Patriots Advanced Stats: Malcolm Butler Locks Down Another No. 1 Wideout


November 24, 2015

Malcolm Butler outplayed Darrelle Revis this week. It turns out Bill Belichick knew what he was doing while building his defense this offseason.

While the New York Jets’ $70 million man allowed five receptions on nine targets for 114 yards and a touchdown against the Houston Texans, with most of those yards coming from wideout DeAndre Hopkins, Butler gave up just four catches on seven targets for 45 yards while tracking Buffalo Bills receiver Sammy Watkins in the Patriots’ 20-13 win. Even more impressive, 22 of the yards came in zone coverage from Butler, who was tracking Watkins stride for stride down the sideline.

Butler came into the season slightly overrated after his Super Bowl-winning play in February, but it’s safe to say he’s properly rated as a No. 1 cornerback after back-to-back impressive showings against legit No. 1 receivers in Odell Beckham Jr. and Watkins.

Check out this week’s advanced stats:

Game stats:
Rob Ninkovich: 1.5 sacks, QB hit, hurry
Dominique Easley: 0.5 sack, QB hit, two hurries
Jabaal Sheard: two QB hits, hurry
Chandler Jones: QB hit, hurry
Tavon Wilson: two hurries
Alan Branch: QB hit
Dont’a Hightower: hurry
Akiem Hicks: hurry

— Easley is turning into a force as an interior pass rusher. He’ll be even more dangerous as he continues to finish plays with sacks.

— Ninkovich had his best game of the season as a pass rusher. His 8-yard sack late in the fourth quarter killed any chance the Bills had at mounting a comeback.

Season stats:
Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.33.40 AM

Game stats:
Patrick Chung: 4-6, 72 yards, PBU
Tavon Wilson: 4-5, 49 yards
Malcolm Butler: 4-7, 45 yards, defensive pass interference
Dont’a Hightower: 2-2, 19 yards
Devin McCourty: 1-2, 16 yards, two PBUs
Jonathan Freeny: 1-4, 8 yards
Rob Ninkovich: 1-2, 5 yards
Logan Ryan: 1-5, 4 yards
Jerod Mayo: 0-1

— Ryan was actually even more impressive in coverage than Butler. Ryan had an easier assignment, tracking Robert Woods, however.

— Wilson held up well as a slot cornerback, mostly tracking Chris Hogan.

— Chung gave up a 42-yard reception to Hogan, but otherwise had another solid day in coverage.

Season stats:
Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 12.30.01 PM

Game stats:
Marcus Cannon: four QB hits, three hurries
Shaq Mason: two QB hits, three hurries
Sebastian Vollmer: sack, three hurries
Josh Kline: QB hit, two hurries
Cameron Fleming: two QB hits
Bryan Stork: QB hit
James White: QB hit
LeGarrette Blount: QB hit
David Andrews: hurry

— Patriots offensive linemen gave up 12 quarterback hits and a sack, but there were other times Tom Brady was hit by no fault of his blockers. Brady held onto the ball too long at times, and his receivers were having trouble getting separation.

— The Patriots used multiple different offensive line combinations, but Cannon and Kline played all 69 snaps. The Patriots might consider moving Vollmer from right tackle to left tackle next week. That would move Cannon or Fleming to right tackle.

Season stats:
Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 12.21.24 PM

1. Throwaway
2. Throwaway
3. Throwaway
4. Throwaway
5. Thrown in front of Rob Gronkowski
6. Throwaway
7. Throwaway
8. Throwaway
9. Throwaway
10. Throwaway
11. Underthrown to Brandon LaFell
12. Throwaway
13. Thrown in front of Gronkowski
14. Pass breakup by Stephon Gilmore to LaFell
15. Overthrown to Gronkowski
16. Pressure forces incompletion
17. Thrown in front of Gronkowski
18. Underthrown to Chris Harper on interception
19. Overthrown to Scott Chandler

— Brady had 10 total throwaways. Pressure was bearing down on Brady, but his receivers also simply weren’t getting open. The Bills alternated between blitzing, sending four rushers and dropping eight men into coverage.

— All three of Brady’s incompletions to Danny Amendola were throwaways.

Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Nov 23, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) defends a pass intended for Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins (14) during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan
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