Although analyzing game tape is one of the most effective ways of breaking down a team’s performance, looking at stats is another. After trouncing the Broncos 41-7, there are a lot of big numbers to look at this week.
136.3: Matt Cassel’s Quarterback Rating – I think this reflects Matt Cassel growth as a quarterback. He had a few really nice throws, and while he holds on to the ball to long and misses some reads, he is getting better in both of those areas of the game. With this game, Cassel has six touchdowns with four interceptions on the year, 1,095 yards, and an 86.8 quarterback rating.
257: Rushing Yards By the Patriots – This is their highest total since 1985. After the game, a lot of so called “analysts” were comparing this game to the ’07 Patriots. But it was a completely different tempo. The Patriots never had dominance on the ground anywhere close to this. Sure, Morris had some big games at the start of the year, and Maroney down the stretch, but it was never like this. The Patriots combination of Sammy Morris in the first half, with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Kevin Faulk in the 2nd half really proved unstoppable, and it allowed Matt Cassel to make plays of the play action fake.
8: Number of Rookies on the Patriots Current Roster – I think this number shows the impact that the 2008 rookies class has had on the Patriots. Jerod Mayo, Terrence Wheatley, Jonathan Wilhite, Shawn Crable, Kevin O’Connell, Matt Slater, and undrafted rookies Gary Guyton and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. You also can’t forget Vince Redd who is on the practice squad, and even Bo Ruud, who is on injured reserve. Ryan Wendell and Tyson DeVree are also on the practice squad, while safety Mark Dillard has been on and off. I’m going to make a feature on the rookies later.
5: Turnovers Forced by Patriots – The Patriots finished last night’s game against the Broncos +5 in the turnover margin. That is huge, and ultimately, was the tale of the tape. Three forced fumbles, two interceptions. Brandon Meriweather, who is clearly a star in the making is up to three on the season. James Sanders, who recorded his first interception of the year, has played really well the past two weeks.
4: Number of Sacks by Patriots – One of the keys to the Patriots’ success against Jay Cutler and the Broncos was their pass rush. The Broncos had allowed just two sacks all year heading into the game, and the Patriots tripled that total. Last week, against the Chargers, the Patriots could not generate a rush, and that assisted their demise.