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Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Brady's rookie targets let him down

By Mike Bonzagni


Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty ImagesTom Brady's numbers are down this year throwing to an inexperienced receiving corps.
Tom Brady has been below average statistically this season, despite the New England Patriots sitting atop the division with a 5-2 mark.

The Patriots fell to 5-2 after their loss against the New York Jets on Sunday. Brady posted a 29.5 Total QBR at MetLife Stadium, his third game with a QBR below 30 this season. Brady had only six such games in his previous 97 starts from 2006 to 2012.

He ranks 19th in the NFL in Total QBR this season with a 48.5 mark, below average on the QBR scale of 0 to 100. His five interceptions in seven games are only three shy of the number he threw in 16 regular-season games last season. His 6.0 yards per pass attempt would mark a career-low.

But the numbers indicate that Brady should not be the sole source of blame for the slow start.

Patriots rookie receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson have dropped nine percent of the passes thrown their way (NFL average is 4.3 percent). Three of Brady’s five interceptions this season were thrown when he was targeting rookies.

Let’s break down the performance of his rookie targets:

• Kenbrell Thompkins has caught 42 percent of the passes on which he was targeted, the second-worst rate among any qualified player in the last four seasons, regardless of experience.

• Aaron Dobson has a team-high five drops, tied for the third-most in the NFL among all pass catchers. Dobson has dropped 11 percent of his targets, the second-worst rate among all players with at least 40 targets.

Josh Boyce has played 50 snaps for the Patriots this season. He has one catch on six targets.

Zach Sudfeld had three targets (two of which were intercepted) in three games with the Patriots. One of those interceptions resulted from a Sudfeld drop. He was cut on October 3 and in a twist of fate, played for the Jets in their win over the Patriots on Sunday.
Julian Edelman
Edelman
• Veteran Julian Edelman has been Brady’s only consistent target this season, leading the team in receptions (46), yards (455) and receiving first downs (21). He’s dropped only three percent of his targets.

• Tight end Rob Gronkowski made an impact in his first game back, recording a game-high 114 yards through the air. Danny Amendola continues to nurse injuries, but has been effective when on the field. Help could be on the way to get Brady's numbers back to the level he's performed in the past.