Tom Brady’s Deep Ball Issues in Bruce Arians’ System

There are some concerns to be had about Tom Brady’s deep ball in Arians’ system. The Buccaneers are 7-5, are ranked 9th in passing yards per game and 15th in total offense through Week 12. On the flip side, Tom Brady has had flat out awful stretches through the season. He has had two separate four-week spans where he was 3/28 and then 0/19 on deep passes. These lulls are what cause the Buccaneers offensive inconsistencies from week-to-week.

Note: If you prefer to watch a video breakdown, scroll to the bottom of this article.

Mark Lomoglio / Associated Press

Brady is having difficulty reading deep at times, having miscommunications with his receivers, and has also developed some mechanical issues when he tries to push the ball downfield. To understand why Brady is struggling, we also need to know what he does well. Tom Brady’s deep ball issues aren’t because of arm strength. He is still lethal in the intermediate game and shows great anticipation and touch.

The Good

When Brady can key off linebackers underneath, he’s still one of the best in the league. Here Tampa Bay is running two posts with what is supposed to be an underneath drag and a sit route. The linebacker is supposed to be put in conflict by the drag and the post. That drag doesn’t come because of some miscommunication, but the defender moves himself out of position anyways. Brady is throwing the post to Mike Evans and he’s starting his throwing motion before Evans has even turned his head. He’s locating that underneath defender, sees that his hips are turned to the outside, and that he’s flowing away from the window to the post. Brady throws a perfect strike right in the soft spot of the defense and protects his receiver from a big hit.

Brady isn’t suffering dwindling arm strength either. When Brady throws deep on rhythm, he has elite touch and accuracy. This is one of the Buccaneers favorite deep concepts with two deep crossers intersecting across the field. It puts single high safeties in conflict, makes defenders transfer zones, or forces the defense to run with some really talented receivers for the Bucs. It also fits Brady’s ability to throw rhythm deep balls while also allowing him to read underneath defenders.

As soon as Brady comes out of the play fake here, all he has to do is locate where the corner is and whether the Raiders defense is going to exchange zones or is matched up in man coverage. He sees that the Raiders are running with their receivers and he knows all he needs to do is put some air under the ball and let Scotty Miller run underneath it. He throws off one hitch, is decisive, and delivers a great ball.

These rhythm deep balls and anticipation throws in the middle of the field are where Brady still thrives. It shortens the throw and it mirrors the system that he ran in New England with McDaniels. It fits Brady’s skill set and arm talent and it allows some very talented Tampa Bay receivers to get the ball in space and attack linebackers in the middle of the field.

Problems Reading Safeties

We understand what he does well but let’s look at the main issues that keep popping up. Brady does not read deep defenders very well and has begun to stare down deep routes. So, if he isn’t throwing those deep routes on time, it allows defenders to read his eyes, flow to that side and impact the throws.

In his final drive against the Rams, Brady makes an almost rookie mistake. The Rams are showing a two high look but buzzing to Cover 1 Robber. The boundary side safety comes down to rob the middle of the field and the field side safety rotates up to the deep middle. Brady stares down his receiver to the top of the screen the entire way. He assumes since the safety to that side came down, he has room deep. But if that guy is coming down, there’s almost always going to be a guy coming to replace him. Brady doesn’t recognize the safety rotation and throws a ball like he’s expecting nobody to come help over the top of the route. This allows the other safety to get over and intercept the ball and seal the game for the Rams.

This issue of not locating safeties has been happening more and more frequently. He doesn’t locate safeties and doesn’t throw the appropriate ball because of it. He’ll put too much air on the ball which lets defenders make plays and makes things tough for his receivers. Here he has Mike Evans on Ramsey but the Rams are giving help over the top with #43. Brady throws up a deep ball but with the Safety already leaning to that side, that window is very small and there’s almost no way to squeeze this ball in for a completion and it really should have been intercepted.

