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Tom Brady Confidence Index, Week 5: Not a good week for anyone on offensive side of ball

10.08.13 at 6:10 pm ET
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This preseason, we debuted the Tom Brady Confidence Index, a by-the-numbers look at the comfort level the quarterback had with the rest of the skill-position players when it came to the passing game. Because of the reaction we got, we 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.

As always, 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) on their body of work to this point in the season.

(Disclaimer: While most aspects of this blog deal in mathematical specifics as it relates to football, this entry is more of a tongue-in-cheek approach to Brady and how he relates to the rest of the New England offense. Bottom line? Don’t take the rating system too seriously.)

WIDE RECEIVER JULIAN EDELMAN: 83 (last week: 91)

Season stats: 36 catches, 50 targets, 354 yards, two touchdowns

From a numbers perspective, it wasn’t the best afternoon for Edelman, who finished with two catches on seven targets for 35 yards against the Bengals. (That’s why his number dipped a bit, falling from 91 to 83.) At the same time, his work over the first four games is a clear indication that the quarterback still has plenty of faith in Edelman, who is now one catch from tying his career-high for receptions in a season. He has twice as many catches as Kenbrell Thompkins, who is second on the team with 18 receptions, and he’s the first pass-catcher on the team to reach 50 targets. (For some perspective, Wes Welker was at 38 catches and 52 targets through five games last season.) Things figure to change when Rob Gronkowski returns, but providing Edelman stays healthy, there’s no reason to think he won’t continue to be one of the most important elements of the New England passing game.

Danny Amendola

Danny Amendola

WIDE RECEIVER DANNY AMENDOLA: 72 (last week: inactive)

Season stats: 14 catches, 23 targets, 159 yards

Amendola made his return after suffering a Week 1 groin injury against the Bills and was able to provide some positive moments in the passing game, including a 21-yard reception down the middle in the second quarter that turned out to be the second-longest play from scrimmage all afternoon for the Patriots. He ended with four catches on nine targets for 55 yards. Not great, but certainly better and more consistent than just about any of the other New England receivers against the Bengals.

RUNNING BACK BRANDON BOLDEN: 70 (last week: 70)

Season stats: 14 rushes, 92 yards, 6.6 YPC; 12 catches on 15 targets for 84 yards; 1 negative reception

Bolden did a lot of things well — he accounted for 64 yards from scrimmage, working as an occasional change-up back and option in the passing game out of the backfield. But he had a bad drop on a screen pass early on that set the Patriots back, which leaves him at the same 70 where he checked in last week. One thing worth keeping an eye on: with Shane Vereen on the shelf for the next several weeks because of a wrist injury, Bolden is close to being on pace to join the 40-catch/40-carry club. Over the last five seasons, Kevin Faulk (58 catches and 83 rushes in 2008) and Danny Woodhead (40 catches, 76 carries in 2012) also turned the trick. That’s some good company.

WIDE RECEIVER KENBRELL THOMPKINS: 61 (last week: 70)

Season stats: 18 catches, 43 targets, 273 yards, three touchdowns

After a couple of productive weeks, the rookie receivers appeared to take something of a step back. Whether it was the soggy conditions, scheme, bad throws from the quarterback or the work of the Cincinnati secondary, both Thompkins and Aaron Dobson disappeared for chunks of the game, as Brady leaned on Bolden, Amendola and Edelman (27 of the 35 total targets). If the New England offense will bounce back against the Saints, it will need the sort of performance Thompkins turned it last week against the Falcons, where he topped 100 receiving yards for the first time in his career.

RUNNING BACK LeGARRETTE BLOUNT: 60 (last week: 65)

Season stats: 46 carries, 206 yards, 4.5 YPC, one touchdown, three negative plays, one fumble lost

Like Bolden, there was a lot of good — Blount averaged 4.3 yards per rush on 12 carries, an impressive performance against the Bengals’ stout front seven. (And who would have thought that after five games, LeGarrette Blount would be leading the Patriots in rushing?) But any talk about Blount’s performance has to include his ill-timed fumble. It was his first lost fumble of the season, and it came in the midst of a New England drive midway through the second quarter that had reached the Cincy 32-yard line.

RUNNING BACK STEVAN RIDLEY: 60 (last week: 60)

Season stats: 47 carries, 174 yards, 3.7 YPC, seven negative plays, one fumble lost; three catches on three targets for 34 yards

We’re going to leave Ridley at the same level he was last week — he was sidelined against the Bengals, so he’ll stick at 60.

WIDE RECEIVER AARON DOBSON: 58 (last week: 64)

Season stats: 13 catches, 34 targets, 167 yards, one touchdown

We covered some of this in our breakdown on Thompkins, but the rookies seemed to regress slightly against the Bengals. Dobson did have one of the most eventful catch-and-run plays of the season when he hauled in a long pass from Brady midway through the fourth quarter and started weaving his way through the Cincinnati secondary on his way to the end zone. At the end of the 53-yard gain, the receiver bobbled the ball and lost the handle, only to quickly regain control. It was the longest play from scrimmage on the afternoon from the Patriots, and accounted for just over one-quarter of Brady’s total passing yards on the afternoon. (One thing that did stick out: With the Patriots in the red zone and Dobson working as their tallest receiver, they instead opted to run pass plays for Edelman and Nate Solder instead of throwing a jump ball to Dobson, who showed an ability to compete on fade patterns while as a collegian. Interesting.)

TIGHT END MICHAEL HOOMANAWANUI AND FULLBACK JAMES DEVELIN: 47 (last week: 47)

Season stats: six catches, nine targets, 57 yards

See last week, and the week before, and the week before that — Hoomanawanui and Develin aren’t integral pieces in the passing game from a statistical perspective, but they continue to log quality snaps as blockers. Helping try to blunt the Cincinnati pass rush was perhaps their biggest challenge of the year, but at first glance, neither can be blamed for missing a blocking assignment. Hoomananwanui had one catch for two yards against the Bengals, but anything you get from them statistically is really gravy.

WIDE RECEIVER JOSH BOYCE: 25. (last week: 25)

Season stats: one catch, six targets, 24 yards

The fourth-round pick out of TCU didn’t have a catch last week against the Bengals — he was on the field for just one snap, according to Pro Football Focus, his second game this year where he’s been on the field for five snaps or less. Right now, he appears to be the odd man out when it comes to playing time.

TIGHT END MATTHEW MULLIGAN: 25. (last week: 25)

Season stats: one catch, one target, one yard, one touchdown

The tight end didn’t have any opportunities as a pass-catcher Sunday against the Bengals, but he has done a passable job as a pass-blocker over the course of his first four games in New England.

(For continuity’s sake, we’ll keep Shane Vereen — who hasn’t played since suffering a wrist injury in a Week 1 win over the Bills — at 91.)

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