On football

Painting a picture by numbers

Shaun Ellis and Brandon Deaderick combine to take down Miami’s Matt Moore for one of the Patriots’ 51 sacks. Shaun Ellis and Brandon Deaderick combine to take down Miami’s Matt Moore for one of the Patriots’ 51 sacks. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff)
By Greg A. Bedard
Globe Staff / February 16, 2012
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Last in a three-part series analyzing the Patriots’ season:

When Patriots coach Bill Belichick looked back at the 2010 season and ahead to 2011, it was likely apparent to him that his team needed to improve significantly in two areas: getting to the quarterback and getting off the field on third down, especially in long-yardage situations.

The Patriots had 36 sacks in 17 games in 2010. According to the Globe’s game charting, they knocked down the quarterback an additional 58 times. That’s 94 times the quarterback hit the turf, about 5.5 times per game.

In this pass-happy NFL, that likely wasn’t cutting it.

As far as third downs, the Patriots’ problems were well-documented. They finished 2010 last in total third-down defense (47.1 percent) and in third-down defense of more than 10 yards (31.5 percent).

So Belichick came up with a plan through scheme changes and player acquisitions.

Of course, things didn’t work as planned. Several key players didn’t stay healthy: cornerbacks Leigh Bodden and Ras-I Dowling, safety Josh Barrett, and defensive linemen Mike Wright and Myron Pryor. And tackle Albert Haynesworth was cut.

In spite of that, the Patriots got better in both areas, which helped propel them to the Super Bowl.

In 19 games, they had 51 sacks and 83 knockdowns for a total of 134 times the opposing quarterback had to pick himself off the turf, an average of 7.1 per game. That was a significant improvement.

And on third down, the Patriots improved slightly overall (43.1 percent, 28th in the NFL), but dramatically on third downs of more than 10 yards (15.9 percent, 10th).

Where will Belichick look to improve heading into next season? That’s part of our trip through some of the significant numbers from the 2011 season, with figures provided by Stats LLC and our own game charting:

253 - Plays allowed of 10 or more yards, last in the league (average of 208). Patriots gave up 224 in 2010.

89 - Plays allowed of 20 or more yards, last in the league (average of 64). Patriots allowed 61 in 2010 to finish 21st.

70 - Pass plays allowed over 20 yards, up significantly from 2010 (42).

72 - Completions for Tom Brady of 20 or more yards, which led the league (average of 52).

51.6 - Percentage of Brady’s passing yards that came after the catch, a league-leading average of 6.7 yards per completion, most under Belichick. In 2007, 42 percent of Brady’s passing yards came after the catch. Average yards per catch by receiver: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, 16.1 on nine receptions; Danny Woodhead, 7.9 on 18; Rob Gronkowski, 7.4 on 90; Aaron Hernandez, 6.8 on 79; Deion Branch, 6.7 on 51; Wes Welker, 6.2 on 122; Matthew Slater, 5.0 on one; Kevin Faulk, 4.9 on nine; Stevan Ridley, 4.9 on five; Chad Ochocinco, 3.4 on 15; Tiquan Underwood, 2.7 on three; Julian Edelman, 2.3 on four.

41 - Rushes allowed of more than 10 yards, after 32 in 2010.

29 - Rushes by the Patriots of more than 10 yards, a big step back from 39 in 2010. The Patriots had five rushes of 20 yards or more - all by Ridley - which was last in the league and down from nine in 2010.

51 - Sacks by the Patriots (28 in 2010). Here’s the breakdown, which may differ from official numbers because we give half credit to a player who causes a quarterback to run into a sack: 12-Mark Anderson; 10 1/2-Andre Carter; 10-Rob Ninkovich; 6-Vince Wilfork; 3-Brandon Deaderick; 2 1/2-Kyle Love; 2-Shaun Ellis; 1-Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Patrick Chung; half-sack-Gerard Warren, James Ihedigbo, Myron Pryor, Mike Wright.

105 - Quarterback hurries by the Patriots (122 in 2010). Breakdown: 15 1/2-Ninkovich; 15-Wilfork; 14 1/2-Anderson; 10 1/2-Love; 10-Carter; 8-Warren; 6-Ellis; 5-Haynesworth; 4 1/2-Deaderick; 3-Spikes; 2-Mayo, Ihedigbo, Dane Fletcher; 1-Pryor, Kyle Arrington, Gary Guyton, Tracy White, Jermaine Cunningham, Alex Silvestro, Sterling Moore.

83 - Quarterback knockdowns (58 in 2010). Breakdown: 21-Carter; 10-Anderson; 8 1/2-Ninkovich, Wilfork; 6-Mayo; 5 1/2-Fletcher; 4 1/2-Haynesworth; 2 1/2-Love, Warren; 2-Spikes, Ihedigbo, Pryor, Edelman; 1 1/2-Ellis; 1-Deaderick, Arrington, Phillip Adams, and team (no credit could be discerned); half-Guyton.

