Tom Brady and the Patriots are 27th in the NFL in passing offense. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
FOXBORO — Tom Brady looked visibly frustrated after Sunday’s 30-7 win over the Vikings and for a valid reason — the offense, especially the passing game, hasn’t performed to their capabilities through the first two games of the season.
Over the first two weeks of the season, the offense ranks 27th in the NFL in total offense and 27th in passing. Brady threw for 249 yards in Week 1 against the Dolphins and 149 yards last week against the Vikings. Their 368 net passing yards is only ahead of the Jaguars, Jets, Texans and Buccaneers.
“We have a long way to go,” Brady said Wednesday. “Like I said, every week it starts again and whatever we did last week we’re trying to make improvements so that we come out the next week and play better. There is more margin of error because we’re doing things better, more crisp with better anticipation and confidence in one another. We’ll ultimately see how it plays out. It’s really early in the year and we have a lot of football left.
“We’re still trying to figure out what we’re good at and we’ll probably be trying to figure that out for a long time. All the way through the season we have to adapt to changes with the guys out there and with what we think we need to do to win. We’re trying to make improvements. I don’t think we’re ready for the Super Bowl this week, but I think we have a lot of work to go and certainly playing against Oakland is a big challenge because they have a great pass defense and we need to understand where there strengths are and execute better than we have in the first few weeks.”
In comparison to the 149 passing yards last week, Brady has thrown for less than 149 yards only three times since 2009 — two of them coming last year.
One of the major things that stands out in the passing game is the way the ball is being distributed. Brady has 78 pass attempts this year with 70 of them being targeted at a receiver. Of those 70, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman have been targeted 46 percent of the time and of Brady’s 44 pass completions, 20 of them (45 percent) have been to Edelman or Gronkowski.
Brady admits he needs to do a better job of throwing the ball to more receivers and getting everyone involved in the passing game.
“I think that’s definitely a big part of what we’re trying to do offensively — to make us hard to defend — is to be able to throw the ball to everybody,” Brady said. “You’re right, those guys have seen the majority of the throws and I have to do a better job of finding the other guys because there are a lot of good routes, big targets, guys are working really hard to get open. Hopefully it shows up this week in our passing game and we’re going to work hard at it this week to see if we can all be on the same page more often.”
Fortunately for the Patriots, it is only Week 3 of the season and there are 14 more regular season games to improve from where they currently are. The group certainly knows what they are capable of as they have finished in the NFL’s top 10 in terms of total passing offense in four of the last five seasons and in the top five three times.
“I think great offenses are ones where you go where the reads take you and you throw it — when we’re open we make the catch, the blocking is good, the throws are good, the timing is good — that’s what we’re working towards,” Brady said. “It’s a lot of practice. We’re still early in the year and we have a lot of work to do. … Hopefully we can go out and do a better job. Like I said, we have a lot of work ahead — it’s a long season. The better we practice the more confidence we have in each other in games and hopefully the better it shows up in a game.”