Four days after one of the worst statistical performances of his career, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said Monday that the team's offense, which has been hurt by injuries at the skill positions, needs to improve its execution.
With three top receiving targets missing Thursday, Brady struggled throughout a 13-10 victory over the New York Jets, completing less than 50 percent of his passes and running an offense that converted just 4 of 18 third downs and had more punts (11) than first downs (9).
Brady, who was visibly frustrated at times during the game, was particularly out of sync with rookie receivers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins. The first-year players were targeted a combined 17 times but came up with just five receptions.
Still, Brady didn't lay the blame on them Monday.
"It's overall execution of our whole offense, and it's not the receiver position, it's every position, including the quarterback position," he said Monday during his weekly interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI. "The quarterback position, running backs, tight ends, receivers, offensive line -- we all have to be on the same page. Until we are, we're going to struggle."
After easily marching down the field on the team's first possession Thursday, Brady and the offense were largely stalled the rest of the game. Fortunately for them, the Patriots' defense showed up with a second strong effort in as many weeks, forcing four turnovers.
"I'm really glad we won these last two games. I think our defense has done such a great job of limiting scoring opportunities, getting us great field position. We just haven't done much to take advantage of those things," Brady said.
"We have to work harder at what our job is because obviously what we're doing isn't good enough at this point. How we've performed through two games on offense is less than the level of expectation is, and we need to find ways to improve it."
Mounting frustration with dropped passes and what appeared to be errors in route running against the Jets left Brady noticeably displeased on the sideline. He discussed following the game, and again Monday, the need to not let the emotions of the game linger, while noting that frustration is natural for anyone in football.
"I think it's just overall important to show poise and to really -- my level of frustration, yeah, everyone gets frustrated when things don't go right," he said. "And I'm frustrated when the coaches are frustrated and other players are frustrated. I think being frustrated is one thing, letting that affect how you play is another. And I don't really want it to affect how we play, and that goes for everybody. You can't reflect negatively too long on what happened because it will affect what's going to happen."
Sometimes, Brady noted, players need to be sent the message in a stern manner, either from a teammate or a coach.
"That's how football is, it's a game of emotion," he said. "And once the emotion wears off, you try to take a clinical analysis of what really happened, so you have to take the emotion out of it at some point. It's hard to take the emotion out of it in the first quarter of a football game -- football is an emotional game. We all have our ups and downs, and we've all developed enough trust in each other where whatever happens on game day happens. That's just -- afterward, you have to figure out the reasons why we're not executing well."
Although Thursday night didn't yield the points and production Brady was hopeful for, he remains steadfast in his confidence in the rookie wide receivers.
"And like I said, it's the quarterback position, too, I'm not making all the right plays, either," he said. "It's not like the rookie receivers are messing up all the time. No, not at all. Look, I've really been able to count on those guys. They've done an incredible job with what they've been asked to do. We've got to improve in all aspects of our offense, and that will hopefully remove the burden that has fallen on the receivers right now."
The burden will be lifted in part once tight end Rob Gronkowski returns, which could happen as soon as Week 3 or 4 and is something Brady would welcome. He compared Gronkowski's absence to a baseball team losing its ace pitcher.
"He's a great player and he helps in the run game and the pass game, provides a level of toughness for our team, and he's been a really consistent player when he's been out there, so it's really -- it's hard to replace him, there's only one Gronk," he said. "I know he's working his butt off to get back, and every time I see him he's got a great attitude about his rehabilitation and what he's going through to get back on the field."
The Patriots played Thursday without top receiver Danny Amendola (groin, hip), Gronkowski (hip, forearms) and top receiving back Shane Vereen (wrist). Amendola reportedly has torn adductor muscles in his hip and has received conflicting information from doctors on whether he also has a sports hernia. Vereen has been put on injured reserve with a designation for a possible return later this season.
Asked Monday if Amendola was more in the week-to-week category than day-to-day, coach Bill Belichick said: "I'd say all of our players are day-to-day, other than obviously Vereen. The rest of them we'll take it day to day."
Amendola was present at the start of the team's practice on Monday, but he was noticeably limited and moved gingerly as he ran routes.
ESPN.com Patriots reporter Mike Reiss contributed to this report.