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Patriots vs Redskins advanced stats: Dont’a Hightower, offensive tackles stand out — for different reasons

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Related: Patriots vs Redskins snap counts: New England’s tight ends see plenty of action

New England Patriots Vs Washington Redskins At FedEx Field Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

At least early on, the New England Patriots’ Week 5 game against the Washington Redskins was a surprisingly close affair: the home team took a 7-0 lead, and was still within five points at the half. In the third quarter, however, the Patriots started to pull away behind an offense that finally started clicking and a defense that continued to suffocate the opposing attack both on the ground and through the air.

With that in mind, let’s now dig a little deeper and analyze some of the advanced statistics to come out of Sunday’s game.

Pass distribution

NFL Next Gen Stats

While his red zone interception in the second quarter was ugly, Tom Brady generally had a good game against a Washington defense that was able to put considerable pressure on him in the first half. Successfully targeting most areas of the field and spreading the football around well — nine players were targeted even with number three wide receiver Phillip Dorsett playing only four snaps — Brady took what the defense gave him en route to a 28-of-42 performance for 348 yards and three touchdowns.

Colt McCoy, on the other hand, struggled in his first game since last December. Filling in for an injured Case Keenum, the 33-year-old was under consistent pressure all day while not being helped much by his receiving arsenal: New England’s defense was simply too strong for McCoy to find much of a rhythm, and he had to rely on short and intermediate throws in order to move the football down the field. However, he failed to string enough of them together to effectively challenge the Patriots.

Offensive rush direction

NFL Next Gen Stats

For the Patriots’ running game, the game against Washington was a tale of two halves. The ground game was unable to get going in quarters one and two, with only seven runs being called versus 34 pass plays. Starting in the third quarter, however, the focus started to shift and the ground game got going: Sony Michel — who also caught a career-high three passes — registered his best game of the season, no matter if used between the tackles or on the perimeter.

Pass receiving

Pass receiving statistics

Player Snaps Targets Completions Yards Yards after Catch Touchdowns Interceptions Rating Drops
Player Snaps Targets Completions Yards Yards after Catch Touchdowns Interceptions Rating Drops
Matt LaCosse 73 4 1 22 13 0 0 50.0 1
Julian Edelman 72 9 8 110 36 1 0 154.6 1
Josh Gordon 67 8 5 59 25 0 0 84.9 0
Sony Michel 38 3 3 32 30 0 0 111.1 0
Jakobi Meyers 36 2 1 6 1 0 0 56.3 0
Jakob Johnson 32 2 1 5 1 0 0 56.3 0
James White 31 9 6 46 15 0 1 39.4 0
Ryan Izzo 20 2 2 39 11 1 0 158.3 0
Brandon Bolden 11 1 1 29 7 1 0 158.3 0
NFL Next Gen Stats

Despite being listed as “questionable” on the final injury report of the week because of a chest injury originally suffered in Week 3, Julian Edelman delivered a magnificent performance. The reigning Super Bowl MVP and running back James White were Tom Brady’s most-targeted players against Washington, which is no surprise considering that the pressure on the quarterback was significant for large portions of the game.

The other pass catchers had their moments as well — from Josh Gordon having a solid outing to both Sony Michel and Ryan Izzo delivering career performances in the passing game. Despite missing Phillip Dorsett for most of the game, New England’s aerial attack produced well as Brady got most of the available depth involved.

Receiver separation

NFL Next Gen Stats

While Ryan Izzo stands out in terms of receiver separation — he was open an average of 8.75 yards on his two targets — the rest of New England’s wideouts were tighter covered when Brady targeted them. The quarterback nevertheless trusted them to come away with the receptions, and he was proven right more of than not. Washington’s pass catchers were comparatively open, meanwhile, but this speaks more for the Patriots’ defensive approach than any issues with the coverage: New England played plenty of zone against the Redskins.

