The New England Patriots’ offense struggled Sunday. It would be difficult to argue otherwise. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to start panicking about the 2019 Patriots.
The Patriots stayed undefeated by beating the now 3-1 Bills 16-10 in Buffalo. The Bills feature one of the NFL’s best defenses, and that unit mostly got the best of the Patriots’ offense. But the Patriots proved they could win despite a subpar offensive performance as their defense outpaced Buffalo’s with five sacks and four interceptions.
There are no perfect NFL teams, Patriots included. As long as New England’s defense remains dominant, the Patriots’ offense can afford some clunkers against tougher defenses.
Here are this week’s takeaways and advanced metrics. All stats via Pro Football Focus.
RT Marcus Cannon: four hurries
LT Marshall Newhouse: two hurries
C Ted Karras: two hurries
RG Shaq Mason: two hurries
QB Tom Brady: QB hit
LG Joe Thuney: hurry
— Among players with pass-blocking snaps but no pressures: tight end Ryan Izzo, running backs James White, Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead and fullback Jakob Johnson.
— Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was pressured on 30.8 percent of dropbacks. That was his second-highest pressure rate of the season, and he didn’t seem to trust his protection. It also didn’t help Bills defensive backs were blanketing Patriots receivers.
— Thuney has been the Patriots’ best pass protector this season, and he was again Sunday afternoon.
— Brady’s accuracy rate was just 61.8 percent. He was 18-of-39 for 150 yards with an interception. Of his 21 incompletions, three were drops and five were thrown away.
— Brady was just 1-of-7 for 21 yards on passes over 20 yards.
— Brady was just 2-of-12 for 21 yards while under pressure.
— Brady was 0-of-6 while utilizing play-action.
— It was a rough day overall for the Patriots quarterback.
— Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett and James White all had one drop apiece.
— Running back James White led the way with eight catches on 10 targets for 57 yards. All but two of White’s targets came within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Four of his catches actually came behind the line of scrimmage.
— Gordon now has the NFL’s second-highest drop rate this season.
— Brady really wasn’t on the same page as Dorsett, going 2-of-9 to the usually dependable receiver.
Sony Michel: four forced missed tackles, 2.65 yards after contact per carry
James White: one forced missed tackle, 2 yards after contact per carry
Rex Burkhead: no forced missed tackles, no carries
Brandon Bolden: no forced missed tackles, 0 yards after contact per carry
— Forced missed tackles can come via reception or rush.
— Michel had his most elusive performance of the season with three forced missed tackles. He rushed 17 times for 63 yards. That was an improvement over his Week 3 showing when he had nine carries for 11 yards.
— Burkhead’s workload was clearly lessened as he was banged up with a foot injury
LB Kyle Van Noy: two sacks, two QB hits, hurry
DT Lawrence Guy: five hurries
LB John Simon: sack, three hurries
LB Jamie Collins: sack, three hurries
DT Adam Butler: two hurries
DE Michael Bennett: two hurries
LB Chase Winovich: sack
LB Shilique Calhoun: hurry
CB JC Jackson: hurry
— The Patriots proved they could generate considerable pressure without linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who was out with a shoulder injury.
— The Patriots blitzed on 40 percent of Bills dropbacks.
— This was one of Guy’s best pass-rushing performances of his Patriots career.
— Simon and Ja’Whaun Bentley took on bigger roles with Hightower out.
SS Patrick Chung: six catches on seven targets for 84 yards
CB Stephon Gilmore: 4-10, 72 yards
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley: 2-2, 37 yards
CB Jonathan Jones: 2-6, 26 yards
CB Jason McCourty: 3-6, 20 yards
LB Kyle Van Noy: 1-1, 19 yards
SS Terrence Brooks: 1-1, 11 yards
LB Jamie Collins: 1-2, 7 yards, INT
CB JC Jackson: 1-3, 3 yards, two INTs
FS Devin McCourty: 1-1, 1 yard, INT
— Chung let up more catches than typical while covering tight end Dawson Knox and slot receiver Cole Beasley.
— Gilmore didn’t have his best game. He allowed three catches on eight targets for 54 yards to speedy John Brown.
— The Patriots have yet to allow a passing touchdown this season.
— Jackson might be the most dangerous No. 4 cornerback in the NFL.
LB John Simon: four stops
CB Jonathan Jones: three stops
LB Kyle Van Noy: three stops, one missed tackle
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley: three stops, one missed tackle
DT Danny Shelton: two stops
DT Lawrence Guy: two stops, one missed tackle
DT Adam Butler: two stops, two missed tackles
LB Chase Winovich: stop
LB Jamie Collins: stop, missed tackle
FS Devin McCourty: stop, missed tackle
CB JC Jackson: stop, missed tackle
CB Stephon Gilmore: missed tackle
DE Deatrich Wise: missed tackle
Players like Van Noy, Jackson, Devin McCourty and Collins were traditional stars who showed up on the stat sheet. These guys fell a little more under the radar while still making a major impact:
Simon: The Patriots veteran edge defender was one of the team’s most productive pass rushers while also leading the team with four stops with no missed tackles.
Guy: Guy tied Van Noy for most total pressures with five. He didn’t show up on the traditional stat sheet with any sacks or QB hits, but he was providing pressure up the middle.
For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, go to ProFootballFocus.com.