Below are various advanced stats from the Patriots’ 35-0 win over the Eagles in their second preseason game.
CAM NEWTON & MAC JONES’S PASSING STATS
Although it came against mostly backups for Philadelphia, Patriots quarterbacks Cam Newton and Mac Jones combined to have a PFF passing grade of 88.9 out of 100 on Thursday night.
Newton was terrific, completing all three of his pass attempts over ten yards in the air with an average time to throw of 3.23 seconds. After barely throwing the ball downfield last week (0.7 aDOT), the Patriots’ starter had an average depth of target of 7.4 yards against the Eagles.
The most noticeable improvement by Newton was how in-sync his feet, hips, and shoulders were with every pass attempt. When Cam is all tied together mechanically, he’s accurate.
On a 23-yard completion to Kendrick Bourne, Newton makes a great in-rhythm play where you see his body aligned with his target. Philly shows Newton a two-high safety structure pre-snap and then rotates the left safety into the box. Cam pulls that safety up towards the running back by staring down the left side then resets in the pocket towards Bourne and rips the dig route.
If Newton’s lower body mechanics (footwork) remain in sync this season, he’ll be solid.
As for rookie Mac Jones, his performance against the Eagles’ backups was also superb. Jones had an adjusted completion rate of 88.9, two big-time throws to zero turnover worthy plays, and was four-of-five with a drop on an on-target deep throw on passes of ten-plus air yards.
One of the plays that stood out for Jones was a 19-yard completion to N’Keal Harry on third-and-13 with the Patriots backed up against their own end zone. Harry is running a dig route against zone coverage, and Jones uses an open-shoulder fake to hold the outside defenders away from Harry’s route, then protects Harry from a big hit with his ball placement.
Right guard gets beat. Jones side-steps the pressure, protects the ball all in one motion and then throws a bullet between two defenders. Mac's lower half is always in sync with his throws. #Patriots pic.twitter.com/uuy5rd7BHO
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) August 20, 2021
The Pats’ first-round pick also showed great poise and movement skills in the pocket, with a quicker release of 2.79 seconds to throw on average.
Preseason performances against backups who weren’t aggressively blitzing the Pats’ quarterbacks should be taken with a grain of salt, but both Newton and Jones were terrific.
Along with the caveat that the Eagles were mainly playing backups on Thursday night, New England’s pass protection numbers were also skewed by the fact that Philly didn’t blitz.
In fact, neither Cam Newton nor Mac Jones faced a single blitz on any of their 29 drop-backs.
With that said, both QBs were kept clean to the tune of six pressures on 29 drop-backs, which is an excellent effort by the Patriots’ offensive line regardless of the defense.
The only member of the starting offensive line to allow a pressure was left guard Michael Onwenu (two hurries), while 2019 third-round pick Yodny Cajuste was another standout.
Cajuste looked overwhelmed in his first NFL action last week, allowing three QB pressures, but had a clean sheet on 22 pass-blocking reps with the highest pass-blocking grade on the team (88.1).
After sitting out his first two seasons in the league, Cajuste, a highly-skilled tackle prospect coming out of West Virginia, has very high upside with great feet and play strength.
If Cajuste finds his rhythm after a long layoff, he’s worth keeping around as a development player.
RUNNING BACK STATS
One quick note on the running back is that rookie Rhamondre Stevenson forced ten missed tackles, yes, ten, on his 15 rush attempts in Thursday night’s victory.
At 231 pounds, Stevenson is showing excellent power, contact balance, and jump cuts to avoid tackles in the open field. He moves like a much smaller back, giving him immense potential.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick described New England’s depth at running back as a “great situation” following the win over the Eagles.
DEFENSE: QUARTERBACK PRESSURES
The Patriots defense pressured Eagles quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Nick Mullens on 11 of their 31 drop-backs, or 35.5 percent, solid but not spectacular.
Chase Winovich (@Wino) gets the blocker to shoot his hands/freeze his feet off the jab step. Winovich then dips/rips & gets to Flacco for the sack! #passrush #gopats #NEvsPHI pic.twitter.com/hCv9iHDKRs
— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) August 20, 2021
Leading the way for the Patriots was edge defender Chase Winovich, who saw his first preseason action of the summer and had four quarterback pressures and two sacks. Winovich’s speed on the edge and flexibility to bend the corner makes him very difficult to block.
Although he struggled against the run, second-rounder Christian Barmore was noticeable in the pass rush. Above, Barmore uses his go-to move, an arm over, to apply pressure up the middle working on the left guard. The Patriots are hoping to get that kind of push from Barmore during his rookie season.
Lastly, free-agent addition Matt Judon is off to a tremendous start this summer. Judon registered another pressure and is the highest-graded defender in the NFL this preseason (94.9).
Judon, New England’s highest-paid free-agent signing, also tied for the team lead with two run stops on Thursday night, and all of that came on only ten snaps.
Along with Judon, the return of Kyle Van Noy to the edge of the Pats’ defense is also going well. As he did last week, Van Noy was a key figure in a third-and-short stop by slipping inside the tight end’s block and pushing the blocker into the backfield.
Although it’s only the preseason, the Patriots’ run defense looks much better than a year ago.
The Patriots held the Eagles’ quarterbacks to 4.1 yards per attempt and picked off Philadelphia’s signal-callers twice on Thursday night.
One of the biggest developments in New England’s secondary over the last week is the emergence of 2019 second-round pick Joejuan Williams at outside corner.
Williams covered first-rounder and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith on several plays and allowed one catch for five yards into his coverage on 19 coverage snaps.
If the light is going on for Williams, he’ll give the Pats much-needed depth behind starters Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson and could have a significant role in the secondary.
Another surprising standout from training camp and the preseason is special teams ace Justin Bethel holding his own at outside corner. Bethel registered a pass breakup with great coverage, and Patriots linebacker Harvey Langi intercepted the deflection.
Although Bethel has mainly played on special teams with the Patriots, he was a rotational corner earlier in his career with the Arizona Cardinals and a Pro Bowl special teamer.
STATS PROVIDED BY PRO FOOTBALL FOCUS