FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Historically, Tom Brady has been hesitant to express satisfaction when it comes to the Patriots’ offense.
His approach has remained unchanged this season about a group that only recently has started to find consistency after a 1-2 start. The passing attack particularly has suffered during that time because of his lack of cohesion with a new group of receivers.
Brady didn’t eclipse 300 yards passing in any of New England’s first three games, averaging 208 yards through the air with six total touchdowns.
Things have changed during the Patriots’ current six-game win streak, in which Brady has averaged 308 yards per game and thrown 11 TDs.
It’s progress, Brady said, but what he hopes is only a glimpse at where they can be as the Patriots prepare for Sunday’s matchup at Tennessee.
“I don’t think we’re there. Certainly not. I think we need some more time together,” he said Friday. “We need to be kind of battle-tested in these games.”
While Brady credits the entire offense’s dedication in the film room and its attention to detail in game plans, the acquisition of receiver Josh Gordon in Week 3 and return of Julian Edelman after missing last season with a torn right ACL have been big factors.
Gordon has shown a different facet of his athleticism each week. He posted his best game in a Patriots uniform in last week’s win over the Packers, finishing with five catches for 130 yards and a touchdown. The score came on a 55-yard catch-and-run that gave New England some needed distance on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter. It was his second 55-yard catch this season.
In six games with New England, Gordon has 22 catches for 396 yards and two TDs.
Likewise, Edelman has started to look like the go-to target Brady has depended on in recent years. He followed his first 100-yard receiving game of the season at Buffalo in Week 8 with six catches for 71 yards against Green Bay.
“I think his mental and physical toughness are just unmatched in a lot of ways,” Brady said of Edelman. “I have so much confidence in him. He really does all the dirty work for us, you know? He’s so scrappy and goes in there and blocks hard, catches balls over the middle. We put him in a lot of different positions and he always seems to come through for us.”
In the aftermath of his trade Gordon said he had no doubt he was going to take advantage of the opportunity with the Patriots following a tumultuous tenure with the Browns that included his receiving treatment for drug and alcohol dependence, and several suspensions.
He has flourished in New England’s strict environment, which he called comfortable and “a real home.” He’s also benefited from building a quick rapport with Brady.
“It’s great that he has a certain amount of trust in me to put it in my direction,” Gordon said. “And, I just want to come down and make a play on it.”
Brady said Gordon, who debuted in the Week 4 win over Miami, has exceeded expectations.
“I think he’s done really everything the coaches have asked him to do. Here early, stays late, always getting extra reps at practice, takes as many reps as he can, and it’s been fun to see,” he said.
It’s all helped mask a drop-off in production this season by tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has missed two of the last three games with ankle and back injuries. He has 29 catches for 448 yards, but has only one TD on the season.
Gronk is officially listed as questionable for Sunday after being limited in practice all week. He declined to say if he thought he was physically ready to play, adding the decision of whether he traveled to Nashville or suited up was not his own.
“It’s up to the coaches,” he said.
Whatever personnel Brady has available to him, he is adamant that there’s still another level for this offense to reach before season’s end.
“Things that we do well we’re going to keep building on, and things that we’re not doing well, you try them maybe a different year or different players,” he said. “We’re still trying to figure those things out.”
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