After scanning the Patriots' snap counts from the team's week 14 victory over the San Diego Chargers, here are a few things that stood out on each side of the ball:
1. Wide receiver Danny Amendola continues to see less playing time in favor of Tim Wright. Amendola played just 18 snaps (23%) compared to Tim Wright's 35 (45%). Amendola picked up three catches for seven yards in that playing time. Wright was targeted twice and did not record a catch. Expect this playtime trend to continue as Wright keeps getting acclimated to the offense. He's due for a breakout game soon.
2. The Patriots' running back rotation has remained stable for the third straight game. Shane Vereen saw 35 snaps, LeGarrette Blount saw 31, Jonas Gray saw three, and Brandon Bolden saw one. Blount carried the ball on 20 of his 31 snaps, and Gray on two of his three. Vereen ran the ball just once in his snaps. James Develin played 13 snaps, and all but one of them was a run (according to PFF). It may be an arbitrary way of looking at it, but those numbers make the offense seem a bit predictable based on running back personnel.
3. The Patriots' entire offensive line played 100% of the snaps (77 total), which is always a good statistic, despite some of the struggles the unit had. Marcus Cannon played just a single snap as an extra blocker, which is not a surprise considering his weak performance from a week before. Michael Hoomanawanui played 42 snaps (55%). That was five snaps off his highest total of the season. Once Cameron Fleming returns to action, expect less playing time for Hoomanawanui, and a further phasing out of Cannon.
1. The Patriots really utilized their four-safety rotation to the max on Sunday night. Per usual, Devin McCourty played 100% of the snap (57 total). Patrick Chung played 43 - good for 75%. Duron Harmon was in the mix for 18 snaps (32%). When he was in the game, he was primarily being used as a single high safety due to his coverage skills. Tavon Wilson also had a nice impact, playing 11 snaps from a variety of spots (closer to the box, extra DB, etc.). Chung is the clear starter across from McCourty, but Wilson and Harmon have desirable skills attributes that make them good role players for this defense.
2. At defensive tackle, the Patriots had a really solid rotation that enabled everyone to stay fresh. The team had four players play 17 snaps or more. Vince Wilfork led the way with 32, followed by Chris Jones and Sealver Siliga who played 25 each and Alan Branch who played 17. Dominique Easley also mixed in as a sub-package DT and DE with nine snaps. This unit is deep and has a very versatile skillset with each player having the ability to play multiple spots and multiple fronts.
3. With Dont'a Hightower out of action with a shoulder injury, Jonathan Casillas stepped into a full-time role for the Patriots defense, playing 51 total snaps (89%). The Patriots used him as a blitzer, in coverage, and in run defense. He was a three down player, and while he wasn't the beast that was Jamie Collins, he was far from a liability. Bill Belichick's midseason pick-ups this season have been nothing short of extraordinary.
Note: Snap counts tracked by NFL, provided via official gamebook.