in Week 2 against the New York Jets, as rookies Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins dealt with drops and simply haven't been to establish the proper timing with New England's leader. 

Without being in the Patriots' huddle, it's nearly impossible to precisely peg the blame on a specific player when the ball hits the turf.

However, let's take a look at Brady's Accuracy Percentage thus far. Accuracy Percentage is a metric developed by Pro Football Focus (subscription required) that measures a quarterback's completion percentage minus drops, spikes and throwaways. 

Tom Brady's Accuracy Through Week 2 of 2013
Accuracy Percentage (Rank) Under Pressure Accuracy Percentage
62.5% (31 of 33) 50% (27 of 33)

ProFootballFocus

Miscommunication and incorrectly run routes have likely been the culprit on a fair share of the incompletions, but Brady hasn't been himself. 

That's obvious. 

In 2012, Brady was the ultimately blitz-beater. 

Here's a look at his stat line when the opposition has sent five or more rushers in 2013 compared to 2012:

Tom Brady vs. Blitz
Attempts Completions Completion % TDs INTs PFF Rating
2012 163 105 64.4 18 0 126.5
2013 27 13 48.1 1 0 77.5

ProFootballFocus

He simply hasn't been as effective against it through two games. Sure, he misses reliable targets Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, but Brady shouldn't totally get a pass just because he's without his top weapons from a year ago.

How much is Tom Brady to blame for the Patriots offensive struggles?

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Everything's interconnected. Quarterbacks depend on wide receivers, and wide receivers depend on quarterbacks. That's just how it goes.

As the season progresses, we should expect Brady to establish rapports with the youthful Thompkins and Dobson. 

In the meantime, Edelman will be a fine go-to option playing in Welker's role. 

When Brady's premier tight end is back on the field, things may very well change for New England. 

Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson haven't been good for the Patriots, but it's not fully on them.

Tom Brady hasn't been Tom Brady either.

 

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