To put how unusual this is into context, take an average team that beats the spread by 17-plus points exactly 10 percent of the time. What is the chance that team would beat the spread by 17-plus points five (or more) times out of ten? 0.2 percent! So this is a case where a small sample size really does tell us something. Over the last decade, the Patriots have been completely on their own island in their propensity for following big losses with surprisingly strong wins. And it looks like more than randomness. Note that I am counting 2008, too. If we only include the Brady era, following big losses the Patriots have beaten the point spread by more than 17 points four out of seven times.

Well, believe it or not but the Patriots are the number one defense in the NFL in Football Outsiders DVOA metric. They have the best pass defense by far, while their rushing defense ranks just 18th.

The offense? 23rd overall, being 20th in both rushing and passing. This is just about a complete reversal of where things have been in recent seasons. I’m a defense guy so maybe I should enjoy it? The problem is I’m also a Brady guy and I’d really prefer he not get killed before the bye week.

Against specific receivers the Pats are:

vs. #1 WR: 6th
vs #2 WR: 3rd
vs. Other WR: 3rd
vs. TE: 14th
vs. RB: 4th

We’ll see how these numbers stack up once we hit the iron of the schedule which is coming quickly at us.

On the season, the Patriots have run 19 of their 211 plays out of no-huddle (9 percent) and 67 snaps in shotgun (32 percent). By way of comparison, over the course of the 2013 regular season, the Patriots were in shotgun for 42 percent of their offensive snaps and they ran no-huddle on 11 percent of their snaps.

It Is What It Is » In Focus: Charting offensive opportunities for Patriots skill position players

Makes sense, move Brady into shotgun to help the protection and let everyone get on the same page before pushing the no huddle. And I still think 9 percent is almost too high when you look at those failed ‘run to the line, run the ball for a loss’ plays.

we normally don't see the patriots blitz often if at all in games. with at least 3 corners that can play man should we expect a little more blitzing(not every play but more then we normally are accustomed to) this year
Anonymous

It’s an interesting question that will be something to really monitor this season because BB has never had the quality of corners on paper that he has right now.

One thing about defense though is that you never want to have to blitz. You want to get pressure with four. Of course that’s easier said that done. And really, the mainstream definition of a blitz is sending more than four guys, but some would tell you a real blitz is only when defensive backs are getting sent, which we saw occasionally with Arrington and Ryan last season.

Belichick is and will likely always be a fairly conservative defensive coach and it’s hard to argue with the results. But now that his theoretically has multiple corners who can man-up receivers and take them out of the equation, does he start sending more blitzes? Certainly seems like there’s a good chance.

But if I was a betting man I’d bet his blitz rate remains nearly unchanged.

Here’s the percentages of blitzes from last season. While some of it is dependent on how the games unfolded, the Pats are unlikely to ever blitz more than 30% of the snaps.

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This is a critical article if you want more insight into the Patriots pass rush. The Pats are ranked 25th overall in blitz percentage, obviously meaning that they really don’t blitz very much at all compared to the rest of the NFL.

When the Pats do blitz, they were fairly effective, ranking 13th in the NFL for pass rush productivity when sending more than four guys. But again, it didn’t happen very often.

Finally comes the real measure, and that is measuring the ability to get pressure with just their front four. In this the Pats were ranked 23rd.

I think in Bill Belichick’s world this is the most telling stat. When the Pats had a dominant defense this ranking would’ve been much higher because they had the ability to get pressure with just four guys, which would be their front three in the 3-4 and whichever LB they felt like sending on that play.

If you’re a conservative defensive team and you don’t blitz a lot, getting pressure with just four is critical to your defense. It might be the single most important element. This is why, for all the excitement the signings of Revis and Browner bring, it’s all about the front seven as I see it if this defense is going to be truly elite.

Also, here’s MMQB’s last pressure points ranking which similarly has the Pats in the early-20s for pass rush. Just not good enough. If Wilfork/Kelly can re-enter the rotation they will definitely help, but how limited will they be. Hopefully Armstead helps too.

Recapping the Pats Stats

Here are a collection of some of my favorite stats, mostly Football Outsiders’ DVOA rankings, with the final 2013 values in.

Some dropoff on offense, but considering the changes, they barely registered a blip. Pats offense was still elite.

The defense saw it’s best pass defense since 2007, but the regression in run defense is huge as to be expected without their two two tackles and top two tacklers.

Pats played their most sub defense in four seasons this year, that tends to happen when you essentially run out of defensive linemen. Even with better pass defense and more defensive backs, they regressed on 3rd down. They need to solve that problem and until they do they will never be an elite defense.

Nothing exciting about these numbers either, except that they finally did a good job covering tight ends after two-straight seasons of futility. Maybe Jamie Collins helped play into that a bit. The drop at #2 WR is likely due in part to Talib locking down WR #1 and not many passes going that way.

Must-read alert from Doug Kyed! Great stats and a lot of assumption-killing numbers.

Great stats from Doug Kyed. Nice improvement this year, and really shows how well Devin McCourty has done on the back end.

Check out how the Patriots stack up this season on deep passes compared to the past two years below.

2013: 26-84, 30.9%, 9.25 YPA, 777 yards, 5 TDs, 6 INTs, 4 pass interference penalties

2012: 35-88, 39.8%, 12.1 YPA, 1,067 yards, 12 TDs, 9 INTs, 4 pass interference penalties

2011: 39-78, 50%, 15.7 YPA, 1,226 yards, 6 TDs, 3 INTs, 5 pass interference penalties

Here are the latest DVOA rankings as the Patriots defense continues their decline to an average-at-best squad. But hey, the offense still looks pretty good. 

Perhaps the most-telling offensive stat though for this Patriots team is their VARIANCE, which measures how consistent they are from drive to drive. They’re 27th.

The defense is more consistent, they’re 13th in Variance. So consistently slightly-below-average.

Overall: 6th

Offense: 5th

  • Pass 8th
  • Run 9th

Defense: 21st

  • Pass 16th
  • Run 21st
  • vs #1 WR: 13th
  • vs. #2 WR: 30th
  • vs. Other WR: 21st
  • vs. TE: 16th
  • vs. RB: 17th

Special Teams: 3rd

Who needs Patriots tickets???