The New England Patriots needed every single play available to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs during yesterday’s prime time matchup. And with the exception of backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, they also needed every player on their active game day roster during their 43-40 victory. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the snap count numbers from the game:
The Patriots’ top three wide receivers are set in stone
Over the past two weeks, the Patriots’ wide receiver group has changed dramatically. Phillip Dorsett (3 of 78; 4%) and Cordarrelle Patterson (6 of 78; 8%) saw only limited playing time against the Chiefs, while a new duo emerged alongside Chris Hogan (47 of 78; 60%): Julian Edelman (71 of 78; 91%) and Josh Gordon (63 of 78; 81%) were the one-two punch at the position, with Hogan serving as the number three option. If yesterday’s game is an indication, New England’s wide receiver group appears to be set.
The starting cornerbacks remained unchanged even with Eric Rowe back
After missing the last three games due to a groin injury, Eric Rowe returned to the lineup yesterday. However, he did not fill the starting spot he held prior to his injury and instead served as the number four player at the position: Rowe was on the field for 31% of snaps (17 of 54) and was behind the top trio of Stephon Gilmore (78 of 78; 100%), Jason McCourty (78 of 78; 100%) and Jonathan Jones (31 of 78; 57%). It will be interesting to see if the roles change in the near future with Rowe, who was still limited in practice, back to full strength.
James Develin was essentially New England’s number two tight end
Against an inconsistent run defense, New England tried to establish the ground game early and often went back to it. As a result, blocking personnel played an important role in the contest. Rob Gronkowski was therefore on the field for 99% of the snaps (77 of 78), while fullback James Develin played 42% (33 of 78) and essentially served as the team’s number two tight end. Interestingly enough, blocking tight end Dwayne Allen was used on just 11 snaps (14%).
Danny Shelton replaced Malcom Brown in the lineup
With Malcom Brown out due to an injury, the Patriots turned to offseason acquisition Danny Shelton to fill his role as a starter along the interior offensive line. Shelton was on the field for 61% of New England’s defensive snaps (33 of 54) and led all defensive tackles in playing time. Shelton did a solid job but will likely see his snap number decrease again once Brown returns – as should be the case to keep the rotation going and everybody as fresh as possible.
New England used plenty of 3-4 personnel
The Patriots have solid of depth along their defensive edge, but the rotation at the position speaks a clear language: Trey Flowers is the clear-cut number one (41 of 54; 76%) with Adrian Clayborn (18 of 54; 33%) and Deatrich Wise Jr. (16 of 54; 30%) used more as rotational options on the other side. With a trustworthy fourth player yet to emerge – Derek Rivers played just four snaps all game long –, Flowers will be asked to continue playing considerable snaps.
10 players were on the field for 100% of the snaps
A total of 10 players did not leave the field once against the Chiefs. Four of the Patriots’ offensive linemen – all the starters but Marcus Cannon, who left the game due to a head injury in the second half – went wire-to-wire, as did quarterback Tom Brady. On the defensive side of the ball, meanwhile, the starting secondary and linebacker Kyle Van Noy played all 54 snaps: Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty, Jason McCourty, and Stephon Gilmore were trusted to shut down Kansas City’s explosive aerial attack. The results were mixed.