Patriots-Dolphins Film Review: How Antonio Brown Was Inserted Into Offense


Sep 17, 2019

Wide receiver Antonio Brown worked overtime to learn the New England Patriots’ offense last week, but there was only so much he could accomplish in three practices plus walk-through sessions with rookies.

It was impressive that Brown caught four passes for 56 yards with a touchdown in such limited exposure to the playbook. But, as can be expected, Brown’s Patriots debut wasn’t perfect.

We broke down Brown’s performance in Sunday’s 43-0 win by alignment, route, personnel grouping and quarter.

Here is everything we found in a date dump:

Slot: 2-3, 38 yards, TD, one carry, 5 yards
X: 2-5, 18 yards
Z: Untargeted

Slant: 1-2, 18 yards
Comeback/curl: 2-2, 18 yards
Go/fade: 1-3, 20 yards, TD
Post: Untargeted
In: 0-1
Out: Untargeted

10 personnel: 2-3, 38 yards, TD
11 personnel: 2-4, 18 yards, one carry, 5 yards
21 personnel: 0-1

First quarter: 3-3, 36 yards
Second quarter: 1-1, 20 yards, TD, 5-yard run
Third quarter: 0-4
Fourth quarter: Untargeted

Slot: 6-7, 66 yards, TD, sack, defensive holding
X: 2-5, 18 yards, DPI, OPI, three carries, 10 yards
Z: 0-1, one carry, 10 yards

Slant: 1-2, 18 yards, DPI
Comeback/curl: 2-3, 18 yards
Go/fade: 3-5, 46 yards, TD, defensive holding
Post: 1-1, 8 yards
In: 0-1, OPI
Out: 1-1, 14 yards, sack

10 personnel: 3-4, 52 yards, TD, sack
11 personnel: 5-8, 52 yards, six carries, 35 yards, OPI, defensive holding
21 personnel: 0-1, one carry, 3 yards, DPI

First quarter: 4-4, 44 yards, DPI, two carries, 13 yards
Second quarter: 2-3, 28 yards, TD, three carries, 18 yards
Third quarter: 2-6, 32 yards, sack, one carry, 3 yards
Fourth quarter: OPI, defensive holding, one carry, 4 yards

With Brown: 8-14, 104 yards, TD, 2-yard sack, OPI, DPI, defensive holding, seven carries, 38 yards

Without Brown: 12-14, 160 yards, TD, 7-yard sack, OPI, DPI, 28 carries, 88 yards, two touchdowns

The biggest trend to note is the Patriots were much better with Brown early in the game than they were later in the contest. It seems likely the Patriots either scripted their first few series’ to incorporate Brown or they used the plays Brown knew best early in the game to get him going.

Another trend we noticed is the Patriots were more productive per rushing play with Brown in the game but less productive per passing play. That also makes sense. When Brown was on the field, the Dolphins’ defense was probably expecting pass. The Patriots also used Brown out of more traditional passing formations.

Brown spent most of his time in the X receiver role. That’s the simplest position to acclimate a new player since it’s outside the formation and a player typically doesn’t need to go in motion. We only saw Brown go in motion once all game, and it came on his 5-yard jet sweep.

Though Brown only caught one pass on three deep routes, the Patriots had good overall success when Brown was running a go or fade, completing 3-of-5 passes for 46 yards with a touchdown and defensive holding penalty.

Brown’s touchdown came on a fade out of the slot.

It was the play where he showed his best timing and chemistry with Brady. He also slightly pushed off at the top of his route, but that can be chalked up to some veteran savvy.

Brown’s very first catch showed some more veteran savvy. The Dolphins were in zone, and both of their inside linebackers rushed the passer, leaving tons of empty space in the middle of the field for Brown to work.

He hauled in a pass on a slant, picked up the first down and added an even bigger gain after the catch.

Now let’s go to the other side of the field.

The Patriots limited the Pittsburgh Steelers to just 3 points in Week 1 but didn’t make many splash plays. Devin McCoury intercepted a pass, Deatrich Wise registered a sack and the Patriots had eight pass breakups.

This week was an entirely different story. The Patriots sacked Dolphins quarterbacks seven times and had four interceptions and seven pass breakups.

Yes. They do have names, Kyle Van Noy.

Jamie Collins finished with two interceptions, including a pick-six, a tackle for loss and half a sack. Adam Butler had two sacks and a batted pass. Patrick Chung registered a tackle for loss. Duron Harmon brought pressure on a QB hit. Chase Winovich recorded 1.5 sacks. Shilique Calhoun had a QB hit. JC Jackson broke up a pass. Devin McCourty intercepted a pass. Stephon Gilmore also had a pick-six plus two pass breakups. Danny Shelton brought a sack and a QB hit. Michael Bennett had a late sack and a QB hit. John Simon provided a sack and a batted pass, and Van Noy also broke up a pass.

Everyone contributed, and everyone excelled, though Collins, Butler and Gilmore had the flashiest days.

Here are all of Sunday’s big defensive plays:

The Dolphins do not field an impressive roster. We won’t sugarcoat it. But the fact that New England has had two impressive performances to start the season shows this unit is living up to its preseason expectations.

Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images
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