Especially when facing pressure along with it, Brady has left some plays on the field. Against Kansas City, the Chiefs are bringing a zero blitz which leaves the two deep safeties in man coverage on the slot receiver and the tight end. Generally, in zero, you want to attack the middle of the field because there’s no safety help there. With the tight end Cameron Brate going to the flats, that removes the boundary safety because he has to come down on him in man coverage. This leaves the post to Godwin wide open. Instead of diagnosing the blitz and having a plan for it by attacking the post, he throws the ball out of bounds to Antonio Brown who is running a double move.

Mechanical Issues

Brady struggles with safety reads but he also has a mechanical issue. Heel click is a pretty simple mechanical issue and it can cause some big vertical accuracy issues. Heel click is when your feet come together on your hitch step. That action causes you to change vertical levels as a quarterback. As a consequence, that can make your throws go high or low. You want your hips to stay on the same horizontal plane. This heel click happens a lot when he is pushing the ball deep and it’s causing a lot of inaccuracy.

You can see on this clip how he has that heel click and how much his hips sink and raise on the throw. That vertical displacement ultimately causes the accuracy issue.

For quarterbacks it’s all about consistency and Brady just doesn’t have it here. If your platform and your base change from throw to throw it’s going to be hard to be consistently accurate.

Miscommunications

Finally, there are some miscommunications between he and his receivers. He’ll throw fades when receivers stop for back-shoulders and vice versa. You can see a great example of that here as the Bucs are running verts switch. The two receivers are exchanging and switching their routes. The slot goes out to the fade and the outside receiver comes inside for the seam.

Brady decides on the slot fade but he makes the incorrect decision to throw the ball deep. On fades like this, you’re reading leverage. If that defensive back is stacked on top, the quarterback and receiver are taught to work the back-shoulder. If they’re even, you throw the fade. Here clearly the corner is on top of Chris Godwin which means this should be a back-shoulder. That’s exactly what Godwin is reading here. It’s an example of not being on the same page and it happens often even this far into the season.

You can see that same exact concept here with Antonio Brown. Brown feels that the defensive back has leverage on him so he snaps the route off for a back-shoulder. Brady has meanwhile already begun his throwing motion for a fade.

Brady’s struggles reading deep safeties, his footwork issues, and the receiver miscommunications has led to Brady and that offense getting bogged down at times. Combine that with a rushing offense that ranks 28th and it can be hard to sustain offense.

The Bucs will be just fine though. Even with these issues, they’re scoring the 7th most points in the league. When your offense goes through the deep ball and the deep ball isn’t hitting, you’re going to see these inconsistent games and performances from Tampa Bay. To even out these performances and take the offense to the next step, there needs to be a blending of Arians’ scheme and Brady’s skill set. Use Brady’s elite intermediate throwing and use rhythm shots for the deep ball. Tampa is right on track for the playoffs and if that defense also evens out and gets more consistent in the secondary nobody will want to see playoff Brady roll into town with the weapons and tools that Tampa has.

If you feel like donating and want access to some early breakdown releases, game picks, and exclusive breakdown content you can visit our Patreon page here. Suscribe to our YouTube page for our video breakdowns. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @weekly_spiral and Twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

Old Faces In New Places

David Johnson, HOU

David Johnson has channeled his inner Shawn Michaels and become the heartbreak kid for the past three years for fantasy owners. In 2017, he was the number one overall player on most pre-draft boards then got injured in the first game and that was all she wrote. Back to back disappointing seasons in 2018 and 2019, he now sees himself in Houston as their presumed lead back. Is this the year Johnson finally gets back on track or will he just disappoint again? I’m willing to bet he has a solid year in a Houston offense that, despite having marginal talent the past few years, has seen some decent seasons from running backs. Duke Johnson, RB2 on the Texans, has only had over a hundred carries once in his career and is mostly used as a pass catcher. Therefore Johnson is going to see a large number of the team’s carries. He also has had some nice moments as a receiver and with the loss of DeAndre Hopkins and his 150 targets, Deshaun Watson is going to have to spread the ball around. During his one great season, 2016, Johnson led all running backs in receptions and receiving yards. I doubt Johnson will ever reach elite status as he did before the 2017 season, but if Carlos Hyde can rush for over 1000 yards with the Texans, I’m ready to assume Johnson can get there as well.

