Pro Football Focus is celebrating Super Bowl LII by sharing 52 stats for the Super Bowl and there are a lot of good nuggets for New England Patriots fans. I won’t share all of them here, so make sure you read it, but these are some of the more interesting takeaways.
Tom Brady is a deep ball wizard
Brady’s average throw was 9.5 yards down the field, his best since 2007 when he also threw an average of 9.5 yards down the field. He leads the NFL with 2,731 passing yards, which is “271 yards more than the next-closest quarterback” in Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
Patriots need to pressure Nick Foles
Foles checks down the ball a lot more than Carson Wentz did, with 50.6% of his yards gained through the air versus 63.9% for Wentz.
“When facing no pressure, Foles (107.8) had a nearly equal passer rating to Wentz (110.3) this year,” PFF writes. “When under pressure, Foles (23.8) had the worst passer rating in the NFL. Wentz’s rating under pressure was 81.7 — fourth-best.”
Brady leads the league a passer rating of 96.6 when under pressure.
Dion Lewis can’t be stopped
Lewis leads the NFL in “elusive rating” with 49 forced missed tackles, ranks 5th in the NFL in yards gained after initial contact at 3.2, and has elevated his play as a receiver in the playoffs gaining 2.71 yards for every route he runs, which would have ranked second in the regular season.
Rob Gronkowski is still a beast
Gronkowski was targeted an average of 11.9 yards down the field in 2017, the second deepest average for tight ends this year, dropping only 5 of his 100 targets and averaging a tight end league-best 2.4 yards per route run.
Gronkowski actually ran 53.2% of his routes out of the slot, which is a higher rate than Eagles tight end Zach Ertz (44.1%) and a big surprise to me.
Danny Amendola is the Patriots high-leverage target
Amendola has 24 third-down receptions, which PFF notes is more than all the other wide receivers on the Patriots combined. This sounds fake, but it’s true. The other wide receivers Chris Hogan (15), Brandin Cooks (7), and Phillip Dorsett (1) combine for just 23 third-down receptions.
Running back James White has 22 third-down catches and tight end Gronkowski has 20.
Amendola also leads the Patriots with 14 red zone receptions, edging out Gronkowski and Lewis, who are tied with 11. Cooks and White are tied with 9 and Hogan has 7.
Patriots should be fine targeting Eagles secondary
Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod are the Eagles safeties and they never come off the field. Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby are the starting cornerbacks and they never come off the field. Corey Graham and Patrick Robinson are the nickel and dime players that come on the field against two tight ends (Graham) or three wide receiver (Robinson) sets.
Mills allowed the most passing touchdowns in the NFL in 2017 (9), while Robinson gave up 318 of his 582 yards allowed after the catch. Look for Tom Brady to avoid throwing at Darby and Jenkins and to target the other players. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Chris Hogan were asked to serve as a decoy of sorts to tire out Darby all game and to give Cooks a favorable match-up with Mills.