NE-BUF Grades: Brady carves up Bills

The top takeaways from Sunday’s New England-Buffalo game, including the highest-graded players for each team.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

(AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

NE-BUF Grades: Brady carves up Bills


The top takeaways from Sunday’s New England-Buffalo game, including the highest-graded players for each team:

New England Patriots

– The passing game was a clinic, and it went beyond just the +5.3 grade for QB Tom Brady. While he was sharp for the most part, the offensive line deserves a lot of credit for handling a tough Buffalo defensive front, particularly offensive tackles Nate Solder (+2.6) and Sebastian Vollmer (+3.3) who controlled DEs Jerry Hughes (-0.9) and Mario Williams (-4.3), respectively. Brady helped by taking quick drops and getting the ball out of his hand quickly, but both tackles did a great job of knowing exactly where Brady would be at the top of the pocket (almost always at seven yards of depth) and riding the edge rush securely behind him.

– Brady spread the ball around, with WR Julian Edelman (+1.5) hauling in 11 of his 19 targets while TE Rob Gronkowski (+2.8) continued his dominant play with seven receptions for 133 yards and a touchdown. Then throw in WR Aaron Dobson (-0.6) with seven catches for 87 yards and RB Dion Lewis (+0.7) catching six for 98 yards, including a number of catches while split wide, and the Patriots were creating mismatches all over the field.

– The Patriots’ eight sacks weren’t the result of domination up front, but a combination of things. They continue to use LBs Jamie Collins (-2.9) and Dont’a Hightower (+2.2) effectively as blitzers, as we credited Collins with three sacks and Hightower with one. Defensive end Chandler Jones (-1.7) notched three sacks, though two were of the clean-up variety while he beat Bills LT Cordy Glenn (+1.5) for the other. As for every-down production, it was DE Jabaal Sheard (+2.1) who created the most disruption, often while rushing from the interior as he picked up a hit and four hurries on 29 rushes.

Top Performers:

QB Tom Brady (+5.3)
OT Sebastian Vollmer (+3.3)
TE Rob Gronkowski (+2.8)
OT Nate Solder (+2.6)
LB Dont’a Hightower (+2.2)

Buffalo Bills

– Though QB Tyrod Taylor (-2.7) was sacked eight times, the offensive line only owns part of the blame. Taylor often left clean pockets and brought a lot of pressure upon himself, finishing with three of the sacks attributed directly to his stat line. As for the passing game, his inconsistent accuracy got him into trouble though he offset things by making a number of plays outside the pocket. This is the type of game you’re likely to see from Taylor when Buffalo gets into more of a shootout type of situation, unlike their ball-control Week 1 game against the Indianapolis Colts.

– A week removed from an impressive performance in coverage against the Colts, the Bills’ back end had their issues matching up with the variety of receivers the Patriots threw at them. CB Stephon Gilmore (-2.2) only surrendered eight official catches for 57 yards, but he also benefitted from a couple of inaccurate passes, namely the overthrown post route to Edelman late in the fourth quarter that should have been a touchdown.

– New England also managed to isolate Lewis and Gronkowski on LB Nigel Bradham (-3.4) who surrendered three catches for 80 yards while FS Aaron Williams (-2.1) had his struggles when matched up with Edelman who caught all four of his targets, including two touchdowns. The one bright spot was rookie CB Ronald Darby (+1.1), who allowed only three catches on nine targets for 48 yards, and even won a few battles against Gronkowski.

– The Bills managed a quiet 126 yards on the ground (non-scrambles) as RB LeSean McCoy (+0.1) showed good burst on his way to 89 yards, while rookie RB Karlos Williams (-0.4 overall) continued to find his way to the first down markers to grade at +0.3 as a runner.

Top Performers:

LG Richie Incognito (+3.4)
C Eric Wood (+2.4)
LT Cordy Glenn (+1.5)
CB Ronald Darby (+1.1)
WR Robert Woods (+0.7)

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

  • coolguyJB

    Pats game plan was great from the jump. Spread them out. It was great seeing Gronk and Lewis repeatedly win their matchups on over matched linebackers.

