I think this team could really use a true deep threat. A burner with good size could really benefiet the Patriots.
I've see this sentiment a lot but I think it's the LAST thing the Patriots "need". The Patriots cannot use a 'true deep threat' because Tom Brady, since the knee injury, cannot throw deep. He's bad at it. There's tons of evidence that this is true but because there's a tendency to remember someone at his most spectacular (note: not best), Patriots fans remember Brady's bombs to Moss and keep begging for a deep threat. If only he could....
2007 completion % = 69.1%
2007 % of passes >15 yards = 17.6%
2007 AYPA = 6.8
2009 completion % = 64.9%
2009 % of passes >15 yards = 18.9%
2009 AYPA = 5.9
2010 completion % = 65.7%
2010 % of passes >15 yards = 14.3%
2010 AYPA = 6.6
2011 completion % = 65.9%
2011 % of passes >15 yards = 18.6%
2011 AYPA = 6.9
Now, these statistics are somewhat misleading if you simply compare the numbers; 2011 appears to be Brady's best year since 2007, especially when it comes to the "deep" category. But anyone who watched the games knows that rarely did a ball travel 15+ yards in the air and be completed but a ton of 6 yard catches were turned into 15+ yard gains with YAC. Most of that is the structure of the offense. The 2007 offense was prolific at everything - deep, intermediate, short, behind the line - they did it all, very well. But then came Bernard Pollard and the knee injury...
Kerry Byrne wrote this piece in October of 2010, right after the Moss trade:
The most damning evidence are the INTs:
In other words, the numbers confirm what you might have expected: targeting a deep threat, even a rare and elite performer like Moss, is a high-risk, high-reward venture. And, over time, the risks rose and the rewards declined.
- In 2007, half of Brady's picks (4 of 8) came when targeting Moss.
- In 2008, Cassel threw 4 of his 11 picks when targeting Moss.
- In 2009, more than half of Brady's picks (8 of 13) came when targeting Moss.
- In 2010, both of Brady's picks (2 of 2) came when targeting Moss.
There's a bunch of remarkable information in that piece (and one bit of speculation that has been proven spectacularly wrong) but the key bit is the INTs on targets of Moss - many of them on passes that traveled more than 15+ yards in the air.
Brady's recent track record on passes that travel more than 15+ yards in the air is dismal. Just look at the interception log:
- In 2009:
- @ the Jets (Moss)
- 2 @ London vs. TB (Moss/Tate)
- @ home vs. Miami (Moss)
- @ Indianapolis (Moss)
- 1 of 2 picks @ New Orleans (unreported-4th quarter) (the other was "short" to Moss)
- @ Houston (Aiken)
- 2 of 3 @ home vs. Baltimore (Aiken/Watson)
- 16 Total Picks = 9 Deep
- In 2010
- Both picks @ the Jets (Moss x2)
- Both picks @ home to Baltimore (Welker/Tate) (Tate pick was a hail mary)
- 5 Total Picks = 4 Deep (Jets playoff pick was short to BJGE)
- In 2011
- 2 of the 4 picks @ Buffalo (Ocho/Gronk)
- 1 of the 2 picks @ home in the regular season Giants game (Gronk)
- The pick @ home in the Denver playoff game (Gronk)
- Both picks @ home in the Baltimore playoff game (Welker/Edelman)
- The pick @ the Super Bowl was (Gronk)
- 16 picks = 7 Deep
There is that now-infamous scene from A Football Life where Belichick sums up the 2009 Patriots with "Stop Moss over the top and Welker underneath and we're bleeped." The ouster of Moss and the change in offensive game planning was seen as a reaction to being over-reliant on Moss and/or Moss' behavior behind the scenes. But looking back, doesn't it at least appear that after his knee surgery, Tom Brady just wasn't as good at throwing the ball deep downfield? And that "change" is what led to Moss being cut out of the game plan and traded, and a complete alteration of the offensive approach, with a passing game that rarely calls for Brady to "air it out"?
I think Tom Brady is still one of the best QBs in the NFL. He remains excellent at most of the things you want from a QB; leadership, toughness, accuracy, decision making - Brady's still damn fucking good at what he does. But there is mounting evidence - both visually and on the stat sheet - that Tom Brady simply does not throw the ball in the air more than 20 yards effectively. By a far margin, it is his least efficient skill as a QB.
So while I get the lament that the Patriots "need" a deep threat, I'm also increasingly convinced that such a player would be under-utilized by the Patriots because Tom Brady does not throw deep well, anymore. That is NOT to say that the Patriots don't need to improve their passing game and WR corps; guys who can run routes on the outside would be very, very welcome in this offense. Crossing routes, curls, outs - these are patterns that Brady can deliver the ball to, when they are run properly and with skill. Deion had clearly lost a step or two and was still marginally effective; Ocho couldn't get the timing down and wasn't. But guys who could show explosion off the line and then run & cut at the proper depth - they could help. Straight line burners? Guys who excel at getting past their man and out running their guy? No way...a linebacker was able to recover and pick off a Brady deep duck in the Super Bowl. That's a sign people.
Focus on what your guy CAN do, not what you want him to do. Tom Brady CAN lead a highly efficient passing attack with precision accuracy. Tom Brady cannot, IMO, throw efficiently down the field so stop asking for it.
Edited by soxfan121, 07 February 2012 - 01:22 PM.