There are not many reasons to complain about Bill Belichick‘s drafting this season.
The Patriots would be in rough shape this year if the head coach/general manager didn’t hit on nearly every rookie he brought in this season. On Sunday alone, left guard Josh Kline, wide receiver Aaron Dobson, defensive tackle Chris Jones, linebacker Jamie Collins and cornerback Logan Ryan all started for New England. Safety Duron Harmon and defensive end Michael Buchanan got key snaps on defense and linebacker Steve Beauharnais and guard Chris Barker got special teams snaps.
Obviously not all of those players were drafted by Belichick, but they were all brought in because Belichick saw more out of them than any other team. Dobson and fellow rookie wideout Kenbrell Thompkins are the most high profile of the rookies, but Ryan may be the best find so far.
The third-round Rutgers product has found more and more snaps as the season as gone along. He has proven to be a ball hawk, as evidenced by his five interceptions and he even started over Alfonzo Dennard against the Ravens.
We’ll get into Ryan’s performance and more in this week’s five takeaways.
1. Logan Ryan earns “Instant Offense” nickname.
Let’s be totally fair here, the rookie’s first interception was mostly caused by linebacker Dont’a Hightower. Hightower leapt up, perhaps all 32 inches he jumped at the NFL scouting combine in 2012, to tip the ball. The time it took to glance off Hightower’s fingertips allowed Ryan to undercut Ravens wide receiver Marlon Brown for the pick.
Had Hightower not got his paws on the ball, it appears Brown would have pulled in quarterback Joe Flacco‘s throw. The second pick was more impressive, however. Ryan was covering Brown and bailed out Hightower this time, who was covering tight end Dennis Pitta and tripped. Ryan split off of Brown when he saw the ball was coming for Pitta. The ball fell through the tight end’s hands and into Ryan’s waiting arms.
Ryan did not allow a catch. He had a pass breakup on top of his two interceptions.
Check out this week’s coverage charting stats below.
Kyle Arrington: 4-7, 51 yards
Aqib Talib: 2-7, 27 yards
Rob Ninkovich: 2-2, 18 yards
Dont’a Hightower: 1-2, 17 yards, pass breakup
Jamie Collins: 1-4, 15 yards
Tavon Wilson: 1-2, 15 yards, INT
Chandler Jones: 1-1, 5 yards
Duron Harmon: 1-1, 4 yards
Andre Carter: 1-1, 2 yards
Steve Gregory: 0-2, pass interference
Logan Ryan: 0-2, 2 INTs, pass breakup
Brandon Spikes: 0-1
Devin McCourty: 0-1, 2 pass breakups
Check out the charting stats on the season below.
Arrington: 41-78, 586 yards, 4 TDs, INT, holding penalty
Alfonzo Dennard: 34-67, 509 yards, 2 TDs, INT
Talib: 29-64, 471 yards, 4 INTs, 2 TDs, pass interference penalty, 3 holding penalties
Ryan: 22-47, 278 yards, 3 TDs, 5 INTs
Hightower: 26-47, 242 yards, 2 TDs
Gregory: 14-29, 180 yards, TD, 2 pass interference penalties
Jerod Mayo: 14-27, 146 yards
Marquice Cole: 9-15, 133 yards, 2 TDs, INT
McCourty: 9-18, 114 yards, 2 TDs, INT, holding penalty
Collins: 9-16, 104 yards
Spikes: 12-19, 102 yards, TD, INT
Harmon: 7-10, 77 yards, 2 INTs
Ninkovich: 8-13, 49 yards, pass interference penalty
Dane Fletcher: 3-9, 21 yards, TD
Wilson: 1-2, 15 yards, INT
Jones: 2-2, 12 yards
Carter: 1-1, 2 yards
2. Rob Ninkovich leads the Patriots in pressures once again.
As has been part for the course, Ninkovich generated the most pressure against the Ravens in Week 16. The Patriots finished well, recording four sacks, but they were not able to generate much pressure, which has also been par for the cource.
