The Patriots have around 100 hours between games. That's barely enough time to get ready for an opponent, much less to review last week's game.
This is the second time in a month that the Patriots have fewer than seven days between games. They only had six days between Weeks 4 (41-14 loss at Kansas City Chiefs) and 5 (43-17 win vs. Cincinnati Bengals). They have only four days between their 37-22 win on the road against the Buffalo Bills, and their home stand against the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football.
They may have some time to review the Bills game after Thursday, but let's take a minute to catch our breath and look back on the triumph over the Bills before we head face-first into analyzing the Patriots' next opponent.
Our weekly look at offensive and defensive pressure statistics.
Offense (39 total pass snaps):
C Ryan Wendell: 39 pass-block snaps; 1 hurry
RG Josh Kline: 39 pass-block snaps; 2 hurries; 2 hits
LT Nate Solder: 37 pass-block snaps; 3 hurries; 2 hits; 1 sack
RT Sebastian Vollmer: 33 pass-block snaps; 1 hit; 1 sack
LG Dan Connolly: 14 pass-block snaps; 1 hurry
OL Marcus Cannon: 8 pass-block snaps; 0 hurries
RB Shane Vereen: 7 pass-block snaps; 0 hurries
TE Rob Gronkowski: 6 pass-block snaps; 0 hurries
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 6 pass-block snaps; 0 hurries
RB Stevan Ridley: 3 pass-block snaps; 0 hurries
Tom Brady was pressured 12 times on the day (five hurries, five hits, two sacks).
The Patriots have done a good job of adjusting to their opponent's pressure packages, and have allowed only one pressure in the second half of the previous two games combined.
In the past two games, Brady has been afforded some of the best protection he's had all season, so it should come as no surprise that he has hit four of seven passes that traveled 20 yards or more through the air. Brady couldn't even consistently hit a pass of longer than 10 yards in the first four weeks of the season, and now he's regularly hitting passes that travel twice that far.
Brady is proving he still has an accurate deep pass, but his offensive line certainly isn't making his job any more difficult than it needs to be.
Defense (43 total pass snaps):
Rob Ninkovich: 38 pass-rush snaps; 3 hurries; 1 hit; 3 sacks
Chandler Jones: 38 pass-rush snaps; 2 hurries; 1 hit; 1 sack
Vince Wilfork: 38 pass-rush snaps; 1 hurry
Chris Jones: 30 pass-rush snaps; 2 hurries
Casey Walker: 14 pass-rush snaps; 2 hurries
Zach Moore: 7 pass-rush snaps; 0 hurries
Jamie Collins: 5 pass-rush snaps; 1 hurry; 1 hit
Deontae Skinner: 4 pass-rush snaps; 1 sack
Duron Harmon: 1 pass-rush snap; 0 hurries
The Patriots got pressure 17 times on the day (nine hurries, three hits, five sacks). The day's star was Rob Ninkovich, who logged seven combined pressures.
One of Ninkovich's sacks was a coverage sack, and the other was a result of Kyle Orton evading the pressure of Vince Wilfork.
This lick he put on Orton was all his own doing, though, with a nice shoulder dip and swim move to get past the right tackle in a hurry and force an errant pass in the red zone.
One noteworthy addition to the rotation was defensive end Zach Moore, who earned his first pass-rushing opportunities of the season against the Bills. Most of his snaps were as a five-technique defensive end, lined up straight across from the offensive tackle, but he was lined up wide (seven-technique) a couple of times as well. Although he didn't create any pressure of his own, he did create some disruption in the trenches, showing a solid bull rush and constant hustle to the quarterback.
Darrelle Revis Pressed The Issue With Sammy Watkins
Sammy Watkins said a couple of things that made my ears perk up after the game.
Thing 1, via Matthew Fairburn of Syracuse.com: "He's just what I thought he was. He's a competitor. He competes every play, and he's got balls to come up and press every play. I tip my hat to him."
Thing 2, via Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com: "If you let him get his hands on you and be comfortable the whole game it can come out bad for you. I think I changed him up in the second half. I read what he was doing and I beat him off the line and once again, there are things that we will watch on film for the next game, and for the next game I think they can see that they can come to me on the back side."
Okay, so on Thing 1, Revis was not pressing him at the line of scrimmage every play. It was a lot, but it was not every play. It was on 25 of the Bills' 43 plays. The other 18, Revis was lined up off the line of scrimmage or moved back from his original press alignment before the snap.
There are others, but I think you get the picture.
On Thing 2, Watkins was not open more than once in the second half on plays where he didn't get the ball or didn't get looked at.
Here's the one.
Watkins (circled in yellow) got away from Revis with a slight stutter-step that caused Revis' jam to come a fraction of a second too late, causing Revis to lunge at air and allowing Watkins to blow past him. By the time this still-frame was taken, Orton was already winding up to throw to tight end Scott Chandler (circled in black).
So, I'm not really sure where Watkins got his ideas from, but they're certainly not founded in reality.
Patriots Prospects Slim in Running Game
In the NFL, it's just as important to be lucky as it is to be good. The Patriots have had some tough injury luck over the past two years, and Week 6 was particularly unkind with a pair of season-ending injuries to linebacker Jerod Mayo and running back Stevan Ridley.
We got a small glimpse into the backup plans for each, with running backs Brandon Bolden and Shane Vereen picking up the slack. After Ridley went down, Bolden earned 12 snaps and six carries, while Vereen earned eight snaps and two carries.
Bolden's hard-nosed, between-the-tackles running style is much closer to Ridley than Vereen's finesse style that excels on passing downs. That being said, Bolden has been underwhelming as a runner this season to the tune of 25 yards on 15 carries.
Bolden can get yards when there are holes in the offensive line, but Ridley was setting himself apart this season by getting extra yards after contact.
Bolden flashed some moves on his eight-yard run on 2nd-and-8 with 10:51 left in the game. He followed his blocks at and through the line of scrimmage, bouncing slightly to the left as a wall was formed.
Once he got to the secondary, though, he had to make something happen on his own. There were three defenders converging on him and only one blocker in front, wide receiver Brandon LaFell. He drifted to the left, and then made a nifty cut off his left foot to create some space between cornerback Stephon Gilmore and the first-down marker. Gilmore was able to grab him by the ankle and bring him down, but not before he moved the chains.
But what about when the blocks aren't there, even initially?
Ridley has a combination of burst and toughness that has helped him compensate for the Patriots' struggles run-blocking on the offensive line. Here, we see how that lack of burst can hurt Bolden.
This play was doomed from the start. Marcus Cannon, playing as an extra offensive tackle next to Nate Solder, whiffed on a block of Bills defensive lineman Jarius Wynn. Bolden was able to make Wynn miss in the backfield, and had two choices: cut inside to get as many yards as possible (black arrow), or bounce outside to try to get into the open field (yellow arrow).
Bolden took the black arrow, and the result was a loss of two yards, with cornerback Stephon Gilmore crashing down on him. This play would not have necessarily been a big play — or even a positive play — if Bolden had bounced it outside, but Ridley may have chosen the longer path, and his burst may have allowed him to get around the corner.
The onus may fall on the offensive line to open up bigger holes for the running game, but there will be times where the run-blocking isn't there, and the Patriots backs will have a hard time creating those yards on their own.