ReFo: Patriots at Colts, Week 11

Ben Stockwell discusses standout performances from the Patriots' ground-it-out win over Indianapolis.

| 3 years ago

ReFo: Patriots at Colts, Week 11

2014-REFO-WK11-NE@INDFor the third straight season Andrew Luck and the Colts took a heavy beating from the New England Patriots who this time were led by unheralded running back Jonas Gray. Usually one of the highlights of the season as a passing contest, the Patriots instead took the air out of the ball and dominated the Colts on the ground, feeding Gray time after time after time.

The Colts lost the time of possession battle by nearly 10 minutes as the Patriots got the better of both battles in the trenches. While Gray and Shane Vereen were given 111 yards before contact on 39 combined carries, the combination of Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson gained 14 of their combined 4 yards after contact. As a result we had polar opposites in terms of commitment and efficiency in setting up the ground game.

New England Patriots – Performances of Note

Jonas Gray, RB: +5.5

Breakdown: Last night Gray topped his career totals in attempts, yards, yards after contact, touchdowns and missed tackles forced; the definition of a career night. The combination of a solid game by his own offensive line and a dreadful display by the Colts’ front seven gifted him a platform that he converted into consistent yards.

Signature Stat: Gray gained 96 of his 199 yards on 16 carries when the Patriots pulled a blocker from the backside; 6.0 yards per carry with more than half of that (3.2 ypc) coming before first contact.

Darrelle Revis, CB: +2.8

Breakdown: A second big game this month from Revis who has recorded a pass defense in each of his last four games. After surrendering five completions on six targets to the Broncos before the bye Revis returned to the form he showed against Chicago, surrendering only two completions on six targets for four yards and a passer rating of 42.4.

Signature Play: Both of those completions were stops for Revis including his tackle for a loss on Ahmad Bradshaw at 5:15 in the first quarter.

Rob Gronkowski, TE: +1.8

Breakdown: Never one to be left out of a dominant New England performance, Gronkowski wasn’t the focal point of the offense, but he put in the dirty work as a run blocker and took his chances with ball in hand when they came. This marked the fifth straight game that Gronkowski has earned a positive grade, earning solid marks for both his run blocking and pass catching in every game since Week 6.

Signature Play: Seemingly taken care of on an out route at Q4 6:56, Gronkowski turned on the power tearing back inside of D’Qwell Jackson and the rest of the Colts’ defense to cap off the Patriots’ comfortable victory.

Indianapolis Colts – Performances of Note

Coby Fleener, TE: +2.9

Breakdown: Perhaps lost a little in the performances of Gray and Gronkowski was one of the best games of Coby Fleener’s career. First exploiting breakdowns in coverage and then simply taking control down the field Fleener caught every pass thrown his way including three down the field, snagging 89 yards on three passes aimed 20+ yards downfield.

Signature Play: Fought off Brandon Browner on a double move at Q3 3:23 breaking upfield for a 45-yard gain, one of his five catches for 118 yards against Browner.

D’Qwell Jackson, ILB: -6.1 & Jerrell Freeman, ILB: -3.7

Breakdown: Neither the Colts’ defensive linemen nor their linebackers could get close to Jonas Gray. Whether struggling to get off blocks or struggling to take Gray down (two missed tackles each) Freeman and Jackson offered no resistance to the Patriots’ ground game in a totally ineffective display.

Signature Stat: Neither Jackson nor Freeman has graded positively since the Colts’ shutout victory over the Bengals in Week 7.

Gosder Cherilus, RT: -3.8

Breakdown: The Colts never committed to the run last night, partly on account of the scoreboard and partly thanks to displays like this one from Cherilus. His first negative run blocking grade since Week 6 saw him surrender one tackle behind the line of scrimmage to Dominique Easley and another at the line of scrimmage to Dont’a Hightower.

Signature Stat: On six carries off right guard, right tackle and right end the Colts lost 5 yards.

