Tom Brady Confidence Index, Week 1: Shane Vereen, Danny Amendola up, Stevan Ridley down
|09.09.13 at 6:24 am ET|
Toward the midway point of the preseason, we delivered our first edition of the Tom Brady Confidence Index, a by-the-numbers look at the comfort level the quarterback had with the rest of the offensive skill position players when it came to the passing game.
Because of the reaction we got the first time around, we’ve decided to make it a semi-regular feature, and expand it to include overall offensive touches (receptions and carries, with more weight to carries in clutch situations) and how comfortable the quarterback might appear to be with some of his teammates when it came to trusting them in certain situations.
It’s not exactly a scientific deconstruction of the New England offense, so don’t get too upset if your favorite player is at 71 instead of 72. But going forward, the same rules apply as the first version — we rate each of the skill position players and their relationship/comfort level with Brady on a scale of 0 (Taylor Price) to 100 (Wes Welker).
Running back Shane Vereen: 91. The running back had an electrifying performance in the season opener against the Bills, coming away with seven catches (on 10 targets) for 58 yards, and adding 14 carries for 101 yards. That’s a team-high 159 yards from scrimmage, amazing when you consider the team as a whole accounted for 431. Vereen led the team in touches with 21, he averaged 7.57 yards every time he touched the football, and on the game-winning drive, Brady and the coaching staff showed faith in him and wide receiver Danny Amendola by going to them for all the touches on the 12-play, 49-yard series. It’s hard not to be impressed with him at this stage of the season, and it certainly seems that if he stays healthy, he could be in line for a 50-catch, 50-carry season, which would put him among the elite third-down backs in the game. The confidence level in Vereen is very high.
Wide receiver Danny Amendola: 85. In his first game with the Patriots, the receiver picked up 10 catches (on 14 targets) for a team-high 101 yards. As previously stated, it was the Vereen and Amendola show down the stretch, as he accounted for three first downs on the final drive, and 26 of the 49 yards on his receptions. He also clearly impressed his teammates — Brady included — by playing through pain in the second half. (He appeared to re-aggravate a groin injury.) Like Vereen, he’s already established himself as a clear and important part of the offense, and has taken great steps early in his New England career to win the trust of the quarterback.
(Brady on Amendola and Vereen down the stretch on Sunday: “They are two great playmakers for us, guys that really run hard for us, the coaching staff and me, so they put themselves into position to make the critical plays. It was great to be in the huddle with them.”)
Wide receiver Julian Edelman: 75. Through three-plus quarters, Edelman was the best and most consistent receiver on the field, clearly displaying a chemistry with the quarterback that was missing with many of the other young receivers. Other than a bad drop in the third quarter, the former college quarterback had a nice day, coming away with a 9-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter and an 8-yard touchdown pickup in the second quarter, as well as a big 35-yard pickup on a pass play at the start of the fourth quarter that got New England to midfield. (He added a 13-yard reception midway through the fourth.) He ended up with seven catches for 79 yards and two touchdowns and clearly is in Brady’s good graces as the season gets underway.
Wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins: 61. The rookie was targeted an astonishing 14 times on the afternoon — a sign that the quarterback really liked him and believes he’s an important part of the passing game — but things just seemed to be a little off when it came to their chemistry. There’s a level of faith with Thompkins that doesn’t seem to be there quite yet with the other first-year receivers, and he did finish with four catches for 42 yards. But there’s certainly room for improvement across the board, and that includes building a bond with the quarterback.
Tight end Zach Sudfeld: 53. The big tight end was targeted once on the day, and on his lone opportunity slipped and lost the handle, fumbling the ball away. That’s not how you win the trust of the QB, especially if you’re a rookie. (On the play, Sudfeld appeared to be a little surprised the ball got to him as fast as it did. His mistake was compounded when the Bills took advantage of the turnover and put together a touchdown drive.) There will be other days for the rookie out of Nevada, as Brady looked for him on several occasions throughout the summer. He still needs to display the requisite dependability when the ball comes his way.
Running back LeGarrette Blount: 50. The veteran running back was pressed into service after Stevan Ridley was benched because of a second-quarter fumble, but he failed to do much with his opportunities, coming away with seven carries for 15 yards and no chances in the passing game. (He did return a pair of kicks for 35 yards, but his days as a kick returner may ultimately be numbered if Leon Washington is ready to go for Thursday’s game against the Jets.) His future workload may depend on Ridley’s situation — if the LSU product continues to struggle with ball security, Blount may see more snaps going forward.
Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui and fullback James Develin: 47. The low score isn’t necessarily indicative of their overall struggles as skill position players — Hoomanawanui usually does relatively well when given the chance (he had one catch on two targets for five yards against Buffalo). It’s just that this duo is more known for blocking than pass-catching. They are valued and trusted parts of the offense (particularly Hoomanawanui), but don’t look for them to be regular parts of the action when it comes to moving the chains.
Running back Stevan Ridley: 22. Maybe the most distressing aspect of the New England offense on Sunday was the fumble from Ridley. While one early fumble was negated by an official’s ruling that he was down by contact, the second cost the Patriots a second-quarter touchdown and landed him on the bench for the rest of the game (as well as a nasty stare from the quarterback). After the game, the running back said all the right things, indicating that he has to learn from the experience and win back the trust of his teammates before he can be counted on again. ‘I can’t make excuses — two balls on the ground is unacceptable,’ he said. ‘I’m not going to sit on the past. I have to accept where I messed up, made a mistake and grow from it. That’s really all you can do, not point the fingers but come back to work tomorrow.’
Wide receivers Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce: Incomplete. Dobson was not active for the game, and while Boyce did suit up, he only saw two balls head his way.