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Patriots vs Broncos advanced stats: Cam Newton, offensive line struggle against Denver

Related: Patriots vs Broncos snap counts: Chase Winovich’s limited role raises some questions

NFL: Denver Broncos at New England Patriots Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

For the second straight game, the New England Patriots were unable to come away victoriously despite a solid defensive effort. The other side of the ball, however, struggled to offer some relief and consistently put points on the board — leading to an 18-12 loss against the Denver Broncos that dropped the Patriots to 2-3 on the season. With all that being said, let’s take a look at some of the advanced numbers from the contest.

Before analyzing the statistics, however, we will have to explain two of the categories you will meet here that extend beyond conventional statistics:

  • OSR: OSR stands for “Offensive Success Rate” and is based on Bill Connelly’s work at SB Nation. It aims to characterize how successful a play was relative to the down and distance in which it took place. For a play be considered a success it will have to gain at least 50 percent of the necessary yardage on first down (i.e. at least 5 yards on 1st-and-10), 70 percent on second down (i.e. at least 7 yards on 2nd-and-10), and 100 percent on both third and fourth down (i.e. at least 10 yards on 3rd-and-10 and 4th-and-10).
  • EPA: EPA stands for “Expected Points Added” and is based on the work done by Ben Baldwin through his website rbsdm.com. EPA aims at measuring the value of individual offensive plays in terms of points by calculating what is expected to happen on an individual play depending on down, distance, field position and game situation and contrasting it with the eventual outcome.

With that out of the way, let’s dig into the stats.

Quarterbacks

Quarterback statistics

Player Snaps Attempts Completions Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Drops Throwaways Pressure rate Rating OSR EPA
Player Snaps Attempts Completions Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Drops Throwaways Pressure rate Rating OSR EPA
Cam Newton 57 25 17 157 0 2 0 0 35.5% 51.6 40.0% -16.6
Julian Edelman 43 2 2 38 0 0 0 0 0.0% 118.8 100.0% 3.4

Cam Newton’s return after his Coronavirus-related absence was a disappointing one. The Patriots’ starting quarterback struggled as a passer for most of the game, posting success rate and EPA numbers comparable to those of his backups — Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer — in Kansas City while also turning the football over two times. While his support cast, especially along the offensive line, did not do enough to help him out, New England needs Newton to be better in terms of anticipation, pocket presence and most importantly when it comes to taking care of the football.

The Patriots also relied on veteran wide receiver and former college quarterback Julian Edelman to move the ball through the air. Both of his pass attempts were completed — one to running back James White, another to Newton — which results in a higher success rate and EPA number. While Edelman did have an otherwise quiet game, the trickery worked.

Ball carriers

Ball carrier statistics

Player Snaps Attempts Yards Yards after Contact Touchdowns Fumbles OSR EPA
Player Snaps Attempts Yards Yards after Contact Touchdowns Fumbles OSR EPA
Cam Newton 57 9 77 27 1 0 66.7% 3.1
James White 31 4 8 1 0 0 0.0% -2.7
Rex Burkhead 18 5 14 2 0 0 40.0% -1.5
Damien Harris 12 6 19 10 0 0 33.3% -1.4

New England may have gained 118 yards on 24 carries, but the team was still unable to consistently find success on the ground: outside of Cam Newton’s 38-yard scramble in the fourth quarter, the ball carriers were inconsistent. This was oftentimes through no fault of their own, though: the offensive line was missing two starters — David Andrews, Shaq Mason — to begin with and also lost right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor to an ankle injury in the first quarter. The newly configured lineup had a tough time opening holes.

Pass receivers

Pass receiver statistics

Player Snaps Targets Completions Yards Yards after Catch Touchdowns Interceptions Rating Drops OSR EPA
Player Snaps Targets Completions Yards Yards after Catch Touchdowns Interceptions Rating Drops OSR EPA
Cam Newton 57 1 1 16 13 0 0 118.8 0 100.0% 1.6
Damiere Byrd 55 4 3 38 0 0 0 104.2 0 50.0% 1.8
N'Keal Harry 51 2 0 0 0 0 1 0.0 0 0.0% -6.8
Julian Edelman 43 6 2 8 4 0 0 42.4 0 16.7% -2.5
Ryan Izzo 35 3 3 38 12 0 0 118.8 0 66.7% -2.8
James White 31 9 8 65 78 0 1 57.2 0 44.4% -3.3
Damien Harris 12 1 1 14 11 0 0 118.8 0 100.0% 0.9
Isaiah Zuber 5 1 1 16 12 0 1 118.8 0 100.0% 1.5

The Patriots’ receiving talent had a tough outing against Denver, with only three pass catchers positing positive EPA numbers (not counting Cam Newton’s reception on a pass form Julian Edelman): Damiere Byrd led the team with a 1.8 despite posting a success rate of just 50 percent. Damien Harris and Isaiah Zuber also posted positive numbers but they only caught one pass each — not enough to help New England move the ball consistently through the air.

