The difficulty level for an NFL rookie to see this field this season is at an all-time high, but the New England Patriots are still receiving key contributions from two of their draft picks.
While four of the Patriots’ top six draft picks were inactive Sunday and third-round tight end Devin Asiasi has yet to be targeted, second-round pick Kyle Dugger is seeing his role on defense increase and sixth-round offensive lineman Michael Onwenu filled in admirably in his first NFL start.
We’ll dive deeper into their contributions in the Patriots’ 36-20 Week 3 win over the Las Vegas Raiders and examine what might have been Sony Michel’s best game as a pro.
PASSING ATTACKCam Newton: two dropped passes, two passed batted at the line, 73.1 adjusted completion percentage
— Newton was 0-for-1 on deep passing attempts and 3-of-8 for 65 yards with an interception in the intermediate part of the field, per PFF.— He was 3-of-4 for 44 yards with an interception and two sacks while under pressure.— Week 3 was Newton’s weakest performance as a passer in a Patriots uniform, but New England still came away with the victory thanks to standout performances from their running backs.
RUN GAMERB Sony Michel: 8 yards after contact per attempt, three avoided tacklesRB Rex Burkhead: 3 yards after contact per attempt, three avoided tacklesWR Isaiah Zuber: 2 yards after contact per attemptRB J.J. Taylor: 1.91 yards after contact per attempt, avoided tackleWR N’Keal Harry: 1 yard after contact per attempt, three avoided tacklesWR Julian Edelman: 1 yard after contact per attemptNewton: .88 yards after contact per attempt, avoided tackle
— Michel finished with a 73.5 breakaway percentage and 218.2 elusive rating, per PFF.
His previous best elusive rating — which is (Missed Tackles Forced) / (Designed Run Attempts + Receptions) * (Yards After Contact Per Attempt * 100) — came Week 12 in 2019 when he had an 127.5 elusive rating with 4.25 yards after contact per attempt and six avoided tackles.
His best breakaway percentage, which is percentage of yardage that came on runs of 15 yards or more, came Week 7 of the 2018 season with a 81.8 metric. He had just four carries for 22 yards in that game, but one of his rushes was an 18-yarder. This was probably Michel’s best performance as a pro as he ripped off 38- and 48-yard runs.
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PRESSURE ALLOWEDRT Jermaine Eluemunor: sack, hurryLT Isaiah Wynn: QB hit, hurryRG Shaq Mason: two hurriesQB Cam Newton: sackLG Michael Onwenu: hurryC Joe Thuney: cleanLT Justin Herron: clean
— Thuney started at center for the first time in his NFL career and didn’t allow a single pressure. Not bad.
— Wynn was sidelined for 10 snaps, making way for Herron. Wynn was dealing with a calf injury coming into the game. He also allowed his first two pressures of the season.
— Onwenu played extremely well in his first NFL start. The Patriots have found something in the sixth-round Michigan product who has now played left guard and right tackle as the Patriots’ top reserve in his young career.
PASS RUSHLB Chase Winovich: sack, QB hit, two hurries, forced fumbleDE Deatrich Wise: sack, QB hit, hurry, forced fumbleLB Shilique Calhoun: sack, two hurries, forced fumbleDT Adam Butler: two hurriesS Adrian Phillips: hurry
— Winovich’s team-leading 12 total pressures this season double-up his runner-up on the team, Wise, who has six.
— Wise has played a much bigger role this season after bulking into the 280-pound range. Wise played just 229 snaps in 14 games last season. He’s already up to 83 snaps through three weeks this year.
— Defensive tackles Lawrence Guy and Byron Cowart had the most pass-rush snaps without a pressure.
PASS COVERAGECB Jonathan Jones: six catches on nine targets, 81 yards, TD, two PBUsS Terrence Brooks: 3-3, 58 yardsCB JC Jackson: 5-6, 50 yards, PBUCB Stephon Gilmore: 2-3, 20 yards, PBULB Ja’Whaun Bentley: 1-2, 18 yards, PBUS Adrian Phillips: 2-2, 16 yardsCalhoun: 1-1, 6 yardsLB John Simon: 1-1, 5 yardsWinovich: 1-1, 4 yardsCB Jason McCourty: 1-1, 2 yardsLB Brandon Copeland: 1-1, 1 yard, TDS Devin McCourty: 0-1, two PBUs
— Two names that are notably absent from this list are 2019 second-round pick Joejuan Williams and 2020 second-round pick Kyle Dugger. Of Raiders tight end Darren Waller’s 36 routes run, Williams and Dugger covered him on 14 snaps and weren’t even targeted. The Patriots deployed a zone to defend Waller on seven snaps. Jason McCourty took on Waller for five snaps. No other player covered Waller more than three times.
— Williams played just nine snaps and eventually was pulled from the defensive rotation, giving way to Dugger, after getting flagged for holding a second time.
— Dugger played 25 snaps and wasn’t flagged nor targeted. The rookie played 17 snaps in a pseudo-linebacker role. He was in the slot five times, out wide at cornerback twice and on the defensive line once. It’s a tremendous sign that the Patriots would entrust him with such an important role in just his third NFL game. He’s not third on the team in snaps among safeties and seventh among defensive backs.
— Devin McCourty broke up two passes intended for Waller. He had a very strong game at free safety and isn’t slowing down at 33 years old.
— Jones struggled in his assignment covering Raiders slot receiver Hunter Renfrow.
RUN DEFENSE/TACKLINGBrooks: two run stopsSimon: run stopDT Lawrence Guy: run stop, missed tackleJackson: run stopWise: run stop, missed tackleJason McCourty: run stopWinovich: run stop, missed tackleCowart: run stopCalhoun: run stop, forced fumbleButler: run stopDevin McCourty: missed tackle
— While Winovich graded out excellent as a pass rusher, he received PFF’s second-lowest grade as a run defender. Bentley actually got the lowest mark.
— The Patriots allowed 5.7 yards per carry, including 4.4 yards per carry to starting running back Josh Jacobs.
For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, go to ProFootballFocus.com.
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