Tom Brady Confidence Index, Week 6: Stevan Ridley rebounds, while Austin Collie makes splashy debut
|10.15.13 at 7:15 am ET|
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: 85 (last week: 83)
Season stats: 41 catches, 61 targets, 411 yards, two touchdowns
The catch rate wasn’t quite up to par — he and Brady had a season-high six missed connections, and there was one drop that will go on his record — but all in all, it’s clear that the receiver has the full faith of the quarterback. (Despite pulling this move Sunday against the Saints.) After all, he threw in his direction three times on the final drive, more than any other receiver, and had a 23-yard catch to open the series. His numbers (and targets) will likely drop off once Rob Gronkowski and Shane Vereen return, but right now, he’s on pace for a remarkable 131 catches, which would set a new franchise record for receptions in a season. (The mark is held by Wes Welker, who had 123 in 2009.)
RUNNING BACK STEVAN RIDLEY: 80 (last week: 60)
Season stats: 67 carries, 210 yards, 4.0 YPC, two touchdowns, eight negative plays, one fumble lost; four catches on four targets for 48 yards
Ridley is our big mover this week after having his best game of the year, a 20-carry, 96-yard, two touchdown effort that played a major role in New England’s win. He was able to do a really impressive job running between the tackles, picking up tough yardage and helping move the chains. He was at his best on the Patriots first two scoring drives of the afternoon: he not only finished off both drives with red-zone rushing touchdowns, but he accounted for 49 of the 146 yards on the two scoring drives, which included a 14-yard reception that got the Patriots into New Orleans territory on the second scoring sequence. A good afternoon for Ridley, who has apparently returned to the role of lead back, at least for now. (One more note — he needs 730 more yards to be the first back ever under Bill Belichick to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. He’d have to average 73 yards per game over the final 10 games to pull it off. By way of comparison, he averaged 78.9 over the course of the 2012 season.)
WIDE RECEIVER AUSTIN COLLIE: 80 (last week: inactive)
Season stats: two catches, two targets, 24 yards
So where did that come from? The veteran receiver popped up on the key drive of the game in the fourth quarter, and came away with his first two receptions in a New England uniform — a 15-yarder on the second play of the game-winning drive, and a 9-yard reception on a fourth-down play with 24 seconds left. The guy is here for 10 days, and the quarterback feels secure enough with him to throw him the ball on fourth down on the biggest drive of the year? That’s good enough for an 80 in the TBCI. Look for a lot more of him going forward, provided he can stay healthy.
WIDE RECEIVER KENBRELL THOMPKINS: 75 (last week: 61)
Season stats: 21 catches, 49 targets, 318 yards, four touchdowns
A roller-coaster ride over the last three weeks for Thompkins, who went from his first 100-plus yard game against the Falcons to disappearing for large chunks of the loss to the Bengals, and now, back to catching the game-winner in the waning moments of the win over the Saints. Thompkins continues to make gains across the board — his route-running is more decisive, and he (at least on Sunday) appeared to be cutting down on the odd hand angles he uses when it comes to catching the ball. (He’s not trying to make a cradle catch when the ball is above his head.) He gets a big boost here for his catch with the game on the line, but it’s also worth mentioning that he and the rest of the young receivers are working with the quarterback on their day off, watching film. We’ll see how much that pays off going forward.
WIDE RECEIVER DANNY AMENDOLA: 72 (last week: 72)
Season stats: 16 catches, 27 targets, 159 yards; 1 rush, 1 yard; 1 negative reception
The receiver had one of the strangest stat lines of recent memory against the Saints, finishing with two catches on four targets for zero yards. He was on the receiving end of Brady’s biggest non-interception snafu of the week when the quarterback zipped one downfield in his direction after seeing Amendola had gotten behind his man. It would have had an 83-yard touchdown pass on a perfectly thrown ball. Problem was it wasn’t a good ball — if Brady had put more air underneath the pass, it would have gently fallen into Amendola’s hands. Instead, the ball went over the receivers’ head, and fell incomplete. A second-half head injury needs to be monitored going forward — we should have our first real sense of where he is physically on Wednesday with the release of the injury report.
TIGHT END MICHAEL HOOMANAWANUI: 70 (last week: 47)
Season stats: eight catches, 11 targets, 95 yards
Up to this point in the season, we’ve twinned Hoomanawanui with fullback James Develin because they’ve fundamentally filled the same role over most of the first five games on the year. But on Sunday against the Saints, Hoomanawanui had a career-best offensive performance, catching four passes on four targets for 57 yards. His highlight came in the second quarter — with the Patriots sitting at 3rd and 18 on their own 26, Brady found Hoomananwanui on a dump off. He caught the ball maybe seven yards beyond the line of scrimmage, but was able to put together a broken field run of 19 yards, getting to the sticks and allowing the Patriots to continue to move the chains. His gutty play kept the drive alive, a series that ended with a Ridley touchdown to make it 17-7 midway through the second quarter.
RUNNING BACK BRANDON BOLDEN: 65 (last week: 70)
Season stats: 19 rushes, 111 yards, 5.8 YPC; 14 catches on 18 targets for 93 yards; 1 negative run, 1 negative reception
Not sure how much of it was because he appeared to be a little hobbled with a knee problem (he was off the field for a stretch after leaving the field because of an injury late in the second quarter), how much of it was game plan and how much of it was the fact that Ridley had his best game of the season, but Bolden didn’t get much of a run Sunday against the Saints. He had five carries for 19 yards and added two catches on three targets for nine yards, and never really seemed to make much of an impact. Not an awful day, but his TBCI number will take a small hit because of the dip in overall production.
WIDE RECEIVER AARON DOBSON: 60 (last week: 58)
Season stats: 19 catches, 44 targets, 230 yards, one touchdown
There were drops, yes, but we’re going to give him a little bump because he had a career-high 63 yards against the Saints (a team-high) to go along with six catches, one of which came on the final drive. On that reception, a nine-yarder, Dobson had the presence of mind to get out of bounds on the play. That allowed the clock to stop, a move that was praised on Monday by Belichick. Twelve of his 19 catches this year have gone for first downs.
RUNNING BACK LeGARRETTE BLOUNT: 58 (last week: 58)
Season stats: 53 carries, 215 yards, 4.1 YPC, one touchdown, five negative runs; zero catches on two targets, one fumble lost
Like Bolden, Blount couldn’t seem to get untracked against the Saints — whether it was the fact that he just wasn’t part of the game plan for New England wanted to keep feeding Ridley at critical moments, it was a relatively forgettable week for Blount, who ended the game with seven carries for nine yards. He did take two kickoffs back for an average of 25.5 yards, so he did his part when it came to special teams. But after this week and a quiet week last week against the Bengals when he had his first fumble of the season — combined with the strong week from Ridley — his situation certainly bears watching.
WIDE RECEIVER JOSH BOYCE: 25. (last week: 25)
Season stats: one catch, six targets, 24 yards
Boyce was a healthy scratch Sunday in favor of Collie, and could be headed for what fundamentally amounts to a redshirt year. It’s not necessarily a knock on his overall skills — it’s something the Patriots have done with several players, including Shane Vereen as a rookie in 2011.
TIGHT END MATTHEW MULLIGAN: 25. (last week: 25)
Season stats: one catch, one target, one yard, one touchdown
If his season ends with that stat line, it could be the most perfect series of numbers any receiver has ever had. Just awesome.
(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.)