Patriots - Jaguars: Statistically Speaking

Patriots - Jaguars: Statistically Speaking

The Patriots knew they had another chance at the Super Bowl after defeating Tampa Bay in week 15. At the same time, fans and critics again became believers. After losing to Miami last Sunday, the Pats knew the Jacksonville Jaguars would be their first playoff test. Both teams feel they haven't received the respect they deserve. The new four-game season begins now, and after resting most of their starters in week 17, both teams will head into Saturday's game healthy and ready to play.

Week 17 was in no way any indication of how either the New England Patriots or the Jacksonville Jaguars will play this coming weekend. Corey Dillon, Tedy Bruschi, Bethel Johnson, Daniel Graham, Jarvis Green, Asante Samuel, and Artrell Hawkins all sat out for the Pats. In the Jags season finale against Tennessee, Byron Leftwich, Fred Taylor, Greg Jones, Chris Naeole, Reggie Hayward and Paul Spicer were all inactive. Most, if not all of these impact players will be on the field Saturday in what is expected to be a close, physical game that has potential to come down to the wire.

 

What Tom Brady means to the New England Patriots:

Coach Belichick had Tom Brady in for just three series last Sunday against the Dolphins. Brady completed three of eight passes for 37 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The two-time Super Bowl MVP will be ready to go this Saturday against the Jags in the first of four games in the road to the championship. Brady finished the regular season with a career high 4,110 passing yards, and his 92.3 QB rating was just shy of his 92.6 rating in 2004. He played an MVP caliber season and was named to the Pro-Bowl for the third time.

Coming into Saturday's game, Brady sports a career 9-0 playoff record. It is in the late winter months, especially during the playoffs, when Brady truly shines. When the situation gets toughest, he remains calm, cool and poised. He will need to be at his best in the pocket against the tough pass rush of Jacksonville.

The weather report currently indicates a game-time temperature likely below 40 degrees on Saturday night. Brady is a perfect 20-0 under such conditions.

 

Brady's numbers week by week:

Wk

Opponent

Att/comp

Yards

Pct

TDs

Int

Rate

1

Oakland

24/48

306

63.2%

2

0

105.8

2

Carolina

23/44

270

52.3%

1

1

69.3

3

Pittsburgh

31/41

372

75.6%

0

1

92.7

4

San Diego

19/32

224

59.4%

1

1

78.1

5

Atlanta

22/27

350

81.5%

3

1

140.4

6

Denver

24/46

299

52.2%

1

0

79.9

7

BYE

-

-

-

-

-

-

8

Buffalo

14/21

199

66.7%

1

0

113.0

9

Indianapolis

22/33

265

66.7%

3

0

121.4

10

Miami

21/36

275

58.3%

2

2

77.9

11

New Orleans

15/29

222

51.7%

3

0

111.6

12

Kansas City

22/40

248

55.0%

1

4

42.5

13

NY Jets

27/37

271

73.0%

0

0

93.4

14

Buffalo

29/38

329

76.3%

2

2

97.4

15

Tampa Bay

20/31

258

64.5%

3

0

122.8

16

NY Jets

18/29

185

62.1%

2

1

89.0

17

Miami

3/8

37

37.5%

1

1

52.6

When Brady posts a QB rating of 100 or above, he is 31-1.

Jaguars Pass Defense:

The Jaguars pass defense is allowing 184.1 yards per game through the air this season. But in the last five games, opposing QBs are throwing for an average of 229.4 yards, significantly more than the season average. Still, the Jags are the seventh best unit, having allowed 2,946 passing yards this season.

Despite giving up eight touchdown passes in the last five games, the Jags do have three consecutive games with an interception. Jacksonville is tied for seventh in the league with 19 picks. This ability to create turnovers begins and ends with the powerful defensive line, which has produced 47 sacks this season (T-3rd in NFL). Defensive ends Reggie Hayward (8.5 sacks) and Paul Spicer (7.5 sacks) have led the Jags effective pass rush. Defense tackles Marcus Stroud and John Henderson make perhaps the best duo in the league. This duo will be crucial to the outcome of Saturday's game, as they determine what kind of success Hayward and Spicer will have at pressuring Tom Brady into making bad decisions.

Terry Cousin and Rashean Mathis have been tough at the cornerback position. Mathis recorded a pick last week against Tennessee and Cousin had one two weeks ago against Houston. Cornerback Kenny Wright may miss Saturday's game after twisting his left leg against Tennessee.

