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How the Patriots have been able to win without Tom Brady under center

The Patriots head coach preaches complementary football, which the team has done well at.

The Patriots have started the season 3-0, already beating two 2015 playoff teams and a divisional foe. They've done it without the best QB to put on a Patriots uniform, relying on 3rd year backup Jimmy Garoppolo and rookie Jacoby Brissett. When you have an inexperienced signal caller on the offense, the rest of the roster has to pick up the slack and they have. The Patriots' defense and special teams have been impressive for the first three weeks as a whole. The Texans game was the most impressive of the three, which makes the numbers look better since the sample size is only three games.

The first notable thing on the stat sheet is the turnover margin. On 35 drives, the Patriots have turned the ball over only 3 times while the defense has forced 5 takeaways. That number doesn't include the two turnovers on special teams either, so as a team they are +4 in that department. After starting the season at -2, the Patriots were +3 against the Miami Dolphins (4 takeaways, 1 giveaway) and +3 against the Texans (3/0). When you win the turnover battle that decisively, that's always a good sign.

The next biggest stat that pops out is field position. On average, the Patriots offense has started at their own 32.9 yard line while their opponents have had to start at their own 22.3 yard line. That's 10.5 yards of field position, which over the course of the game adds up to 6 points a game difference or 0.5 points per drive if you equate 20 yards of field position to 1 point. Credit goes to punter Ryan Allen and kicker Stephen Gostkowski. With the new touchback rule, the Patriots have used their elite kick return unit as a weapon to pin back opposing offenses after scoring. When the Patriots don't score, Ryan Allen has flipped the field and has given his two gunners, Matthew Slater and Jonathan Jones, enough time to track down the punt. Slater is already a Pro Bowl gunner, but it looks like Jones could be a star covering kicks with his 4.33 speed. The field position difference has added up to a 1 point differential in PPD from offense (2.31) to defense (1.36).

The Patriots defense last year was very stingy as a group, but struggled to produce turnovers. With essentially the same core back along with veteran acquisitions Chris Long and Shea McClellin in addition to young players stepping up in Trey Flowers and Vincent Valentine, the defense has been even better to start the season. The defense held a very potent Cardinals offense to 21 points, 14 of which due to short fields, and shut down a similar offense in Houston to no points. With teams having to consistently drive 80 yards every time, the advantage goes to the defense. The defense has allowed only 7 of their 33 drives to finish with points and have forced a turnover in 5 of them.

Lastly, the Patriots wouldn't be in the position they are today if they haven't gotten production from the running game. After three weeks, RB LeGarrette Blount leads the NFL in rushing with 298 yards. Blount's YPC is at a middling 3.97 yards per carry, but it looks like the Patriots have had the most success running off left tackle. Getting left tackle Nate Solder back has been huge for the offensive line so far, with Solder being the elder statesman of the group, and it's produced results on the field already. When Blount gets space to work with, he makes things happen. Blount is a volume rusher, who needs 20 touches a game to be effective, but he wears down defenses with his size, ability to get to the edge, and is one of the best RBs in grinding yards after contact since his career began. In the 2nd half against the Dolphins and Texans, Blount went wild and carried the offense for Brissett.

Bill Belichick preaches complementary football and the Patriots have put on a clinic for the first three weeks. Special teams have been huge for the Patriots, generating short fields for the offense and long fields for the defense. As a result, the Patriots are top 10 in points per drive on both offense and defense despite the offense and defense having similar average drive plays and yard numbers. The offense has helped the special teams unit to force long fields for the defense by not turning the ball over. At the same time, the defense is forcing turnovers to generate short fields for the offense. The Patriots are firing in all three phases of the game and the scary part is they could get better when the team gets healthier and has time to gel.