Extra Points

Patriots Take 2: What Went Wrong For Darrelle Revis vs. Raiders?

They say a loss is never as bad as it looks, and a win is never as good as it looks. So what the hell did we see on Sunday?

The Patriots beat the Raiders, 16-9, in what could only be described as an ugly win. We heard the usual line that the players would "rather have an ugly win than a pretty loss," but is it possible that the win was even worse than it looked? Where should the concern level be after three games?

The offensive line continues to struggle, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski remain the only two reliable targets in the passing game, and Tom Brady looks as uncomfortable as ever.

Here's one last look back on Week 3 before we turn the page for good.

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Under Pressure

Here's the weekly look at how the offensive and defensive lines performed on passing downs.

Defense (34 pass snaps):

Rob Ninkovich: 30 pass-rush snaps; 1 hurry; 1 hit
Chandler Jones: 30 pass-rush snaps; 3 hurries; 2 pass break-ups
Vince Wilfork: 24 pass-rush snaps; 0 hurries
Dominique Easley: 16 pass-rush snaps; 1 hurry
Chris Jones: 14 pass-rush snaps; 1 hurry
Dont'a Hightower: 12 pass-rush snaps; 2 hurries, 1 hit
Jerod Mayo: 11 pass-rush snaps; 3 hurries
Sealver Siliga: 4 pass-rush snaps; 0 hurries
Joe Vellano: 1 pass-rush snap; 0 hurries
Logan Ryan: 1 pass-rush snap; 1 hurry
Devin McCourty: 1 pass-rush snap; 0 hurries
Nate Ebner: 1 pass-rush snap; 0 hurries

In all, the Patriots' defense logged 13 pressures (11 hurries, two hits, no sacks).

The Patriots' pass-rush has been highly inconsistent through the first three weeks. Once again, Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower made their presence felt, as did Jerod Mayo in his customary role as a blitzing linebacker, but the rest of the Patriots' front seven was not creating pressure.

Much of the day was spent in a 3-4 front or in a nickel package with three down linemen, but the Patriots tried to confuse the rookie Derek Carr on a few occasions by running unique defensive fronts.

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The first of these examples was with 11:55 remaining in the first quarter; the Patriots were in a dime defense, with Dominique Easley (circled in yellow) as the lone down lineman and four linebackers in two-point stances, along with safety Nate Ebner (circled in blue) creeping into the box as an extra linebacker.

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The next example was with 13:43 remaining in the second quarter. The Patriots were once again in a dime front, with Easley lined up at the 0-technique (straight across from the center) while four linebackers stood up around him, once again with Ebner in the box.

Offense (39 pass snaps):

Nate Solder: 39 pass-block snaps; 2 hurries; 3 hits
Sebastian Vollmer: 39 pass-block snaps; 1 hurry; 1 hit
Marcus Cannon: 39 pass-block snaps; 3 hurries; 1 sack
Dan Connolly: 39 pass-block snaps; 1 hurry
Jordan Devey: 28 pass-block snaps; 1 sack
Michael Hoomanawanui: 12 pass-block snaps; 0 hurries
Bryan Stork: 11 pass-block snaps; 1 hurry
Stevan Ridley: 5 pass-block snaps; 0 hurries
Rob Gronkowski: 2 pass-block snaps; 0 hurries
Cameron Fleming: 2 pass-block snaps; 0 hurries
Brandon Bolden: 2 pass-block snaps; 0 hurries

In all, Brady was pressured 14 times (seven hurries, five hits, two sacks).

Nate Solder had his hands full with rookie defensive end Khalil Mack, who on Sunday lived up to the billing as the third overall pick in the draft. Those explosive first-step defenders seem to give Solder fits — he gave up a hurry and two sacks against Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon, another defender in that mold.

Logan Mankins wouldn't help Solder's struggles, as he is often being beaten around the edge and not on outside-inside double-moves. The Kansas City Chiefs have a pair of pass-rushers in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston who can ruin a game plan on their own, and who are both explosive off the line of scrimmage.

Mankins might, however, help Marcus Cannon's struggles; the Patriots' new starting left guard gave up four pressures, as many as he had in the two previous games combined.

The microscope has been focused so closely on the passing game for the first two weeks, we've completely ignored the running game and how the offensive line performs in those scenarios. So, here's a look at how they did this week against the Raiders (29 snaps, not including kneel-downs).

Nate Solder: 29 run-block snaps; 3 stuffed runs
Sebastian Vollmer: 29 run-block snaps; 2 stuffed runs
Marcus Cannon: 29 run-block snaps; 1 stuffed run
Dan Connolly: 29 run-block snaps; 1 stuffed run
Jordan Devey: 25 run-block snaps; 2 stuffed runs
Michael Hoomanawanu: 22 run-block snaps; 1 stuffed run
Rob Gronkowski: 11 run-block snaps; 2 stuffed runs
Cameron Fleming: 6 run-block snaps
Bryan Stork: 4 run-block snaps
James Develin: 1 run-block snap

The offensive line's shortcomings in the running game were almost more disheartening than their woes in pass protection. Thirteen of the Patriots' 29 runs were stopped for a gain of two yards or fewer, and only four of those were the fault of the back.

