Partly because he had more time in his pocket, there were also more instances of Jones stepping up after his initial read rather than panicking when his first read wasn’t open. It was noticeable when the Pats used the play on third-and-short. Bourne’s initial read was on a whip route, and was well covered, but Jones calmly transitioned from it to his second read to find Demario Douglas for 16 yards.
The Patriots QB said there were a few instances where his eyes fell to the rush instead of continuing his reads, but this was much better than Jones. Mac also made “big” throws to TE Pharaoh Brown (seam) and rookie WR Demario Douglas (seam) and ran the scheme elements of the offense adequately (rush play, play-action, RPO, etc.). Overall, Jones has +0.34 excellent expected points added to 39 running backs (84th percentile).
We’ve been tough on the quarterback over the past three weeks, but against a team with his team number, Jones held his own against the Bills on Sunday.
3. Personnel and scheme adjustments led to a season-high 29 points for the Patriots’ offense
After back-to-back losses to the Cowboys and Saints, the mantra around the team, led by the head coach’s statements after the losses, was that the Patriots were “starting over.”
However, a disappointing loss on the road in Vegas to the Raiders didn’t feel like starting over. It looked like the same film we’d seen the first four games: the same slow start (13-3 in the first half) and the same shaky play by the offensive line and receivers, leading to the same rocky showing by the quarterback — if that were to start over. Boy, pay attention below.
On Sunday, it looked like the Patriots offense was starting over, as several aspects of the offense were adjusted to stabilize the offensive line and create more conflict on defense. Starting with the personnel, the Pats coaching staff finally made a move we’ve all been clamoring for by moving OL Mike Onwenu to right tackle. Onwenu has not started a game at right tackle since the 2021 season, as the team tried to put him at guard, but the move was necessary.
Heading into the weekend, the Patriots ranked last in pressures allowed (36th) and ranked 32nd in pass blocking grade by right tackles (27.9 out of 100). Something had to give, as the team couldn’t keep bringing up Vedarian Lowe, who is simply in over his head. With fourth baseman Cedi Sow holding his own at right guard, the Pats went with their sixth different lineup in seven weeks: LT Trent Brown, LJ Cole String, C David Andrews, RG Cedi Sow, and Onwenu at right tackle.
Despite their lack of interior rusher Ed Oliver, the Bills entered the game leading the league in sacks (24) while ranking fifth in pressure rate. With Big Mike at right tackle, Jones was under pressure on just 21.9% of his season-best rebounds, and the Pats had a 48% success rate on the ground. It may be too late with the Pats in a hole record-wise, but it’s not a stretch to say that reconfiguring the O-line may have saved their season from disaster.
Along with reshuffling the offensive line, O’Brien is slowly building more movement on offense, especially in the run game, as the Pats have used movement on 72.7% of their plays this week. The Pats OC also shot eight steals (6 of 8, 95 yards) and used more RPOs.
It’s fair to ask, and we will, what took so long for the Patriots to do: move Onwenu to right tackle, feed Kendrick Bourne and Pop Douglas, use more movement and run fakes. But I think O’Brien was always getting to that point on offense. Unfortunately, their losses increased very quickly.
This is the way forward for the Patriots offense. Now, let’s hope they stick to it.
4. The Patriots Defense finally solved the Josh Allen problem by “shipping” the Bills quarterback
The Patriots took a different approach to defending Bills quarterback Josh Allen this time around, focusing on a coordinated pass rush to put Buffalo’s QB1 under siege.
As we wrote in our game plan earlier this week, to beat Captain Chaos (Allen), you have to bring the fight to him. New England did this by attacking Allen 43.2% from its dropbacks, while the Pats’ coaching staff challenged the interior defensive line to pressure Allen up the middle. The idea was to have Allen escape the middle of the pocket rather than extending plays to his left or right, where he is more dangerous.
“You’ve got to put pressure on the quarterback. Elite players can put pressure on him all you want, but if you don’t have pressure on the quarterback against that guy, then that guy is an elite quarterback. The top three quarterbacks in the game are elite,” Godchaux told Patriots.com. “The NFL, so you have to force him out of the pocket down the middle and hope the ends can catch up to him.”
The Pats’ interior forwards responded to the call by contributing to a 40.9% pressure rate, throwing off the pace of the Bills’ offense and confusing Allen with some uncharacteristic mistakes in putting the football down the field. The Patriots’ leaders in QB pressures, according to NextGen Stats, were Christian Barmore (5), Dietrich Wise (5), Jaun Bentley (3), and Godchaux (3). As these numbers indicate, they have been successful in pressuring Allen up the middle.
Although the Bills’ quarterback was only sacked once, Allen hurried 18 times, which threw him off his game a bit. On pass attempts over 2.5 seconds, Allen is just 10 of 24 with a passer rating of 42.0 and a higher-than-expected completion percentage of -8.1.
On some days, the Bills’ quarterback may have torched the Patriots’ defense because he allowed him to extend the play with his legs when pressure arrived. But on this day, Allen was out of the game.
5. Rookie WR Demario Douglas takes a team-high 74 yards
In another positive development for the Patriots offense, rookie jitterbug Demario Douglas returned from a one-game absence to lead the team with 74 scrimmage yards on five catches.
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