Three weeks into the 2019 regular season, the reigning world champions continue to look like one of the best teams — if not the best — in all of football. The New England Patriots sit at a perfect 3-0 after defeating the visiting New York Jets 30-14 on Sunday. The Patriots dominated the game early, jumping to a 20-0 lead early in the second quarter before taking their collective foot off the gas later on but still cruising to an easy win.
Let’s now dig a little deeper into the game and analyze some of the advanced statistics to come out of it.
Luke Falk had a tough day at the office. Starting his first NFL game after the Jets had previously lost both Sam Darnold and Trevor Siemian, the second-year man was unable to get into any rhythm against arguably the best defense the league has to offer. With the exception of the short areas of the field, Falk either did not challenge the Patriots defense at all or was unable to complete passes against it. New England was multiple steps ahead of him at all time.
Tom Brady, on the other hand, looked good yet again. What stands out when looking at his passing chart above is not just that he successfully targeted most parts of the field and finished the game with a very good stat line, but also how he repeatedly went after the short left side of the field: 15 of his 42 passes where thrown in that direction, with 11 of them being completed for 123 yards and one of his two touchdowns. He obviously liked the matchups that presented themselves in this area.
Offensive rush direction
The Patriots’ ground game on Sunday was a tale of two backs. While Rex Burkhead looked solid no matter which gaps he attacked, Sony Michel was unable to get going: the second-year man did score a touchdown, but he also gained just 11 yards on nine carries. The most striking difference between the two backs, who reacted differently to inconsistent run blocking, came on the left interior side of the line where Burkhead gained 20 yards on four carries compared to Michel’s -2 on three attempts.
Pass coverage proved to be an enormous difference between the Patriots and Jets on Sunday, and this graph illustrates it perfectly. New York’s receivers were covered tightly all day long, with only Robby Anderson — he caught three of five targets for 11 yards — having some sort of separation at times. The rest of the team’s primary receivers listed above was effectively shut down all day long and targeted a 12 combined times. While they all registered catches, the Patriots’ secondary made life hard from start to finish.
New England’s receivers, for comparison, had plenty of space to operate. Ryan Izzo, for example, was open by 7.81 yards on his only reception — a 41-yard catch-and-run in the first quarter. Phillip Dorsett II and Jakobi Meyers, meanwhile, also were generally wide open whenever Tom Brady decided to target them. The Jets covered Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon comparatively tightly, yes, but the veteran quarterback still had no problems distributing the football.
Pass protection statistics
The Patriots’ offensive line looked good in pass protection against the Jets, with three players — guards Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason; right tackle Marcus Cannon — pitching shutouts. And while left tackle Marshall Newhouse also looked solid compared to last week’s performance against the Miami Dolphins, center Ted Karras had a tougher time and surrendered three combined quarterback pressures.
That being said, the sack he surrendered happened when backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham was under center and possibly would have been avoided had Tom Brady been on the field at that time. All in all, the unit therefore fared pretty well.
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|
|Kyle Van Noy||51||0.5||2||1||0|
|Jamie Collins Sr.||39||2.0||0||0||3|
|Deatrich Wise Jr.||14||0.0||2||0||0|
New England’s defense brought the heat all day long, and either sacked, hit or hurried Luke Falk on 12 of his 27 drop-backs for a pressure rate of 44.4%. What can be seen above is that not one player was responsible for this number, but that the entire defense contributed. Led by Jamie Collins Sr’s two sacks, the Patriots therefore forced Falk into quick decisions and he usually was unable to make them properly — leading to an inefficient offensive attack as well as an interception thrown to safety Devin McCourty.
Defensive rush direction
With an inexperienced quarterback under center, the Patriots’ main defensive goal was stopping the Jets from establishing a presence on the ground. They succeeded as the numbers show: all in all, New York’s runners carried the football a combined 20 times, but gained a mere 36 yards in the process. With New England’s front seven effectively pressuring the blockers in front of it, the Jets never where able to get their rushing attack going — despite having one of the NFL’s most talented running backs, Le’Veon Bell, in the fold.
Pass rush separation
The pressure numbers already show what the pass rush separation confirms: New England’s offensive line was able to keep New York’s defenders generally away from the quarterback, with no rusher averaging less than Leonard Williams’ 4.42 yards of separation on any given attempt to get to the passer. As a result, Tom Brady and Jarrett Stidham were pressured only five times on a combined 46 drop-backs.
For the third week in a row, Michael Bennett was the Patriots’ most dangerous pass rusher in terms of getting close to the opposing quarterback: after averaging 3.61 yards of separation between Weeks 1 and 2, the veteran defender had 3.38 yards against the Jets. While Bennett is seeing limited snaps as more of a situational defender at this point in time, he surely is making the most out of them and proving himself a valuable pass rusher.
Pass coverage statistics
|Jamie Collins Sr.||39||1||1||0||0||0||79.2||1|
As noted above, the Patriots’ coverage unit played a tremendous game against the Jets. Yes, Luke Falk was throwing the football for the AFC East rivals, but the coverage still had to hold up — and it did. No individual player does particularly stand out, but that is mainly because the secondary and coverage linebackers as a whole were dominant from the get-go. New York’s aerial attack never had much of a chance.