Bryan Stork and Cameron Fleming were good in their limited time; Dan Connolly and Marcus Cannon performed well with a full workload; but everyone else struggled. It's still a matter of fundamentals and technique. The Patriots offensive line just struggled to sustain blocks, failed to get low pad level and drive the defensive line backward onto their heels, and otherwise did not give their running backs many clear lanes to run through.

If Marcus Cannon had held his ground on this running play at the 2-yard line, instead of being pushed back by Antonio Smith, Ridley may have been able to get to the corner and score a touchdown. Instead, the two tangled feet and Ridley stumbled for no gain.

As bad as the blocking was, the running backs did not do much to help the situation. They found the holes that were there, and took the yards they were given, but did not do much more beyond that to create extra yards.

Shane Vereen defied the laws of football physics when he cut back across the field to gain five yards, and had a nice cutback on the Patriots' longest run of the day — a whopping 11 yards — with 3:06 remaining in the first quarter. But he also slipped to the turf and ran for no gain when he had a clear shot at the end zone on 1st-and-goal with 14:33 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Stevan Ridley continues to run hard, and his efforts would be much more recognizable if his line was helping. He bounced off a couple tackles to gain nine yards with 2:00 remaining in the second quarter, and bounced off a couple more for a six-yard gain later on the same drive. Ridley was constantly dodging tacklers in the backfield, which could have led to his paltry 2.8 yards per carry on 19 carries.

Revis Archipelago?

Revis allowed five receptions, and you'd think $16 million has gone to complete waste. Not so fast, though.

But let's take a look back at those five receptions and see what we can find.

The first was a nine-yard catch by Raiders wide receiver Rod Streater down the sideline on a comeback route. This is one of the harder routes to defend, because if the quarterback delivers an accurate throw and the receiver runs the route correctly, the only places the ball will end up are in the receiver's hands or in the dirt on the sideline. Revis appropriately followed Streater downfield, staying with him stride-for-stride as he ran down the sideline, but lost Streater when he broke down and came back to the quarterback.


The next reception was an 11-yarder, and how can we fault Revis for this? He was in the right position and just barely mistimed his jump on the ball to allow a reception. This took great concentration by Raiders wide receiver Denarius Moore to make the catch with Revis right in his hip pocket, with a hand right in his line of vision.

Jones' 12-yard catch in the third quarter was on a flare route out of a bunch formation. Revis made the right choice by not reacting too quickly, thus getting himself caught in a potential rub route with the other two receivers on that side of the field. And, because he didn't get caught in traffic, Revis was able to ride Jones out of bounds rather than forcing one of the safeties to make a play.

This 13-yard reception by James Jones in the third quarter is an example of why Revis is at his best on the outside rather than in the slot. He got beat off the line by the double-move, and was turned around again when Jones made his break over the middle. Despite all that, Revis was in the right spot to make the tackle shortly after the catch.

This 18-yard catch on a fade route by Jones was practically impossible to defend, as well. The ball placement was perfect, allowing Jones to turn around and make the catch away from his frame.

We held impossibly high standards for Revis joining the Patriots. He was heralded as the cornerback who would blanket one side of the field and/or completely shut down an opponent's best threat. When he doesn't do that, Patriots fans want a refund. The truth is, in a passing league, every cornerback will give up his share of receptions. Even Richard Sherman got beat for four receptions last week against the San Diego Chargers.

Spread The Ball

it was good to see the targets spread out a bit more this week. Julian Edelman still led the pack with 11 targets, but Brandon LaFell (7), Rob Gronkowski (6), and Shane Vereen (5) were not far behind.

LaFell's four catches must have gone a long way in building trust and chemistry with Brady. The quarterback found his free-agent receiver on the outside with 7:44 remaining in the fourth quarter on a play that must have taken LaFell back to his Carolina days; Brady stepped up in the pocket after one of his lineman had blown yet another block in pass protection, and with Brady surveying the field, LaFell settled down into a soft spot in coverage after running a 10-yard hitch, and waited for his quarterback to find him while on the move.

The two connected for a 12-yard gain, but the fact that Brady looked to his new target while under duress — and the fact that LaFell was open and made the play — was even more valuable as another important step in building the trust factor between the two.

LaFell also did a nice job of getting open on his post pattern over the middle with 9:39 remaining in the third quarter quarter, and Brady hit him in stride, allowing him to gain extra yards after the catch. The play design was great, with the play-action fake forcing the linebacker to come up to defend the run, before the throw to the spot he had just vacated.

Until Brady builds more trust in the other receivers, the Patriots may have to continue to find ways to manufacture touches to the other targets in the passing game.