In-Season NFL

Are The Patriots Still A Contender?

The whispers have returned. After an embarrassing loss to the Titans and a bye week without the opportunity presenting itself to change the narrative, the media has had plenty of time to question if this is finally “the cliff” for Tom Brady and if this is therefore the beginning of the end for the dynasty. If you read my earlier article following their loss to the Lions, you would know that I tend to disregard the beginning of the season for New England, as they don’t normally show their best until November. Now, the Patriots were blown out of the water by a Titans team who just got annihilated by the Colts. With a presumed win against the Jets coming this week, this conversation will likely briefly die down. However, I want to take a look into how this season has gone and truly analyze whether or not Brady is beginning to fall off.

No doubt, Brady has not looked as good thus far this season as he did last year. This is particularly evident in his numbers against the blitz. Over the last 5 games, Brady has been dead last in the league against the blitz, with a passer rating of 56.4. It’s flabbergasting to see Brady being worst in the league at anything, especially something that we had previously see him dominate at (70 TDs and 0 picks against 6+ man pressure from 2006-2017). Combine other stats like this with the fact that the Patriots have simply not looked good in their wins (except for the Chiefs) and looked horrible against the Titans, there are understandably murmurings about the end approaching.

Just like the last time I wrote about Brady, I’m not throwing in the towel yet; not on the Pats season, not on Tom Brady, and not on the dynasty. Even though Brady’s stats have looked pretty bad these last 4 weeks, they’ve won three of the four. Gronk has been out, an excuse which is used often, but holds weight. Despite the immediate impact Gordon has had, he is still learning the offense and is not up to his full potential. Sony was out for a few weeks, and the offensive line has dealt with some attrition.

None of those are complete excuses for the play of Brady and the Pats lately. Tommy has been in worse situation in his career and has still thrived, so it’s not as if his recent play can be completely attributed to these factors. So if not through these, how am I going to say he isn’t declining?

Well let me use the first 5 games this season, in which the Patriots struggled somewhat. Against the blitz, Brady looked like Brady, with a passer rating of 148.7. Even not against the blitz, Brady looked like Brady. His only game with a sub-90 passer rating was against the Lions. Remember that earlier this season, the Patriots had no run game, no Josh Gordon, and a suspended Julian Edelman. Not to mention the fact that Brady’s stats would look even better were it not for receivers tipping balls to defenders for picks. My argument for Tom is hinging upon the belief that he wouldn’t suddenly fall apart mid season. More likely, the Patriots are adjusting to new circumstances that would normally happen in the beginning of the year (Gordon learning offense, Edelman’s first 5 games, figuring out offensive line due to injuries, etc.). Plus, without the Titans game, nobody would be talking about Brady’s demise, and everyone has bad games. If they lose to the Jets, I’ll almost surely wave the white flag, as that would truly be a sign of collapse. However, when the Patriots secure a bye week in the playoffs, feel free to come back and remember who told you that the Patriots aren’t going away just yet.

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