Patriots

Speed to burn: Cooks, Brady team up to form most productive deep-ball combo

cp-patriots-texans-brady-cooks-1-092417.jpg

Speed to burn: Cooks, Brady team up to form most productive deep-ball combo

The first came in the second quarter, when Brandin Cooks turned on afterburners to beat a Raiders double team and glide underneath a Tom Brady heave for 52 yards. The second came in the third quarter, on the third play from scrimmage of the second half, when Cooks faked an out-route, jetted past rookie corner Obi Melifonwu, and sped into the end zone to make the score 24-0. 

Both deep completions in New England's 33-8 win over Oakland just added to cumulative effect that Cooks has had on the Patriots offense since arriving before the season to become their top deep threat. 

Paired with Brady, Cooks has actually become the most productive deep threat in the NFL. 

MORE PATRIOTS

According to Pro Football Focus, Cooks leads all receivers with 431 yards on deep passes (throws that travel 20 yards or more down the field). In second place is Houston's DeAndre Hopkins with 313 yards. 

And Brady, who has long been more effective in the short-to-intermediate range than he has been deep, is now among the league leaders in creating explosive plays from the quarterback position. The Patriots are third in the NFL with 41 pass plays of 20 yards or more, and they are tied for second with nine plays of 40 yards or more. 

"You're always trying to work on that," Brady told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show of his team's deep passing game. "It's not one particular year [you work on it]. I think that's been a concerted effort by our entire offense, trying to make more explosive plays in the pass game. 

"Sometimes your offense is built differently. We actually have some guys now that can really get down the field so that becomes more of a point of emphasis. The way Brandin runs, the way that Chris Hogan runs, the way that Phillip Dorsett runs, they're very fast. You need to be able to take advantage of their skill set . . . 

"When we had David Patten we were throwing it deep. I mean, but David Patten didn't run a lot of short routes. I would say Brandin Cooks, in general, he doesn't run a lot of short routes. Everyone has a different role. If we can get by you, I think that's a good place to throw the ball. if we can't, we gotta figure out ways to throw it underneath and different weeks are going to call for different things based on the strengths of the defenses we're playing, too."

A week before beating the Raiders, against the Broncos and their talented corners, the Patriots had less luck pushing the ball down the field -- though they tried to hit Cooks deep multiple times. In Mexico City, Cooks matched up with a weaker secondary, and he wasn't at all slowed by the altitude, catching six passes in all for 149 yards and a score. 

Per PFF, Cooks has seen almost one third of his targets (30 percent) come on deep passes, which is the ninth-highest rate in the league. He's caught all 11 of his catchable deep passes, three of them accounting for scores.

"Obviously when you're throwing the ball 50-60 yards down the field," Brady said, "your chances of completion go down, but if you hit it, it ends up being a very explosive plays and you can change a lot of field position and get a defense really on their heels if they have to defend every blade of grass on the field." 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Panicking over the Patriots wide receivers; Red Sox continue to win

breakfast_pod.jpg
NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Panicking over the Patriots wide receivers; Red Sox continue to win

1:23 - Marc Bertrand and Phil Perry join Trenni Kusnierek on Early Edition to discuss Tom Brady’s comments after today’s practice, and they compare this year’s wide receivers to the receivers on the 2006 team.  

6:39 - Evan Drellich phones in to break down the Red Sox 2-1 win over the Phillies and how this team doesn’t seem to ever lose close games. 

10:24 - Tom Giles, Kevin Duffy, Hardy, and Phil Perry give their panic meter rankings for the numerous Patriots injuries sustained during training camp practices. 

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Quick Slants the Podcast: What does Tom Brady's contract adjustment say about his future with the Patriots?

quickslantspodcast_clean.jpg
NBC Sports Boston Photo

Quick Slants the Podcast: What does Tom Brady's contract adjustment say about his future with the Patriots?

2:20 - Tom Brady received a contract adjustment where he can earn up to $5 million in incentives. Are both sides justified in how his contract has been handled? What does the future hold for Brady?

5:45 - It's not just about the amount of money for Brady but the contract can be used as a measurement to other player's deals around the league.

11:55 - Could Tom Brady be franchise tagged after his contract is up?

15:00 - Patriots seemed to have dodged a bullet with the severity of Phillip Dorsett's injury, who had to leave practice on Tuesday.

17:20 - Why haven't the Patriots brought in Dez Bryant for a workout?

22:45 - Thoughts on Eric Decker and how he can fit in the Patriots offense.

24:45 - What are the things to watch for in the 2nd Patriots preseason game on Thursday night against the Eagles.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE