Redskins vs Patriots Review

The Patriots improved to 8-0 with a less than perfect performance on Sunday. It wasn’t pretty, but they did more than enough to beat an overmatched Redskins team.

The Pats entered Week 9 with the fewest turnovers in the NFL. Despite turning the ball over just three times in the first 7 games, the Patriots coughed up the ball twice in the first quarter alone on Sunday.

The Redskins were also able to limit both Julian Edelman (5 rec, 55 yds, TD) and Rob Gronkowski (4 rec, 47 yds), taking a page out of the Patriots book by slowing down the opposing team’s top options.

Defensively, it was another good performance against an admittedly inferior opponent. The Redskins ranked 25th in total offense and 21st in scoring offense entering Sunday, so this wasn’t much of a surprise.

On Offense:

Dion Lewis Injury: One of the only things that can get in the Patriots way this season is injuries, and Lewis is the latest Patriot to go down for the season. We all know how exciting it is to watch the shifty Lewis, but how much will the Patriots really miss him? Let’s put it into perspective. Lewis was on pace for just over 830 receiving yards, which would have been a new franchise record for a running back (currently held by Terry Collins, 684 rec yards in 1986). Lewis’ predecessors, Kevin Faulk and Shane Vereen, never topped 500 receiving yards in a season. Lewis is the only running back on the roster that can’t be consistently covered by a linebacker. When he motioned out in the passing game, teams had to treat him as a wide receiver. Lewis dropped a touchdown early vs the Redskins Sunday after he torched Redskins linebacker Perry Riley: http://goo.gl/i2zwlr.

Offensive Line Paves Way: Week after week you hear Tom Brady heaping praise on this makeshift offensive line that has been killed by injuries. On Sunday, the group had one of their best games of the season in the run game. It comes as no surprise that the Patriots opted to run the ball more than usual against the Redskins. The ‘Skins came into the game surrendering 195.6 rush YPG in their previous 3 games. LeGarrette Blount set a new regular season career high in carries, and the offensive line got the job done. Blount and Lewis both had huge running lanes to run through all day, and the o-line set that tone early on the first drive of the game. Check out the huge running lane for LeGarrette Blount on this second quarter carry:

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Gronk the Blocker: It’s obvious what Gronk brings to the passing attack on a weekly basis, but he also is a weapon as a run blocker. Gronk is practically another offensive lineman, and his athleticism allows the Patriots to move him around pre-snap to deliver key blocks. Watch as Gronk seals the edge for LeGarrette Blount’s longest run of the day: http://goo.gl/285hj1.

Red Zone: Believe it or not, the Patriots 27 points vs the Redskins was their lowest point total of the season. A big reason for this was the offense stalled 3 different times in the red zone. The Pats made 6 trips to the red zone (good), but scored touchdowns on just 3 of them (not so good). Tom Brady also threw a rare interception in the red zone on Sunday, and the Patriots rushing attack struggled a bit near the goal line.

On Defense:

Pass Coverage: The Patriots primarily played man coverage against the Redskins, and once again were lockdown in the secondary. The Redskins don’t give you much to worry about with Kirk Cousins, but DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, and tight end Jordan Reed have all been effective at times in their careers. Once again, the Pats played a lot of cover-1 man, and gave up just 217 yards through the air. Malcolm Butler delivered another solid performance against speedster DeSean Jackson, surrendering just three catches on six targets for 15 yards.

D-Line Rolling: Chandler Jones has shown up on the stat sheet the most out of any of the Patriots pass rushers, but the inside rushers have gotten the job done in the last few games. Alan Branch, Dominique Easley, and Akiem Hicks were extremely disruptive against the Redskins both pressuring the quarterback and stopping the run. Easley is quickly becoming one of the league’s top inside rushers, and Branch has come on strong of late.

Underrated Pats D: The offense has gotten much of the praise this season, and rightfully so, but the defense is starting to impress around the league. The Pats are now 5th in scoring defense, 8th in yards, and tied for second in sacks. Despite having less heralded players in the secondary, the Patriots haven’t changed their philosophy on defense. They have been a press-man coverage, hybrid front team for much of the past two seasons, and it’s starting to show up both on film and in stats.