The New England Patriots needed every single play available to defeat the Chicago Bears during yesterday’s hard-fought meeting between the two teams. And with the exception of backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, they also needed every player on their active game day roster to ensure the 38-31 victory – the Patriots’ first on the road this year. With all that in mind, let’s take a look at the snap count numbers from the game:
James White and Kenjon Barner pick up the slack after Sony Michel’s injury
When Sony Michel went down with an injury on the first play of the second quarter, the Patriots lost their number one running back. With only two other backs on their roster, James White and Kenjon Barner had to pick up the slack. As a result, both men saw a bigger than usual workload: White was on the field for 70% (45 of 64) of New England’s offense snaps, Barner for 27 % (17 of 64) – both new season-highs for the veteran runners.
Derek Rivers edges out Deatrich Wise Jr. in playing time
After missing all of his 2017 season due to a torn ACL, Derek Rivers’ second campaign in the NFL started slowly. Entering yesterday’s game, the former third-round draft pick was on the field for just 17 defensive snaps. Against the Bears, however, Rivers set a new career-high by playing 24 of a possible 82 snaps (29%) as the team’s third defensive edge. Interestingly enough, he saw more playing time in this role than New England’s sack leader: Deatrich Wise Jr. was on the field for just 10 snaps (12%).
The Patriots’ receiver roles remain unchanged...
Ever since the arrival of Josh Gordon and the return of Julian Edelman, the duo established itself as the Patriots’ one-two punch at wide receiver. Yesterday again, the veterans clearly played the most snaps at the position: Edelman was on the field for 63 of 64 snaps (98%), Gordon for 61 of 64 (96%). Behind them, Chris Hogan served as the number three (42 of 64; 66%) with Phillip Dorsett (8; 12%) and Cordarrelle Patterson (6; 9%) as little more than package-specific depth options.
...as Chris Hogan turns into a core special teamer
Catching six passes for 63 yards, Hogan had an active day as the Patriots’ third wide receiver. He also saw extensive action in the kicking game and was on the field for 20 of 33 (61%) special teams snaps – the fifth most on the team behind only Nate Ebner (27; 82%), Matthew Slater (22; 67%), Brandon King (22; 67%), and Nicholas Grigsby (21; 64%). Hogan, who registered one tackle, is proving his value to the team even with a smaller role on offense.
J.C. Jackson enters the rotation opposite Stephon Gilmore
The Patriots continue rotating their perimeter cornerbacks on the opposite side of Stephon Gilmore. While Gilmore was on the field for all but one snap (81 of 82; 99%), Jason McCourty (55; 67%), Jonathan Jones (49; 60%), J.C. Jackson (31; 38%) and Eric Rowe (28; 34%) all shared time as the rotational options alongside New England’s number one cornerback. Jackson in particular is noteworthy: the undrafted rookie had an up-and-down performance but is given plenty of chances to show his worth – the same approach the team took in 2014 with fellow undrafted defensive back Malcolm Butler.
Seven players were on the field for 100% of the snaps
A total of seven players did not leave the field once against the Bears. All five of the Patriots’ offensive linemen – including backup right tackle LaAdrian Waddle – went wire-to-wire. Quarterback Tom Brady also played all 64 offensive snaps of the day. On the defensive side of the ball, meanwhile, only starting strong safety Patrick Chung did not leave the field and play all 82 snaps.