The New England Patriots are a defense-dominated team, and some people seem to be having a hard time grasping this concept.
If a team has a defense as good as the 2019 New England Patriots — the best in the NFL — then they don’t also need to have a top-five offense to win football games. Heading into Week 6, the Patriots were ranked eighth in Football Outsiders’ offense DVOA metric. They put up 427 yards Thursday night in their 35-14 win over the New York Giants.
This unit isn’t nearly as bad as some might think. They’re just not as good as their defense. The Patriots are still relatively well-rounded compared to the rest of the NFL, and that’s why they’re 6-0.
Could the Patriots use upgrades on their team? Of course. That’s how pro sports works. Unless you’re playing Madden with trade logic turned off, then your team is bound to have deficiencies. And the Patriots undoubtedly will try to fill at least one of those holes with a trade deadline move.
But if they don’t? The 2019 Patriots can absolutely win a Super Bowl with the way their team is currently constructed.
Here’s our full list of Week 6 takeaways with metrics via Pro Football Focus.
LT Marshall Newhouse: sack, QB hit
TE Ryan Izzo: sack, hurry
LG Joe Thuney: sack
RB James White: QB hit
RG Shaq Mason: hurry
RT Marcus Cannon: hurry
— Center Ted Karras, running back Sony Michel and fullback Jakob Johnson didn’t allow any pressures.
— Quarterback Tom Brady was only under pressure on 18.2 percent of dropbacks. That’s down from over 30 percent in Weeks 4 and 5.
— Tom Brady went 31-of-41 for 334 yards with an interception. Of his 10 incompletions, three were drops, so he had a high accuracy rate.
— Wide receiver Julian Edelman dropped two passes. Michel dropped one pass.
— Brady was 3-of-5 for 82 yards with an interception on deep passes.
— Jakobi Meyers caught 2-of-2 deep targets for 46 yards. Edelman caught 1-of-3 deep targets for 36 yards.
— Brady released the ball in 2.42 seconds. That’s also his average on the season.
— Brady didn’t throw a touchdown pass, but he did score two touchdowns on QB sneaks.
— If Josh Gordon misses time with a knee injury, then Meyers might start to gain some steam as a legitimate target in the Patriots’ offense. He impressed Thursday night with four catches for 54 yards.
Brandon Bolden: 3.67 yards after contact per carry, one forced missed tackle
Sony Michel: 2.23 yards after contact per carry, four forced missed tackles
James White: 2 yards after contact per carry, seven forced missed tackles
— Five of White’s seven forced missed tackles came as a receiver. He has two carries and nine catches.
— Michel finished with 22 carries for 86 yards, but 26 of those came on what wound up being the Patriots’ final real play of the game. It was followed by kneel-downs.
— The Patriots turned to Bolden and Brady when they got near the goal line. That’s not a great sign for Michel. Perhaps Rex Burkhead becomes the goal-line back when he returns from a foot injury.
LB Jamie Collins: three stops, missed tackle
DT Danny Shelton: two stops
FS Devin McCourty: two stops
DE Deatrich Wise: two stops
DT Lawrence Guy: stop
LB John Simon: stop
LB Kyle Van Noy: stop
LB Dont’a Hightower: stop
CB Jason McCourty: stop
CB Jonathan Jones: stop
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley: stop
FS Duron Harmon: missed tackle
— The Patriots held Giants running backs to 14 carries for 46 yards. QB Daniel Jones also carried the ball twice for 8 yards.
— Collins had a forced fumble that Van Noy recovered for a touchdown.
LB Kyle Van Noy: sack, two QB hits, three hurries
LB Dont’a Hightowr: QB hit, two hurries
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley: QB hit, two hurries
DE Deatrich Wise: two QB hits, hurry
LB Jamie Collins: three hurries
DT Danny Shelton: QB hit, hurry
LB Shilique Calhoun: QB hit, hurry
LB John Simon: two hurries
LB Chase Winovich: two hurries
FS Devin McCourty: QB hit
DE Michael Bennett: hurry
— Bentley (four pass-rush snaps), Hightower (seven snaps) and Wise (eight snaps) had high pressure rates.
— Bennett played just 11 total snaps. That’s down from 14 snaps in Week 5 and 24 snaps in Week 4. Eighteen Patriots defenders played more snaps than Bennett on Thursday night. All of his snaps came on Giants passing plays. It might be time to wonder how long he’ll last in New England with a $6.5 million cap hit. Could the Patriots use that cap space better on an offensive weapon? Or will the time come when the Patriots will need a disruptive pass rusher like Bennett? They’re doing a good job creating pressure without him.
— Van Noy leads the team with 24 pressures on the season.
CB Jonathan Jones: five catches, seven targets, 95 yards, TD, two PBUs
CB Jason McCourty: 2-2, 25 yards
LB Dont’a Hightower: 2-3, 23 yards
FS Devin McCourty: 2-2, 10 yards
CB Stephon Gilmore: 1-7, 9 yards, INT, four PBUs
SS Terrence Brooks: 1-2, 7 yards
CB JC Jackson: 0-2
FS Duron Harmon: INT
LB John Simon: INT
LB Jamie Collins: 2-2, -8 yards
— Jones let up a 64-yard passing touchdown. He actually got his hand on the ball, which happened to fall into receiver Golden Tate’s arms. It was a tough bounce for the usually dependable cornerback and will skew his statistics for the rest of the season.
— Gilmore had one of the best games of his Patriots career. It led to this tweet:
Stephen Gilmore by far is the best corner in the game right now. #shutdown #numberone
— Darrelle Revis (@Revis24) October 11, 2019
— McCourty and Jackson are quietly having really good seasons.
CB JC JACKSON
Jackson has let up just 7 yards on two catches and seven targets in coverage over the past three games. He has two interceptions during that span. He’s let up just 96 yards on the season and is allowing a 15.8 passer rating. He might be the only lockdown No. 4 cornerback in the NFL.
LB JA’WHAUN BENTLEY
Bentley rushed the passer four times and created pressure on three of those snaps. That’s pretty darn good. He forced an incompletion with one QB hit and stopped Giants running back Jon Hilliman for a 3-yard gain on a first-and-10 run.
For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, go to ProFootballFocus.com.