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Below are a variety of advanced stats from the Patriots’ 38-3 win over the Jets in Week 17.
TOM BRADY’S PASSING CHART
After failing to complete a pass of ten or more yards in the air last week, Brady completed seven of his 12 attempts of ten-plus air yards including three of his four touchdown passes on Sunday.
The Pats quarterback, thanks to some help from his receivers and offensive line, picked apart a depleted Jets secondary posting a season-high 133.8 passer rating.
Before we get to a few throws, it’s worth noting that Brady was uncharacteristically sharp on throws where he held onto the football for 2.5 seconds or more, a testament to the offensive line.
Typically, Brady has a lightning-quick release, and the faster the release, the better, but on Sunday his average time to throw was a season-high 2.87 seconds, yet he was still effective.
Brady made three throws that could be described as his best since the first half in Miami this week, here’s one of them on a scramble drill touchdown to Phillip Dorsett:
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Brady felt the pressure from Jets pass rusher Brandon Copeland off of the right side, and stepped around his right tackle to elude the rush and extend the play. Then, the 41-year-old continued towards the sideline getting outside the pocket while still keeping his eyes downfield to locate Dorsett in the back of the end zone delivering a strike on the move for the touchdown.
After weeks of speculation that Brady was playing with an injured knee, seeing him move so freely in and out of the pocket while throwing with pace downfield should ease Patriots fans minds.
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Just because we love to watch Tom Brady throw touchdown passes, here’s one more on a beautiful touch pass to Rex Burkhead in the back of the end zone. Brady found the match up with Burkhead against the linebacker and dropped a lob dime over the defender with enough velocity to beat the safety coming over.
After a scary performance against the Bills, Brady and the passing offense used an inferior opponent to find a rhythm heading into the playoffs.
2018 SEASON FINAL NUMBERS
In pass protection, it’s no coincidence that Brady’s bounce-back performance went hand-in-hand with a stellar day for the guys up front.
Brady was pressured on only 26.5 percent of his drop-backs after feeling the heat on 36 percent of his passing plays against Buffalo in Week 16.
The five-time Super Bowl champion was only hit three times, and both starting guards had clean sheets in that regard on Sunday.
Furthermore, the Patriots did an excellent job with picking up the Jets’ creative blitzes as Brady finished 12-14 averaging 9.9 yards per attempt, two touchdowns, and a 147.6 passer rating against New York’s 14 blitzes.
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Here, the Jets blitzed safety Jamal Adams off the edge and running back James White easily picked him up while the rest of the offensive line made a perfect pocket for Brady to step into allowing him to deliver a strike to Chris Hogan downfield.
This season, Brady was only pressured on 25.8 percent of his drop-backs, the third-best mark in the NFL among quarterbacks that played at least 50 percent of their teams’ snaps.
Although the offensive line deserves credit, Brady does as well for controlling the pass rush with a quick release, finishing the season seventh with an average time to throw of 2.45 seconds.
In other words, it has been a team effort to keep Brady clean this season.
In the slot, Brady once again had success throwing the football to Julian Edelman who caught all three of his targets from inside for 34 yards and a touchdown.
Edelman continues to be a problem for opposing defenses on intermediate routes over the middle off of play-action thanks to his next-level route-running ability.
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On the first play of the second quarter, Brady found Edelman for an 18-yard gain thanks to a terrific route by the Pats receiver. Edelman pushes vertically quickly in his stem to get on Jets corner Buster Skrine’s toes to limit Skrine’s power and ability to jam Edelman at the top of the route. Then, Edelman uses a subtle push off to go along with his footwork at the top of the route to run away from Skrine on the dig route over the middle.
Edelman finished the season eighth in the NFL averaging 1.88 yards per route run out of the slot (min. 50 percent of routes).
PASS RUSH/RUN STOPS
2018 SEASON FINAL NUMBERS
This section is going to be one last regular-season celebration of Patriots pass rusher Trey Flowers.
Flowers capped off a stellar season with a team-high seven total pressures and five run stops leading the team in both categories this season.
Flowers’ 65 total pressures were tied for 11th in the NFL this season with Pro Bowlers Cam Jordan and Myles Garrett and were the most by a Pats defender in the last five season.
On Sunday, Flowers recorded another sack to bring his season total to a career-high 7.5.
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Flowers hesitated out of his stance to diagnose Jets right tackle Brent Qvale’s pass set, and then hit Qvale with a jab and go move causing him to whiff completely on his punch.
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Flowers also forced a fumble with a perfectly timed punch in the second quarter that was recovered by teammate Devin McCourty.
Along with Flowers, the Patriots got contributions from 2017 draft picks Deatrich Wise and Derek Rivers.
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Rivers, who has worked his way back from an ACL injury that cost him his rookie season, and has battled for playing time, registered his first career sack in Week 17.
Wise had two pressures including a quarterback hit on Sam Darnold, but his contributions in the running game were a welcomed sight.
The 2017 fourth-round pick played 13 snaps against the run, his second most this season, and tied a season-high with three run stops.
In his second season, Wise has begun to use his arm length to his advantage in the running game, something he told me he didn’t know how to do as a rookie.
“It wasn’t always something I knew how to do [use arm length],” Wise said. “Players like Trey Flowers, Lawrence Guy and Malcom brown helped me play the run to my ability. Use my arms. I have long arms, learning how to use them and then over time getting comfortable with doing that.”
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On the Jets’ first running play of the game, Wise did a tremendous job of pressing the blocker and using his long arms to set the edge allowing teammate Dont’a Hightower to slip a block and come in for the tackle.
Although the run defense had its struggles, as a team, the Patriots finished 12th in pressure percentage this season (38.9).
2018 SEASON FINAL NUMBERS
Much like with Flowers above, this week was the Stephon Gilmore show for one last time in the regular season.
Gilmore shadowed Jets top wideout Robby Anderson for the second time this season and broke up more passes intended for Anderson (three) than completions into his coverage (two).
The Pro Bowl corner told the media after the game that he planned to be physical with the smaller Anderson which was apparent when you watched the two battle it out on Sunday.
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Here, Gilmore is on an island with Anderson who runs a stop route along the sideline. Gilmore makes Anderson feel him throughout the route and then beats him up at the catch point to break up the pass from Sam Darnold. As Gilmore said, Anderson was “too small” to deal with the physical Pats corner.
On the season, Gilmore led all cornerbacks in Pro Football Focus grade, his 46.7 completion percentage into his coverage was the second-best mark among corners (min. 10 targets), and he led the NFL in pass breakups with 18.
From this perspective, Gilmore should be selected to the first-team All-Pro team for the 2018 season.
Finally, rookie cornerback JC Jackson came back down to earth slightly after two terrific weeks against the Steelers and the Bills.
However, his 42.0 passer rating on passes into his coverage was the best in the NFL among cornerbacks this season.
The Patriots are in good hands with Gilmore and Jackson as their top two corners moving forward.
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