Jaguars Pass Defense the last 5 games:

Wk

QB

Opp

Comp/At

Yards

Pct

TDs

Int

Rate

13

Charlie Frye

CLE

13/20

226

65.0%

2

0

136.7

14

Payton Manning

IND

24/36

324

66.7%

2

0

113.7

15

Alex Smith

SF

8/24

123

33.3%

0

1

33.9

16

David Carr

HOU

19/29

295

65.5%

2

1

107.7

17

B.Volek/M.Mauck

TEN

21/39

179

53.8%

2

1

63.9

 

Corey Dillon's Impact:

The Jaguars have been very good against the run lately. How good? No back has scored a touchdown in six games or rushed for 100 yards in nine. Still, the Patriots will insist on running the ball Saturday. If Dillon cannot get going early on, Tom Brady will look to spread the field with short, quick passes to create room for his running back.

Dillon should be fresh after sitting out in week 17. In the last four games he has started, Dillon has scored at least one touchdown. Against the Jets in week 16, he ran for two TDs. The Pats are undefeated in games when Dillon reaches the endzone twice.

New England is just 2-3 this season when Corey Dillon is out of the lineup. The Pats are also 0-3 in games that Dillon is given less than 15 carries. When he receives the ball more than 15 times, the Patriots are 8-0 this year. That is something to keep in mind.

Corey Dillon's numbers, game by game:

Wk

Team

Carries

Yards

Av.

TDs

1

Oakland

23

63

2.7

2

2

Carolina

14

36

2.6

0

3

Pittsburgh

22

61

2.8

2

4

San Diego

14

63

4.5

1

5

Atlanta

23

106

4.6

0

6

Denver

DNP

-

-

-

7

Bye

-

-

-

-

8

Buffalo

21

72

4.0

2

9

Indianapolis

13

40

3.3

0

10

Miami

DNP

-

-

-

11

New Orleans

DNP

-

-

-

12

Kansas City

DNP

-

-

-

13

NY Jets

16

65

4.1

1

14

Buffalo

22

102

4.6

1

15

Tampa Bay

19

48

2.5

1

16

NY Jets

26

77

3.0

2

17

Miami

DNP

-

-

-

TOTALS

209

733

3.5

12

Dillon's 12 rushing touchdowns is tied for 5th best in the NFL. If the weather is bad on Saturday, the Pats will look to control the ball with Dillon. He has only fumbled once all year.

Jaguars Rush Defense:

The Jaguars rush defense is the 14th ranked unit in the league heading into the playoffs. Jacksonville is giving up an average of 106.8 rushing yards per game this season, significantly more than the 78.8 over the last five contests. Jacksonville has not allowed a primary running back to gain 100 yards or more since St. Louis' Stephan Jackson racked up 179 yards in week eight. Three backs (Jackson, Mike Anderson, Edgerrin James) reached 100 yards in the first seven games, but since the Jags have not allowed a primary back to put up 100 in nine contests.

Opposing backs have also seen a significant dip in their yards per carry against Jacksonville. The Jaguars finished the regular season allowing an average of 3.9 yards per carry. But over the last five games, that number has diminished to 3.5 YPC. Tampa Bay and San Diego, two of the NFL's top three run-stopping defenses during the regular season, allowed 3.5 yards per carry this season.

Leading the way for the Jags Rush D is linebacker Mike Peterson, who has recorded an NFL 9th best 132 tackles. He also has six sacks, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and a touchdown.

How the Jaguars have fared against their last 5 opposing runners:

Wk

RB

Team

Carries

Yards

Av.

TDs

13

Ruben Droughns

CLE

30

88

2.9

0

14

Edgerrin James

IND

30

93

3.1

0

15

Frank Gore

SF

19

79

4.2

0

16

Jonathan Wells

HOU

21

86

4.1

0

17

Travis Henry

TEN

13

48

3.7

0

Avg. per game (primary RB)

22.4

78.8

3.5

0

The Jaguars have not allowed a rushing touchdown since Chris Brown of Tennessee made a one-yard plunge into paydirt in week 11. The four rushing touchdowns allowed by Jacksonville this season is the lowest total in the NFL..

