Yeah this. That one play here and there that would put them over was gone. The real issue on defense was the rush defense, it just went to nothing. Pass defense was not bad. They still held opposing QB's to a low QB rating, but at some point they just could not stop teams from running. I am not surprised that defenses in the league all dropped and they say crowd noise played a part.Situational football is where the Patriots declined the most. Those plays that win the game, the Pats were bad at.
From the Athletic
Even though many want to blame Cam and the offense for our bad season, it was the defense that caused us to have a 7-9 season.
A predictable narrative took hold as the defeats piled up for the 7-9 New England Patriots this season: The team simply wasn’t the same without quarterback Tom Brady. How could it be? The narrative was undeniably true in important ways. Passing frequency plummeted without Brady. Quarterback runs proliferated with Cam Newton in his place. An offense that already wasn’t pretty by New England standards in Brady’s final season with the team became downright ugly with almost zero panache in the passing game.
But in assessing raw output without regard for playing style, the Patriots got about as much production from their 2020 offense as they got from the 2019 version. While conventional stats can capture this decently — both offenses averaged about 1.9 points per drive, for example — the expected points added (EPA) metric is especially well suited for measuring total output regardless of form. By that measure, New England’s offense was among the five stablest offensive or defensive units in the league, year over year. The Patriots’ defense was actually the NFL unit whose production changed the most from 2019. No other offensive or defensive unit came close to changing as much. This aspect of New England’s decline from 12-4 to 7-9 was easy to overlook with so much focus naturally on Brady’s absence.
Below we run through the offensive and defensive units that experienced the largest EPA changes year over year. First, a big congratulations to the Washington Football Team, Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles Rams, Arizona Cardinals, New York Giants and New Orleans Saints. These were the only teams whose defenses experienced EPA improvements from 2019 as crowd noise became a non-factor for road offenses. The offensive scoring gap that had always separated home teams from road teams disappeared in 2020 as stadiums fell silent. That is why you’ll see defensive teams dominate the “largest declines” category, with offenses dominating the “largest gains” section.
Five Largest EPA Declines, 2019 to 2020
1 Patriots Defense +220.6 -73.0 -293.6 2 Vikings Defense +51.7 -114.8 -166.5 3 Titans Defense +32.7 -130.8 -163.5 4 Jets Defense +57.4 -90.7 -148.1 5 Bills Defense +98.3 -41.1 -139.4
1. New England Patriots defenseThe Patriots’ 2019 defense ranks No. 1 in EPA out of 670 defenses since 2000, ahead of the 2000 and 2003 Baltimore Ravens. There was nowhere to go but down from such heights, and that is exactly where New England headed defensively, helped along by multiple factors.
The 2019 Patriots faced the NFL’s easiest schedule of opposing quarterbacks. Their schedule appeared tougher heading into 2020 with games against Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson. Derek Carr was playing well when the Patriots faced him. Josh Allen’s emergence as a high-producing quarterback within the AFC East contributed. Losing linebacker Dont’a Hightower and safety Patrick Chung to COVID-19 opt-outs hurt. New England allowed 22 touchdown passes this season after allowing only 13 the year before. The Patriots collected seven fewer interceptions and allowed an additional 1.5 yards per pass attempt.
The Patriots actually improved in offensive EPA from last season while their scoring average plummeted from 23.1 offensive points per game to 18.6. That would seem to be impossible on the surface, but the team’s unusually dominant defensive performance last season set up the offense in easier scoring situations. EPA measures production in relation to expectation. Teams taking over possession with shorter fields should score more. The 2019 Patriots did just that. The 2020 team collected 14 fewer turnovers than the 2019 version. Its average starting field position was worse by 4.2 yards per drive. The 2020 team’s average drives were longer by about one-half play and by 17 seconds on average. New England had 157 offensive possessions, down from 190 last season.
While the Patriots were unrivaled in the size of their defensive regression, defense took a huge hit in the NFL overall, partly because road teams did not have to contend with noisy stadiums. Teams over the previous five years (2015-2019) averaged two fewer offensive points per game on the road. That disadvantage disappeared in 2020 as home and road teams both averaged 23.76 offensive points per game. While the Patriots’ offensive production did not crater, New England still lost ground as offensive production surged overall. Throw in the NFL’s largest decline on defense and it’s easy to see how 12-4 one year became 7-9 in the next.
The Patriots' defense, the Titans' defense and the Bills' offense are among the units with the biggest year over year changes in 2020.theathletic.com
Yeah it was felt for sure. I would like to see a list of the quality of the players lost as well, like how many starters, etc.Perspective.
There's so much to learn from this 2020 injury chart.
-For example, no team had more player games lost than the Patriots during the 2020 season and it wasn't even close.
-Who knew SF had so many player games lost? Of course, JimmyG contributed his share.
-How the hell did Atlanta and Pittsburgh do so poorly last year with the fewest days lost? Glad I'm not a fan of those 2 teams; tough times ahead as their luck with injuries regresses to the norm. Over time, team injuries tend to level out.
-And Miami! This gives us a little better understanding of why the Dolphins surged in the 2nd half last year - the Titans, Rams & to some extent, the Ravens, too.
-The Browns did well despite their injuries; good times should be ahead for them.
-A little luck along the way is always helpful to get to the SB; TB and KC were both beneficiaries of good luck with relatively low injuries.