SDB's D-line Analysis: Chargers vs Patriots



Before this game, there was some thought that Ron Rivera's #1 ranked defense was only the best by pure stats, and that they would be brought back to reality by playing an elite team like the Patriots. Well guess what? That very defense held the Pats to half their normal offensive output. That very defense sacked one time MVP more times than in the last 40 games. And he was held to 159 passing yards and 59% completion rate. Factor in the measly 5 yard per pass average, and know that he hasn't been shut down like that in a meaningful game more than three times in his last 5 years. And check out these stats:

  • 3 of 12 on 3rd Down
  • 2.3 yards per rush
  • Fewest 1st half yards in 7 seasons
  • 7 of 10 drives started beyond their 40 yard line
  • 5 of 11 drives were 3 and out. (4 in the first half)
  • No runs longer than 9 yards
  • Only 5 plays went longer than 10 yards. 

Once again, this is a stat line reminiscent of a victorious team. Unfortunately, Defenses can't bail you out every, single, mind-numbing, inexplicable, time. It's quite miraculous the Defense held the Patriots to just 2 touchdowns and 3 field goals when you consider how short the field was for them most of the time. Now it's time to review the heart of this defense, the front 7. I had predicted a 23-21 win. Too bad it went the other way.  Here's the Summary, now divided. Certain players' average looks skewed because they're better at run or pass, one or the other. Unless you're Garay or El Toro. Then you're always good. So I've split the numbers to get a better idea of who's what.

Player 54 59 71 74 90 91 92 93 95 96 98 99
1st Half Pass 0 n/a 0.8 0.5 0.5 0.2 1.0 1.1 0.7 1.3 1.2 n/a
2nd Half Pass 0 0 0.9 0.8 0.4 0 0 0.6 0.5 0.3 0.5 0.7
Pass Total 0 0 0.9 0.7 0.3 0.1 0.3 0.9 0.6 0.9 1.1 0.7
1st Half Run 0.3 n/a 1.3 1.0 0.2 0.7 1.0 1.1 1.0 0.7 1.0 0.5
2nd Half Run 0.4 0.5 1.1 0.8 1.7 0.8 1.0 0.8 0.7 0.7 n/a 0.7
Run Total 0.3 0.5 1.2 0.8 1.0 0.6 1.0 1.1 0.7 0.7 1.0 .6

Click here to see the Analysis

I said a few weeks ago that this defense would only get better. Following Wonko and his DVOA stats, I've been right so far. I've been noticing slight changes here and there, and Ron Rivera is finding ways to shut down different types of offenses. I'm even more convinced now that the few significant defensive breakdowns this year were more a product of poor execution than playcalling, and every playcall this game except for 1 play was great. With that in mind, I agree with John's decision to give him the game ball of the week.

Back to the game, it's easy to see why the Patriots couldn't run the ball. The average score was the highest all season. It's also easy to see why Tom Brady had a bad day throwing with everyone being excellent at pass rushing. The defense put in a ton of effort and they played smart up front. You'll notice in the analysis that certain notes are followed by an (*) asterisk. These are plays I will talk about when I call in to John's Podcast.  

A few observations... OG isn't very good at rushing the QB, but he's a decent run stopper. Clearly, Cam Thomas is the future at backup Nose Tackle. Also, Ron Rivera has a lot of trust in his nickel package stopping the run. Haven't seen them be this effective since JWall's prime. Barnes is a monster. Why he wasn't in much during the second half I don't know. Also, Siler was quite limited. Castillo dropped off some in the second half. Did he get hurt? Anyway, give me any questions or curiosities you have and I'll do my best to answer them in the comments. Recs are  appreciated if you appreciate the write. Go Chargers

This FanPost was written by a member of the Bolts From The Blue community and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Bolts From The Blue editors or SB Nation.

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