 

Jaguars Rushing Attack:

Both Fred Taylor and Greg Jones were out of the lineup last week against the Titans but are expected to return against New England. Running back LaBrandon Toefield filled the void left by Taylor and Jones last Sunday. The twenty-five year old received 25 carries and ran for a career high 102 yards, by far his most in a game this season. He also added a touchdown. It is unlikely Toefield will see much action against New England with Jacksonville's two main threats, Taylor and Jones, back in the mix.

Here are Taylor's numbers week-by-week:

Wk

Team

Carries

Yards

Av.

TDs

1

Seattle

20

76

3.8

0

2

Indianapolis

16

81

5.1

0

3

NY Jets

37

98

2.6

1

4

Denver

8

14

1.8

0

5

Cincinatti

24

132

5.5

0

6

Pittsburgh

DNP

-

-

-

7

BYE

-

-

-

-

8

St. Louis

22

165

7.5

1

9

Houston

12

48

4.0

0

10

Baltimore

DNP

-

-

-

11

Tennessee

6

-8

-1.3

0

12

Arizona

DNP

-

-

-

13

Cleveland

DNP

-

-

-

14

Indianapolis

10

19

1.9

0

15

San Francisco

17

61

3.6

0

16

Houston

22

101

4.6

1

17

Tennessee

DNP

-

-

-

TOTALS

194

787

4.1

3

Taylor, one of the NFL's premier backs, has had an injury prone career, and the 2005 season has been no different. Between weeks 10 and 14, Taylor started just two games and missed the other three because of a bruised right foot. However, Taylor has been effective this year when he has been healthy. In the seven games Taylor was given 15 carries or more, he averaged 102 rushing yards (4.67 avg.) and scored three touchdowns. Fortunately for Jacksonville, fullback Greg Jones has proven himself to be a viable threat at the running back position as well.

Here are Jones' numbers, game-by-game:

Wk

Team

Carries

Yards

Av.

TDs

1

Seattle

0

0

0

0

2

Indianapolis

3

29

9.7

0

3

NY Jets

4

7

1.8

0

4

Denver

1

2

2.0

0

5

Cincinatti

4

24

6.0

0

6

Pittsburgh

18

77

4.3

1

7

BYE

-

-

-

-

8

St. Louis

4

2

0.5

0

9

Houston

7

27

3.9

1

10

Baltimore

25

106

4.2

1

11

Tennessee

16

33

2.1

0

12

Arizona

23

78

3.4

1

13

Cleveland

27

103

3.8

0

14

Indianapolis

7

43

6.1

0

15

San Francisco

12

44

3.7

0

16

Houston

DNP

-

-

-

17

Tennessee

DNP

-

-

-

TOTALS

151

575

3.8

4

Jones has provided the Jags with an effective one-two punch this season. When Taylor has been out of the lineup or limited to less than fifteen carries, Jones has rushed for 469 yards (58.63 yards per game) on 124 carries (3.78 yards per carry) and four touchdowns in eight contests. When both Jones and Taylor were out in week 17, LaBrandon Toefield got the job done. The Jaguars have been rushing with efficiency all season long no matter what the situation. As a team, the Jags are ranked 10th in the NFL in rushing, averaging 122.4 yards per game.

Patriots Rush Defense:

"It's not only Fred Taylor. They have four backs. He is the focal point and he's their number one back, but you need to talk about [Greg] Jones and you can go right on down the line. There are other guys that can spell him and that makes that harder on us." This quote is from Mike Vrabel on January 3rd, as posted on patriots.com, referring to the challenge the Jags present the Patriots at the running back position. The Patriots will likely see both Taylor and Jones several times on Saturday, and maybe even a little of LaBrandon Toefield.

Although last week's game against Miami is not an accurate measuring stick of the Pats rush defense because many of the starters sat out, the team did allow 108 rushing yards, 19 more than they did over the previous four games. That being said, the Pats will have all their starters back on Saturday, including Tedy Bruschi, who has quickly recovered from an injury suffered against the Jets in week 16. Michael Felger of the Boston Herald reported this on January 4th.

If Bruschi and the Pats starters can contain Taylor, Jones and Co. as they did against opposing running backs throughout weeks 13-16 (opposing primary backs combined for 89 yards on 45 carries and no touchdowns), the Pats will force Byron Leftwich to make plays. That could be a problem for the Jags, especially if Leftwich displays rust after missing the last six games.

