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Patriots vs 49ers advanced stats: New England’s struggles extend beyond the quarterback position

Related: Patriots vs 49ers snap counts: Chase Winovich’s usage not the only curious personnel decision

San Francisco 49ers v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The New England Patriots played their worst game of the season against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, and the results reflected it: despite playing at home, New England was blown out 33-6 behind some bad play in all three phases. There is no sugarcoating it, this was a debacle from start to finish — one that extended beyond the obvious issues at the quarterback position and deep down to other areas as well.

With that said, let’s did into the advanced statistics from the game. Before analyzing the numbers, however, we will have to explain two of the categories you will meet here that go 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 32 15 9 98 0 3 0 1 33.3% 39.7 46.7% -12.0
Jarrett Stidham 20 10 6 64 0 1 0 1 18.2% 39.2 40.0% -1.5

There is no way around it, the Patriots’ quarterbacks were downright awful against San Francisco. No matter if named Cam Newton or Jarrett Stidham, they struggled to consistently produce positive plays and most importantly to hold onto the football: Newton was benched after his third interception, with Stidham throwing another pick to end his first series on the field.

The numbers reflect their struggles. Newton, for example, posted a success rate of just 46.7 percent with a total EPA of -12.0 and a per-play EPA of -0.60. The performance came one week after he had a 40 percent success rate and a -16.6 EPA (-0.52 EPA per play). Stidham did not fare any better by finding success on 40 percent of his throws and posting an EPA of -1.5 (-0.11 per play). Yes, their supporting cast did not do much to help them out, but the two quarterbacks were still not up to NFL standards versus the 49ers.

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
Jakobi Meyers 41 1 2 0 0 0 0.0% -0.5
Cam Newton 32 5 19 5 0 0 40.0% 0.6
Rex Burkhead 25 4 12 1 0 0 25.0% -1.1
Damien Harris 21 10 58 15 0 0 60.0% 1.7
Jarrett Stidham 20 1 6 0 0 0 100.0% -1.1

The Patriots’ struggles in the passing game and the turnovers associated with it were the main reason for New England’s offensive problems on Sunday, especially considering that the running game did fairly well while gaining 97 yards on 21 carries for an average of 4.6 yards per attempt. Of course, numbers only tell part of the story: the Patriots were unable to establish a presence on the ground until the second half, when it was already too late.

All in all, the ball carriers had their ups and downs. Only Damien Harris, had a success rate above 50 percent and a positive EPA to go along with it, but he still carried the football only 10 times all game. The other runners — most notably Newton and Rex Burkhead — were quiet, while James White did not touch the football even once on the ground all game.

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
Damiere Byrd 48 3 1 16 0 0 0 52.1 0 33.3% 0.4
Jakobi Meyers 41 6 4 60 4 0 2 59.7 0 66.7% -3.7
Julian Edelman 31 3 1 13 4 0 2 8.3 0 33.3% -7.6
Rex Burkhead 25 3 3 35 39 0 0 115.3 0 66.7% 3.5
Dalton Keene 24 1 1 8 0 0 0 100.0 0 100.0% 0.5
Ryan Izzo 23 1 1 8 6 0 0 100.0 0 100.0% 0.2
Damien Harris 21 1 1 12 16 0 0 116.7 0 100.0% 0.8
Jakob Johnson 21 1 1 1 0 0 0 79.2 0 0.0% -0.2
N'Keal Harry 11 2 1 6 0 0 0 91.7 0 50.0% -0.8
James White 10 1 1 3 0 0 0 79.2 0 0.0% -1.0

The good thing is that the Patriots were able to get all of their receiving talent involved. The bad thing is that it did not matter: with their quarterbacks struggling, New England’s pass catchers did not make any noticeable impact on the game. Yes, some players did stand out for better or worse — Jakobi Meyers caught four passes for 60 yards, for example, but also was the intended target on both interceptions (although they were not his fault) — but the group as a whole was again relatively quiet.

This was especially concerning in regards to the top-three wide receivers: N’Keal Harry caught just one pass before leaving with a head injury; Damiere Byrd had a 16-yard catch but failed to otherwise make an impact; Julian Edelman continues to look like a shelf of his former self either due to injury or miscommunications with Cam Newton. New England needs more out of the three, but it is not getting much at the moment.

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
Michael Onwenu 52 1.0 0 0 0
Isaiah Wynn 52 0.0 0 2 0
Shaq Mason 52 0.0 0 2 0
David Andrews 52 0.0 0 1 0
Joe Thuney 25 0.0 0 0 0
Ryan Izzo 23 0.0 0 1 0
Hjalte Froholdt 16 1.0 0 0 0
Justin Herron 12 0.0 0 0 0

With David Andrews and Shaq Mason returning to the starting lineup, the Patriots’ offensive line saw some stability again and performed noticeably better than it did last week: the pressure rate sank from 35.5 to 26.7 percent, while the run blocking looked much improved as well. That said, not all was perfect for the unit as it lost Joe Thuney and Justin Herron to injuries in the second half. Thuney’ status in particular will be worth keeping an eye on.

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 56 0.0 0 0 1 0 0
Adrian Phillips 55 0.0 0 0 1 0 0
John Simon 49 0.0 0 0 1 0 0
Lawrence Guy 41 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
Terrence Brooks 27 0.0 1 0 0 0 0
Nick Thurman 23 0.0 0 0 1 0 0
Chase Winovich 13 0.0 1 0 0 0 0
Adam Butler 13 0.0 0 1 0 0 0

New England’s front seven had a rough outing against the 49ers, with the team’s offense regularly targeting the short areas of the field in the passing game or gashing through the undersized unit with the run.

All in all, San Francisco was able to gain 197 rushing yards on 37 carries — an average of 5.3 yards per attempt — and also scored four touchdowns. The Patriots failed to stop the run on a consistent basis, while the quick-tempo passing neutralized the pass rush when Jimmy Garoppolo dropped back: he was only pressured on 14.8 percent of his dropbacks, with Lawrence Guy’s sack as the lone highlight of the day for the unit.

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 66 4 3 26 0 0 0 0 91.7 50.0%
Devin McCourty 66 2 1 6 0 1 0 0 16.7 0.0%
Jason McCourty 44 2 1 15 0 0 0 0 75.0 50.0%
Jonathan Jones 38 4 4 75 0 0 0 0 118.8 100.0%
J.C. Jackson 33 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0.0 0.0%
Terrence Brooks 27 1 1 11 0 0 0 0 112.5 100.0%

While Jimmy Garoppolo finished the game with a passer rating of just 79.5, his success rate of 67 percent and EPA of 16.9 speak for themselves. The 49ers’ passer had plenty of success against his former team, mostly by targeting the short areas or by going after starting slot cornerback Jonathan Jones: one week after an outstanding performance versus the Denver Broncos, Jones was targeted four times in man coverage and allowed all of the passes to be completed for 75 yards and a 100 percent success rate.

The other defensive backs, meanwhile, fared a bit better when matched up in one-on-one man situations. Nevertheless, San Francisco still found regular openings — primarily when the Patriots were in their Cover 4 looks to help against outside zone runs.