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Patriots vs Bills advanced stats: Jakobi Meyers is making a strong case for more playing time

Related: Patriots vs Bills snap counts: New England goes defensive back-heavy even without Stephon Gilmore

New England Patriots Vs. Buffalo Bills At Bills Stadium Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The New England Patriots were close to beating the Buffalo Bills on the road in Week 8, but eventually came up just short when they turned the football over on a potential game-winning or at least game-tying drive late in the fourth period. While the 24-21 end result was therefore a disappointing one, the Patriots ddi show some steps in the right direction along the way.

With 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.

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/Play
Player Snaps Attempts Completions Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Drops Throwaways Pressure rate Rating OSR EPA/Play
Cam Newton 65 25 15 174 0 0 3 1 28.6% 81.1 52.0% 0.10

After back-to-back bad performances, Patriots starting quarterback Cam Newton bounced back nicely against the Bills before his game-ending fumble. His success rate of 52 percent was solid, as was his EPA per play of 0.1. Considering that four of his throws were either dropped by the intended targets or throwaways, Newton played a pretty accurate game as a passer. It was not perfect — the aforementioned turnover on a running play stands out, as do some anticipation and mechanical issues still — but all in all it was an encouraging outing.

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 65 9 54 5 0 1 40.0% -0.11
Gunner Olszewski 42 1 6 15 0 0 60.0% 0.27
Rex Burkhead 32 6 26 1 0 0 25.0% 0.33
James White 31 2 0 0 0 0 100.0% -1.16
Damien Harris 20 16 102 39 1 0 50.0% 0.23

New England’s running game had an up-and-down day against the Bills. While the unit as a whole found the end zone twice and gained 188 on 34 carries for an average of 5.5 yards per attempt, it was not until the second half that it got going: over the first 30 minutes of game time: the Patriots averaged only 3.1 yards on their 14 rushing attempts.

The player that does stand out is, of course, Damien Harris: the second-year back gained 102 yards on just 16 attempts and also scored his first career touchdown. It will be interesting to see how New England handles the lead-back role once Sony Michel returns off of injured reserve. Harris is making a strong case for himself as the number one option with the former first-round pick still sidelined.

Pass receivers

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
Damiere Byrd 65 4 3 39 7 0 0 105.2 0 75.0% 0.65
Jakobi Meyers 64 9 6 58 8 0 0 84.5 1 66.7% 0.15
Ryan Izzo 48 3 2 24 13 0 0 91.0 1 66.7% 0.06
Rex Burkhead 32 2 1 5 8 0 0 56.3 0 0.0% -0.40
James White 31 4 2 35 37 0 0 80.2 1 50.0% 0.72
Isaiah Zuber 6 1 1 13 16 0 0 118.8 0 0.0% -0.44

The Patriots’ passing game struggled mightily over the last two weeks, but it did find some success against Buffalo even with Julian Edelman on injured reserve and N’Keal Harry unable to go because of a concussion. The man of the hour, in terms of targets, catches and yards was Jakobi Meyers. While his success rate (50%) and EPA (0.15) do not stand out, he looked good in a starting role and is making a strong statement that he deserves to see the field more often even when Edelman and Harry eventually return.

Elsewhere, the Patriots saw some limited production from fellow starters Damiere Byrd and Ryan Izzo, while Gunner Olszewski was a non-factor in the receiving game despite playing 42 offensive snaps.

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
David Andrews 65 0.0 1 0 0
Joe Thuney 65 0.0 0 1 0
Shaq Mason 65 0.0 0 0 0
Isaiah Wynn 65 0.0 0 0 0
Michael Onwenu 65 0.0 0 0 0
Ryan Izzo 48 1.0 1 0 0
Gunner Olszewski 42 0.0 0 1 0
Rex Burkhead 32 0.0 1 0 0
Korey Cunningham 1 0.0 0 0 0

New England’s starting offensive line went wire-to-wire for the first time this season, and the results spoke for themselves: the unit did a mighty fine job in the ground game, primarily in the second half, and allowed a pressure rate of only 28.6 percent — all while three of its members (tackles Isaiah Wynn and Michael Onwenu, guard Shaq Mason) finished with a clean sheet. The unit remains the strength of the offense.

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
Devin McCourty 58 1.0 0 0 0
Byron Cowart 45 0.0 1 0 1
Ja'Whaun Bentley 35 1.0 1 0 0
Lawrence Guy 20 0.0 1 0 1
Adam Butler 19 0.0 1 0 0
Josh Uche 12 0.0 0 1 0

While the pass defense had a good game — more on that in a second — the Patriots were gashed on the ground once again: New England surrendered three touchdowns and 195 rushing yards on 33 attempts for an average of 5.9 yards per carry. The Bills had no problems consistently gaining positive yardage on the ground no matter if Devin Singletary, Zack Moss or quarterback Josh Allen carried the ball.

From a pass rushing perspective, meanwhile, the Patriots had a solid game: Allen was pressured on 35 percent of his drop-backs, with Ja’Whaun Bentley and Devin McCourty registering sacks on running attempts.

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
Jason McCourty 58 2 1 21 0 0 1 0 87.5 50.0%
J.C. Jackson 57 8 5 84 0 1 0 0 58.3 50.0%
Jonathan Jones 54 2 1 12 0 0 0 0 68.8 50.0%
John Simon 47 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 39.6 0.0%
Joejuan Williams 13 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 39.6 0.0%

Even with Stephon Gilmore out due to a knee injury, the Patriots’ secondary played a mostly good game versus Buffalo. Josh Allen had a success rate of just 50 percent when passing the ball, while posting an EPA per play of -0.06 and turning the ball over once. He did most of his damage against zone concepts, with his favorite man-to-man matchup being J.C. Jackson, who was the primary cornerback responsible for Stefon Diggs.

While Diggs finished the game with six catches for 92 yards, Jackson’s success rate of 50 percent and defensive passer rating of 58.3 speak for themselves: he was competitive in the matchup, and showed that he can be a viable number one cornerback if asked to be.