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Patriots vs Chargers advanced stats: New England’s pass rush comes to life

Related: Patriots vs Chargers snap counts: Blowout win gives New England chance to test roster depth

New England Patriots v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

The New England Patriots played their most complete game of the season in Week 13 against the Los Angeles Chargers, dominating their opponent in all three phases to secure a 45-0 victory. The win helped the team get back to .500 and stay alive in the race for a wild card spot in the AFC playoff race.

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 58 19 12 69 1 0 2 0 13.0% 87.4 31.6% -0.06
Jarrett Stidham 9 3 2 61 1 0 1 0 33.3% 149.3 66.6% 1.86

Given how the game progressed, the Patriots were able to give both Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham some playing time. Speaking purely in terms of efficiency, they had quite different games: Stidham had a higher EPA, OSR and passer rating than Newton. However, context is obviously massively important with the second-year backup only coming onto the field late and with the game already out of reach.

Newton’s performance before that helped the Patriots get to that point. While he again was rather mediocre as a passer, he did make some solid throws — his touchdown pass to N’Keal Harry among them — to complement his role as a ball carrier. All in all, it was a good day for the 31-year-old.

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 58 13 48 23 2 0 53.8% 0.19
Damien Harris 33 16 80 30 0 1 50.0% 0.08
Sony Michel 22 10 35 16 0 0 30.0% -0.08
Donte Moncief 15 1 4 0 0 0 100.0% 0.90

Led by Damien Harris and Cam Newton, the Patriots had another solid game on the ground. They finished with 167 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 40 carries for an average of 4.18 yards per attempt — a very good output. The two lead runners obviously stood out, with Harris doing some strong work between the 20s (also out of the wild card formation on two occasions) and Newton looking good as a short-yardage and goal-to-go runner.

Sony Michel, meanwhile, saw some increased action as well after playing only one snap in his return off injured reserve last week. The former first-round draft pick was not as successful as the other two runners, but he did have some good moments in the game nevertheless.

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 56 6 2 15 3 0 0 42.4 1 16.7% -0.28
Damiere Byrd 52 3 2 16 7 0 0 79.9 0 66.6% 0.01
Ryan Izzo 43 1 1 6 0 0 0 91.7 0 100.0% 0.49
N'Keal Harry 34 3 2 15 0 1 0 118.1 1 33.3% 0.52
Damien Harris 33 1 1 15 17 0 0 118.8 0 100.0% 0.90
Jakob Johnson 28 1 1 1 0 0 0 79.2 0 0.0% -0.59
Sony Michel 22 1 1 23 19 0 0 118.8 0 100.0% 2.02
James White 19 5 3 1 5 0 0 64.6 1 0.0% -0.91
Gunner Olszewski 6 1 1 38 25 1 0 158.3 0 100.0% 4.03

The Patriots’ quarterbacks attempted only 22 passes all game and spread the wealth while doing so: nine different players were targeted at least once, with Jakobi Meyers and James White as the most actively involved players among them. Neither of the two did particularly stand out, however, with others posting more impressive statistics. New England’s passing game did do enough and finished with two touchdowns and no turnovers, but it did have more productive days this season.

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 67 0 1 1 0
Joe Thuney 62 0 0 0 0
David Andrews 62 0 0 0 0
Shaq Mason 55 0 0 0 0
Jermaine Eluemunor 52 0 0 0 0
Justin Herron 28 0 0 0 1
Sony Michel 22 1 0 0 0
Korey Cunningham 6 0 0 0 0

The Patriots’ offensive line played an impressive game against a talented Los Angeles front. With the exception of Michael Onwenu, who surrendered one hit and one hurry against standout edge rusher Joey Bosa, the line played a clean game in pass protection; it also looked good across the board blocking in the running game. From start to finish, the unit way playing winning football.

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
Kyle Dugger 56 0 0 1 0
Chase Winovich 52 0 1 1 0
Anfernee Jennings 44 0 1 0 0
Josh Uche 36 0 3 0 0
Adam Butler 35 1 0 1 0
John Simon 31 0 0 2 1
Deatrich Wise Jr. 28 1 1 0 0
Byron Cowart 26 0 1 0.5 0
Ja'Whaun Bentley 25 0 0 1 0
Lawrence Guy 22 1 0 0.5 0

New England’s pass rush certainly had its ups and downs this season but it certainly came to life against Justin Herbert and the L.A. offense. Led by Josh Uche’s three quarterback hits, the Patriots defense was able to pressure the rookie quarterback on 17 of his 55 dropbacks for a disruption rate of 30.9 percent.

That rate itself may not be impressive, but New England was able to create consistent pressure when the game was still close early on. On the final drive of the second quarter that ended with a blocked field goal, for example, Herbert was hit on three of his five dropbacks.

As was the case with the receiving corps, plenty of people got in on the action — from Deatrich Wise Jr, Adam Butler and Lawrence Guy all notching sacks to youngsters Byron Cowart and Anfernee Jennings also getting into the backfield. It was an impressive showing from New England’s pass defense as it was able to throw Herbert off his rhythm while forcing some errant attempts and bad decisions along the way.

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
Jason McCourty 60 3 2 37 0 0 1 109.0 66.7%
Stephon Gilmore 58 5 2 27 0 0 1 57.9 20.0%
Devin McCourty 58 1 1 5 0 0 0 87.5 100.0%
Kyle Dugger 56 4 1 12 0 0 1 39.6 25.0%
Adrian Phillips 56 2 1 3 0 0 0 56.3 0.0%
Chase Winovich 52 1 0 0 0 1 0 0.0 0.0%
J.C. Jackson 49 4 1 7 0 1 0 0.0 25.0%
Myles Bryant 33 1 0 0 0 0 0 39.6 0.0%
Terez Hall 28 4 2 9 0 0 1 56.3 25.0%
Joejuan Williams 23 3 1 7 0 0 0 42.4 33.3%
Jonanthan Joens 19 1 0 0 0 0 0 39.6 0.0%

Stephon Gilmore again had to take on an opposing number one wide receiver, and again was able to eliminate him from the game: Keenan Allen, who entered the game as the NFL’s leader in receptions, was held to two catches for 27 yards by the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year. In total, Gilmore was targeted five times but was able to lock down his side of the field time and again.

The veteran was obviously not the only defender to see action in the passing game. Kyle Dugger, J.C. Jackson and linebacker Terez Hall were regularly targeted by Justin Herbert as well, but they too did not give up any big plays. It was an impressive outing all around, with Jackson and Chase Winovich also registering interceptions.