PFF Game Ball

Who else but Jonas Gray, ably aided by both the Colts’ run defense and his own offensive line the former Notre Dame back took full advantage in an emphatic performance.


Follow Ben on Twitter: @PFF_Ben

| Director of Analysis

Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.

  • Chris from the Cape

    If Luck hadn’t played quite well + Brady poorly I can’t imagine what the score would have been…

  • Dohkay

    Luck had 3 carries for 15 yards. Bradshaw and Richardson combined for 14 carries for 4 yards. LOL.

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  • Bob

    I wonder how much of the positive grades from the right side of the Pats OL can be attributed too the fact that more than half the time they had 6’6 325lb Cameron Fleming to help the blocking on that side as an extra TE

    • Chris from the Cape

      The Pats did the same thing to Indy in January with a different O-Line and RB. Its only a huge surprise, b/c the media tries to play up that this a competition between 2 QBs, and not 2 teams.

  • rogue

    As good as the Pats look right now, Brady is a concern. Take away Gronk’s garbage TD and Indy did a pretty good job taking him out and forcing Brady to throw to his secondary and tertiary targets. Thus, reinforcing the theory that as Gronk goes so goes Brady and the Pats. Brady was going back to forcing balls into coverage and throwing away balls while he still had time. Obviously Indy didn’t consider Gray, which saved the Pats. That will change now. The Lions have a good D-line. We’ll see how the NE running game fares when they stack the run and double up Gronk. Pats could have a letdown this week.

    • DrAWNiloc

      The reason that Brady didn’t throw to Gronk [or anyone else], especially near the goal line, is that Gray and his runblockers (including Gronk) ripped the Indi defence to shreds, vulturing no less than four TDs from Brady (and Gronk) in the process. I agree that the Pats could have a letdown this week, but that would be because Detroit is a great–if not the absolute best–defense.

    • Chris

      That TD wasn’t garbage, maybe not game-winning either. Brady looked quite mediocre and the Pats still steamrolled this team. There is no one other than the Patriots dominating teams right now. Arizona looks good for sure, but NE is just manhandling their schedule. This game is huge considering how good this Lions front 4 are (Ndamonkong Suh is scary), but this is a really hot Patriots team.

    • Chris from the Cape

      Those two interceptions (one being the worst he’s thrown in 10 ys) aside, he was lights out on 3rd down. I agree that the Lions D-line is a world better than the Colts, but I see them having no answer to the spread sets that the Pats are JUST as adapt at running, especially with their resurrected O-Line. I think a letdown vs DET at home would be only winning by 10.

      • rogue

        Like the Jets, the Lions have an excellent run defense. Yes, their TEs don’t scare anyone, but their RBs are very good in the passing game which mean they can still exploit the LBs in coverage. Despite how good GB looks right now, the Lions are the toughest team on the Pats schedule just because of the matchups.

        • Bob

          Actually I think the Lions matchup rather poorly. They are a dome team playing outside in late November. They have a sputtering offense. And once again they don’t have an athletic enough LB or safety to cover Gronk. Plus their other secondary is average at best, their defensive strength stems from their dominant D-Line but Brady will win against blitzes and get the ball out quickly vs 4 man rushes. I can see the Patriots winning by 14+. By far the Patriots biggest challenge is at GB.

          • Josh Knepshield

            You say DeAndre Levy, one of, if not THE, the most athletic and coverage-savvy LBs in the NFL, is not an “athletic enough LB”?

          • Bob

            Athleticism yes. But physically Gronk still has 4 inches and 30 lbs on him. Plus Levy is the only LB that could even dream of covering him play action will force him to play the run and the seam routes will be wide open. And Levy is still not an elite LB. In my opinion, the only LBs that have the right balance of size and athleticism that could have a remote chance at covering Gronk 1 on 1 are a healthy Patrick Willis, Luke Kuechly, Jamie Collins on the Patriots and maybe Alec Ogletree.