Really great stuff from Nick Underhill, putting some hard numbers to the sacks this season.
A faster trigger would likely deter some of the sacks, but this aspect of the offense isn’t the chief culprit in this dilemma. After reviewing the 26 sacks, it appears that seven were the result of quality coverage from the defense and two were the result of Brady’s indecisiveness. The rest were either the result of a blitz or the result of spotty play by the offensive line. So, to a degree, Belichick is correct in his assessment that the letdowns can be traced back to all elements of the offense. But while facing a bunch of quality pass-rushing teams hasn’t helped, it appears Mankins was closer to the mark when stating that the offensive line needs to become more consistent.
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New England is averaging a respectable 4.4 yards per rush, but Tom Brady has been sacked 26 times — which is one shy of the number of times he was taken down all of 2012 and puts him on pace for a career-high 46. Those 26 sacks are fifth-most among starting quarterbacks in the NFL this season; Miami’s Ryan Tannehill has been taken down 35 times, including six times in the second half by the Patriots.
Patriots’ problems on offensive line are perplexing - Sports - The Boston Globe
Don’t think this is all on the offensive line, when receivers are winning at the line of scrimmage, or running the right hot routes, it’s just as much their fault as the offensive line. What matters most is that Brady isn’t forcing things. He takes the sacks when there’s nothing there and lives to fight another down. I do think Connolly, Mankins and Wendell have all struggled at times, but it’s hard to pin it all on them.
Really good perspective from Christopher Price…
In 2006, Brady — who had turned 29 prior to the start of the season — struggled out of the gate as he worked to build a bond with the newcomers. Even though there were some wobbly moments, that team still had a 6-1 record after seven games. There were plenty of growing pains. Through the first seven games that season, Brady complied more than 60 percent of his passes on just two occasions and topped 300 receiving yards on just two occasions. On more than one occasion through the early stages of the 2006 season, the Patriots were saved by an overachieving defense, as New England eked out early wins over the Bills and Jets.
The biggest problem:
This week: 28th (35 of 105, 33.3 percent)
Last week: 18th (34 of 93, 36.6 percent)
Last season: 1st (110 of 226, 48.7 percent)
A perfect example of what a running game can do has been the Patriots. Through three weeks, a struggling pass offense helped keep New England to a 13.7 percent DVOA (11th in the NFL). Despite a lack of dependable targets for quarterback Tom Brady, the Patriots had a 60/40 pass-run balance playing three games that were either close or in which they had command of (Bucs). But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that in their best victory of the season, the Patriots had a perfect run/pass balance of 31 rushes and 31 pass attempts against the Falcons. As a result, the New England jumped to seventh in DVOA. Their overall number took a dip—mostly because the defense gave up a bunch of yards after the Falcons trailed by double digits—but their offensive DVOA went from –10.7 percent (23rd) to 2.6 percent (15th).
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Despite beating the Buccaneers, 23-3, the Patriots’ offense is still out of whack. Quarterback Tom Brady has not played well to this point, partly because he’s faced three defenses (Bills, Jets and Bucs) that specialize in changing their pre- and post-snap looks. Those kinds of schemes always put doubt in Brady’s mind, where there normally is none. He’ll face another this week from Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. In games against these varied schemes, Brady has to trust (more than usual) that his receivers will be in the right places. But the Pats’ young receivers are still repeating many of the same mistakes: making cautious, rounded-off cuts at the top of routes (Kenbrell Thompkins); not adjusting routes quickly enough based on coverage (Aaron Dobson); unable to beat coverage (Michael Hoomanawanui and Zach Sudfeld); and showing an overall lack of polish in the system (Josh Boyce). With Julian Edelman commanding more double teams, Brady is running out of options. It would really help if the Patriots doubled down more on the running game. It has been impressive most of the time, and their best plays have come off hard run action. This offense must start showing gradual improvement if it hopes to be executing at a high level later in the season.