Analysis: Pats miss Moss on third down

ESPN Stats and Information’s Jeremy Lundblad checks in with more statistical proof that the New England Patriots’ offense misses Randy Moss, with a focus on their third-down conversion rate.

Some key points made by Lundblad:

* In the 52 games Moss spent in a Patriots uniform, the team had only seven games with a third-down conversion rate of less than 30 percent. In the four games since Moss was traded, the Patriots have had three.

* Overall, the Patriots have a 33.3 percent third-down conversion rate since the Moss trade, which ranks tied for 25th in the NFL. Compare that to the first four games of the season, during which they led the NFL at 55.3 percent.

* With Moss in the fold, Brady had a 124.4 passer rating on third down, picking up a first down with 52.9 percent of his passes. In the past four games, his third-down numbers have plummeted across the board. Brady has a 56.5 passer rating and is completing just 40.5 percent of his passes. His first-down percentage has been cut nearly in half to 27.

* Brady's completion numbers are even uglier when passes targeted to running backs are taken out. In the season's first four games, Brady was 21-of-29 (72.4 percent) when targeting wide receivers and tight ends on third down. In the four games since, his completion percentage has been cut in half. He is 11-of-31 (35.5 percent) when targeting non-running backs on third down.

* Wes Welker hauled in eight of 11 third-down targets in the first four games but just three of seven since. Deion Branch and Brandon Tate have combined for only three catches on their 11 third-down targets since the Moss trade.

* Last season, Moss tied for the league lead with six receptions on third-and-short. But that's not where the Patriots have struggled. Nor has there been a significant difference targeting receivers on third-and-long situations, when Moss' downfield presence would have made him a primary target. Rather, the Patriots' main struggles have come on third downs of between 3 and 7 yards. It's these middle-yardage downs on which Moss seems to be most missed.

What's your take on this analysis? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.