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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Mon Dec 09 | 12:00 AM - 09:00 PM

After Further Review: Patriots defense takes over and finishes against Eagles

20191118-AfterFurtherReview-PDC

First Quarter

-The Eagles got a 49-yard PI call on their first offensive play of the game but that was all they got on the first drive. The Patriots inserted Dietrich Wise at right defensive end in their 3-4 defense but he still looks miscast in a two-gapping role. It allows Adam Butler to shift to his usual interior pass rusher role. There isn't much room for error with the Pats four pure defensive linemen, Byron Cowart was inactive.

-The first two plays said a lot about the Patriots offense, first with Brandon Bolden at fullback and a screen pass to Sony Michel. Then a power package with Jermaine Eluemanor as a third tackle/tight end and Elandon Roberts at fullback. Right out of the gate they were throwing new twists out there and signalling that passing to the running backs would be part of the attack. They'd try another screen to Edelman on third down of the first possession, then another to White on third down of the second possession.

-The defining drive of the first half was an epic 16-play, 95-yard Eagles touchdown drive that saw just two third downs, the second of which came on the scoring play.Aside from a 2nd-and-goal incompletion the Eagles had success on every other play, with only a 21-yard screen pass to Dallas Goedert going more than 10 yards.

-Carson Wentz was locked in on this drive, getting the ball out quickly to the open receivers and the Patriots were hurt by some bad tackling and pressure that was just a step late. Chase Winovich got some run with the base defense but lost the edge on back-to-back plays. He's shown some flash as a pass rusher but there's still a ways to go for the rookie to go against the run.

Second Quarter

-N'Keal Harry's first career catch came out of 22 personnel with Harry the only receiver on the field. Brady threw it before he made his break and though it would've been nice to see a catch-and-run, just hanging on to the ball and getting a first down was a good start.

-The offensive line wasn't the glaring weakness on this drive as far as the TV copy goes, it just seemed like receivers were not getting open or at the very least Brady didn't feel comfortable pulling the trigger. Fletcher Cox gave Cannon and Mason all they could handle but the quick windows should've been there.

-Still, the offense got enough to produce a field goal. Of the 13 plays on the drive, only three produced successful yardage and there was also an 11-yard defensive pass interference. Eight were incompletions or no gain and one was a three-yard run. Up and down says it all.

-The Patriots defensive fortunes seemed to flip on a second-down sack by Elandon Roberts that finally broke the ice. It was a team defense play, with the cornerbacks taking away the quick route combination on the outside, forcing Wentz to reload, while Roberts defeated the running back block and finished the play.

-It was a disappointing end to a 44-yard drive to flame out at the four-yard-line. The Patriots went with three passing plays from 11 personnel, not even flirting with any power runs. After have two backs on the field for nearly half the snaps to this point it was a telling sequence.

-The defense would again respond and give the offense a boost. Shelton was relentless with his pass rush, always a huge positive because big nose tackles in the Pats D can lack pocket push on early-down passes. John Simon peeled off, covering the running back and taking away the first read. It was the same kind of play as Roberts earlier sack and the second-straight defensive possession with a big play.

-Also a nice stop by the defense at the end of the first half, holding the Eagles to a punt as they got to the edge of field goal range. The coverage was really good on second down at the New England 44 but Adam Butler made the play, delaying his rush and letting Wentz scramble right into him. Wentz was the Eagles leading third-down rusher and had converted plenty of plays like this by tucking and running but the Pats were ready for it and it kept vital points off the board.

Third Quarter

-The first drive of the second half was the Patriots best by far of the game. It went 10 plays, 84 yards and featured seven successful plays and just three unsuccessful ones. An end around to Sanu got things started but it was Rex Burkhead's 30-yard screen pass after breaking a tackle in the backfield that took them into Eagles territory. Karras badly missed a block in space on the would-be tackler. It was the first successful screen since the first play of the game.

-This drive was another exhibit how the no huddle has been their most effective weapon this year, which shouldn't be surprising since it puts a lot on Brady. They can't use it all the time but it's at least one good tool in the toolbox.

-Facing a third-and-11 in the red zone the Pats busted out their second double pass of the game. It was a perfectly executed play by Brady, Edelman and Dorsett and would give the Pats all the points they'd need for the rest of the game. It's just telling what they have to resort to to produce their only touchdown of the game.

