Curran: Picked up pieces from Patriots-Bucs

Curran: Picked up pieces from Patriots-Bucs
September 23, 2013, 12:30 pm
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Kenbrell Thompkins led the Patriots in receiving on the night with six receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown.

(USA Today Sports Images)

Combing through the detritus of a September Sunday. Best thing -- at least yesterday -- about the 1 p.m. home game was being able to get home and re-watch it to find if what I saw at the stadium in real-time matched up.
 
I focused in on the passing game – as most of us did – and came away with these impressions:
 
* I don’t know why any defense would play zone against the Patriots wide receivers right now. Playing zone gives a defense the security of knowing that a 1-on-1 breakdown won’t result in a big play, but it also gives wideouts plenty of room to roam as they cross from area to area. The Patriots needed to find some easy throws for Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins on Sunday and the Bucs gave them to New England. Playing man would have forced more of the read routes, timing patterns and back-shoulder throws the Patriots struggled with in the first two weeks.

* Good part of Dobson: On the 28-yard pass interference he drew, you got a look at the rare ability he has to go up and reach over a DB. The Patriots really haven’t had that in Tom Brady’s career. Even when Randy Moss was here, there weren’t many when he went airborne and plucked balls. Those days were mostly passed.

* Part of Dobson that needs tweaking -- and will certainly improve: He slows down significantly when he looks back. Part of that probably comes from him being unsure what he’s going to turn and see -- a football two inches from his facemask, Tom Brady throwing one to a spot Dobson isn’t headed -- but on both end zone throws to him that fell incomplete, a smidgen of indecision probably prevented him from bailing out below average throws from Brady. Same thing on the drop Dobson had, he looked as if he wanted to be going slowly enough to sit down in coverage in case Brady wanted that but Brady was expecting him to be faster out of his break. Dobson also got re-routed and lost his balance on the second-quarter end zone throw that he reached one hand out for.

* When I caught up to Brady in the locker room and asked about the red zone pick he threw, he explained that the throw was to Dobson -- not Zach Sudfeld -- and was just a horrendous throw. Brady said all three of the plays in that sequence -- the miss to Dobson on first down, the slip-screen to Thompkins he said was tipped, and the pick all could have been touchdowns had he done a better job.

* A few Pats-related stats (all courtest of STATS Inc.): Aqib Talib leads the NFL with three picks . . . Jerod Mayo is tied for second in tackles with 30 . . . Alfonzo Dennard is tied for 12th in the league and leads the Patriots with four passes defensed . . . Kenbrell Thompkins is second in the league in passes not caught with 19 (Cecil Shorts has 21) . . . Aaron Dobson and Eric Decker lead the league with four drops . . . Julian Edelman and Julio Jones are leading the league with 27 catches apiece. Edelman’s YPC is 7.44. Jones’ is 13.81. Edelman is 7th in targets (34) . . . Danny Amendola still leads the league in percentage of first downs on passes he was targeted with (9 of 14). Danny Woodhead is fifth in the league in percentage of passes caught (85 percent, 17 of 20). Edelman is 16th (79.4 percent, 27 of 34).