The New England Patriots came out of Week 3 with a 2-1 record, but with it, they might have more questions than answers.
Like, can the offensive line protect Tom Brady from a top-tier pass rush? Is the defense even passable? Was Stephon Gilmore worth all of that money? Did Malcolm Butler regain his form? Were the Patriots aware Houston Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson is quite athletic? And when did Tom Brady turn into the best deep passer in the NFL?
We attempt to answer at least a few of those questions in this week’s takeaways while bringing you advanced charting stats from the Patriots’ 36-33 win over the Texans.
Trey Flowers: sack, three QB hits, two hurries
Deatrich Wise: two QB hits, two hurries
Cassius Marsh: sack, two hurries, forced fumble
Adam Butler: three hurries
Elandon Roberts: two hurries
Malcom Brown: QB hit
Lawrence Guy: hurry
— The Patriots did a nice job of pressuring Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, but in many cases, he was too slippery to bring down. Watson ran out of bounds on Flowers’ sack. Marsh caught him from behind and knocked loose the football, which was recovered by Houston.
— The rookies, Wise and Butler, continue to get into the backfield. The Patriots are relying on them heavily in pass-rushing situations.
— The Patriots could have done a better job of containing Watson. Adam Butler fell on one play, opening up a lane for Watson.
Stephon Gilmore: 5-7, 67 yards, INT, defensive pass interference
Jonathan Jones: 4-7, 58 yards, TD
Kyle Van Noy: 3-4, 49 yards
Trey Flowers: 1-1, 31 yards
Elandon Roberts: 3-4, 24 yards
Devin McCourty: 1-4, 12 yards, TD
Malcolm Butler: 2-2, 10 yards
Patrick Chung: 1-2, 4 yards
Deatrich Wise: PBU
Duron Harmon: INT
— Butler lost his starting role to Eric Rowe in Week 2. Rowe missed Sunday’s game with a groin injury, reinserting Butler into the starting defense. He responded by allowing two 5-yard catches on the same drive, and that was it. Butler didn’t allow any yards after the catch and let up both receptions to DeAndre Hopkins. He was the Patriots’ best defensive player Sunday.
— The Patriots avoided any major miscommunication on defense, and they weren’t exploited by any pick plays.
— Jones and Gilmore were the most heavily targeted defenders. Many of Gilmore’s targets came in either zone or off-man coverage, so don’t panic about his receptions or yards. He did, however, let up a big 34-yard pass interference penalty. He also had an interception, so there’s plenty of good to take with the not-so-good.
— The Patriots held Hopkins to seven catches on eight targets for 76 yards.
Nate Solder: two sacks, QB hit, two hurries, forced fumble
Joe Thuney: sack, two QB hits, hurry
LaAdrian Waddle: two hurries, two QB hits
David Andrews: sack, two hurries, forced fumble
Shaq Mason: three hurries
Mike Gillislee: sack, hurry
— The Patriots didn’t let J.J. Watt get to quarterback Tom Brady for a sack, though he did have two quarterback hits.
— Solder had a tough time blocking Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney. He let up sacks to both players. Solder has struggled all season. The Patriots need him to rebound.
— Waddle had a tough assignment filling in for Marcus Cannon, who was out with a concussion and knee injury, but he fared well in his first ever start with the Patriots. Maybe the Patriots have better depth than we thought at offensive tackle.
1. Pass to Chris Hogan broken up
2. Pass to Rob Gronkowski high
3. Pass to Dwayne Allen dropped
4. Pass to Allen high
5. Pass to Hogan dropped
6. Pass to Brandin Cooks low
7. Pass to Danny Amendola low
8. Pass to Gronkowski broken up
9. Pass to Amendola broken up
10. Pass to Cooks overthrown and nearly intercepted
— Brady was inaccurate on five of his passes, the final of which easily could have been intercepted. The Patriots had two drops.
— It’s clear Brady and Allen aren’t yet on the same page, and it’s tough to watch. Allen doesn’t have a reception on the season.
— We’ll get more into this Tuesday, but Brady has been an elite deep-ball passer this season. He was 8-of-12 on passes of over 15 yards Sunday against the Texans for 244 yards with three touchdowns. That’s a lot of deep attempts for Brady and an extremely high completion percentage for what’s usually a low-completion play. Brady has a ridiculous arsenal of speedy receivers. It’s paying off.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images