The biggest disappointments might have been N’Keal Harry and the aforementioned Edelman, though. The two were targeted eight times but combined to catch just two passes for eight yards, both coming via Edelman. Harry, meanwhile, was unable to come away with the football on both an interception in the third quarter and the game-deciding fourth down attempt. Plain and simple, the Patriots need their former first-round pick to be better.

Pass protection/run blocking

Pass protection/run blocking statistics

Player Snaps Sacks QB Hits Hurries Stuffed runs
Player Snaps Sacks QB Hits Hurries Stuffed runs
Isaiah Wynn 57 2.0 2 0 1
Justin Herron 57 1.0 0 0 0
Michael Onwenu 57 0.0 2 0 0
Joe Thuney 57 0.0 0 0 0
Hjalte Froholdt 45 0.0 0 0 0
James White 31 0.0 2 0 0
Jermaine Eluemunor 12 0.0 0 0 0

After four impressive games to open the season, the Patriots’ offensive line took a step back against Denver. The lack of practice time before the contest as well as the personnel changes already mentioned above all contributed to this, but the team also saw a disappointing performance from left guard/tackle Isaiah Wynn: the former first-round draft pick, who is in the middle of a strong season otherwise, surrendered four combined quarterback disruptions — including a pair of sacks. The move to guard early on did not do him any favors, though.

Pass rush/run defense

Pass rush/run defense statistics

Player Snaps Sacks QB Hits Hurries Stuffed runs Fumbles forced Fumbles recovered
Player Snaps Sacks QB Hits Hurries Stuffed runs Fumbles forced Fumbles recovered
Ja'Whaun Bentley 61 0.5 1 1 2 0 0
Shilique Calhoun 54 0.5 1 1 0 0 0
John Simon 52 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
Adrian Phillips 51 0.0 0 0 3 0 0
Deatrich Wise Jr. 38 0.0 0 1 0 0 0
Chase Winovich 22 0.0 0 1 0 0 0
Adam Butler 20 0.0 0 1 0 0 0

The Patriots’ run defense did not have its best outing against the Broncos. With Byron Cowart on the Reserve/Covid-19 list and Adam Butler hurting his elbow early in the second quarter, Denver was able to gain consistent yardage on the ground: the team gained 139 yards on 34 carries for an average of 4.1 yards per attempt. Not all was bad, though, as Adrian Phillips registered three run stuffs for either no gain or a loss of yardage.

New England’s pass rush also had its moments: Drew Lock was pressured on 33.3 percent of his dropbacks, with Ja’Whaun Bentley and Shilique Calhoun both contributing 2.5 disruptions each.

Pass coverage

Pass coverage statistics

Player Snaps Targets Completions Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Pass Breakups Pass interference Rating OSR
Player Snaps Targets Completions Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Pass Breakups Pass interference Rating OSR
Stephon Gilmore 64 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 39.6 0.0%
Devin McCourty 64 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 39.6 0.0%
Jonathan Jones 54 7 1 16 0 1 3 0 0.0 14.3%
J.C. Jackson 46 5 2 43 0 1 2 0 31.7 20.0%
Jason McCourty 31 1 1 41 0 0 0 0 118.8 100.0%
Kyle Dugger 27 2 1 27 0 0 0 0 95.8 50.0%

While the Broncos were able to score on each of their first six possessions, the Patriots’ pass coverage was generally stout outside of two big plays (a 41-yard pass and a 35-yards pass). The player that stands out is Jonathan Jones: New England’s starting slot cornerback was targeted seven times but surrendered only one 16-yard reception. Meanwhile, he also had an interception as well as three pass breakups — allowing a success rate of just 14.3 percent. Jones was magnificent, and not the only defensive back to look good.

Stephon Gilmore, himself returning from a stint on the Reserve/Covid-19 list, posted a shutout by allowing no completions on three targets, while J.C. Jackson gave up two catches on five targets but also had an interception and a pair of pass breakups. The Patriots’ top-three cornerbacks all came ready to play and had some strong performances against the Broncos.