Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady has struggled to deliver on deep pass plays over the last two weeks.
According to NextGenStats, Brady is 0 for 19 on deep passes (attempts of 20 or more yards in the air) over the past four games. In addition, Brady’s final three deep attempts in Week 7 against the Raiders were off the mark, which gives him a streak of 22 straight misfires. That’s the longest string for any quarterback since 2017.
Overall, Brady is 3 for 36 on deep balls going back to Week 5. His two interceptions in Monday’s loss to the Rams came on deep attempts, and both were badly missed, with Los Angeles rookie Jordan Fuller coming away with both picks.
On Tuesday, Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians was asked if he’s seen an overall decrease in Brady’s accuracy.
“Other than the deep ball, I think he’s getting confused a few times with coverages that might be causing some inaccurate balls,” Arians told reporters. “I don’t see it at all in practice. We’re not missing the deep ball at all in practice — that’s for sure. It’s just a matter on Sundays of hitting them.”
In the past, Arians’s offenses have been known as more vertical and attack-oriented; he coined the phrase “No risk it, no biscuit,” a reference to his teams taking more chances down the field.
But with Brady off the mark on so many deep throws lately, should Tampa Bay be trying so many vertical plays?
“Yes and no,” Arians said. “We’ve got guys open, we’ve just missed them. And there are times when coverage dictates you go to that guy.
“I think we can do a better job of utilizing the deep ball in our game plan more of or less of. Each and every week is a little different. But when they’re there, we need to hit them. We can’t have them going off our fingertips, and we can’t overthrow them.”
Brady credited the Rams’ defense after Monday’s game.
“They did a good job preventing [the big play],” Brady told reporters. “They play a defense that makes them tough to hit. Not impossible, but we didn’t hit any.”
Arians also seemed to dismiss suggestions coming from former Tampa Bay players who say the Buccaneers’ current offense doesn’t fit what Brady does well.
”He can do anything, so it’s not like he can’t do it,” Arians said. “I see him do it all the time. He was doing it in September, so it hasn’t changed.”
Monday night, the Buccaneers and Rams traded touchdowns in the early going, but both offenses struggled down the stretch, with Tampa Bay scoring just one second-half touchdown on the way to the 27-24 loss.
Arians said a large part of the second-half struggles were due to issues on first and second downs, something they were able to avoid in the first half.
“I think in this one — second half, especially — we got ourselves out of manageable third downs,” he said. “First half, we were able to stay in good, manageable down-and-distances and completed a lot of third-down balls to keep the chains moving. In the second half, we did not.
“When we took shots, we missed them.”
Ravens cancel practice
The Ravens placed outside linebacker Pernell McPhee on the reserve/COVID-19 list, making him ineligible to play Thursday night in Pittsburgh.
McPhee joined running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins, along with defensive tackle Brandon Williams, on the COVID-19 list.
The 31-year-old McPhee has 26 tackles and two sacks this season.
The Ravens canceled practice Tuesday. All of the team’s daily activities were held virtually.
Cowboys assistant has medical emergency
The Cowboys canceled practice Tuesday after a non-coronavirus medical emergency involving their strength and conditioning coordinator.
The Cowboys said Markus Paul “experienced a medical emergency” Tuesday morning at the facility, where he was immediately treated by team medical personnel before being transported by ambulance to a hospital.
Paul was on the Patriots’ staff from 2000 through 2004. Former New England linebacker Matt Chatham took to social media on Tuesday to salute the ex-Patriots’ staffer.
An update from the team later in the day said that “per the Paul family, Markus is in the process of undergoing further medical tests.” The Cowboys said additional information would be made available at the “appropriate time.”
Coach Mike McCarthy’s daily meeting with reporters was canceled, as were interviews with players.
The 54-year-old is a former NFL safety who played for the Bears (1989-93) and Buccaneers (1993). Paul is in his third season with the Cowboys staff, after previously being a strength and conditioning coach with the Saints, Patriots, Jets, and the Giants.
Hall semifinalists announced
Peyton Manning, Charles Woodson, Jared Allen, and Calvin Johnson are first-year eligible players to make the list of 25 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2021.
Joining them are four players who previously have been eligible, but never made the semifinals: Eric Allen, Willie Anderson, Cornelius Bennett, and Rodney Harrison.
A player must be retired for five seasons before being considered for entry to the Canton, Ohio, shrine.
The group of 25 announced Tuesday also included Ronde Barber, Tony Boselli, LeRoy Butler, Alan Faneca, Torry Holt, John Lynch, Clay Matthews, Sam Mills, Richard Seymour, Steve Tasker, Fred Taylor, Zach Thomas, Hines Ward, Reggie Wayne, Patrick Willis, Darren Woodson, and Bryant Young.
Candidates will be trimmed to 15 modern-day finalists who will be considered for entry by the selection committee during Super Bowl week in February.
49ers CB Williams suspended
Injured 49ers cornerback K’Waun Williams has been suspended two games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Williams was already sidelined by a high ankle sprain but now will officially be suspended the next two weeks. He is eligible to return after the Week 13 game against Buffalo … Cowboys backup linebacker and special teams player Luke Gifford was also suspended two games for violating the performance-enhancing drug policy … The NFL has set its pairings for the league’s first Saturday doubleheader this season. The Bills will visit the Broncos on Dec. 19 at 4:30 p.m. Eastern. That will be followed by the Panthers at the Packers, kicking off at 8:15.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.
Christopher Price can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at cpriceglobe.