Teddy Bridgewater, CAR

Teddy Bridgewater is a good quarterback, but not an ideal fantasy target. In Minnesota, he finished in the 20’s every season in fantasy points, and even in the five-game stretch a season ago with the Saints he finished 19th during that period in scoring for quarterbacks. He’s an accurate thrower and relies on quick throws to be effective. In fact, outside of the two Steelers backup quarterbacks from last year, no one threw fewer air yards on completions than Bridgewater. He is surrounded by studs like Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, and Robby Anderson, but as we all know the team is dependent on McCaffrey. They’re going to feed him the ball any chance they get and most likely will put a big dent in Bridgewater’s fantasy total, particularly touchdowns. Bridgewater’s floor is high, but he’s not going to be your QB1 unless something crazy happens. A concerning part of the Panthers offense is that they allowed 43 sacks in 2019 and that was with mobile quarterbacks in Kyle Allen and Cam Newton. Bridgewater can help alleviate those issues with his short passing game but in the meantime, I’m passing on him until I see how this offense operates under new offensive coordinator Joe Brady. 

Phillip Rivers, IND

I like Rivers in Indianapolis and think he’s going to do wonders for this team. That doesn’t mean I’m too high on him in fantasy. The Colts have a dynamic 1-2 punch at running back in Marlon Mack and Jonathan Taylor and will rely on Rivers to be a game manager. Rivers offers no running ability and is coming off of a season where he threw almost as many interceptions as touchdowns. He was seventh in the league in pass attempts in 2019 and there’s a tiny chance that happens again as he’s most likely going to finish outside of the top half in that category. Besides T.Y. Hilton, the Colts don’t have much experience at receiver and with an unconventional offseason, it could take a few weeks into the season for the passing offense to get in a rhythm. His offensive line is going to be much better in Indianapolis, but the Chargers are a much deeper unit in terms of skill position targets. He’ll be at his best in the short area of the field, getting the ball out quickly. Hilton and Parris Campbell are deep threats, but Rivers finished well below average in throws over 20 yards. I think ultimately Rivers will improve substantially in completion percentage, but see a dip in just about every other statistical category as he becomes a complementary piece rather than the star as he enters his 17th season in the league. 

Matt Breida, MIA

Breida escapes a situation in San Francisco where he was battling two or three guys for touches. Now in Miami, he’s really only battling Jordan Howard. One of the more underrated speedsters in the league, Breida has a 5 yards per carry average for his career and has the potential to increase his catch total with his new situation. While he doesn’t get mention with being one of the fastest players in the league, he had the fastest top speed (22.3 mph) recorded over the past few years and was a home run threat anytime he touched the ball. Jordan Howard has seen his targets and catches decrease every season as he’s been delegated as a pure ball-carrier, opening a big opportunity in Miami. Breida can sneak into that receiving back role due to his quickness and steady hands (only one career drop). There is one big knock against Breida and that is his lack of touchdowns. He only has 10 total touchdowns in his three seasons compared to Howard who has 32 (30 rushing) in his four seasons in the league. Breida will never be mistaken for a bell-cow back, but does well in the opportunities he gets. I do worry slightly about his injury history as it always seems that he’s battling some sort of ailment, particularly in his lower body. Despite this, I think Breida is RB1 in terms of fantasy for Miami and should hover around his career average of 630 yards rushing, but has the upside to double his reception total from last year.


