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A statistical comparison of 2011 and 2012 Patriots through seven games

10.27.12 at 10:36 pm ET
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Here are a few statistical comparisons between the 2011 Patriots and 2012 Patriots through seven games. First, the quarterback, where the only major difference for Tom Brady is fewer touchdown passes and more picks.

Brady through seven games in 2011: 184-for-272 for 2,361 yards, with 18 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.
Brady through seven games in 2012: 186-for-285 for 2,104 yards, with 12 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.

Through seven games, there’€™s not much of a change when it comes to distributing the ball and targeting different positions in the passing game:

Targets by position through seven games in 2011:
Wide receiver: 100 catches on 154 targets.
Tight end: 65 catches on 92 targets.
Running back: 19 catches on 24 targets.
Other: 0 catches on 1 target.

Targets by position through seven games in 2012:
Wide receiver: 106 catches on 167 targets.
Tight end: 56 catches on 84 targets.
Running back: 24 catches on 30 targets.

When it comes to the primary targets in the passing game, the only major differences for Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski is total yardage (possibly influenced by the arrival of wide receiver Brandon Lloyd?) and touchdowns:

Welker through seven games in 2011: 57 catches on 83 targets for 824 yards and 6 TDs.
Welker through seven games in 2012: 54 catches for 74 targets for 688 yards and 2 TDs.

Gronkowski through seven games in 2011: 36 catches on 47 targets for 495 yards and 5 TDs.
Gronkowski through seven games in 2012: 35 catches on 51 targets for 434 yards and 2 TDs.

One guy who has seen a slight tweak in his numbers because of injury is tight end Aaron Hernandez:

Hernandez through 7 games in 2011 (5 games because of injury): 29 catches on 45 targets for 333 yards and 4 TDs.
Hernandez through 7 games in 2012 (3-plus games because of injury): 17 catches on 24 targets for 143 yards and 2 TDs.

Maybe the biggest change through seven games offensively is seen in the running game. The Patriots let BenJarvus Green-Ellis go as a free agent, and have gone with a rotation of youngsters in Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden and Danny Woodhead. This year’€™s group has seen more carries and more yards — but haven’€™t matched the YPC average that the running game (fueled primarily by Green-Ellis) was able to attain last season.

Running game through seven games in 2011: 175 rushes on 787 rushing yards for an average of 4.5 yards per carry and 10 TDs.
Running game through seven games in 2012: 248 rushes on 1,045 rushing yards for 4.2 yards per carry and 10 TDs.

In terms of total defense through seven games, the Patriots numbers have improved from this season compared to last year:

Defense, 2011: 2969 total yards allowed (2262 passing yards, 707 rushing yards). That’€™s an average of 424 yards per game allowed (323 average passing yards, 101 average rushing yards). Through seven games in 2011, the Patriots had allowed 160 points, an average of 22.8 points per game. (By way of comparison, through the same stretch, the New England offense had scored 202 points, an average of 28.9 points per game.)

Defense, 2012: 2632 total yards allowed (2030 passing yards, 602 rushing yards). That’€™s an average of 376 yards per game allowed (290 average passing yards, 86 rushing yards). Through seven games in 2012, the Patriots have allowed 163 points, an average of 23.3 points per game. (By way of comparison, through the same stretch, the New England offense has scored 217 points, an average of 31 points per game).

When it comes to accepted penalties, the Patriots have seen improvement through seven games, with five fewer penalties and 38 less penalty yards than last season:

Penalties through seven games in 2011: 45 penalties, 390 yards.
Penalties through seven games in 2012: 40 penalties, 352 yards.

For what it’€™s worth, through seven games, the position that has seen the biggest reduction in penalties and penalty yards is the offensive line. Last season through seven games, the offensive line had been whistled for 15 penalties for 120 yards — this year in the same stretch, it’€™s only six penalties for 40 yards. The biggest increase has been at the cornerback spot, where the group has jumped from three penalties for 20 yards to seven penalties for 75 yards.

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