Patriots-Buccaneers Takeaways: Secondary Responds With Impressive Showing

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October 6, 2017

Unlike much of last season, the New England Patriots’ defense passed the all-important “eye test” in their win Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while the raw numbers don’t look quite as impressive.

The Patriots allowed 334 yards through the air to Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, but their secondary deserves some slack. The Patriots changed up their coverages late in the game, when Winston threw for most of those yards. And Bill Belichick seemed impressed by the unit after the game.

Here are this week’s charting stats.

PASS COVERAGE
Malcolm Butler: 5-8, 99 yards, PBU
Stephon Gilmore: 6-11, 71 yards
Jordan Richards: 4-4, 44 yards
Patrick Chung: 4-8, 40 yards, TD, three PBUs
Kyle Van Noy: 3-4, 25 yards
Jonathan Jones: 1-2: 20 yards, PBU
Elandon Roberts: 1-1, 16 yards
Dont’a Hightower: 1-1, 15 yards
Devin McCourty: 2-5, 5 yards
Cassius Marsh: 0-1
Duron Harmon: PBU

— The stats don’t look great on Butler or Gilmore’s end, but a lot of that damage came in the fourth quarter when the Patriots were playing off and running a prevent system.

— McCourty was probably the Patriots’ best defender Thursday night. His tackling was pristine, and he didn’t allow any meaningful plays.

— Chung was mostly up, but he had a brief down moment when he allowed a touchdown to Bucs tight end Cameron Brate.

PASS RUSH
Trey Flowers: half sack, QB hit, hurry
Cassius Marsh: three hurries
Deatrich Wise: sack, two hurries
Kyle Van Noy: half sack, hurry
Dont’a Hightower: two hurries
Elandon Roberts: QB hit
Malcom Brown: hurry

— The Patriots pressured Jameis Winston relatively often before appearing to play it safe late in the game by dropping more players into coverage.

— Hightower has yet to truly shine as a pass rusher. He moved back to inside linebacker for much of this matchup.

— This was Van Noy’s best game as a pass rusher. He’s mostly been used in coverage so far.

PASS PROTECTION
Dwayne Allen: three hurries
Shaq Mason: sack, QB hit
David Andrews: sack, hurry
Joe Thuney: QB hit, hurry
Marcus Cannon: sack, hurry
Nate Solder: QB hit, two hurries

— Allen has yet to catch a pass from Tom Brady and allowed three hurries. Not a great day for the tight end who could have had a big day with Rob Gronkowski out.

— The Buccaneers had one sack on the season entering the game and quadrupled that number against the Patriots. That’s a problem.

— Brady was hit too frequently for more concerned fans’ liking. That will come with holding the ball longer than usual, as he’s doing this season.

PASS ACCURACY
1. Pass high to Chris Hogan and intercepted
2. Pass low to Hogan
3. Pass to Brandin Cooks dropped
4. Thrown away towards James White
5. Miscommunication with James Develin
6. Pass batted at the line
7. Pass to Cooks dropped
8. Underthrown under pressure to Cooks
9. Thrown out of bounds to Hogan
10. Pass dropped by White

— Brady threw his first interception of the season.

— Brady was highly accurate, as he completed 75 percent of his passes with three of his 10 incompletions being drops.

Thumbnail photo via Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports Images

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