Grading the 2019 Patriots V: Elite Thuney, White, Edelman led way for offense that saw talent level plummet

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(Adam Richins for BSJ)

Before an NFL team turns the page on the previous season and moves forward to the next, they put the team and their players under a microscope to see what worked, what didn’t, and what needs to be changed/altered to make progress in 2020.

Obviously, we have no idea what the Patriots’ internal grading looks like, and we don’t anticipate Bill Belichick opening up his grade book to the public anytime soon. So, we’re left to do our homework with some assistance from people who have knowledge of how the Patriots view things.

So we’ll start our dissection (which is a homage to my mentor, Bob McGinn) with an overview of the team and positions, and then we’ll move onto individual player grades/assessments. Finally, we’ll conclude with our imitated but never duplicated offseason depth chart coded for performance and contract status, and with a comprehensive analysis of team needs headed into the ’20 offseason.

Here's the 2018 version.

Part IGrading the 2019 Patriots: Patriots were better overall, but tilted too much to the defense; Brady improved
Part II — Team grades for passing offense, rushing offense.
Part III — Team grades for passing defense, rushing defense, special teams.
Part IV — Team grades for personnel moves, coaching and overall.
NowPart V—Individual offensive grades.
Next: Part VI—Individual defensive grades.

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And with that, let’s get started…

Next up: Individual grades for offensive players.

Grades are only for players who played snaps on offense. The criteria used is how the player performed compared to the average NFL player at his position this season only (it is not a projection or comment of a player’s future), and injuries are not taken into account because the information is incomplete. Role on special teams not taken into account. Grade chart:

A: Elite player (top 4-5 at position).
B: Good starter (top 10-15).
C: Average starter/reserve.
D: Starter/reserve and in danger of being replaced.
F: Reserve/should be replaced.
Plus: Ascending player this season.
Minus: Descending.


Tom Brady (98.8% playing time): Through the first three games, everything looked great and the Patriots appeared to be on their way to threatening another 16-0 season. Brady completed 68 percent of his passes for an average of 303.7 yards, threw seven touchdowns against zero interceptions, 9.92 adjusted yards per attempt and posted a 116.5 passer rating in wins over the Steelers, Dolphins, and Jets. The rest of the season, including the playoff loss to the Titans: 59.4 completion percentage, 242 yards per game, 17 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 6.17 adjusted yards per attempt, and a 82.0 rating. What was the difference? Well, the opposing defenses got off to a slow start at two of them and were running new schemes. Buffalo smacked them in the face in Game 4, and we knew the first eight games were going to be the weak part of the schedule. There was more film on revamped offensive personnel that opposing defenses didn't know much about. But, mostly, the team started backsliding with injuries to James Develin, Isaiah Wynn, Shaq Mason and all the tight ends. And it didn't get much better. Losing Andrews, Rob Gronkowski, and Develin was the death knell to the running game. Tight end gave them nothing, and Julian Edelman was the only dependable receiver. The result was pretty bad.

Completion percentage: 60.8, lowest since 2004
Adjusted yards per attempt: 6.8, lowest since 2003
TD percentage: 3.9, career-low
Yards per game: 253.6, lowest since 2010
Passer rating: 88.0, lowest since 2013
QBR: 52.5, lowest since it started in 2006

Brady didn't fall off a cliff, he had nothing around him. All he needed was one more viable target, and they couldn't find one because Antonio Brown couldn't stay off his phone. Brady's adjusted completion percentage from PFF (accounts for drops, throwaways, etc.) dropped from 75.6 to 72.9. So there's some evidence that he is