FOXBORO -- The Patriots rank last in the league in sacks, tied with the Raiders and Giants, with seven. Just a shade over one per game on average.
But going into last weekend's game with the Chiefs, the Patriots ranked second in the league in pressure percentage, according to ESPN. And they hurried Patrick Mahomes into some bad decisions. Pressures on the quarterback led to Duron Harmon's interception in and Stephon Gilmore's pass-breakup -- both of which occurred in the end zone.
One week prior, Adrian Clayborn -- who leads the team with 20 quarterback pressures, but hasn't sacked the quarterback -- hit Andrew Luck to force an interception by Patrick Chung.
Bears coach Matt Nagy acknowledged that the Patriots haven't had much production in terms of sacks, but he insisted they made life difficult for quarterbacks at different points.
"That’s kind of what they do . . . and I don’t think that’s ever necessarily changed," Nagy said. "Again, they have a belief in their system and how it goes and how it works and they’ve been successful. Whether there’s a game where they have a lot of pressure or there’s a game where there’s not much, you’ve got to be able to adapt to it. Again, being around the football, tipping the ball in the air, making plays in the red zone, not giving up touchdowns and having three field goals kicked, that type of deal is always going to work when you just do what you’re supposed to do and that’s what they do."
Though Trey Flowers missed almost two full games -- he suffered a concussion early in Week 2 and missed Week 3 -- he's second on the team with 17 total quarterback pressures.
"He’s not the quote-unquote big name guy, but he’s the big name guy amongst the coaching world," Nagy said. "We know who he is and what he can do and we respect him and know he’s a hell of a player. As you would anybody, you always want to know where they’re at and how they do things and that happens in film study. He can hold the point, he’s strong, he’s quick, he’s fast, he plays in front of the quarterback. We know that he’s a good football player."
Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores said he values pressures a great deal. If his defense can put pressure on the Bears Sunday, even if they're not necessarily sacking the quarterback, they should be in OK shape.
"Well, I think anytime you can sack the quarterback, that's great," Flores said. "With that, when you're sacking him, you're pressuring him, and I think no quarterback likes having pressure on the edge or up the middle. So, yeah, I value pressures a lot, and I think that goes a long way toward marrying a rush and the coverage and playing really good defense.
"So, getting pressure on the quarterback is, I would say, definitely something that we strive to do. I think we've gotten that. I would say Adrian Clayborn's a guy who he doesn't have a sack this season, but he's put a lot of pressure on the quarterback and that's led to some mistakes. He put some pressure on Mahomes that led to some mistakes from Mahomes last week. I think the pressure definitely helps us to create some turnovers. It created some turnovers for us [last week], and hopefully we can continue to do that moving forward."
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