Patriots Statistical Analysis: Week 1

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on September 12, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

Prior to the start of the season, I highlighted a number of key statistics that I will monitor throughout the season with the aims of providing some sort of insight into how the Patriots are doing in some key statistical categories - categories which do not account for yardage and other meaningless data but statistics which effect the outcomes of games and even seasons - these statistics are often indicative of how equipped a team will be, come the post season.  Here's how the Patriots fared in week 1 after the jump...

Opponent

3rd down Defensive Efficiency

Number of sacks

Defensive Passer Rating

Opponent Passing YPA

Rate of Defensive 3-and-outs

Defensive Red Zone Efficiency

Turnover Differential

Run:Pass Ratio (Pass Percentage)

@ Miami

14%

4

93.6

8.5

31%

50%

0

69%

Total

14%

4

93.6

8.5

31%

50%

0

69%

TARGET

37%

45 (2.8PG)

73.8

6.45

25%

42%

+16 (+1PG)

50%

 

 

 

 

 

 

Analysis

Positives:

It's clear that, going into 2011, the Patriots had two clear goals on defense - pressure the quarterback and get off the field on 3rd down.  It's clear from Monday's game they have put in the work and while it might not be quite time to anoint this defense as elite, allowing 2/14 on 3rd down and producing 4 sacks as well as an additional 6 QB hits (this doesn't include pressures that didn't touch the QB either).  Furthermore, Miami had 13 drives on the night, of which 4 were 3-and-outs (they also had one drive which was only 4 plays long), so the defense got the ball back to Tom Brady more frequently than perhaps seemed when first watching the game.

Negatives:

Defensive efficiency in the red zone is one area of focus - yes the Pats had a terrific goal line stand leading to Welker's long TD catch - but they also allowed Miami 3 TD's to a Miami offense that isn't known for its accuracy or running ability.  However, 50% is a solid start to build from, but certainly needs to get better.  Additionally, DPR and YPA were high, but again, in this particular game, some of that was accumulated in garbage time (and if McCourty pulls in the INT, DPR is significantly different).  Over the season, this should average out to see what kind of pass defense we have, but this wasn't the game for that (see below).  The run pass ratio was also dramatically skewed, but again, this seems game plan specific with the Patriots probably feeling they could exploit weaknesses in Miami's pass defense.  Again, over the season, this will obviously average out.

Some general thoughts on the game...

  • 1. I wouldn't read too much into the seemingly ‘smooth' Dolphins passing game - some fans already suggest the Patriots have a sub standard secondary! The Patriots went into this game with a real unknown - the Dolphins had a new offensive coordinator and were facing a Miami attack vastly different in concept than recent years, and therefore were playing a lot of straight up man coverage. Also, Leigh Bodden and Ras-I Dowling have missed significant portions of camp, so when you consider how green the secondary was, they actually had a decent night. The Dolphins receivers by no means dominated and it was a very good battle all night.
  • 2. Speaking of Dowling, I came away from this game very impressed with his performance. He went up against Brandon Marshall one-on-one and came off impressively, shutting him down for parts of the game - something most corners not named Revis have had tremendous difficulty doing. He also made the play on 4th down prior to the Welker TD - big players step up in big moments and he did so in this one.
  • 3. Watching Nate Solder dominate Cameron Wake on Monday, it reminded me of when Sebastien Vollmer first came into the scene and completely dominated Dwight Freeney in the Colts game in 2009. Solder's performance was a credit to both himself and Dante Scarneccia.
  • 4. I'm a patient fan and will give any player some time to develop but watching Chad play in this game reinforced my convictions from earlier in the offseason when the Pats made the trade - why not spend the type building a rapport with Brady and Taylor Price? Granted Price has to remain healthy (something which seems temperamental) but Chad is clearly struggling. For those fans who want more scathing criticism of Chad, see what Teddy Bruschi had to say about him.
  • 5. I really, really like Dane Fletcher and wouldn't be surprised if Brandon Spikes struggled to get another look in as starting MLB. Spikes may have more talent and is a great reader of the game, but Fletcher just strikes me as a worker, the type that Belichick loves. Fletcher, Mayo and Ninkovich sounds like a very good starting three to me.
  • 6. Gary Guyton is quickly losing reasons to stay on this team. He is supposedly a coverage LB who can occasionally use his speed to blitz the QB but on Monday he did neither effectively. I like Guyton as he seems like a solid worker and locker room guy, and keeping him has obvious cap benefits. But with EJ Edds and another stack of draft picks for next year, Guyton could find himself expendable unless he picks his game up.
  • 7. As a final point, just as much as it was a goal for this team to get after the QB and produce a more efficient defense on 3rd downs, it was also a goal to improve the protection afforded to Tom Brady. The team invested a 1st round pick in Nate Solder and signed the highly decorated Brian Waters in free agency. The results? 1 sack and 1 additional QB hit against a unit many consider one of the elite in the league and with the line missing Sebastien Vollmer and Dan Koppen.
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