Patriots vs Colts Review

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The Patriots didn’t have their cleanest performance of the season, but they did enough to get a hard fought road win over the Colts.

The Pats deployed Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung in a hybrid corner look, as the team is thin at cornerback, that proved to be effective.

It was just another day at the office for Tom Brady and the offense, putting up 34 points (5 straight with 28+ to start the season), while racking up 417 yards of total offense.

Here are the highlights from the Patriots fifth win of the season:

Safety Play: The Patriots have something brewing in the secondary with McCourty, Harmon, Chung, and rookie Jordan Richards. McCourty is the Patriots best defensive back on the roster, and he was unleashed by Matt Patricia in a number of different roles vs Indy. Duron Harmon’s ability to play deep safety in Cover-1 (Patriots primary coverage) allows McCourty to move around the defense, and become a more matchup specific player. McCourty played a ton close to the line of scrimmage and even saw some snaps at a traditional corner position. Due to their depth at safety, the Patriots turned to a 3 safety, 2 cornerback look in the nickle. Chung also performed admirable shadowing top Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton for most of the second half.

Dominique Easley and Chandler Jones: This was by far Easley’s best game as a pro, granted with a small sample size. Easley tallied 8 quarterback pressures and his push up the middle made it easier for the rest of the Patriots rushers to get free. Chandler Jones had his best game of the season. Recording 2.5 sacks in a game where they needed Jones to step up. Easley made Colts center Khaled Holmes look silly on this play, as he and Jones met Luck in the backfield for a sack: 

Run Defense: In the previous four matchups against the Patriots (including playoffs) the Colts ran for just 72.5 rush yards per game. They ran for 120 in this one (most in 5 games vs Patriots since 2012). The Colts have improved at the wide receiver position with Andre Johnson and the emergence of Donte Moncrief, but the addition of Frank Gore makes this Colts offense much more well rounded. This was a rough game for the interior of the Patriots defense against the run. Sealver Siliga struggled stopping the run, and there was a clear drop off without Dont’a Hightower at linebacker with Jonathan Freeny and Jerod Mayo.

Brady’s Pocket Presence: You could tell that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady wasn’t completely satisfied with the offense after the game. That might have something to do with the Patriots going punt, punt, turnover on downs, punt, punt, downs, TD in the second half. It was another ho hum performance from Brady, but what really stood out was his movement in the pocket. Brady gets flack for his lack of foot speed, but it’s something that you can tell he has worked on in the offseason. His ability to climb the pocket and find little pockets of space to deliver passes is underrated. Brady scrambled on both his touchdown passes to Julian Edelman and LeGarrette Blount.

Gronk Creating Space: Over the last two weeks Gronk has been relatively quiet in the passing game despite catching a touchdown in this one. One thing that is apparent on film is that even when Gronk isn’t getting the ball his presence alone frees things up significantly for other Patriots receivers. The Colts were satisfied covering Gronk with one defender when he lined up in a traditional wide receiver position, but used bracket coverage when he was lined up in a more traditional tight end alignment. On both of Danny Amendola’s big gainers Gronk ran two defenders away from Amendola:

 

Offensive Line: You have to give a ton of credit to the players and offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo for putting together a decent effort with a makeshift line and three rookies in the mix. Marcus Cannon exited the game early with a toe injury, forcing Sebastian Vollmer to move to LT and Cam Flemming to man the RT spot. Flemming did allow the most pressures of any Patriots lineman, but the offensive line as a whole held up enough to get the job done allowing just 8 pressures. The first sack of Brady the quarterback appeared to hang on to the ball a bit too long, and the second sack was good design by the Colts on a safety blitz that went unblocked. Injuries have added up for this group, especially at the tackle position.