It was impossible to exclude one of these two star performers from receiving the game ball, and I know I copped out of it by naming both Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski as game ball recipients. But the truth is, it’s far too difficult to have just one winner after the New England Patriots 54-29 drubbing of the Indianapolis Colts yesterday in a nationally televised game on CBS.
First, let’s focus on Brady. This is the second straight week in which I am giving him the game ball, and he was clearly the best quarterback in the NFL this week. In fact, he’s been the best QB in the league this season by some significance. Brady was worth about 23.1 points in this game per EPA and had a successful play about two-thirds of the time.
I love taking a look at ESPN’s TQBR statistic, because it does a solid job of evaluating quarterbacks and has ways of incorporating things beyond the box score stats (like EPA). Brady checked in at 93.9, which is a terrific score considering 90+ gets you in the “NFL Player of the Week” discussion. As for real quarterback rating, Brady’s mark of 127.2 wasn’t too shabby either.
A 68.6% is always a solid mark, especially when averaging a healthy 13.8 yards per completion. Tom Brady finished the day with a terrific 9.5 yards per attempt total, and he did not throw a pick while also tossing three touchdown passes (Rob Gronkowski caught two of them, Julian Edelman caught the other one).
What jumps out to me is that Brady threw all three of his touchdowns towards the left side of the field and was a near-perfect 9-10 on throws to the left side for a total of 116 yards (11.6 yards per attempt). That’s ridiculously good.
Rob Gronkowski was also ridiculously good, and he performed at an extremely high level as both a blocker and pass-catcher in this game before leaving due to a broken forearm (I’m still in shock). Gronk was all over the place in this game and averaged nearly 20 yards per completion. In fact, he averaged nearly 20 yards per attempt (19.6 per completion and attempt) because he caught all seven of the passes thrown at him for a total of 137 yards. That’s just incredible, and the two TD catches also show his knack for finding the end zone.
In the end, Gronkowski had a successful play every time the Patriots threw it at him, and he was one of the keys in Tom Brady’s Co-Game Ball winning performance. As you can see looking at the numbers above, it is nearly impossible to pick a winner between them. I don’t think you’ll find many tight ends who have been worth 12.6 points in a game per EPA. In fact, only half of the league’s tight ends have had that high of an EPA so far this season. Gronk, by the way, ranks first overall by some distance.
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