Patriots Advanced Stats: Jabaal Sheard, Akiem Hicks Excel In Pass Rush

The New England Patriots set out to mitigate Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins on Sunday night. The Patriots accomplished their goal in the 27-6 win over the Texans.

Watt was weakened by a broken hand, but credit also goes to the Patriots’ game plan and blockers, who nearly eradicated Watt, allowing just one pressure.

The Patriots bracketed Hopkins with cornerback Logan Ryan and a safety over the top and allowed just three receptions to the star receiver for 52 yards.

The Patriots’ defense dominated the Texans and allowed just 102 yards through the air. The Patriots’ pass rush deserves just as much credit as their secondary for limiting Hopkins and quarterback Brian Hoyer.

Check out this week’s advanced passing stats:

PASS RUSH
Game stats:
Akiem Hicks: two sacks, two QB hits
Jabaal Sheard: two sacks, hurry
Dominique Easley: sack, QB hit, hurry
Chandler Jones: QB hit, hurry
Rob Ninkovich: sack
Jamie Collins: hurry

— Hicks took over Easley’s third-down interior rushing role after the second-year pro went down with a thigh injury. Hicks shined in the role and should receiver more pass-rushing opportunities moving forward.

— Sheard dominated late in the game, forcing fumbles on both of his sacks.

— The Patriots are on pace for 52 sacks, which would break the record for a Bill Belichick head coached team. The 1992 and 1993 Cleveland Browns each recorded 48 sacks.

Season stats:
Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 12.07.43 PM

PASS COVERAGE
Game stats:
Malcolm Butler: 1-3, 49 yards, PBU
Logan Ryan: 1-4, 40 yards, two PBUs
Jamie Collins: 5-7, 35 yards, PBU
Jerod Mayo: 2-2, 25 yards
Patrick Chung: 2-4 11 yards, PBU
Leonard Johnson: 1-3, -1, two PBUs
Akiem Hicks: PBU

— Ryan drew star receiver DeAndre Hopkins in coverage and allowed just one catch all game. Chung gave up Hopkins’ 5-yard reception, while Collins allowed his 7-yarder. Ryan followed Hopkins in coverage, but the Patriots typically also had a safety helping over the top.

— Johnson was excellent in his Patriots debut, manning the slot and playing 78 percent of defensive snaps. His only reception allowed came on a screen. He made a pass-breakup on fourth down in the third quarter and forced a field goal with another pass breakup late in the first quarter.

— Butler allowed a 49-yard reception to Nate Washington but otherwise blanked the veteran receiver.

Season stats:
Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 12.02.29 PM

PASS PROTECTION
Game stats:
Sebastian Vollmer: sack, three hurries
Bryan Stork: sack, QB hit, hurry
Shaq Mason: two sacks
Michael Williams: two hurries
Tre’ Jackson: hurry
Brandon Bolden: hurry

— The Patriots allowed just one pressure to Watt. Rookie right guard Tre’ Jackson allowed Watt to hurry quarterback Tom Brady midway through the first quarter.

— The Patriots blocked Watt one-on-one 16 times in pass protection, doubled-teamed him 15 times, triple-teamed him three times and he was unblocked once.

— Stork had a tough time when edge rusher Whitney Mercilus rushed up the middle. He was beat for a sack on a spin move.

— Jadeveon Clowney, the Texans’ No. 1 overall pick in 2014, beat Vollmer and Mason for a sack.

Season stats:
Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 12.09.39 PM

PASSING ACCURACY
Here are Brady’s eight incompletions, charted:
1. Pass to Brandon LaFell broken up by Jonathan Joseph
2. Pass to Danny Amendola broken up by Kareem Jackson
3. Drop by LaFell
4. High throw to Keshawn Martin
5. Wide throw to LaFell
6. Bounced to Amendola, originally ruled as a catch but called back
7. Thrown to sideline, James White stepped out. Originally ruled as a catch but called back
8. Diving drop by White

— The Patriots had two drops, the Texans had two pass breakups and four incompletions can be blamed on inaccuracy. Two of those, however, originally were ruled as catches before being called back. Based on the replays, it’s tough to see how there was enough evidence to overturn the two plays.

Thumbnail photo via Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Dec 13, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots defensive tackle Malcom Brown (90) and defensive end Jabaal Sheard (93) celebrate recovering a fumble during the second half against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

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