Hightower continues to have success in the rare occasions he is asked to blitz. He disrupted a pass from Flacco with a pressure. Chandler Jones was not able to get much pressure on Flacco’s Blind Side across from Michael Oher (do you see what I did there?).
Check out this week’s pressure charting stats below.
Rob Ninkovich: 1 sack, 5 hurries
Chandler Jones: 1 hurry, 2 QB hits
Andre Carter: 1 sack, 1 QB hit
Sealver Siliga: 1 sack, 1 hurry
Dont’a Hightower: 1 hurry, 1 QB hit
Chris Jones: 2 hurries
Kyle Arrington: 1 sack
Michael Buchanan: 1 hurry
Check out the charting stats on the season below.
Ninkovich: 7 sacks, 58 hurries, 16 QB hits (81 pressures)
Chandler Jones: 11 1/2 sacks, 48 hurries, 16 QB hits (76 pressures)
Chris Jones: 5 sacks, 19 hurries, 4 QB hits (29 pressures)
Hightower: 1 sack, 13 hurries, 5 QB hits (19 pressures)
Tommy Kelly: 2 1/2 sacks, 12 hurries, 2 QB hit (17 pressures)
Vellano: 2 sacks, 12 hurries, 3 QB hits (17 pressures)
Carter: 2 sacks, 7 hurries, 7 QB hits (16 pressures)
Michael Buchanan: 2 sacks, 11 hurries, 3 QB hits (16 pressures)
Spikes: 8 hurries, 1 QB hit (9 pressures)
Fletcher: 2 sacks, 5 hurries, 1 QB hit (8 pressures)
Siliga: 2 sacks, 3 hurries, 2 QB hits (7 pressures)
Collins: 4 hurries, 2 QB hits (6 pressures)
Vince Wilfork: 4 hurries, 1 QB hit (5 pressures)
Mayo: 1 1/2 sacks, 1 hurry, 1 QB hit (4 pressures)
Ryan: 2 sacks, 1 hurry (3 pressures)
Arrington: 2 sacks, 1 hurry (3 pressures)
Sopoaga: 1 sack, 2 hurries (3 pressures)
McCourty: 1 hurry, 1 QB hit (2 pressures)
Jake Bequette: 1 QB hit (1 pressure)
Gregory: 1 QB hit (1 pressure)
Cole: 1 hurry (1 pressure)
3. Patriots receivers drop two passes from Tom Brady.
Brady did not throw as much as he has in recent weeks. He completed 14 of 26 passes. The Patriots’ receivers had just two drops.
Among Brady’s incompletions, one was a drop by wide receiver Julian Edelman and one was a drop by Dobson. Running back Brandon Bolden did not see a pass coming his way, running back Shane Vereen pulled up with an injured groin on a deep target, three incompletions were good plays by Ravens defenders, Dobson couldn’t get his hands up in time on a deep pass and four passes appeared inaccurate from Brady.e
4. Julian Edelman can’t get to 100 receptions or 1,000 yards yet.
Edelman has 96 catches for 991 yards on the season now. He finished on Sunday with seven catches for 77 yards.
I said a few weeks ago that no Patriots receivers were on pace for 1,000 yards. That changed very quickly. It would be a gigantic shock if Edelman did not set the above two milestones this season.
It would have been easy to predict Danny Amendola could hit 100 catches or 1,000 yards when the Patriots chose to sign him over Wes Welker. No one predicted this type of year out of Edelman, especially when he was injured through OTAs, minicamp and the beginning of training camp.
5. Logan Mankins plays well at left tackle.
Mankins gave up a sack to Terrell Suggs, but Brady also kind of fell on his own on the play. Otherwise, Mankins held up incredibly well protecting Brady’s blind side.
The usual left guard could have played left tackle in the NFL based on the five quarters we have seen him play there this season.
Belichick said as much in his press conference on Wednesday. It was a wise move by the head coach to put Mankins at left tackle rather than Will Svitek or Marcus Cannon.