Eagles’ Scouting Report Of the Patriots

What to expect from the Patriots tomorrow, according to the Eagles.

Josh McDaniels, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. (USA Today Sports)

Josh McDaniels, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. (USA Today Sports)

Despite Tom Brady’s top targets having difficulty staying on the field, he’s commanded the best offense in the NFL. When asked why the Patriots have had so much success even with injuries, Chip Kelly said the answer is quite simple.

“Did they lose Brady?” Kelly joked. “Because that I think would really, truly affect them. And I think it really just speaks to how good a football player Tom is. The fact that they’ve had a lot of moving pieces around him — for them, it’s that ‘next man up’ mentality, which it really helps when he’s the guy pulling the trigger. Because he really is an orchestra leader out there in terms of directing protections, changing routes, changing everything.

“He’s been in that offense since he’s been in the league, so he’s got an unbelievable command of it. And then they find a way to find players that fit — they know what the individual player can do and they try to maximize that. But it all starts and ends with [Brady].”

That will be the biggest challenge for the Eagles this week, but we talked to players and coaches to get a feel for Brady as well as the rest of the Patriots’ weapons. Here’s what they said, plus stats detailing where New England ranks in the NFL in points per drive, yards per carry, passer rating and turnovers per drive on both sides of the ball.


2.78 (1)3.8 (24)106.7 (1)2.36 (21)

Billy Davis on Brady: “Brady has been in the system for 16, 17 years. They have this thing wired. They’ve got it wired, where they not only change the play at the line, but in between series, they can change the whole plan. They go from having a two-tight end, two-back plan to empty, spread out every other series. So you are defending by series a plan of attack that’s coming at you.”

Eric Rowe on Brady: “He’s probably the best pre-read quarterback. You got to show different leverages; you got to mess with him safety-wise, linebackers showing blitz. You can’t just sit in your coverage because he’ll figure it out and pick you apart all day. So we just have to disguise a lot.”

Bennie Logan on Brady: “He helps the offensive line a lot because he manages all of the matchups the defense presents. If he sees something he likes — like a matchup with a receiver or tight end — he’ll take advantage of it. Or if sees man coverage, he’ll audible and check the running back out of the backfield to go empty and get the matchup he wants.”

Logan on their run game: “They’re more of a power team; a lot of power. They’ll do some inside zone and stretch, but they’re more of a power team trying to get the ball down hill and manageable yardage so they can do crossing routes on third down.”


1.66 (8)4.1 (17)82.8 (8)2.39 (14)

Pat Shurmur on linebacker Dont’a Hightower and the front seven: “They’re very fundamental. I think their front seven is very handsy. They get their hands on you; they’ve always been that way. They kind of throw a net around you.

“Hightower is obviously an outstanding player. When he went out of the game, then Denver found a way to kind of crease them a few times running the football. Very good football player. He’s obviously a key piece of their defense.”

Jason Kelce on Hightower: “Very much in the same position in terms of the leadership role, and getting everybody set, and kind of the heartbeat of the defense, I would say. I would actually say he’s more similar to a DeMeco Ryans, or guys where a lot of stuff runs through them. He’s kind of the leader of it; he’s kind of the heart and soul of it.”

Dennis Kelly on their defensive line: They’re very talented and they play hard, but they’re very smart. Schematically they do a really good job of finding some mismatches and keeping things fresh. It’s hard to find their tendencies, so that’s going to be the challenge is being ready for everything they do.”

Kelly on New England’s secondary: “If you watch [cornerback] Malcolm Butler play, he started last year as an undrafted free agent, and obviously he had the play in the Super Bowl in terms of what he has done, but he has taken great strides as a corner. They have had him matched up in a couple of games against [Odell] Beckham [Jr.] and against some of the really tough receivers they have faced and he’s competitive, aggressive and has done a really nice job. And I think maybe their decisions to let guys go [was] because they felt like their depth provided them with somebody like that.

“I think [cornerback] Logan Ryan on the other side is someone that has gone a really good job, and is another quality corner. And I think [Devin] McCourty may be one of the best free safeties in the league, so they have some quality depth. They may not be the name depth, but when you watch tape and you are evaluating players and you look at how Malcolm Butler is playing right now — whether or not he has the premiere name with some of the top corners in the league, but he’s playing like that right now.