Patriots

PFF analysis finds Tom Brady still ranks among NFL's most accurate passers

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USA TODAY Sports

PFF analysis finds Tom Brady still ranks among NFL's most accurate passers

Tom Brady may say he's eyeing 2,000 yards rushing after cracking the 1,000-yard barrier last season, but it'd be a good idea if he kept his focus on throwing footballs accurately to much faster human beings. 

According to Pro Football Focus, which looked at quarterback accuracy based on the separation of their receivers in 2018, the 41-year-old quarterback was among the league's most pinpoint passers.

On throws to "open" targets -- two steps or more of separation, per PFF -- Brady was the third-most accurate quarterback in the league, with 78 percent of his throws deemed accurate. That trailed only Ben Roethlisberger (78.2 percent) and Philip Rivers (78.7 percent). It tied him with Drew Brees. 

PFF also noted that 17.6 percent of Brady's throws to open targets received an "accuracy plus" designation, accurate throws away from coverage, which led all quarterbacks. 

The takeaway: On throws that should be completed, throws to open receivers, Brady is still better than most. 

At the next level of target separation -- PFF calls if "step/closing" -- Brady is still one of the best in the league. He was accurate on 67.4 percent of throws into windows where receivers had "up to" two steps of separation, which placed him fourth among all quarterbacks. 

And for the second straight year, Brady led all quarterbacks in "accuracy plus" percentage throws in the "step/closing" category. Last year, 33.3 percent of his step/closing attempts were were tagged "accuracy plus."

The takeaway: On throws where receivers are "NFL open," where there a window is opening or about to close, Brady is still better than most.

In PFF's "tight throw" category -- which is defined by a defender being within an arm's length of the target or in a passing window to discourage a throw -- Brady didn't rank inside the top-5. He was instead in the middle of the pack at No. 14, per PFF. 

But there are a number of other metrics by which Brady can still claim to be among the most accurate throwers of footballs on the planet. Regardless of separation, no quarterback had a higher percentage of "accuracy plus" throws. He was second in true accuracy percentage, and he was first in "catchable" throw percentage.

Brady was also the second-most accurate passer, per PFF, on throws landing between 10 and 19 yards from the line of scrimmage (59.3 percent). 

The separation accuracy numbers are what really stand out, though, given the types of players the Patriots have imported for 2019. Where Brady ranked lowest (though still middle-of-the-road) was on "tight" throws. 

While the Patriots lost the best contested-catch threat Brady has ever had in Rob Gronkowski, they added plenty of "50-50" weapons. First-round pick N'Keal Harry's calling card is his ability to make plays in tight spots due to his frame, physicality and strong hands. Undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers is a big slot who had just as many contested catches last year as Harry did, according to PFF. 

The team added veteran 6-foot-3 wideouts Demaryius Thomas, Dontrelle Inman and Maurice Harris. They also got a few big-bodied pass-catchers at tight end in Austin Seferian-Jenkins (6-5, 262) and Ben Watson (6-3, 251).

Brady is still tremendously accurate when throwing to open receivers, even in his early-40s. And if he can get some help on the tighter-window throws that will always be most difficult, that should help keep him in the conversation as one of the game's elites.

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Tom Brady: 'Whatever the future may bring, I will embrace it with open arms'

Tom Brady: 'Whatever the future may bring, I will embrace it with open arms'

The New England Patriots are facing a lot of uncertainty this offseason as Tom Brady will be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.

At this point in time, it's unclear what he will be doing. And Brady isn't giving any hints ahead of his mid-March decision.

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Brady recently addressed his future in an interview on Westwood One radio and said that he will embrace the future "with open arms."

"I am open-minded about the process and at the same time I love playing football and want to continue to play and do a great job," Brady said. "I am looking to what is ahead. Whatever the future may bring, I will embrace it with open arms."

Patriots fans won't be encouraged by this seemingly non-committal answer, as it seems that there is a legitimate chance Brady will leave. This is especially true considering the rumors that Brady is planning on hearing pitches from opposing teams this offseason.

Still, there's a chance that Brady returns to Foxboro. But as long as he keeps his preferences close to the vest, there will be uncertainty surrounding the Patriots starting quarterback position.

Why Patriots center David Andrews is rooting for the Titans in the AFC Championship

Why Patriots center David Andrews is rooting for the Titans in the AFC Championship

Fans of the New England Patriots may be conflicted about whether to root for the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game. They are coached by former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel, but they also knocked the Patriots out in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

But regardless of how fans feel, there is one member of the Patriots who will be pulling for the Titans on Sunday. And that's center David Andrews.

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Andrews, who spent all of the 2019 season on IR with blood clots in his lungs, is rooting for one of his college teammates and closest friends, Titans center Ben Jones.

"Watching him have success is really special," Andrews said of Jones to ESPN's Mike Reiss. "I'm pulling for him all the way."

Andrews spoke about how close that he and Jones became during his recruiting process. And Andrews described Jones as a mentor to him.

"When I was in high school, I remember a lot of people said, 'You're too small to play at Georgia.' But then came Ben, and he wasn't much bigger than me, and I really looked up to him," said Andrews, per Reiss.

"When I was getting recruited, he was always great. I would go see him and he'd let me hang out with him. He'd give me leftover Georgia gear that I could wear around my high school and think I was pretty cool. Then once I got to Georgia, he really took me under his wing. Ben was always a sounding board for me -- people called us father and son because we acted a lot alike."

Jones clearly did a good job helping Andrews to develop. Despite his lacking size, Andrews has been one of the NFL's most consistent centers when healthy. And though Ted Karras filled in well in place of Andrews this past season, the team still missed their solid interior blocker.

It's easy to see why Andrews is rooting for his friend and perhaps Jones and the Titans will pull off a third consecutive upset. We'll soon find out who will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl as Jones' Titans and the Kansas City Chiefs will square off for the conference title on Sunday afternoon at 3:05 p.m.