New England Patriots Week 10 Stock Report
Everything is awesome, everything is cool when you're part of a team. Especially when that team's name is the New England Patriots.
It's getting harder and harder to find fatal flaws with this 8-0 AFC juggernaut, but even after a 27-10 victory over the Washington Redskins, there are some nits to pick.
The Patriots turned the ball over two times, which was two more times more than they had in the previous two games and two times as many as they had in the previous five games combined. As a result, the game was a bit closer than it might have otherwise been. Also, the Redskins receivers dropped a whopping seven passes, which helped keep the Patriots comfortably ahead.
Some players helped the Patriots, others held them back.
Stock Up: Dominique Easley
The Patriots drafted Dominique Easley in the first round with hopes that he would develop into a top-notch interior pass-rusher. In his second year, that's exactly what Easley has become.
He has just one sack on the season, but according to Pro Football Focus, Easley has 16 hurries and six hits to go with that sack. On the season, he is the league's most productive pass-rushing defensive tackle. Against the Washington Redskins, Easley set up shop in the backfield with six hurries and a hit.
The Patriots turned the spotlight onto the defensive front seven by making several key additions to that group in response to the hemorrhaging of talent in the secondary. With Easley playing at this level, the Patriots are getting the production they seek. That being said, he's not the only one producing, as we'll see later.
Stock Down: Offensive Line
The Patriots offensive line goes into the stock down category not for their performance, but for their injuries.
Nate Solder and Ryan Wendell are both on season-ending injured reserve; Marcus Cannon and Tre' Jackson have missed time with injuries of their own; and now, Sebastian Vollmer is also dealing with a head injury.
The Patriots entered Sunday's game against the Redskins with just six healthy and active offensive linemen, and they left the game with five. One more injury and tight end Michael Williams would have been moved back to his old position as an offensive tackle.
The Patriots have already started making moves on the offensive line by adding two new tackles to the practice squad, but their health should start to turn around, and as Vollmer, Cannon and Jackson all return, that group should stabilize a bit.
Stock Up: Chandler Jones
Right now, it's officially Chandler Jones vs. the NFL. No matter how you measure it, Jones is on a warpath rushing the passer this season.
The Patriots defensive end has notched 9.5 sacks this season, which is the most in the NFL and is more than the New York Giants have as an entire team (nine) through Week 9. With 27 sacks, the Patriots defense is tied for second in the league. Jones' production is more than one-third of the team's total.
In the past, the Patriots have counted on Jones to play nearly every snap on defense. This year, they're finally taking their foot off the gas, and he's earned 87.7 percent of the snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. It's resulted in an uptick in his production, as he ranks fourth among 4-3 defensive ends in overall pass-rushing productivity.
The Patriots have Jones for another year and a half before they have to decide on his long-term future. If he keeps playing like this, though, he'll earn a big contract wherever he goes.
Stock Down: Tom Brady
Nitpicky? Yes, but Tom Brady holds himself to an impossibly high standard.
He threw just his second interception of the season (and his first nonfluky interception) against the Washington Redskins Sunday. That brings his touchdown-interception ratio to a dismally low 22:2.
Even the one interception is acceptable, given his lack of interceptions all season long, but his accuracy was off at times on Sunday as well. He completed 66.7 percent of his throws against Washington, and it was also just the third time all season in which he's accumulated fewer than 300 yards passing.
Of course, Brady wasn't off all day long; he had a beautiful fourth-quarter throw on an 18-yard touchdown pass to running back Brandon Bolden, and he could have had another touchdown on a 33-yard throw in the first quarter were it not dropped.
That being said, Brady doesn't accept anything less than perfection from himself, and that's what we've come to expect from Brady over the years.
Stock Up: LeGarrette Blount
LeGarrette Blount's stock went way up the moment that Dion Lewis went down with a torn ACL on Sunday against the Redskins. His stock was already rising on that day, even before the injury took place.
Blount finished Sunday with a season-high 48 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus, and in turn he also had a season-high in carries (29) and yards (129) while picking up his fifth rushing touchdown of the season.
The running game will always take a back seat to the passing game as long as Tom Brady is under center, but it's important to have a running game that can at least complement a team's ability to throw the ball. With Lewis out of action, the spotlight now turns brighter than ever on Blount to pick up the slack.