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Patriots vs Dolphins advanced stats: Sony Michel’s performance was a bright spot

Related: Patriots vs Dolphins snap counts: Injuries force New England to adapt on the fly

New England Patriots v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The New England Patriots’ quest at reaching the playoffs for a 12th straight year has come to a disappointing end. The team lost its must-win game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday with a final score of 22-12, showing much of the weaknesses that have plagued it throughout the year: the offense struggled to finish drives, while the defense failed to stop the opposing running game.

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 55 27 17 209 0 0 3 2 21.9% 86.8 40.7% -0.11

While his OSR of sub-50 percent and an EPA per play of -0.11 may suggest otherwise, Newton played a generally solid game against the Dolphins. That said, he still had his mechanical errors and inaccuracies at times and failed to lead the offense to the end zone even once. Not all of the Patriots’ offensive struggles were necessarily his fault, but the bottom line remains: he did not lift the struggling unit to a point at which it could consistently compete against a good Miami defense.

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 55 9 38 13 0 1 44.4% -0.09
James White 27 2 3 2 0 0 0.0% -0.51
Sony Michel 23 10 74 31 0 0 50.0% 0.27
J.J. Taylor 5 1 2 0 0 0 0.0% -0.40

The Patriots’ running game was a bit of hit and miss all day, but it generally performed well against a defense that has had its issues on the ground. At the end of the day, New England finished with 117 rushing yards on 22 carries — an average of 5.7 yards per attempt — and would likely have been more productive had the game script not dictated a move towards more passing, especially in the second half.

One player who stands out is Sony Michel. The former first-round draft pick resumed the early-down role previously held by Damien Harris, and performed well with the starter absent due to injury. Michel’s EPA of 0.27 and 50 percent success rate were the highest among New England’s ball carriers as his performance as a whole was a step in the right direction.

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 53 10 7 111 47 0 0 106.7 0 50.0% -0.06
Damiere Byrd 53 4 3 24 8 0 0 89.6 1 25.0% 0.32
N'Keal Harry 36 2 1 12 4 0 0 68.8 1 50.0% 0.02
Dalton Keene 29 2 1 2 2 0 0 56.3 0 0.0% -0.45
James White 27 4 4 52 31 0 0 118.8 0 75.0% 1.10
Devin Asiasi 27 1 0 0 0 0 0 39.6 1 0.0% -0.58
Sony Michel 23 1 1 8 5 0 0 100.0 0 100.0% 0.44
Jakob Johnson 21 1 0 0 0 0 0 39.6 0 0.0% -0.76

Once again, Jakobi Meyers carried the Patriots’ passing offense as its number one receiver. The second-year man finished the game with seven catches and 111 receiving yards — the second highest yardage total of his career — and was Cam Newton’s most reliable weapon on a day that saw others have more downs than ups (looking at you, rookie tight ends). His only blemish all day was a lost fumble in the third quarter, hence his EPA per play of -0.06.

New England’s other receivers were relatively quiet, with James White’s 52 receiving yards on four receptions standing out. White has played a comparatively limited statistical role all year, but he proved himself a reliable underneath target against Miami.

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
Justin Herron 55 1 0 1 0
Shaq Mason 55 0.5 0 0 1
Joe Thuney 55 0 1 0 0
Michael Onwenu 55 0 0 0 0
David Andrews 48 0 0 2 0
James White 27 1.5 0 0 0

New England’s offensive line bounced back nicely from last week’s outing against the Los Angeles Rams. After giving up a pass pressure rate of 38.7 percent in Los Angeles, the unit improved to 21.9 percent in Miami — all while also looking good albeit a bit inconsistent in the running game. Given that the team started a pair of sixth-round rookies at the tackle spots, however, the Patriots faired reasonably well.

One of those rookies, Michael Onwenu, continued his impressive season by having a clean sheet in the passing game. He was not as successful in the run game, but generally did his job well enough. The other first-year starter, on the other hand, was a bit more inconsistent: Herron surrendered a sack and a hurry, and also failed to generate a consistent push on the ground. Still, as noted above, the group generally fared as well as should be expected.

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
J.C. Jackson 70 0 0 1 0
Adam Butler 51 1 0 1 0
Tashawn Bower 43 0 0 1 0
Adrian Phillips 39 1 0 0 0
Kyle Dugger 39 0 0 0 2
Chase Winovich 19 0 1 0 0

New England’s run defense had another bad outing, and allowed the Dolphins to gain 250 rushing yards on 42 attempts for an average of 6.0 yards per carry. 175 yards of that total were registered in the second half, when the Patriots simply fell apart versus the run and allowed the home team to control both the flow of the game and the clock. It was just the latest example of the group being unable to consistently fill its gaps or set a tight edge — two areas New England will have to address this offseason.

Pass coverage

Pass coverage statistics

Player Snaps Targets Completions Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Pass Breakups Rating OSR
Player Snaps Targets Completions Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Pass Breakups Rating OSR
Devin McCourty 73 1 1 5 0 0 0 87.5 100.0%
J.C. Jackson 70 2 1 10 0 1 0 25.0 50.0%
Terez Hall 64 2 2 20 0 0 0 108.3 50.0%
Jonanthan Jones 56 1 1 14 0 0 0 118.8 100.0%
Shilique Calhoun 40 1 1 3 0 0 0 79.2 0.0%
Adrian Phillips 39 1 1 7 0 0 0 95.8 100.0%
Kyle Dugger 39 1 0 0 0 0 1 39.6 0.0%

Despite losing Stephon Gilmore in the late second quarter, the Patriots’ secondary fared comparatively well. That said, it simply did not make enough big plays to turn the tide alongside a run defense that struggled all day and especially after intermission.

The one player that stood out once again was cornerback J.C. Jackson. The third-year man registered his eighth interception of the day, when he undercut a wobbly throw after Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was hit by Chase Winovich. It was a case of “right place at the right time” but still an impressive play by the young defender to bring himself in a position to take advantage of the play.