This article is not meant to downplay how good the New England Patriots are, but it is something to consider when looking at their defensive statistics this NFL season. There are few schedules I’ve seen throughout the years that showcase the lack of elite opposing quarterbacks, and the 2016 Patriots may be at the very top of that list. The Patriots are very, very good, and so is their defense, especially the secondary. But I couldn’t help but notice they haven’t exactly been tested when it comes to opposing quarterback play. Below are the quarterbacks that New England has faced in 2016 followed by their overall QBR on the year.
Week 1: Carson Palmer (58.8, 18th in NFL)
Week 2: Ryan Tannehill (54.7, 24th in NFL)
Week 3: Brock Osweiler (55.3, 22nd in NFL)
Week 4: Tyrod Taylor (68.3, 9th in NFL)
Week 5: Charlie Whitehurst (32.9, N/A)
Week 6: Andy Dalton (58.5, 20th in NFL)
Week 7: Landry Jones (49.8, N/A)
Week 8: Tyrod Taylor
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: Russel Wilson (63.2, 15th in NFL)
Week 11: Colin Kaepernick (55.2, 23rd in NFL)
Week 12: Ryan Fitzpatrick (45.5, 29th in NFL)
Week 13: Jared Goff (22.9, N/A)
Week 14: Joe Flacco (58.5, 19th in NFL)
Week 15: Trevor Siemian (55.7, 21st in NFL)
Week 16: Ryan Fitzpatrick
Week 17: Matt Moore (81.7, N/A)
Divisional round: Brock Osweiler
AFC Championship: Ben Roethlisberger (66.2, 10th in NFL)
After looking at this list, it’s easy to see that the Patriots have played, at best, average quarterbacks throughout the season. Tyrod Taylor is the lone quarterback they’ve faced that is inside the top 15, and I’m sure we could all agree that he is no Ben Roethlisberger. Matt Moore saw action in just a couple of games, so his QBR is obviously skewed in that regard. Aside from Russell Wilson and Joe Flacco, they haven’t had much of a test when it comes to shutting down the passing game.
And this, perhaps could explain their 3rd ranked rushing defense. They’ve been able to key in on opposing running backs, because they’d rather force team’s to beat them with the pass. And judging by the competition, you can see why. This will be difficult for them as they look to key in on LeVeon Bell, Antonio Brown and Big Ben.
This is not to suggest, once again, that the Patriots are somehow subpar. They won 14 games for a reason. But there’s no doubt that Ben Roethlisberger will be their toughest test at the quarterback position that they’ve faced all season long, and that bodes well for the Black and Gold.