11 days ago, Tom Brady threw 68 percent of his passes to one receiver: Julian Edelman. As a result, he had a completion percentage of under 50 percent and the offense failed to score 14 points.
Today, Tom Brady spread the ball around the offense, completing 69 percent of his passes to six different receivers. None of those receivers caught more than seven catches, and the Patriots scored 23 points against a strong Buccaneers defense.
What a difference 11 days makes. It was obvious the Patriots worked very hard in practice this week to get Tom Brady comfortable with his new young receiver—and it showed.
Against the Jets, Tom Brady was clearly frustrated with his receivers. With the exception of Julian Edelman, he completed just 29 percent of his passes. They were dropping passes and not running the proper routes, which ultimately made them play their worst game as an offensive unit since 2009.
There was none of that today. Tom Brady looked very confident in his young receivers. Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins had a combined 10 catches for 2 touchdowns. And the Patriots, as a result, were finally able to run the offense at a faster pace and were able to spread the ball to several different receivers and backs.
This was apparent, especially on third downs. Last week, everybody knew Brady was going to just target Edelman on third downs. Without Amendola or Gronkowski, he was the only receiver Tom Brady trusted to make a play. It made their team very one dimensional, as the team went just 4-18 on third down—the worst percentage since Tom Brady was the quarterback of the team. Today, you had no idea who Tom Brady was going to throw to. He kept the audience and the defense guessing. As a result, the team improved to 7-15 on third down, and ended up having 19 total first downs—10 more than last week against the Jets.
The Patriots finally were able to orchestrate their offense like they are used to. Tom Brady and his receivers were on the same page. Everybody looked comfortable against the formidable Buccaneers defense. As a result, they were able to open up the running game (the team ran for 156 yards) and run the no-huddle offense. This kept the defense on their toes. This is what made the offense so successful in the past. Nobody could predict what the Patriots were going to on their next play, since they had a balance attack, completed passes, and spread the ball around. If they can establish this sort of offensive presence in the coming weeks like they did in todays game, the Patriots could once again make a return trip to the AFC championship game for a third straight season.