Tom Brady Film Review: The Good, Bad, and How to Improve

Tom Brady

2019 has not been the best year for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The six-time Super Bowl champion hasn’t put up his usual numbers, and some are wondering whether this is the beginning of the end for the greatest quarterback of all time. Brady and the Patriots struggled early in New England’s 28-22 loss to the Houston Texans, so let’s review the film and see what happened. Is this truly the end for Tom Brady, or are these offensive struggles merely a speedbump on New England’s annual drive to a title?

Tom Brady Film Review: Quarterback Still Going Strong

The Good

From a tools standpoint, Tom Brady still has the physical ability to be a top-10 quarterback. Throughout the course of his career, Brady has excelled by winning pre-snap, maneuvering in the pocket, and making smart decisions with the football. Nobody’s doubting Brady’s mental ability, but some have questioned his arm strength and overall athleticism.

Even at his best, Tom Brady never had an arm like Patrick Mahomes. That said, Brady always had an above-average arm and still has the ability to make all the throws that an NFL quarterback needs to make. Brady demonstrated on multiple occasions that he still has the ability to throw fast passes in tight windows and stretch the field with his arm. Even though he didn’t connect on any 50-yard bombs, he still has the ability to stretch the field if he ever gets a reliable deep threat.

Additionally, Brady’s pocket presence is still among the best in the league. Brady obviously isn’t a running threat, but he’s mastered the ability to buy time by dodging rushers, resetting his feet, and delivering a strike to his target. He did that on multiple occasions throughout the night, which should give Patriots fans a sense of confidence for the remainder of the season. If Brady truly was experiencing a physical decline, then he wouldn’t be able to make these types of plays anymore. Despite his advanced age, there is every reason to believe Tom Brady can put up elite numbers if he develops a rapport with his receivers.

The Bad

Of course, this wasn’t Tom Brady’s best game by any stretch of the imagination. Brady typically is one of the best at taking care of the ball and minimizing mistakes, but that sure wasn’t the case against Houston. By my count, Brady threw four turnover-worthy passes, even though only one ended up going the other way.

Brady’s lone interception on the day came on a short pass intended for N’Keal Harry. While Harry probably carries more blame than Brady for this interception, this still was a bad decision. Bradley Roby breaks for the ball before Brady even releases the pass and essentially finishes the route for Harry. Harry needs to do a better job at fighting for the ball, but this is a throw Brady shouldn’t be making.

Brady’s worst throw of the day ended up being negated by a penalty. Early in the second half, Brady threw one of the worst passes of his career directly at a Houston defensive back. Brady seemingly didn’t even see the defender standing directly in front of Mohamed Sanu. Were it not for a holding penalty, the Texans would’ve had the ball deep in New England territory.

These were the only truly terrible throws of the night. Brady had two other turnover-worthy plays, but both came on deep shots downfield. These plays are naturally more dangerous and, since New England trailed throughout the majority of the game, these risks are justified as a quick way to get back in the game. Brady also had three other bad throws which he kept away from opposing defenders.

How Tom Brady, Offense Can Improve

Tom Brady can still play at a high level, but the offense hasn’t played like an elite unit since Week 2. Most of these struggles come down to Brady simply not trusting his receivers, or his receivers simply not getting open. According to my charting, 15 of Brady’s 23 incompletions came on throwaways or miscommunications with his receivers. It’s impossible to completely eliminate these types of plays, but the Patriots can easily cut down on these errors as the season progresses.

Jakobi Meyers could be one of New England’s most important players down the stretch. Based on his work throughout the season, Meyers has the ability to get open and haul in tough passes. However, he’s clearly not on the same page as Brady. Last week alone, Meyers had at least two plays where he didn’t do what Brady expected. This is obviously not a good thing, but it’s encouraging that he continues to see consistent playing time and targets despite his struggles. The coaching staff clearly believes in Meyers’ ability, and he could start opposite Julian Edelman if he can establish a rapport with Tom Brady.

Additionally, the Patriots could start scheming up plays for tight end Matt LaCosse. New England’s tight ends have been some of the worst in the league, but LaCosse could provide a spark down the stretch. LaCosse only saw two targets on Sunday but was open throughout the contest. Perhaps his 6’-6”, 255-pound frame can help New England’s struggling red zone offense.

Is 2019 the best season of Tom Brady’s career? Of course not. However, Brady is far from the biggest problem in New England. The all-time legend still has what it takes to produce at a high level, and the overall offensive efficiency should increase as the team gets healthy and more accustomed to the new faces.

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