239 - Total quarterback pressures, which includes sacks, hurries, and knockdowns (216 in 2010). Breakdown: 41 1/2-Carter; 36 1/2-Anderson; 34-Ninkovich; 29 1/2-Wilfork; 15 1/2-Love; 11-Warren; 9 1/2-Haynesworth, Ellis; 9-Mayo; 8 1/2-Deaderick; 7 1/2-Fletcher; 6-Spikes; 4 1/2-Ihedigbo; 3 1/2-Pryor; 2-Edelman, Arrington; 1 1/2-Guyton; 1-team, Adams, White, Cunningham, Silvestro, Chung, Moore; half-Wright.

109 - Stuffed runs, those of 1 yard or less outside of short yardage, including holding penalties (85 in 2010). Breakdown: 17 1/2-Wilfork; 13-Carter; 9 1/2-Love; 9-Mayo; 8 1/2-Ninkovich, Spikes; 6-Ellis, Fletcher; 5 1/2-Deaderick; 4-Arrington, Devin McCourty; 3 1/2-Anderson, Warren; 2-Haynesworth, Tracy White; 1 1/2-Ihedigbo; 1-Pryor, Guyton, team, Sergio Brown; half-Adams, Chung.

35 - Sacks allowed in 19 games, after 28 in 17 games in 2010. Breakdown: 6 1/2-Nate Solder; 4 1/2-Brady; 4-Sebastian Vollmer; 3 1/2-Logan Mankins; 2 1/2-Matt Light, Brian Waters, Danny Woodhead; 2-team (no individual fault could be discerned); 1 1/2-Dan Connolly; 1-Green-Ellis, Rob Gronkowski, Thomas Welch, Nick McDonald, Donald Thomas; half-Ryan Wendell.

106 - Quarterback pressures allowed, up from 81 in 2010. Breakdown: 23-Solder; 18-Light; 13 1/2-Mankins; 11-Connolly, 10-team; 7-Vollmer; 6-Waters; 5-Woodhead; 3 1/2-Wendell; 2-Brady, Green-Ellis; 1 1/2-Marcus Cannon; 1-Rob Gronkowski, Thomas, Dan Gronkowski; half-Welch.

58 - Quarterback knockdowns allowed, up from 36 in 2010. Breakdown: 10 1/2-Light; 7-Mankins, Connolly; 6-Brady; 5-Solder, team; 4-Waters; 3-Green-Ellis, Vollmer; 2-Rob Gronkowski; 1 1/2-Wendell; 1-Woodhead, Cannon, Welch, McDonald.

199 - Total quarterback pressures allowed (146 in 2010). Breakdown: 34 1/2-Solder; 31-Light; 24-Mankins; 19 1/2-Connolly; 17-team; 14-Vollmer; 12 1/2-Brady, Waters; 8 1/2-Woodhead; 6-Green-Ellis; 5 1/2-Wendell; 4-Rob Gronkowski; 2 1/2-Cannon, Welch; 2-McDonald, Thomas; 1-Dan Gronkowski.

110 - Stuffed runs allowed (85 in 2010). Breakdown: 20-team; 16-Mankins, Waters; 12 1/2-Solder, 9 1/2-Connolly; 9-Gronkowski; 8-Light; 7-Hernandez; 5 1/2-Wendell; 2-McDonald; 1-Cannon, Green-Ellis, Edelman, Welker; half-Branch.

58 - Passes defensed in the regular season, according to Stats LLC, which was 32 fewer than in 2010. McCourty went from a team-leading 17 and seven interceptions to 12 and two. Breakdown: 13-Arrington; 12-McCourty; 4-Bodden, Chung, Mayo, Ninkovich; 3-Antwaun Molden, Wilfork; 2-Moore; 1-Adams, Anderson, Brown, Carter, Guyton, Ihedigbo, Jones, Spikes, White.

33 - Opposition miscues forced, 23 interceptions and 10 fumbles (eight recovered). Breakdown: 7-Arrington; 3-Mayo, Ninkovich, Wilfork; 2-Anderson, Carter, McCourty, Molden, Moore; 1-Ron Brace, Fletcher, Slater, Brown, Chung, Guyton, Adams.

1,098 - Tackles during the regular season, according to coaches’ film review. Mayo led with 103. Using snap counts from, here are the most active Patriot defenders when you divide tackles by snaps played (minimum 40 snaps): 23.3 percent-Edelman; 17.4-Koutouvides; 12.2-Fletcher; 11.4-Guyton; 10-White; 9.4-Spikes; 9.1-Mayo; 9-Slater; 8.7-Chung; 8.6-Brown; 7.9-McCourty, Molden, Ihedigbo, Jones; 7.8-Carter; 7.1-Arrington.

111 - Missed tackles, according to, up from 72 in 2010. The worst offenders: 15-Ninkovich; 12-Ihedigbo; 11-McCourty; 9-Mayo; 6-Fletcher, Arrington, Chung; 5-Adams, Brown; 4-Spikes, Love.

87 - Penalties against in the regular season, which ranked 27th in the league. The worst offenders: 7-Mankins; 6-Rob Gronkowski; 5-Light; 4-McCourty, Solder, Wilfork, Brown, Waters, Brady.

Greg A. Bedard can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @gregabedard.

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