Sunday 7: Tom Brady hasn’t been getting it done vs. good teams recently

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1. For years, Tom Brady was known for being at his best in the biggest games. Of late, that hasn’t been the case. In his last two seasons, the quarterback is 5-9 against teams that made the postseason (includes playoff games). In those games he’s averaged 245 yards passing and a QB rating of 77.8, while throwing 18 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. In the two seasons prior (2017-18), in games against teams that made the playoffs (and playoff games), Brady was 12-3, averaged 326 yards passing and had a QB rating of 101.8 to go along with 28 touchdowns and eight interceptions. That’s quite the contrast. While quarterback play isn’t the only thing that determines wins and losses, Brady’s play helped a lot in 2017-18 to pick up victories, but over the last two years things have gone the other way, especially with the 18 touchdowns to 14 interceptions in big games over the last two seasons. Some may want to point to the lack of talent around him last year in New England, but this year in Tampa Bay it’s hard to find a more talented offense in terms of weapons in the passing game than what he’s got. A win Sunday against the Saints would certainly help change the narrative when it comes to his play in big games of late, but a loss wouldn’t be much of a surprise as the quarterback and his teams just haven’t played well in big games of late.

2. There were some interesting ratings nuggets that came out this week relating to the Patriots. Overall, ratings were down 26 percent this season. The Patriots had a final rating of 26.3 in Boston, which compares to 35.5 in 2019. There are a number of factors in play, starting with the 7-9 record and Cam Newton’s subpar play at QB. If the team was losing and Newton was still performing well on a weekly basis, things may have been a little different. It’s also clear New England is backing Brady in Tampa Bay. While it’s not apples-to-apples, it’s interesting more people in Boston watched the Tampa Bay/Washington game last weekend than the Patriots’ Week 16 game on Monday Night Football against the Bills. Yes, it was a playoff game, but it’s highly unusual for an out of market game to out-rate an in-market game, even if one is a playoff game and one isn’t.

3. It truly is astounding Jack Easterby is still employed by the Texans. Clearly, he’s become a major, major distraction and it’s a matter of what would the organization be losing without him? It’s been made clear he’s not involved in personnel matters, so it’s not like he’s needed there. The one thing could be relating to Nick Caserio and how big of a factor was Easterby for him taking the job? Caserio has only been on the job for a week and he has a massive mess to clean up not only with Easterby, but also calming down quarterback Deshaun Watson. And oh yeah, he still needs to hire a head coach.

4. When it comes to the next quarterback of the Patriots, or a player at the position the team adds this offseason, do not be surprised if it is someone no one is really talking about right now. Bill Belichick isn’t afraid to go against the grain and think outside the box, especially when it comes to a trade. This came to mind when Mike Lombardi threw out Jordan Love as a potential option on his Friday appearance with Ordway, Merloni & Fauria.

5. It is worth noting the name that comes up most with media members when asked about the next QB of the Patriots is Jimmy Garoppolo. Obviously, so much can change between now and March, but if there was a leader in the clubhouse it would have to the Garoppolo (with the understanding the 49ers would need to make him available). On OMF this week, Tedy Bruschi said Garoppolo would make a lot of sense given the pressure there would be and since he’s already played in New England, he would be able to handle it better than someone who hasn’t.

6. The Jets made a great hire with Robert Saleh, the former 49ers defensive coordinator, this week. One of his biggest decisions this offseason will be what to do with Sam Darnold. From this perspective, it should look at other options at the position because it doesn’t seem like he’s the answer. This doesn’t mean Darnold cannot land somewhere else and succeed, because he’s so young, but it seems it’s best for both the player and team to get a fresh start.

7. It’s been clear for awhile the NFL Combine will not go on as usual, but the NFL is weighing ideas to try and allow some elements to happen, which Albert Breer of the MMQB laid out Friday. All this places more emphasis on the Senior Bowl, which begins next week. It would be a surprise not to see Belichick and a few members of the Patriots coaching staff there. Keep in mind, their trip to Mobile last year went a long way when it came to selecting Kyle Dugger.