The New England Patriots are under pressure for the first time in a while
In case you have been hiding under a rock since Sunday’s games were played the Patriots lost their first game of the season, and it wasn’t an unlucky bounce of the ball, freak play or blown officiating call that determined that result. The Miami Dolphins beat them comfortably.
Despite Rob Gronkowski back in business the Patriots offense was under assault all game long and couldn’t find a rhythm. Tom Brady completed 29 of his 56 pass attempts for 249 yards and a touchdown, and though he didn’t throw an interception, it was far from a vintage Brady performance.
His numbers are concerning when you drill down into them. He completed just one pass that traveled 20+ yards in the air, just four of 24 attempts that traveled 10+ yards in the air, and just 9 of 23 passes outside the numbers. Under pressure his completion percentage dropped to 35%.
It’s not unusual for a quarterback to struggle under pressure, but the Patriots have usually had an impressive offensive line. Against Miami the O-line alone surrendered 23 total pressures – three sacks, six knockdowns and 14 additional hurries. Brady was under pressure on four more dropbacks than any other quarterback in the first week of action and on a massive 40% of his passing snaps.
Last season Brady was let down at times by a corps of inexperienced receivers, but this season he is in danger of being let down by his pass protection. At 37 years old, Brady needs protection now more than he ever has in his career, and with long time line coach Dante Scarnecchia no longer able to weave his magic on the unit it might just be the year that it is no longer giving him what he needs.
On the other hand maybe the Miami pass rush is really just that good. We’ll get to see how quickly the Patriots can rebound next week against a Minnesota team that was able to bring its own brand of pressure against St Louis.