The best Patriots offense is one where there is balance between throwing the ball and running the ball, even though they still employ the greatest quarterback of all-time. Tom Brady has had the best games of his career when he is efficient, completing over 65 percent of his passing and limiting his interceptions. Brady passed for a season-high 341 yards last Thursday against the Colts but was kicking himself afterwards for the two interceptions he threw. Against Miami nine days ago, Brady was a key factor in the 38-7 blowout win but did throw two interceptions. Through five games this season, Brady has thrown six interceptions. In his MVP season last year, he didn’t throw pick No. 6 until Dec. 11 (Week 14).
“Those turnovers, whether it’s an interception or fumbled snap – I think that’s been something that we have to correct,” Brady told WEEI’s Kirk and Callahan. “If you look back at the first five games, we’re just giving away too many scoring opportunities, and that’s limiting our points. I thought the other night (against the Colts) we should have put 52 (points) out there at least, maybe more. And when we play a team like Kansas City, we’ve got to take advantage of every scoring opportunity, because we know they are.”
The picks aren’t the only thing different with Brady this year. The Pats are throwing the ball less and Brady’s yardage is down. Through five games last year Brady had thrown the ball 195 times (compared to just 179 times this year), and had racked up 1,702 yards of passing (compared to just 1,259 yards this year).
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That could mean that Brady’s overall is slipping slightly, but it’s more likely that the Patriots are doing this strategically. They saw Brady pass for a Super Bowl record 505 yards against the Eagles this past February, but the Pats came up losers in that one. Brady did not throw an interception in the Super Bowl but connected on just 58.3 percent of his passes (he was 28-of-48 in the game).
It’s entirely possible that Brady is simply taking more chances downfield this season, interception totals be damned.
Nonetheless, efficiency has always been the name of the game for Brady and the Pats. And it will be moving forward.
Run to victory
The Patriots ran the ball 31 times in their season opening win over Houston, 24 times in the loss to Jacksonville, just 19 times in the loss to Detroit, a whopping 40 times in the blowout victory over Miami, and 23 times against the Colts.
So it’s clear that rushing the ball is key for the Pats this season. In the last two games, Sony Michel has averaged 105.0 yards rushing. James White has averaged 72.5 yards receiving per game in the last two, primarily coming out of the backfield with glorified hand-offs.
When Brady is efficient and Michel and White are getting numerous touches out of the backfield, the Patriots are next to impossible to beat. It all comes back to balance for the Patriots.