Emmanuel Sanders, NO

Good news for Sanders: He’s not going to be the focal point of opposing teams defenses with Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara as his teammates. Bad news for Sanders: He’s not going to be the focal point of the Saints offense with Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara as his teammates. Sanders slides in nicely as a solid second receiver with the Saints and proved last year with Denver and San Francisco that he still has some juice in him. I wouldn’t anticipate a huge drop in receiving yards (869 in 2019), but I don’t think he gets more than that either. Luckily, the Saints are a high scoring offense and Sanders will have his chances to score. He won’t set the league on fire, but I think it’s realistic he’ll get between 5 to 8 touchdowns. If TreQuan Smith can score on 27% of his receptions, I want to believe that a savvy vet like Sanders can carve out a nice role in New Orleans. I wouldn’t count on him to be a starter for your team, but his high floor makes him draftable as your WR3/4. 

Rob Gronkowski, TB

Let’s be honest, nobody has any idea how Gronk is going to look this season. The last time we saw him play, he was a shell of his former self, but still a dominant run-blocker and made a huge catch in the Super Bowl. His injury past is so long that the doctor has an entire drawer dedicated to him, but after taking a season off, in theory he should be as healthy as he’s been in years. Ultimately, he’s one of the best tight ends of all time and the duo of him and Brady have connected for 79 touchdowns, which is the fifth most for a quarterback-receiver combination. While Arians has never heavily incorporated tight ends into his offense, Brady has a long history of targeting that position and one has to think that the offense will adjust to Brady’s strengths. I believe he’s firmly entrenched as the Buccaneers third receiving option after Godwin and Evans and will be Brady’s go-to guy in the red zone. All things being said, with as deep as the tight end group is this year in fantasy, I’m going to say Gronk finishes between TE 7-11 this year. He’ll be a valuable piece in this new-look offense, but with two stud receivers getting most of the looks and an older version of the former WWE superstar future hall of famer, I’m not expecting huge stats this season.  

Austin Hooper, CLE

This offseason, Hooper cashed in big time and is now the second-highest paid tight end in the league. As he goes from one high-octane offense in Atlanta, he joins another in Cleveland littered with big names which I think lowers the ceiling on his fantasy value. He’s a skilled receiver and has seen his yardage increase every season of his career. He was the sixth-highest scoring tight end in fantasy in 2019 despite missing three games. While he’s had to contend with Julio Jones for catches in the past, he has to fend off an even deeper group in Cleveland as it includes two good running backs and another solid tight end with David Njoku. Luckily, Hooper has a high catch rate (78%) and had all six of his touchdowns from 2019 taking place in the red zone (five coming within the ten-yard line). He will more than likely see similar production this year as he did in 2019 which makes him a solid fantasy option. However, as I’ve mentioned previously the tight end fantasy group this year is really solid so just make sure not to reach on any of them. It’s possible what was good for sixth overall for tight ends last season might be fringe top ten this season.

Cam Newton, NE

While I won’t consider Newton to be a lock for the starting quarterback job, I do believe it would take an injury or unforeseen circumstance for him not to be the starter. ESPN predicts a rather mediocre 17 touchdowns, 10 interception season with him adding 358 yards and 6 touchdowns on the ground. While these numbers may seem low for a player of Newton’s caliber, I actually think this is a good prediction because we don’t know how he’s going to hold up coming off of two major surgeries. He’s never been an accurate thrower of the football and his supporting cast is average but he can still be a scoring machine. Not including last season where he only played in two games, he averaged 7 rushing touchdowns a season. Meaning that while he may not have the speed he once did, he still has the size and the tough running ability to punch it in at the goal line. One advantage that Josh McDaniels’s offense could have for Newton is the short passing game. Newton had his best year in terms of passing percentage in 2018 at 67% yet had an average completed air yards of just 5 yards, tied for tenth shortest. Just two years earlier, he averaged 8.3 air yards on completed passes (second highest in the league), but only completed 52% of his passes. It’s obvious that at this point in his career, he’s not going to be able to successfully push the ball down the field but can get the ball out quickly and to the right receiver. I think the team will use Newton as more of a game manager that will result in more wins, but not necessarily a huge fantasy season. He’s a good buy-low option based on his running ability and an ideal situation in New England.

