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Worth the Watch: Yay or Nay? Week Six, Patriots vs. Cowboys

In the wake of the New England Patriots’ loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week Six of the 2021 season, Patriot Maven provides analysis for the players on whom Pats fans might have wanted to keep watch. Were they worth the attention?

The New England Patriots are heading into Week Seven of the 2021 NFL season with a 2-4 record, having dropped their Week Six matchup with the Dallas Cowboys 35-29 in overtime at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Pats quarterback Mac Jones threw for 229 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, while Damien Harris would add 101 yard rushing on 18 carries for a touchdown of his own. In the end, missed opportunities, questionable coaching decisions and their opponents’ ability to make plays when most-needed was the difference between winning and losing in Week Six.

Prior to this Week Six matchup, Patriot Maven highlighted three players on offense and three players on defense on which the fan base might have wanted to keep watch.

Let’s examine whether this six-pack of Patriots was ‘worth the watch’ on Sunday:

Jonnu Smith - Nay

Smith led all potential pass catchers on Sunday in taking 39 offensive snaps, but earning only one reception for nine yards on two targets. He was followed on the snap-chart count by Hunter Henry, who took the field for 37 snaps. While some of their snaps were taken in blocking alignments, the Pats clearly relied on the tight ends for help on offense. The Patriots used multiple tight ends on 85 percent of their offensive snaps and scored 14 points through the ten-minute-mark of the second quarter. From that moment on, the Pats moved away from multiple tight end sets, employing them only 35 percent of the time. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick pointed out on Monday that the well had essentially run dry when it came to plays for the big sets. When they did employ two-tight end packages, the Pats averaged 5.8 yards per play. Therefore, Smith may not have been ‘worth the watch’ on Sunday, but it may have been the result of play calling, rather than ineffective play.

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Rhamondre Stevenson - Yay

For Sunday’s matchup with the Cowboys, Stevenson showed the necessary intangibles to be an effective option in both situational runs, and even receiving out of the backfield. The former Oklahoma Sooner collected 23 yards and one touchdown on five carries, along with 39 receiving yards in Week Six. While there is room for further improvement (as evident from his minor breakdown in pass protection prior to his touchdown run), the rookie is proving his worth to the Patriots’ running back corps. Whether it be power-stepping his way into the end zone, or showcasing his pass-catching abilities, Stevenson was a productive offensive weapon on Sunday against a tough Dallas defensive front.

Nelson Agholor - Nay

On Sunday, the Patriots were expected to test the Cowboys’ secondary, which had struggled a bit beyond the production of prolific cornerback Trevon Diggs. Heading into Week Six, Dallas had surrendered 311 yards through the air. As New England’s primary vertical threat, Agholor was thought to be the ideal target for Mac Jones, should he have desired to utilize the deep ball. Ultimately, Agholor saw the field for 59 percent of the Pats’ offensive snaps, earning only reception for 27 yards on three targets. The 28-year-old also had a key drop of a catchable Jones’ pass on first-and-ten from the Patriots 25-yard line on their opening drive in overtime. Had the pass been completed, the play had the chance to gain significant yardage.

J.C. Jackson - More Yay, than Nay

It is hard to make the argument for a Patriots pass-defense, which allowed 445 passing yards, and three touchdowns, being ‘worth the watch’…at least, in a positive way. However, the Patriots pass-defense woes on Sunday went far beyond Jackson, who had a mostly solid performance in Week Six. He did commit a costly pass interference penalty near the end zone on a third-quarter drive that ended with a Cowboys touchdown. However, Jackson provided adequate coverage on Dallas’ wide receiver Amari Cooper. Jackson would finish the evening with four solo tackles, allowing 67 receiving yards, with four pass-break-ups.

Jamie Collins - Nay

During his Patriots return in Week Five against the Houston Texans, Collins registered one sack on quarterback David Mills, despite only taking three defensive snaps. On Sunday against Dallas, Collins was on the field for 17 defensive snaps, as well as 10 snaps on special teams. While Collins did not technically play poorly, he did not register any pressures, run stops or coverage statistics. Collins finished the game with two solo tackles. not enough to make him worth the watch on Sunday. Still. Collins’ skill and familiarity with the Patriots’ system should once again make him a key contributor on defense in short order

Adrian Phillips - Yay, by default

While Phillips is always solid when defending the open field, he was mostly quiet on Sunday against the Cowboys. After briefly leaving the game early in the first half with a foot injury, he returned, aligning mostly in his typical hybrid safety role. With the Patriots often deploying several defensive backs on Sunday evening, in hopes of taking away Dallas’ throwing lanes, the 29-year-old finished the night with five total tackles (three solo, two assisted). In coverage, Phillips allowed zero receptions with only one pass thrown his way.