Tom Brady recognizes need to spread ball around more

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – When New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is knocked off his usual sharp game, he tends to revert to his most-trusted options. That was highlighted in Sunday’s blowout loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon were each targeted 12 times. Every other receiver had a total of three passes thrown in their direction.

Better distribution would be ideal.

“I have to figure out a way to get the ball to everybody, so we can all make plays,” Brady acknowledged Monday during his weekly interview on sports radio WEEI. “When everyone is making plays, I think our offense is tough to stop. That will certainly be something we try to focus on and make sure everyone is getting looks they deserve and make plays when we get them.”

Brady’s final pass Sunday -- an incompletion over the middle to Edelman on fourth-and-6 -- was one example of where the quarterback widening his lens could help the team. After reviewing the game, Brady said receiver Chris Hogan was open after running a great route against cornerback Malcolm Butler, and he could have hit him down the sideline.

But instead, Brady was “kind of focused” on Edelman, and cornerback Logan Ryan's tight coverage forced an incompletion.

Hogan played 54 snaps as the Patriots’ third receiver and was targeted just once. Meanwhile, Phillip Dorsett was used mostly to spell Gordon, playing 15 snaps and hauling in both passes thrown to him.

At times, Brady seemed to be forcing the ball to Gordon, although it simply might have been a case of giving him a chance to win one-on-one matchups. Titans cornerback Adoree' Jackson won more than Gordon.

“I think the reality is that I’m trying to find the open guy and I’m trying to throw it to the guy that I think is going to be the most open based on the play we’re running, and what the defense has called. I don’t always do that. I certainly make mistakes on my reads,” Brady said on WEEI.

“But I’m not thinking much about who’s where. A lot of those things are game plan, and we’re putting guys in certain positions based on situations, and I’m kind of letting coverage kind of dictate where it goes. It’s not like we’re throwing into triple coverage. We’re throwing into one-on-one. Josh got some opportunities. Julian did. Chris didn’t get as many as he’d like.

“We’ll have to look at how things have played out the last few weeks and figure out how to get everyone more looks, more targets.”

The return of tight end Rob Gronkowski would obviously help, and maybe even giving fellow tight end Jacob Hollister some more playing time as he returns to full health could be beneficial. By Dec. 2, running back Rex Burkhead will also be eligible to play again, assuming he doesn’t have any setbacks as he comes off injured reserve (concussion).

So how the Patriots look in the weeks to come might be significantly different than Sunday.

That might partially explain why Bill Belichick didn’t seem overly concerned with the topic of lopsided targets in the direction of Gordon and Edelman.

“Our main concern is to score points and win, so whatever falls into that category, I’m for,” the head coach said. “And that’s what we’ll do.”