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on YouTube for video breakdowns and Instagram @weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

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NFC and Awards Gambling Preview

Last week was the AFC, this week it’s the NFC. Check out some of our predictions for the upcoming season!

A * denotes bets I’ll actually be making so keep that in mind when reading!

NFC

Bears- Under 8.5* (+130)

For as troubling as things seemed in Chicago last year, an 8-8 record isn’t bad. However, of the eight wins, only had two wins against teams with a winning record, both against the Vikings with the second of those wins coming when Minnesota rested their starters on week 17. They rank tied for 13th in strength of schedule but have a midseason stretch of games that will make or break their season. From week 8 to week 15, they have six games against 2019 playoff teams, including three divisional games against the Vikings (twice) and Packers. Add in a three-game stretch from week 3 to week 5 where they play the Falcons, Colts, and Buccaneers, three teams who are expected to contend for a playoff spot in 2020. I think this team will range between 6 to 9 wins, meaning that the likelihood that they fall below 8.5 is much greater than them hitting 9 wins. Unless we see some major improvement, this defense can’t cover for all of the offenses faults. I’d be shocked if Trubisky makes it through the whole season as a starter, but Nick Foles isn’t a major upgrade either. For an offensive line that gave up the most sacks last year, no major upgrades were made and the receivers group still is underwhelming. There was just not enough improvement in my eyes for the team to be considered better than last year. 

Lions- Under 6.5* (+100)

The Lions missed Matthew Stafford last year as they limped down the stretch to a 3 win season. Management decided to give Matt Patricia one more year as head coach, but things don’t look too promising as they have one of the toughest schedules in the league. As I see it there are only two games that they’ll probably be favored in, against Jacksonville and Washington, and have to play seven games against 2019 playoff teams. Add in the improved Colts, Buccaneers, and Cardinals and you’re left with having to talk yourself into winning seven games in total. The offense can score points, but their defense is still in a major rebuild. This defense was the seventh worst in terms of scoring defense and will have 11 of their 16 games against teams who finished in the top half of points scored in 2019. Most sportsbooks have Patricia has the odds on favorite to be the first coach fired and teams normally don’t see a huge turnaround after a coach is fired during the season. I think a six win season is being pretty optimistic, with 3-5 being what I predict. Either way, the under is the safe and easy play here.

Rams- Under 9* (-125)

It’s beginning to seem like the Rams are a supernova, burning bright and fading quickly. They’re another team that boasts a tough schedule and because of salary cap issues, they were unable to improve at key positions. While I like Jared Goff still, the offensive line is horrendous. If that unit can’t improve then the run game is unlikely to get going either. Aaron Donald is a stud obviously, but they’ll get exposed at linebacker by losing their leading tackler from a season ago, Corey Littleton. Once again the NFC West is shaping up to be the toughest division in football and the only team the Rams were better than last year, the Cardinals, picked up one of the games best receivers and Kyler Murray should continue his development. Sean McVay was once the cool kid on the block when the team had depth and a strong defense, but that’s not the case anymore. Now that the team has deficiencies, can McVay live up to the hype? I think this is a 7 or 8 win team and the betting direction seems to agree with me. Under 9 wins is the safe bet. 

Tampa Bay- Over 9.5* (-140)

This is the popular pick to be the most improved team. For one, you lose Jameis Winston and his 30 interceptions and replace him with possibly the greatest quarterback of all time. Add in Bruce Arians, one of the better coaches in the league and many are thinking a playoff appearance is in store for the Bucs. They have a middle of the road schedule and don’t face 2019 playoff teams in back to back weeks. There are a few tough divisional opponents with the Saints and Falcons, but their offense is going to keep them in every game. If they are able to run the ball successfully, then I believe they are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. I predict that they’ll be a ten win team, thus hitting the over of 9.5. As I’m sure every bettor knows by now, you don’t make a profit better against Tom Brady (unless it’s against an NFC East team in the Super Bowl).

