The New England Patriots have to hope their pass rush hit rock bottom Sunday night. Because if it gets worse, the Patriots might as well forego rushing defenders at all.
The Patriots had a single sack and no quarterback hits in Week 3 against the Detroit Lions. They were considerably worse at rushing the passer than they were in Week 2 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Patriots’ actually impressive pass-rushing performance in Week 1 against the Houston Texans seems like eons ago.
We’ll provide more context on the Patriots’ pass rush in this week’s takeaways and advanced metrics, provided by Pro Football Focus.
LB Kyle Van Noy: three hurries
DE Deatrich Wise Jr.: sack, hurry
DT Adam Butler: two hurries
LB Dont’a Hightower: hurry
— The Patriots generated just eight total pressures in 40 passing snaps. That’s a pressure percentage of just 20 percent. And we thought it was bad in Week 2 when they had 24 pressures in 52 snaps for a 46.2 pressure percentage. The Patriots had a pressure percentage of 62.2 in Week 1. The Patriots haven’t had a pressure percentage as low as 20 percent since Week 7 of the 2016 season when they decided they didn’t need to rush Pittsburgh Steelers backup quarterback Landry Jones.
— The Patriots clearly miss defensive end Trey Flowers. Flowers, who played Week 1 when the pass rush was strong, exited Week 2 with a concussion after the Patriots’ first defensive series. The Patriots also aren’t getting nearly enough from their pass-rush depth. Adrian Clayborn, Malcom Brown, Danny Shelton and Derek Rivers all had at least 10 pass-rush opportunities but didn’t generate a single pressure. Keionta Davis also didn’t have a pressure on six pass-rush snaps.
— Wise was one of very few bright spots on the day. He appeared to light a spark with a run stuff and sack, but neither was enough to help generate a comeback.
CB Jonathan Jones: four catches on six targets for 63 yards, PBU
FS Duron Harmon: 4-4, 49 yards, TD
CB Cyrus Jones: 2-2, 31 yards
LB Kyle Van Noy: 2-2, 26 yards
CB Jason McCourty: 4-6, 21 yards
LB Dont’a Hightower: 2-2, 17 yards
CB Keion Crossen: 1-1, 16 yards
Ja’Whaun Bentley: 2-3, 14 yards, INT
LB Elandon Roberts: 4-4, 13 yards
FS Devin McCourty: 1-1, 8 yards
CB Stephon Gilmore: 1-3, 4 yards, TD
— PFF counted a 33-yard Marvin Jones touchdown against Gilmore, when Harmon owned it in the locker room.
— The Patriots’ coverage wasn’t quite as bad as it was in Week 2 against the Jaguars, but that’s really not saying much. The Patriots couldn’t cover the Jaguars’ receivers.
— Crossen only played one snap. He let up a 16-yard catch to wide receiver Golden Tate.
LB Elandon Roberts: four stops
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley: two stops
DE Deatrich Wise Jr.: two stops
LB Dont’a Hightower: two stops
DT Danny Shelton: two stops
DT Lawrence Guy: two stops
DT Malcom Brown: one stop
CB JC Jackson: one stop
CB Stephon Gilmore: one stop
*PFF describes a ‘stop’ as an offensive gain on first down that is kept to less than 40 percent of the line to gain, less than 50 percent of the line to gain on second down and any third- or fourth-down play kept without a first down or touchdown.
CB Jonathan Jones: two missed tackles
CB Cyrus Jones: missed tackle
LB Kyle Van Noy: missed tackle
DE Adrian Clayborn: missed tackle
DT Danny Shelton: missed tackle
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley: missed tackle
FS Duron Harmon: missed tackle
DE Deatrich Wise Jr.: missed tackle
— Patriots defenders rarely even got close enough to even miss a tackle when running back Kerryon Johnson was carrying the ball. The Patriots’ run defense was much more effective against LeGarrette Blount.
— Roberts had two tackles for loss while Devin McCourty had one.
— The Patriots’ defensive line was simply bullied. Johnson and Blount both picked up big chunks of yards before any contact.
LT Trent Brown: sack, QB hit
RT Marcus Cannon: two hurries
RG Shaq Mason: QB hit
— Center David Andrews, right tackle LaAdrian Waddle, tight end Rob Gronkowski and fullback James Develin didn’t allow any pressures.
— Brady ate one sack when his receivers simply couldn’t get open late in the game.
— Brady had an average of 2.85 seconds to throw. His sacks took an average of 5.7 seconds. The Patriots’ offensive line gave Brady time; he just couldn’t find any open receivers.
— Of Brady’s 12 incompletions, three were dropped and one was thrown away.
— Brady was 0-of-5 on throws 20 yards or deeper.
— Running back Sony Michel suffered two drops. Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett dropped the other pass.
Sony Michel: three forced missed tackles
— The Patriots barely used Rex Burkhead, relying instead on Michel, a rookie who missed the Patriots’ entire preseason and most of training camp. Michel has struggled to create yardage, and he hasn’t been dependable as a receiver.
— Burkhead played just seven snaps. He exited the game midway through the second half. It’s bizarre Burkhead wasn’t used more before the injury. He didn’t have a single carry.
— The Patriots’ offensive line needs to do a better job of getting a push, but running backs also need to start creating yardage.
For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, go to ProFootballFocus.com.
Thumbnail photo via Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports Images