Patriots-Colts Takeaways, Metrics: Sony Michel Improves; Jason McCourty Shines

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October 5, 2018

The New England Patriots are suddenly on a hot streak.

After dropping consecutive games in Weeks 2 and 3, there was reason to be down on the 2018 Patriots. But they’ve emerged from Weeks 4 and 5 with a 3-2 record after beating the Indianapolis Colts 38-24 on Thursday night, and they now have some extra time to prepare for the Kansas City Chiefs, perhaps their toughest opponent this season.

The Chiefs are still midway through prepping for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who they’ll play Sunday at 1 p.m. By the time the Chiefs are done reviewing Week 5 film this upcoming Monday, the Patriots will essentially have had a four-day head start on Week 6.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s get into this week’s takeaways from the Patriot’s win over the Colts. All stats via Pro Football Focus.

PASS COVERAGE
FS Devin McCourty: nine catches on 10 targets for 98 yards, two touchdowns, PBU
CB Jonathan Jones: 6-10, 51 yards, INT, PBU
SS Patrick Chung: 4-7, 49 yards, INT
CB Jason McCourty: 4-10, 44 yards, two PBUs
LB Elandon Roberts: 4-4, 37 yards
CB Stephon Gilmore: 2-6, 22 yards, three PBUs
CB JC Jackson: 1-1, 21 yards
DE Deatrich Wise: 1-1, 17 yards
LB Dont’a Hightower: 3-3, 13 yards, TD
LB Kyle Van Noy: 2-2, 8 yards
FS Duron Harmon: 1-1, 8 yards
DT Adam Butler: 1-1, -3 yards, PBU

— Jones’ interception came on a target to Jason McCourty. So, Luck had a passer rating of 14.2 while targeting Jason McCourty. Quarterbacks have a 46.3 passer rating while targeting McCourty this season. They’re just 13-of-26 for 116 yards plus Jones’ interception. McCourty should keep his starting job even when Eric Rowe is healthy.

— On the other end of the spectrum, Luck’s passer rating while targeting Devin McCourty, Jason’s twin brother, was 147.1. PFF still graded Devin McCourty well in pass coverage, oddly enough. He did make an incredible play, stripping and recovering a fumble in one swift motion after allowing a catch to Colts running back Jordan Wilkins.

— The Patriots’ cornerbacks continued their strong play. Gilmore let up catches on less than half of his targets. Jones was targeted often but had the interception and did a nice job of open-field tackling.

PASS RUSH
DE Trey Flowers: half sack, four hurries
DE Adrian Clayborn: QB hit, three hurries
DT Adam Butler: two hurries
DT Danny Shelton: two hurries
LB Kyle Van Noy: two hurries
SS Patrick Chung: half sack
LB Dont’a Hightower: hurry
LB Elandon Roberts: hurry
CB Jonathan Jones: hurry

— Flowers only played 51 of 83 possible defensive snaps, and it seems like he might be on a pitch count all season. He played closer to 100 percent of defensive snaps in games last season.

— Van Noy continued to line up on the edge, where he split his time rushing the passer and covering. He’s not generating a ton of pressure from that position, but he’s making plays in the passing game and run defense. He should stay there.

— The Patriots need defensive end Deatrich Wise to rush with more consistency. This is the second straight game he’s been held pressure-less.

RUN DEFENSE
LB Kyle Van Noy: four stops
DE Trey Flowers: three stops
DT Danny Shelton: two stops
LB Dont’a Hightower: one stop
CB Jason McCourty: one stop, one missed tackle
FS Devin McCourty: one stop
SS Patrick Chung: one stop, one missed tackle
CB Jonathan Jones: one missed tackle

*Stops constitute a “loss” for the offense so this table shows the percentage of stops per snap played only in run defense.

— The Patriots let up just 84 rushing yards on 21 carries. They held starting running back Nyheim Hines to 15 carries for 45 yards.

— Defensive tackle Malcom Brown left the game early with a knee injury. Initially, he was ruled probable before he was downgraded to questionable. He stayed on the sideline but didn’t return.

— The Patriots’ run defense struggled in Weeks 2 and 3. Flowers returning and Van Noy’s role change have helped this unit immensely.

PASS ACCURACY
— Of quarterback Tom Brady’s 10 incompletions, three were drops and two were thrown away.

— Wide receivers Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan and running back James White dropped passes. Hogan’s led to one of Brady’s interceptions. PFF didn’t charge tight end Rob Gronkowski with a drop that led to Brady’s interception. Gronk caught the pass but was popped by a defender, sending the ball flying in the air.

— Brady was 2-of-3 for 55 yards with a touchdown on deep passes. Wide receiver Chris Hogan caught a 21-yard pass. Josh Gordon caught Brady’s 34-yard touchdown in double coverage, a score that was Randy Moss-esque. It didn’t take him long to find the end zone in a Patriots uniform. It was fun to see how excited his teammates were after the big play.

PASS PROTECTION
LG Joe Thuney: two QB hits, hurry
QB Tom Brady: three hurries
LT Trent Brown: two QB hits
RT Marcus Cannon: hurry
RB Sony Michel: hurry

— Center David Andrews, right guard Shaq Mason, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen, running back James White and fullback James Develin didn’t allow any pressures.

— The Patriots’ offensive line did a great job of keeping Brady clean all night. They also didn’t allow a sack in Week 4 against the Miami Dolphins.

— Brady was charged with three hurries, but his receivers really should have been. They didn’t get open, so Brady held onto the ball too long on those plays, forcing hurries. He had, on average, 2.41 seconds before he got the ball out.

RUSHING ATTACK
Sony Michel: four forced missed tackles, 3.67 yards after contact
James White: three forced missed tackle, no yards after contact

Michel increased his yards after contact on the season. He came into the game averaging 2.27 yards after contact. That mark is up to 2.67 yards after contact now, which ranks 20th out of 28 qualified running backs. A 3.67 mark would rank fourth. So, he’s definitely on the right track.

Michel appeared to be running harder, faster and with more burst than in his first three games. He was 2 yards away from consecutive 100-yard games. Basically, he’s playing like a first-round pick. If he keeps his current pace, Michel would finish the season with 251 carries for 1,103 yards with eight touchdowns.

For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, go to ProFootballFocus.com.

Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images
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