Analysis: Offensively, the Patriots came into the game with only three active wide receivers, so what was their approach for making up for a lack of depth at receiver? Well, as expected, it was a larger work load for tight end Dwayne Allen and newly acquired wide receiver Phillip Dorsett. Allen played just 27 snaps in Week 1 against the Chiefs, but saw a major uptick against the Saints (46). The injuries at wide receiver and Rob Gronkowski’s groin injury in-game were both huge factors to Allen’s usage.
Dorsett, went from 18 snaps in his Pats debut last week to 32 agains the Saints, and would have played more if he didn’t suffer a knee injury in this one. Also of note, rookie tight end Jacob Hollister made his NFL debut with 16 snaps against the Saints, and hauled in a 5-yard reception from Tom Brady. The Patriots offense left the game banged up with injuries to Gronk, Dorsett, Hogan, and Burkhead, but they moved the ball with ease against the Saints tallying 555 total yards of offense.
Analysis: The Jordan Richards experiment is over. Richards logged just 16 snaps in Week 2 after exploding for a career-high 41 snaps against the Chiefs. That will be a welcomed site for Patriots fans as Matt Patricia’s defense went back to its roots on Sunday with Devin McCourty (64), Patrick Chung (63), and Duron Harmon (53) assuming their roles in the Pats three-safety look.
Also in the secondary, a lot was made of Eric Rowe starting over Malcolm Butler, but it was Butler (49) that ended up out-snapping Rowe (34) at the end of the day. As for veteran defensive tackle Alan Branch, it appears that he has moved down the depth chart, as Branch tallied just six snaps in New Orleans, while rookie Adam Butler led all interior defensive lineman with 45 snaps.
It’s possible that the Patriots liked Butler over Branch against the pass-happy Saints, but six snaps is a notable decline for Branch. Two of the Patriots younger defenders also stood out in this one, as rookie Deatrich Wise (1 sack, 2 TFL, 5 QB hits) and second-year corner Jonathan Jones (2 tackles, 2 PBUs) had big performances on defense. Finally, rookie UDFA Harvey Langi made his NFL debut on Sunday. Langi played just two snaps on defense, but was a key contributor on special teams.
(h/t to Pro Football Focus: https://www.profootballfocus.com/products/elite#edge)