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Patriots vs Texans advanced stats: How Deshaun Watson exposed New England’s defense

Related: Patriots vs Texans snap counts: Stephon Gilmore’s return does not save New England’s pass defense

NFL: New England Patriots at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots’ up-and-down season continued in Week 11 against the Houston Texans. While the team did have its moments in the passing game and was able to stop down the opposing rushing attack, it also struggled to move the ball on the ground consistently and had some major issues against quarterback Deshaun Watson and the Texans’ aerial attack.

So with all that said, let’s dive 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.

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

Quarterback

Quarterback statistics

Player Snaps Attempts Completions Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Drops Throwaways Pressure rate Rating OSR EPA/Play
Player Snaps Attempts Completions Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Drops Throwaways Pressure rate Rating OSR EPA/Play
Cam Newton 69 40 26 365 1 0 0 0 26.2% 102.6 45.0% 0.23

While it is easy to point fingers to Cam Newton for another failed fourth quarter comeback attempt, the Patriots’ starting quarterback actually had another good game and moved the ball well through the air. While some slip-ups were still part of the process — he misfired on some short attempts to James White and N’Keal Harry, for example — he generally put the offense in a position to succeed. His 0.23 EPA per play illustrates this, while his success rate of 45 percent also show that some plays were left on the field.

All in all, however, Newton ranks very low on the list of reasons why New England came up short in Houston.

Ball carriers

Ball carrier statistics

Player Snaps Attempts Yards Yards after Contact Touchdowns Fumbles OSR EPA/Play
Player Snaps Attempts Yards Yards after Contact Touchdowns Fumbles OSR EPA/Play
Cam Newton 69 2 7 0 0 0 100.0% 0.50
Damiere Byrd 62 1 11 2 0 0 100.0% 1.16
James White 39 5 19 10 0 0 20.0% -0.36
Damien Harris 26 11 43 17 1 0 45.5% 0.01
Rex Burkhead 12 4 7 2 0 0 25.0% -0.58

With the Patriots’ passing game working well, and with the Texans prioritizing defending the run, New England averaged just 3.8 yards on its 23 carries. The most productive back was, once again, Damien Harris even though his day was one of ups and downs: while he had six successful runs, he also was tackled for a loss of yardage twice. His day was therefore a microcosm of a ground game that was simply too inconsistent after a promising start.

Pass receivers

Pass receiver statistics

Player Snaps Targets Completions Yards Yards after Catch Touchdowns Interceptions Rating Drops OSR EPA/Play
Player Snaps Targets Completions Yards Yards after Catch Touchdowns Interceptions Rating Drops OSR EPA/Play
Jakobi Meyers 68 3 3 38 13 0 0 118.8 0 66.7% 0.99
Damiere Byrd 62 7 6 132 25 1 0 158.3 0 85.7% 2.08
Ryan Izzo 56 3 2 59 5 0 0 109.7 0 66.7% -0.21
N'Keal Harry 52 7 5 41 13 0 0 86.0 0 42.9% 0.05
James White 39 7 6 64 77 0 0 104.8 0 42.9% 0.16
Damien Harris 26 2 1 11 6 0 0 66.7 0 50.0% 0.06
Rex Burkhead 12 3 2 5 10 0 0 70.1 0 33.3% -0.67
Donte Moncrief 4 2 1 15 14 0 0 75.0 0 50.0% 0.55

Cam Newton spread the football around well, with three receivers tying the team-lead with seven targets. James White and N’Keal Harry had some good moments as pass targets, but Damiere Byrd obviously stole the show: the first-year Patriot finished with six receptions for 132 yards and a 42-yard touchdown — the first thrown by Newton to a New England wide receiver all season. Byrd’s 85.7 percent success rate and 2.08 EPA per play were both tremendous.

New England’s number one wide receiver from the last few weeks, meanwhile, had a comparatively quiet game. Jakobi Meyers caught all three passes thrown his way, and took them for 38 yards with a success rate of 66.7 percent and an 0.99 EPA per play, but he did not have his usual type of impact. That said, his presence alone probably helped free up Byrd and the rest of the Patriots’ receiving talent.

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
Shaq Mason 69 0 1 0 0
David Andrews 69 0 1 0 0
Michael Onwenu 69 0 0 1 1
Joe Thuney 69 0 0 0 0
Isaiah Wynn 65 1 0 0 0
Ryan Izzo 56 0 0 0 1
Damien Harris 26 0 0 1 0
Jermaine Eluemunor 4 0 0 1 0

Cam Newton was pressured on 18 of his dropbacks on the day, with the six of those disruptions coming in the form of either some misplayed blitzes or other issues not easily defined without knowledge of the protection call. Either way, Houston did find success when sending additional rushers — most prominently on the failed fourth down attempt in the fourth quarter: with Isaiah Wynn out because of an apparent knee or ankle injury, his replacement Jermaine Eluemunor failed to slide to the outside to account for the edge blitz.

Pass rush/run defense

Pass rush/run defense statistics

Player Snaps Sacks QB Hits Hurries Stuffed runs
Player Snaps Sacks QB Hits Hurries Stuffed runs
Chase Winovich 53 0 0 2 0
Kyle Dugger 46 0 0 0 1
Adrian Phillips 45 0 0 0 1
Deatrich Wise Jr. 37 0 1 1 0
Byron Cowart 32 0 0 1 0
Lawrence Guy 32 0 0 1 0
Carl Davis 20 0 0 1 0
Anfernee Jennings 6 0 1 1 0

The Patriots were able to get close to Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson throughout the day, but they simply failed to impact him enough: time and again, the former first-round draft pick escaped the pocket or was allowed to slide his way out of trouble to keep plays alive. This, in turn, made life tough on the secondary and also contributed to a pressure chart heavily skewed towards disruptions but no sacks and only a pair of hits.

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
J.C. Jackson 59 4 4 44 0 0 0 0 112.5 75.0%
Stephon Gilmore 53 1 1 44 0 0 0 0 118.8 100.0%
Kyle Dugger 46 4 3 47 0 0 0 0 113.5 75.0%
Jonathan Jonens 45 6 5 26 2 0 0 0 124.3 50.0%
Adrian Phillips 45 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 39.6 0.0%
Jason McCourty 27 2 1 22 0 0 0 0 89.6 50.0%
Joejuan Williams 6 1 1 24 0 0 0 0 118.8 100.0%

Watson played a tremendous game against the Patriots and found success no matter if facing man or zone coverage. When going against man-to-man looks, he spread the ball around well and along the way targeted Jonathan Jones, J.C. Jackson and Kyle Dugger quite a bit: the three combined to see 14 targets, which resulted in 12 completions for 117 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

While those three were the main victims of Watson’s passes in man looks, he moved the ball no less efficiently when facing zone. New England used zone-based coverages on 17 of his pass attempts, possibly to account for his scrambling skills and ability to leave the pocket to extend plays. Of those 17 throws, Watson completed 13 for a combined 137 yards and a success rate of 52.9 percent.

Houston’s QB repeatedly found the holes in zone, and picked his matchups wisely when the defense was in man-to-man coverage.