  • King Pelé

    To give Jones and Collins negative overall grades is an atrocity. Jones dominated Glenn the entire game and Collins made a lot of big plays especially in blitz situations. I mean, Jones didn’t even got a positive grade in pass rush, after 3 sacks and a lot of pressure. Also you guys were pretty generous to Bradley Fletcher, he deserved a much worse grade than he got, nobody was worse than him on defense for the Patriots. I think Logan Ryan performance was underrated too.

    • rogue

      Collins was weak in coverage and against the run. Fletcher was only targeted 4 times on 13 pass snaps. That usually means that he had his man covered, thus forcing Taylor to look elsewhere. Ryan sucks. He almost cost the Pats a SB. He’s good when the team can hide him within the scheme, but gets exposed when isolated. He can’t cover which is why he’s on the bench.

      • Lord Mad

        “Ryan sucks. He almost cost the Pats a SB.”

        wtf does it have to do with this game grade? So inane.

        • Tim Edell

          Haha…Richie Incognito was a bully 2 years ago how could he get a +3.4??!!!?

      • King Pelé

        Collins wasn’t weak against the run, stop looking at these grades as something definitive and re-watch the game, also i wouldn’t define 3 receptions allowed for 20 yards as “weak in coverage”. Bradley Fletcher allowed 2 big plays and was responsible for a PI call, he was horrible. First of all Ryan only played 5 snaps in the SB, the one who almost costed us the game was Arrington. Second and most important, i don’t understand how his performance in the SB has anything to do with his grade this week.

        • rogue

          He had 3 missed tackles, but who’s counting?

          • King Pelé

            Yeah i hadn’t notice it when i watched the game at first. But how can you explain his (-2,5) coverage grade while allowing only 3 receptions for 20 yards, while Tyrod Taylor had a perfect passer rating (158.3) passing against Bradley Fletcher and Fletcher got a (-1,7) coverage grade? Sometimes this grades makes no sense, i’m really questioning my renew after this game.

          • rogue

            Collins was targeted 4 times but 3 went for completions and he allowed 11 YAC. PFF will punish a defender if he gets burned only to have the QB miss the throw, not see that he was open, or if the pass was dropped. Taylor held onto the ball way too long only and was charged with 3 sacks.

            PFF can be frustrating to fans, that are accustomed to judging a player by his boxscore stats, to figure out how the grading works. They look at the same tape the coaches use. Most of the time a player can be graded on a play while the play was elsewhere.

          • King Pelé

            I understand how it works and I usually agree with them, but not on this game. Even though I disagree with the grades of Collins and Fletcher, the more concerning for me is Jones. Looks like they completely forgot to grade him, how the hell a guy who finished the game with 3 sacks and lead the team in total pressures got a (0.0) pass rush grade?? That’s stupid.

          • Chris from the Cape

            In a game dictated by the pass….Chandler Jones + J Collins combine for a -4, while Glenn + Incognito combined for a +4….If this wasn’t PFF, I’d laugh it off outright as biased garbage.

    • prophetik

      after re-watching the game, it was clear glenn was expecting help on most of the times he was beat. you’ll see him stay in his stance as jones swims inside – he obviously expected incognito to be there, while incognito was blocking at nose or a DT. a lot less on glenn than you’d think.

      • King Pelé

        This may be true but this doesn’t explain how a guy who finished the game with 3 sacks and 5 total pressures was graded (0.0) in pass rush

  • Robert Anasi

    I’m a regular reader and PFF has given me new perspectives on the NFL. That said, sometimes the grading system confuses me. How does Aaron Dobson have minus grade when he caught seven out of eight (I think it was eight), targets? There was one occasion where it looked like he went down with open space in front of him, but that’s a pretty subjective judgement on my part. Also, how many people does PFF have grading each game (and do they use all-22)? If the grading for a single game is is one person’s hands, the possible variance is quite wide.

    • Lord Mad

      They probably over penalized him for that drop and gave him “meh” grades for his other catches “because he was supposed to catch those”.

      • King Pelé

        Yeah he did a good job getting open but he had a terrible drop and he killed a drive with a offensive PI