New England's rush D is currently ranked 8th in the NFL (98.8 yards per game), four spots down from the previous week. But starters Rosevelt Colvin, Richard Seymour, Mike Vrabel and Vince Wilfork will all be back at work Saturday and should help the Pats regain their recent run stopping ability.

How opponent RB's have done vs. the Pats:

Wk

RB

Team

Carries

Yards

Av.

TDs

1

Lamont Jordan

OAK

18

70

3.9

0

2

Stephen Davis

CAR

25

77

3.1

3

3

Willie Parker

PIT

17

55

3.2

0

4

LaDainian Tomlinson

SD

25

134

5.4

2

5

Warrick Dunn

ATL

19

83

4.4

0

6

Anderson/Bell

DEN

28

171

6.1

2

7

BYE

-

-

-

-

-

8

Willis McGahee

BUF

31

136

4.4

0

9

Edgerrin James

IND

34

104

3.1

1

10

Lonnie Brown

MIA

14

64

4.6

0

11

Antowain Smith

NO

11

32

2.9

0

12

Larry Johnson

KC

31

119

3.8

1

13

Curtis Martin

NYJ

15

29

1.9

0

14

Willis McGahee

BUF

8

3

0.4

0

15

Cadillac Williams

TB

14

23

1.6

0

16

D.Blaylock/C.Houston

NYJ

8

34

4.8

0

17

Ricky Williams

MIA

28

108

3.9

1

Avg. per game (only primary RB)

20.4

77.6

3.8

.63

With the exception of Ricky Williams' performance last week against New England's second and third string players, no back had rushed for over 35 yards or for a touchdown over the previous four weeks.

 

Young QBs Leading the Jags:

The Jaguars have two young quarterbacks with the talent to lead the franchise in the right direction. But right now, one seems to be ahead of the other. As of midweek, it was been widely reported that Byron Leftwich will start against the Patriots on Saturday. Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio has defended his decision, saying that Leftwich gives his team the best opportunity to win the game. So unless things go affray for Leftwich in practice before gameday, David Garrard, who led the Jags to a 5-1 record in Leftwich's absence, will likely be seen watching and freezing from the bench. The Patriots also believe Leftwich will start on Saturday, but they are preparing for both mobile QBs.

Leftwich's last 5 games:

Wk

Opponent

Comp/Att

Yards

Pct

TDs

Int

Rate

6

Pittsburgh

19/35

177

54.3%

1

1

66.0

7

BYE

-

-

-

-

-

-

8

St. Louis

18/31

213

58.1%

2

1

87.2

9

Houston

19/25

218

76.0%

1

0

115.1

10

Baltimore

16/30

211

53.3%

1

0

86.9

11

Tennessee

22/38

258

57.9%

3

0

104.9

Over his last five games, Leftwich compiled the following numbers: completed 94/159 passes, 1077 yards, 59.92 completion percentage, eight touchdowns, two interceptions and a QB rating of 92.02. During that stretch, the Jaguars went 4-1, winning by a combined score of 126-86.

Garrards' last 5 games:

Wk

Opponent

Comp/Att

Yards

Pct

TDs

Int

Rate

13

Cleveland

11/20

116

55.0%

2

1

84.6

14

Indianapolis

26/35

250

74.3%

1

0

103.3

15

San Francisco

21/40

216

52.5%

0

0

68.3

16

Houston

18/31

292

58.1%

1

0

100.5

17

Tennessee

10/16

128

62.5%

0

0

87.5

Over his last five games, Garrard compiled the following numbers: completed 86/142 passes, 1002 yards, 60.48 completion percentage, four touchdowns, one interception and a QB rating of 88.84. During that stretch, the Jaguars went 4-1, winning by a combined score of 126-82.

The numbers put up by Leftwich and Garrard over their last five games are strikingly similar. The passing yards is within 75, the completion percentage is within one percent, the touchdown to interception ration is exactly the same (4:1) and the QB ratings are within four points. Even more remarkable is that as a team, Jacksonville went 4-1 with both Garrard and Leftwich and scored the same number of points (126). Even the defense achieved similar results (86 vs. 82 points against). So for Jack Del Rio and the Jaguars, should the argument be, if it isn't broken, don't fix it? Or, the original leader is always the right call? One way or another, the results will be criticized and critiqued after Saturday's game.