-Once the Pats took the 17-10 lead, the punt-fest began with the teams combining for 10-straight punts until the Eagles' last two drives of the game.

-There's plenty of piling on Marshall Newhouse but he's far from the only problem on the offensive line. They all continue to have their bad plays, looking disjointed in a way we're not used to seeing in November. Usually it's all far more coordinated by this point. Isaiah Wynn's athleticism will help but it won't be enough to turn a corner unless everyone plays better along with him.

-Matt LaCosse dodged a major bullet on the play where his forward progress was blown dead, preventing what could've been a game-changing fumble.

Fourth Quarter

-Nice catch by Jakobi Meyers on a third down early in the fourth. He was quiet in this game but got a couple chances like everyone did. Not sure what his trajectory is for the rest of the season but plays like this help his cause. It looked like he ran the wrong route a few plays later though.

-Michael busted off a 12-yard run from the Patriots 7-yard line, the kind of play that leaves you wondering why this can't be more consistent. It was one of the few times an outside zone was well-blocked.

-The Eagles made things tense with their second-to-last drive that went from their six all the way to the New England 26. But it wasn't like they suddenly solved the Patriots defense, the first play was a broken pocket 29-yard gain. Then a ticky-tacky defensive holding call on Stephon Gilmore got them out of a potential 3rd-and-10. They'd get one more big play, a nice throw by Wentz from a collapsing pocket to Agholor coming out of a bunch set that opened a window. But again, the Eagles had to claw for every yard they got.

-Gotta love the Pats bringing the house on the final fourth down play. Wentz had no choice but to launch it up into the end zone and it was far closer than you'd like. But that's what this defense does this year, attack and force you to make spectacular plays.

-Would've been much nicer to close it out on offense but three-straight runs from pure power personnel (two snaps of 23 personnel) gained nine yards, sticking around the usual three yards-per-carry. The offense was totally stagnant in the second half after the first drive, but not being able to get one first down to end the game for the defense might've been the most disappointing part of the performance.

10 Takeaways

  1. Isaiah Wynn will not save the offense. He can help but there's work across the board to be done. Don'tmake Marshall Newhouse out to be the one bad apple.
  2. The strength of the defense is the secondary. Nothing against the defensive line and linebackers but when the defense is playing poorly it's because of the front seven. Even when teams complete passes ball carriers are quickly tackled by the sticky secondary.
  3. Not sure we learned anything about the Patriots run defense in this game without Jordan Howard, but that will change this weekend when they face Ezekial Elliot. Dallas has the talent to stress the defense but do they have the discipline?
  4. If Phillip Dorsett is out for any length of time after his head injury that happened on the touchdown, it will thrust N'Keal Harry into a sizable role. The plays he made were fine but it's going to take time for him to develop and he didn't exactly jump off the screen at any point.
  5. Ben Watson is starting to emerge with some key catches. At this point anything they get from non-Edelman/White players is a huge help. Hard to believe they cut him at one point this season.
  6. They really threw it all at the wall in this one but did anything stick? Continuing to get Harry and LaCosse snaps might be the only focus.
  7. The power experiments with Roberts and Bolden at fullback and Eluemanor as a blocking third tackle were ineffective. It feels like they're really missing their fullbacks.
  8. The focus on the screen game was apparent, they ran eight of them and had success on three of them, including the 30-yarder by Burkhead. Not sure they're feeling like it's another thing to hang their hat on despite their best efforts.
  9. The defense got back on track and they'll match up with any passing offense. It's the power running teams with depth at tight end that would appear to be the problems. That could be the Ravens, 49ers and, to some extent, the Chiefs.
  10. This is shaping up to be one of the most fascinating end of seasons with Tom Brady. His frustration in the postgame was clear. Can he turn this group into another deadly offense? We've never quite see it be this challenging this late in the season, at least he has a lot of pieces to work with.

Packages

Offense

  • 11 - 51 snaps
  • 21 - 8 snaps
  • 22 - 7 snaps
  • 23 - 2 snaps

Defense

  • 2-4-5 - 30 snaps
  • 1-4-6 - 26 snaps
  • 3-4 - 6 snaps
  • Prevent (3-8/2-9) - 5 snaps

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