QB Tom Brady was benched for QB Jimmy Garoppolo
Brady played 71 (89%) of the snaps, while back-up Garoppolo played 9 (11%). The offensive line- LT Nate Solder, LG Joe Thuney, C David Andrews, RG Shaq Mason, RT Cameron Fleming- were the only players to see 100% of the snaps.
James White led the running backs
White (38, 48%) was uncorked with Brady at the helm, while LeGarrette Blount (31, 39%) played a smaller role. It’s possible that the Patriots didn’t want to overwork Blount with his nagging hip, but White showed some serious ability as a runner in addition to his solid work as a receivers. Rookie D.J. Foster added 12 (15%) snaps.
What’s the plan for Danny Amendola?
Amendola (21, 26%) didn’t play much and it was garbage time when he did. Julian Edelman (59, 74%) led the wide receivers, while Chris Hogan (49, 61%) was right there with him if it weren’t for the concussion protocol. Rookie Malcolm Mitchell (25, 31%) continues to see time ahead of Amendola, while Matthew Slater (11, 14%) played in garbage time.
Rob Gronkowski might not be 100% yet
Even though Gronkowski exploded on the day, he played 65 snaps- just 81%, below his historical usage. It’s possible that the Patriots benched him in garbage time since AJ Derby collected 11 snaps (14%), but Gronkowski should be even better next week. Martellus Bennett (55, 69%) was a big boost for the offense and FB James Develin (22, 28%) had a reduced role.
The Patriots continue to rotate on the defensive front
Jabaal Sheard (48, 76%) and Chris Long (47, 75%) almost played the same amount, while Trey Flowers (33, 52%) continued in his season-long usage, despite the return of Rob Ninkovich (24, 38%).
Malcom Brown (42, 67%) and Alan Banch (41, 65%) played heavy snaps at defensive tackle, while Woodrow Hamilton chipped in 22 (35%) snaps of his own. Perhaps the Patriots would benefit from a 4-man rotation at defensive tackle when Vincent Valentine returns.
Dont’a Hightower had a very limited game
Hightower only played 29 (46%) snaps on defense- fewer than rookie Elandon Roberts (31, 49%). Jamie Collins played 52 (83%) snaps, while Barkevious Mingo technically got the start, despite playing just 7 (11%) snaps. Jonathan Freeny did not see the field.
The Patriots played a lot of nickel defense, despite shallow secondary depth
Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, and Logan Ryan played all 63 defensive snaps, while Malcolm Butler played 55 (87%). Rookie Jonathan Jones played 32 (51%), and 2nd round pick Cyrus Jones played 18 (29%). Duron Harmon added 22 (35%) snaps of his own. The defense averaged 5 defensive backs on the field over the course of the game.
These players saw 15+ snaps on special teams:
Barkevious Mingo (21), Nate Ebner (21), Jordan Richards (20), Jonathan Jones (20), Brandon King (19), Matthew Slater (18)