Patriots Pass Defense:

Once again, week 17 was not a good measuring stick for the Pats pass defense. Second and third stringers made life easy for Gus Frerotte and the Dolphins to march down the field on several occasions. Prior to week 17, the pats had limited opposing QBs to less than 200 yards in four straight games. But Frerotte's numbers put the Pats D back to the 31st rank in the NFL (231.4 yards per game). New England will need to perform as they did in weeks 13-16, when they allowed just 158.5 YPG in the air.

Jacksonville's QBs do not make many mistakes. Over each of their last five outings, both Leftwich and Garrard share a 4:1 touchdown to interception ratio. A large part of the Patriots recent success over the last ten games has been their ability to create turnovers (nine interceptions in the last 10 games). A rusty Byron Leftwich could be targeted by a New England squad looking to create points off of turnovers.

In the secondary, both Asante Samuel (5'10") and Artrell Hawkins (5'10") will be back in the lineup for New England after sitting out last week. One major challenge for the Pats will be for Ellis Hobbs (5'9"), Eugene Wilson (5'10"), Samuel (5'10") and Hawkins (5'10") to defend Jacksonville's big receiver corps. Jimmy Smith (6'1"), Ernest Wilford (6'4"), Matt   Jones (6'6") and Kyle Brady (6'6") will all be tough for the Pats secondary to match up against.

Game-by-game break down of opposing QB's vs. the Pats:

Wk

QB

Opp

Att/comp

Yards

Pct

TDs

Int

Rate

1

Kerry Collins

OAK

18/39

265

46.2 %

3

0

94.5

2

Jake Delhomme

CAR

11/26

154

42.3%

0

1

46.0

3

Ben Roethlisberger

PIT

12/28

216

42.6%

2

0

93.7

4

Drew Brees

SD

19/24

248

79.2%

2

0

137.5

5

Matt Schaub

ATL

18/34

298

52.9%

3

0

112.1

6

Jake Plummer

DEN

17/24

262

70.8%

2

0

134.4

7

BYE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

Kelly Holcomb

BUF

20/33

263.

60.6%

1

1

83.3

9

Payton Manning

IND

28/37

321

75.7%

3

1

117.1

10

Gus Frerotte

MIA

25/47

360

53.2%

2

1

83.6

11

Aaron Brooks

NO

27/50

343

54.0%

2

1

80.7

12

Trent Green

KC

19/26

323

73.1%

1

0

127.6

13

Brooks Bollinger

NYJ

15/37

135

40.5%

0

1

39.8

14

J.P. Losman

BUF

10/27

181

37.0%

1

3

33.6

15

Chris Simms

TB

21/34

155

61.8%

0

0

72.6

16

Bollinger/Testaverde

NYJ

14/26

163

53.8%

2

1

91.4

17

Gus Frerotte

MIA

22/35

239

62.9%

1

0

92.4

Injury Impact:

Cornerback Kenny Wright will likely be out of the Jaguars lineup after twisting his left knee last week against the Titans. After a week of rest for most starters, every key player is expected back in the lineup for both the Pats and Jaguars.

Final Thoughts:

According to an article in the Orlando Sentinel by Fred Seely on January 3rd, Jacksonville's head coach Jack Del Rio said "We built this team to function outdoors in January. We have a collection of mudders.'' If this is to be true on Saturday, the Patriots will lose one of their biggest advantages of playing at home in cold weather conditions. Still, the Pats are 9-0 in snow games at Foxborough, and they do have other statistical advantages at home, in the cold, and in the playoffs.

New England has won 15 of its last 16 games when the game-time temperature is 35 degrees or colder. The Pats have also not lost back-to-back games in 49 contests. As do the Patriots step up their game in the playoffs, Bill Belichick steps up his coaching. He is the winningest coach in NFL playoff history with a 10-1 record (.909 pct). The Patriots currently share the league's all-time longest playoff winning streak at nine games. Only Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers of 1961-62 and 1965-67 have also won nine straight postseason contests.

The Pats are 4-1 all-time against Jacksonville, including a 3-0 record at home. However, this is a new year and a new game, and the Jaguars have not faced the Patriots since 2003. Both teams are strong on both sides of the ball, and both teams feel like they haven't been given due respect this season. This game will be very close, very physical, and won by the team that executes better.

 

Ricky Popolizio is a regular contributor to Patriots Insider. For more of his past articles search the archives. To contact Ricky visit his bio page


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