Redskins- Under 5.5* (-130)

Poor Ron Rivera. His first season as Redskins head coach won’t be his most memorable season as a head coach. Besides Terry McLaurin, this offense needs a lot of help. I’m not sure Dwayne Haskins is the answer and they don’t have a running back who they can depend on. Right now I’m looking at the Bengals and Detroit as 50/50 games and I like the chances of them splitting with the Giants. Even if you include the Panthers as a win (which I don’t think happens), that’s only four games I believe they have a chance to win and it would take some upsets for them to hit the over in this situation. Their first four opponents have the clear talent advantage and win inconsistent quarterback play, I’m not confident they can win a shootout. I believe they’ll finish with one of the worst records in the league and would think getting to six games to be an incredibly successful season in Washington. 

Here are the rest of my predictions, I wouldn’t bet any of these but wanted to include it just to show how much I dislike your favorite team:

Cardinals- Under 7.5

Falcons- Over 7.5

Panthers- Under 5.5

Cowboys- Over 9.5

Packers- Over 9

Vikings- Under 9

Saints- Over 10.5

Giants- Under 6.5

Eagles- Under 9.5

49ers- Over 10.5

Seahawks- Over 9

Divisional Winners

East- Cowboys 19/20

I think it’s too close of a call between the Cowboys and Eagles to put any money down, but I do like the Cowboys with a new coach over the defending champions.

North- Packers 17/10*

While the Packers didn’t get any better, neither did any other team in this division. To me, this is one of the worst divisions in football and the Packers have a clear depth advantage on both sides of the ball.

South- Saints 3/4

The Buccaneers will push the Saints hard this year which stops me from betting on it but the Saints are just too complete of a team not to be the favorites

West- 49ers 19/20

NFL’s toughest division is a crapshoot. 49ers barely edge out the Seahawks last season but will need to see improvement from Jimmy Garropolo to win the division again. 

DPOY

Donald +700*

N Bosa +800*

TJ Watt +1200*

Minkah +3300

This is the most unpredictable award to predict, which makes it my favorite. Donald is a great pick because no one in the league can block him and he’s almost a lock to get to double-digit sacks. Teams game plan around him, yet it really makes no difference. I could be biased as a 49ers fan, but I think Bosa if he stays healthy, will be in the top three this year in sacks. The 49ers defense should be pretty good once again and Bosa figures to be the one to be the statistical leader on a deep defensive line. TJ Watt is right now the better Watt brother and I think wasn’t shown enough love last year in the DPOY voting. He’s had 27.5 sacks the last two years and if he can get to the 15 sack total this year, that will get him first-place votes. At +1200 that’s great value to be had. I’m not going to put money on Minkah, but he was a game-changer for the Steelers. If he can improve upon his 5 interceptions, he’ll get the national attention to get some votes.

DROY

Young +225*

Queen +800*

Okudah +1400

Young is such a safe and predictable bet here that I’d feel almost stupid to not get in on the action. He’ll get close to double-digit sacks as long as he stays healthy. Queen is my favorite pick of the group. He’s playing on a great team with a good defense and will get a lot of tackles. That checks off three key boxes right there and will have plenty of chances to shine in prime time games. Okudah will be one of the best corners in the league sooner rather than later. If he can get 4-5 interceptions and shut down receivers in his division like Davante Adams and Adam Thielen, his chances of winning are better than what they are now.

NFL Film Breakdown: Tom to Tampa: Does the Film Match the Hype?