Pass protection

Pass protection statistics

Player Snaps Sacks QB Hits Hurries
Player Snaps Sacks QB Hits Hurries
Marshall Newhouse 78 2.0 1 0
Marcus Cannon 78 1.5 0 3
Shaq Mason 78 0.5 1 0
Joe Thuney 78 0.0 0 1
Ted Karras 78 0.0 0 1
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The Patriots’ offensive line had an up-and-down performance. While the run blocking was solid in the second half, the pass protection saw its fair share of breakdowns from start to finish — especially on the edges: left tackle Marshall Newhouse and right tackle Marcus Cannon combined to surrender 7.5 quarterback pressures, which disrupted New England’s offensive rhythm time and again. Needless to say that the position remains an area of concern with original left tackle Isaiah Wynn still on injured reserve with a toe injury.

Pass rush/run defense

Pass rush/run defense statistics

Player Snaps Sacks QB Hits Hurries Run stops
Player Snaps Sacks QB Hits Hurries Run stops
Dont'a Hightower 53 1.5 0 3 2
Kyle Van Noy 44 0.0 1 2 0
Jamie Collins Sr. 41 1.0 1 1 0
Adam Butler 37 0.0 0 1 0
Danny Shelton 29 1.0 0 0 0
Deatrich Wise Jr. 18 0.0 2 0 1
Chase Winovich 17 1.0 0 0 0
Michael Bennett 15 0.5 0 0 0
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The Patriots’ saw some solid pass rush contributions across the board, once more showing off their depth on the defensive side of the ball. One name, however, stands out among the rest: Dont’a Hightower, who was the best player on the field for either team. After missing Week 4 because of a shoulder injury, the veteran registered 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hurries on the day, all while also standing out against the run as well.

New England’s on-field signal caller led the charge, but others also performed well — from defensive tackle Danny Shelton, to fellow linebackers Jamie Collins Sr. and Kyle Van Noy, to Michael Bennett. Bennett continues to play only a limited role for the Patriots, but his impact is on display whenever he is on the field.

Defensive rush direction

NFL Next Gen Stats

With the exception of Washington’s 65-yard touchdown off an end-around concept in the first quarter, New England’s run defense was again solid: Adrian Peterson gained just 18 hard-fought yards on seven carries, and neither Wendell Smallwood nor Chris Thompson were able to produce enough for the Redskins offense to seriously challenge the Patriots. While their per-carry averages are solid, they failed to elevate the unit.

Pass rush separation

NFL Next Gen Stats

New England registered six sacks on the day, but Kyle Van Noy was not among the players to take down Colt McCoy. His impact, however, was still noteworthy as the pass rush separation chart shows: when playing downhill to attack the quarterback, no other Patriot came closer than the veteran linebacker who finished the game with one quarterback hit and two additional hurries.

Washington’s defense, meanwhile, was finding more consistent success challenging the pocket even though Tom Brady was sacked “only” four times — outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan stood out in particular. If not for Brady’s excellence at escaping pressure and feeling the players around him, New England might have surrendered more takedowns.

Pass coverage

Pass coverage statistics

Player Snaps Targets Completions Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Rating Pass Breakups
Player Snaps Targets Completions Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Rating Pass Breakups
Dont'a Hightower 53 2 0 0 0 0 39.6 1
Stephon Gilmore 51 4 2 29 0 0 74.0 0
Jason McCourty 47 2 1 7 0 1 18.8 0
Jonathan Jones 45 1 1 5 0 0 87.5 0
J.C. Jackson 44 2 1 4 0 0 56.3 0
Elandon Roberts 14 2 1 6 0 0 56.3 1
Ja'Whaun Bentley 10 2 2 5 0 0 79.2 0
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Washington had a few successful pass plays in the intermediate area of the field, but the Patriots’ coverage was stout once again — with no cornerback surrendering more than 29 receiving yards. And despite leading the team in yardage given up, Stephon Gilmore played a very solid game against Terry McLaurin: Gilmore smartly took away the deep routes and was content with given the impressive rookie receiver space underneath. This allowed him to catch two passes against the All-Pro, but not do any more damage than that.