Much has been made of the pass-catchers surrounding New England Patriots elite quarterback Tom Brady, as injuries to Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski, and Shane Vereen have left the Patriots with little experience at wide receiver and tight end. Julian Edelman is the only healthy wide receiver on the team with previous experience, and the Patriots haven’t been using the tight end much in the passing game despite the upside that UDFA Zach Sudfeld provides. I’ve always been a believer in the Patriots rookie receivers, because Kenbrell Thompkins looks solid, Aaron Dobson could be the real deal in a couple of years (he might be catching on faster than expected based on last week’s performance), and Josh Boyce was a good pick in the fourth round. I never worried too much about the Patriots wideouts, because they are actually deeper and more talented at WR than they were last year. These guys are going to continue to develop well, and both Thompkins and Dobson have seemingly vindicated those who remained patient quicker than expected with their big performances against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week.
That said, the Patriots rookie wideouts had more severe growing pains than initially expected, as Thompkins was putrid through the first two weeks, Boyce has not made much of an impact, and Aaron Dobson played one of the worst games of any receiver in Week 2 with just three catches on ten targets (he matched his number of catches with three drops).
I found an incredibly interesting statistical nugget from the Pro Football Focus in their Falcons vs. Patriots preview. According to PFF, no quarterback has been more negatively affected by dropped passes than Tom Brady so far this season, as 129 yards have been taken away from Brady as a result of drops. The longest drop- from off the top of my head- was that Dobson error in Week 2.
Tom Brady has seen nine of his passes dropped this season, and only five quarterbacks have been victimized by drops more often (Josh Freeman is one of them). However, nobody else has lost as much yardage as Brady from drops, and this is an interesting stat that should be kept in mind when looking at Brady’s numbers. That said, he did have a poor game last week and hasn’t looked nearly as good as he did last season- and the year before that…and the year before that- but that will be rectified shortly.
Aaron Dobson is among the league leaders with four drops on the year, Zach Sudfeld dropped a pass in Week 1 that led to an undeserved interception for Brady, Kenbrell Thompkins has two drops, and even the ultra-reliable Julian Edelman has two. Then again, drops aren’t the only thing that goes into making a reliable receiver, and that’s something we all saw with Wes Welker.