To the relief of all the teams in the AFC East, Tom Brady is no longer a Patriot. While his stats aren’t the flashiest with a 60.8% completion rate (3rd lowest of career), 6.6 yards per attempt (2nd lowest of his career), 4,057 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions on the year, Brady has been the model of consistency in New England. At 42 years old, though, let’s strip away the accolades, accomplishments, and stats and look at what the film says that Tom Brady is at this point in his career.

https://www.abc6.com/tom-brady-officially-signs-with-the-tampa-bay-buccaneers/

While the stats indicate that Brady has begun to struggle with the deep ball, film shows he has all the strength. The issue is more an increasing desire to get the ball out of his hands fast and avoid hits, perhaps an area that Tampa should be worried about given the penchant for Arians’ offense to push the ball down the field. Jameis Winston’s average depth of throw last year was at 10.9 yards. Brady’s? Just 8.0 yards per throw. In addition, he only threw deep 10.1% of the time compared to Jameis’ 15.7% (Murray, 2020). While quarterback play isn’t in a vacuum – New England had one of the worst skill position groups in the league last year – Brady is going to be asked to attempt and complete deep balls at a rate he hasn’t ever done before in his career.

https://ftw.usatoday.com/2020/03/tampa-bay-buccaneers-tom-brady-offensive-scheme-bruce-arians

As stated before, though, film shows that he’s still got the arm strength. He’s more than capable of continuing to make all the throws an NFL quarterback needs to make and the deep ball is going to be critical in Bruce Arians’ aggressive offense. If there’s a shot to take, he’s going to tell Brady to take it and all signs point to Brady being capable.

Whether it’s under duress, off platform, or on the move, Brady absolutely still has enough zip on the ball to deliver into tight windows and make defenses pay.

Of now surprise to anyone that’s watched him before, Brady also loves the intermediate throws like deep crossers and digs. He goes through his reads incredibly quickly and efficiently and can routinely hit explosive plays with the intermediate passing game.

Perhaps of concern, though, is that he repeatedly turned down shots at deep balls and would sometimes throw a beat late when he did take those shots, allowing defenders to close or making the throw more difficult. While the strength is certainly there, the accuracy and willingness to stand in the pocket and wait for things to develop has started to become an issue.

Below you can see the Patriots run a two-man route off of play-action and it’s set up perfectly for a deep ball and huge completion on the post. The strong safety flies up on the run fake and doesn’t get enough depth under the post to influence the throw. Brady looks right at it and decides not to throw it while ultimately dumping the ball into the dirt.

Again below, the Titans are showing cover 2 and if you’re going to throw the fade down the sideline, you’ve got to put it on a line and fit it between the corner and the free safety looming over the top. Instead, Brady holds onto the ball and throws it late which almost results in an interception and could have resulted instead in his receiver getting absolutely demolished. The ball needed to be out at the top of his drop when the receiver was even with the cornerback and instead Brady hitches twice before letting it go.

As mentioned before, you can also see some deep ball accuracy issues pop up more than you might have in the past. I don’t think it should be a huge concern but he’s throwing them less and it’s consistently now a play or two a game where he misfires on deeper routes along the sideline. In the first play below he gets uncharacteristically hoppy in the pocket and is bouncing on his toes which causes him to airmail the ball on what should be a relatively easy completion on a deep hook.

Concerns about his dwindling accuracy may be there but he still has all the strength needed and still has incredible pocket presence. Tampa Bay’s offensive line is a downgrade from what the Patriots had and while Brady can make guys miss to buy extra time, he would also rather just check the ball down to avoid the hit. That being said, his mechanics are typically incredibly consistent. He keeps a solid base and is able to deliver accurate balls on the move.

All things considered, Brady is still Brady and has (almost) all the physical tools he’s always had. His arm strength, pocket movement, and decision making are all still there. The most important changes are number one, being asked to push the ball downfield at a rate he previously has never attempted in Bruce Arians’ offense and number two, growing accuracy issues on what used to be routine plays for him. Historically, quarterbacks throw a lot of interceptions in the first year of Arians’ system (Palmer had 22 and Winston had 30) but if Brady can learn quickly and execute like he still has the ability to, the sky is the limit for a Bucs offense that is loaded with talent at the skill positions.

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References

Murray, M. (2020, March 23). Fan Sided. Retrieved from NFL Mocks: https://nflmocks.com/2020/03/23/tampa-bay-buccaneers-right-choice-tom-brady/