Younger quarterbacks face a tricky process when squaring off with Invoice Belichick and the New England Patriots.
Counting what Justin Fields did in Foxborough a number of weeks in the past, first- and second-year quarterbacks have traditionally struggled in opposition to a Belichick-led protection. Since 2003, quarterbacks of their first or second season have a mixed 4-42 document at Gillette Stadium.
This may put into context simply how spectacular Fields was within the Chicago Bears’ win over the Patriots three weeks in the past.
However this was the surroundings that second-year quarterback Sam Ehlinger walked into on Sunday, when he and the Colts took on the Patriots on the street.
He couldn’t duplicate Fields’ success.
Ehlinger and the Colts’ offense struggled, managing simply 121 whole yards and three factors in New England’s 26-3 win. Ehlinger, taking part in with out working again Jonathan Taylor, accomplished 15 of 29 passes for 103 yards and an interception. However because of the 9 sacks he took on the afternoon — and the 60 yards misplaced — the Colts completed the day with simply 43 internet passing yards.
The duo of Matthew Judon and Josh Uche posed an issue for the Indianapolis offense all afternoon lengthy, as every go rusher got here away with three sacks on the day. Judon received the get together began early, recording his first sack of the sport on the Colts’ first offensive play. Watch as Judon assaults the appropriate aspect of the offensive line on the stunt, dipping to the within earlier than attending to the quarterback:
Judon would get to Ehlinger two performs afterward third down, however that sack was nullified as a consequence of a penalty.
He would nonetheless handle his second sack of the sport within the first quarter, as he received to Ehlinger on a 3rd down halfway by means of the primary:
That sack, with the Colts going through a 3rd down in New England territory, compelled Frank Reich to ship his punt workforce on the sphere.
After a pair of New England subject targets gave the Patriots a 6-0 lead, the sport’s first large play got here by way of particular groups. With the Colts seeking to punt the soccer away to New England, cornerback Jonathan Jones broke into the backfield to dam the punt, and the Patriots recovered in unbelievable subject place:
As you’ll be able to see from this replay angle, Jones begins the snap aligned over one of many punt protection gamers, however bursts into the backfield off the sting after which lays out for the block:
This replay angle can be price a glance:
New England capitalized with a brief landing go from Mac Jones to Rhamondre Stevenson:
The following Indianapolis possession would see Uche be part of the sack get together. With Indianapolis going through a 3rd down, and needing an enormous offensive play to get again into the sport, Uche will get house off the sting for his first sack of the afternoon:
Uche’s second sack of the sport got here on the very subsequent Colts’ possession, and can be essential. With Indianapolis trailing 13-0, they lastly put collectively a great drive, and appeared to be in place to chop into New England’s lead. Dealing with a third and 6 on the New England 19-yard line trailing 13-0, Ehlinger dropped to throw. Once more, nevertheless, Uche received house for a sack.
Why was this a essential play? The following subject aim try was large to the left, and the Patriots would finally take 13-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The second half was extra of the identical, and it started with the Colts in possession of the soccer, and Uche getting after the quarterback for his third sack of the sport:
Uche’s third sack of the sport set a brand new career-high for him, snapping the earlier greatest from final season, when he sacked Zach Wilson twice in an early-season New England win over the New York Jets.
New England’s offense would fail to capitalize on their ensuing possession, as linebacker Bobby Okereke punched the soccer away from Jakobi Meyers, gifting Indianapolis nice beginning subject possession for his or her subsequent possession.
They might accept only a subject aim, nevertheless, because of Judon’s third sack of the sport:
That third sack tied his career-best single-game mark, set again in 2018 when he was with the Baltimore Ravens.
The New England protection was not carried out, as they might add one other large play. Jones, not glad with simply the punt block, reeled in a deflected throw, returning it for the Choose-Six:
It was not an ideal recreation from the Patriots, nevertheless, because the New England offense struggled as nicely. Jones accomplished 20 of 30 passes for simply 147 yards and the landing, averaging simply 4.9 yards per passing try. There have been some brilliant spots from the New England offense, together with this 30-yard completion from Jones to tight finish Hunter Henry to assist arrange a Patriots’ subject aim:
However the story of this present day was the imposing Patriots’ protection, and New England’s continued success in opposition to younger quarterbacks. After the sport, each Uche and Judon had been fast to reward the opposite:
Quote of the day from Josh Uche about Matthew Judon: “I’ve by no means in my life seen somebody make this recreation look really easy. Seeing that, I’m like, shit, let me strive to try this.” #Patriots #ForeverNE
— Khari Thompson (@kdthompson5) November 6, 2022
Matthew Judon retains up his reward of Josh Uche on the podium, revealing that Uche really calls New England’s performs on third down when he’s on the market. The league’s present sack chief even calls Uche “most likely the very best pass-rusher we have now.” Each had hat tracks at the moment.
— Khari Thompson (@kdthompson5) November 6, 2022
With scoring down across the league, maybe that is the type of season the place a protection may cleared the path. What we noticed from New England at the moment was very spectacular on the defensive aspect of the soccer. With Judon main the league in sacks, and Uche — together with Deatrich Sensible — each inflicting issues for opposing offenses, the Patriots could be placing collectively the appropriate elements for one of many league’s greatest defenses.
New England entered play Sunday pressuring opposing passers on 28.9% of dropbacks this season, second solely to the Dallas Cowboys. New England additionally entered this week twelfth in scoring protection, averaging 20.4 factors per recreation, a quantity that can solely enhance after Sunday’s effort.
They had been additionally sixth in Whole Protection DVOA, shifting up from ninth the earlier week.
The Patriots’ protection appears to be coming collectively.
If their offense can determine issues out…be careful.
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