Monday, December 7, 2009

The Patriots really aren't that good

It's the popular idea today: The Patriots didn't necessarily do anything egregiously wrong in their loss at Miami on Sunday. The Patriots don't necessarily have some sort of mental block when it comes to winning on the road. The Patriots aren't necessarily gag artists who can't live up to expectations.

The Patriots might just not be all that good.

Given the numerous factors that go into winning and losing football games, it's a tough theory to try to prove. With help from our friends at, though, we'll give it a shot. Here's a position-by-position look -- with stats up to date entering play entering play in Week 13 and thus not including Week 13 -- at how the Patriots rank when compared to their counterparts around the NFL:

(Note: The rankings include every aspect of the game -- meaning wide receivers are evaluated on their run-blocking as well as their pass-catching, and linebackers are evaluated on their pass coverage as well as their tackling.)

1. Ryan Kalil, Carolina
2. Nick Mangold, N.Y. Jets
3. Jake Grove, Miami
13. Dan Koppen, New England

1. Jahri Evans, New Orleans
2. Steve Neal, New England
3. Carl Nicks, New Orleans
12. Logan Mankins, New England

1. Joe Thomas, Cleveland
2. Willie Colon, Pittsburgh
3. Jake Long, Miami
5. Sebastian Vollmer, New England
14. Nick Kaczur, New England
45. Matt Light, New England

Tight end
1. Kevin Boss, N.Y. Giants
2. Jason Witten, Dallas
3. Dallas Clark, Indianapolis
18. Chris Baker, New England
33. Ben Watson, New England

Wide receiver
1. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis
2. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona
3. Vincent Jackson, San Diego
9. Wes Welker, New England
18. Randy Moss, New England
45. Sam Aiken, New England

Running back
1. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville
2. Ray Rice, Baltimore
3. Ricky Williams, Miami
9. Kevin Faulk, New England
49. Laurence Maroney, New England

1. Drew Brees, New Orleans
2. Brett Favre, Minnesota
3. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis
10. Tom Brady, New England

Offensive analysis: The Patriots have two players who rank among the top five at their position in the NFL. Both -- Neal and Vollmer -- were injured against Miami. Wes Welker remains a playmaking machine. Brady ranks ahead of names like Carson Palmer, Eli Manning and Joe Flacco but behind David Garrard, Kurt Warner and Matt Schaub.

3-4 defensive end
1. Justin Smith, San Francisco
2. Randy Starks, Miami
3. Corey Williams, Cleveland
11. Ty Warren, New England
(Neither Jarvis Green nor Mike Wright has played enough snaps at 3-4 end to qualify.)

Defensive tackle
1. Kevin Williams, Minnesota
2. Kelly Gregg, Baltimore
3. Vince Wilfork, New England

3-4 outside linebacker
1. DeMarcus Ware, Dallas
2. James Harrison, Pittsburgh
3. Tully Banta-Cain, New England

Inside linebacker
1. Ray Lewis, Baltimore
2. Patrick Willis, San Francisco
3. Nick Barnett, Green Bay
33. Gary Guyton, New England
39. Jerod Mayo, New England

1. Charles Woodson, Green Bay
2. Darrelle Revis, N.Y. Jets
3. Antoine Winfield, Minnesota
14. Leigh Bodden, New England
61. Darius Butler, New England
68. Shawn Springs, New England
81. Jonathan Wilhite, New England

1. Ed Reed, Baltimore
2. Reed Doughty, Washington
3. Nick Collins, Green Bay
14. Brandon Meriweather, New England
68. Brandon McGowan, New England

Defensive analysis: The dismal rankings of the Patriots' cornerbacks shouldn't be surprising. Whoever it is that watches film for, though, also is having a tough time finding impact plays made either by Mayo or McGowan. The disappearance of Mayo in particular -- he has 64 tackles in nine games this season, but raise your hand if you remember the last impact play he made -- might be one of the most under-discussed subplots of the Patriots' collapse. That might be worth a separate film breakdown and discussion in this space.

Credit should go to Tully Banta-Cain, however, who really is having a Pro Bowl-caliber year rushing the passer. Entering play Sunday, had credited Banta-Cain with five sacks, seven hits on the quarterback and 13 pressures -- and he'd missed just two tackles all season.

1 comment:

floydiansea said...

I've been pretty surprised by the season the Patriots have been having. And I'm not even a fan. ;)