Patriots-Saints Takeaways: Top Defensive Backs Struggle Vs. Drew Brees


Aug 23, 2015

The New England Patriots emerged victorious Saturday night, but it’s fair to say they need some work before the games actually count.

The Patriots’ first-teamers quickly trailed 15-0 to the New Orleans Saints’ starters. The Patriots’ offensive line, which included three rookies, weren’t opening holes for their running backs, and New England’s reshuffled secondary was leakier than the NFL office at 345 Park Ave. in New York.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees had a perfect 158.3 passer rating after three series, going 8 of 10 for 153 yards with two scores. That’s obviously a difficult challenge, and the Patriots’ secondary stepped up when the Saints’ three backup QBs came into the game.

Check out the Patriots’ charting stats from their 26-24 win over the Saints:

Daxton Swanson: 4-4, 67 yards
Logan Ryan: 3-6, 66 yards, pass breakup
Duron Harmon: 1-1, 45 yards
Jamie Collins: 2-2, 40 yards
Devin McCourty: 2-3, 36 yards, pass breakup
Jonathan Freeny: 3-3, 27 yards, touchdown
Tavon Wilson: 1-2, 24 yards
Darius Fleming: 1-1, 8 yards
Jordan Richards: 1-2, 6 yards, touchdown
Bradley Fletcher: 1-4, 6 yards, two pass breakups
Xzavier Dickson: 1-1, 5 yards
Patrick Chung: 1-3, 2 yards
Nate Ebner: 0-1
Robert McClain: pass interference, pass breakup

— Malcolm Butler started at left cornerback and wasn’t targeted.

— McCourty started at right cornerback and was shaky in his return to the position.

— The Patriots played zone early in the game to varying results. There appeared to be some miscommunication at times.

— Fletcher showed off solid ball skills, but it’s important to note he was up against the Saints’ backups.

— Jamie Collins wasn’t his usual dominant self in this game. He missed tackles and gave up a big play on a wheel route. Collins struggles at times to cover running backs, and it showed in this game early.

— Freeny continues to have some issues in the passing game, but he was solid against the run.

Chandler Jones: two hurries
Jabaal Sheard: QB hit
Xzavier Dickson: hurry

— The Saints quarterbacks were releasing the ball quickly, hence the lack of pressures.

— Brown and Sheard found themselves in the backfield on other plays, but they weren’t enough to constitute hurries.

— Jones looks primed for a big season if the first two preseason games are any indication.

— The Patriots primarily used Dominique Easley at defensive end, where at times he has to line up in a two-point stance. That doesn’t seem to play to Easley’s best attributes, and it’s scary to see a player on two feet when he’s had ACL surgery on both knees.

Nate Solder: QB hit, hurry
Sebastian Vollmer: two hurries
Shaq Mason: QB hit
Cameron Fleming: QB hit
Chris Martin: hurry
Ryan Groy: hurry

— Pass protection wasn’t nearly as big of an issue as it was against the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 of the preseason.

— Jimmy Garoppolo did a nice job getting rid of the ball quickly, which helped out his offensive line.

— Overall, the Patriots’ offensive line was better in pass protection than they were run blocking, where they had trouble.

— Running back Dion Lewis was solid in pass protection, which is important for a prospective Patriots third-down back.

Tom Brady was 2 of 5 for 13 yards.
— First incompletion was dropped by tight end Michael Hoomanwanui
— Wide receiver Danny Amendola tripped on second incompletion
— Third incompletion, to Amendola, was broken up by Saints cornerback Kyle Wilson

Jimmy Garoppolo was 28 of 33 for 269 yards with one touchdown and one interception
— First incompletion, to wide receiver Chris Harper, was broken up by Wilson
— Second incompletion was tipped at the line of scrimmage
— Third incompletion was due to solid coverage by Saints cornerback Brian Dixon
— Fourth incompletion was an interception on a pass intended for wide receiver Brandon Gibson. Garoppolo double-clutched, held onto the ball for too long and threw off his back foot
— Fifth interception was high to tight end Jimmay Mundine

— Wide receivers Chris Harper and Jonathan Krause each drew pass interference penalties.

Thumbnail photo via Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports Images

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