If you’ve been following Pats Pulpit all year, you’ll know that I’ve been harping on how the New England Patriots have utilized running back Mike Gillislee.
The team refused to throw him the football the entire season with just 1 pass in his direction in week 16, and called a running play on 73% of his snaps- versus 48% of the time with Dion Lewis and 39% of the time with Rex Burkhead- which led opponents to stack the box against Gillislee and limit his production.
Gillislee faced eight or more defenders in the box on 51% of his snaps this year because teams knew he would be running the ball when he was on the field. Only Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart faced a stacked box more frequently and we need to go to the hundredth decimal places to find the difference (Stewart: 51.01%; Gillislee 50.96%).
Compare that to Lewis, who faced a stacked box on just 28.3% of snaps (haha Falcons fans), the second-least in the NFL, or Burkhead who faced a stacked box on roughly 33% of his snaps, and it’s no surprise those two were more productive running the football.
Gillislee is sidelined with a knee injury and might not play for the rest of the season if Lewis, Burkhead, and James White remain healthy in the postseason, but New England should really change how they utilize Gillislee on the field if they want to maximize his contributions in 2018, the second and final year of his contract.