The New England Patriots blew out the visiting Miami Dolphins 38-7 on Monday and played their most complete game of the season. While not all was perfect, the team received contributions by every player on its active game day roster as a look at the snap count numbers shows. Let’s dig a little deeper still.
Josh Gordon was active in his debut
Acquired two weeks ago, wide receiver Josh Gordon sat out his first game with the team due to a hamstring injury. Even though he was listed as questionable for the contest against Miami as well, the 27-year old saw plenty of action: overall, Gordon was on the field for 22% offensive snaps (18 of 81) and finished with two catches for 32 yards. It was a good and active start.
Trey Flowers, John Simon led the defensive edge rotation
After having missed most of the Patriots’ last two games due to a concussion, Trey Flowers returned and played a big part in helping New England’s defense produce its best performance of the year. The veteran played 57% of snaps (28 of 49) and was the top option along the defensive edge. Interestingly enough, John Simon was the number two: the recently acquired veteran was on the field for 41% of snaps (20). Deatrich Wise Jr. (39%; 19) and Adrian Clayborn (37%; 18) were also actively invovled.
The defense had a light day
As noted above, New England’s defense was on the field for just 49 snaps against the Dolphins. Considering that the team will play its next game on Thursday night, this is a favorable number – especially compared to the Indianapolis Colts: the Patriots’ week five opponent had to go through overtime on Sunday. The Colts played 91 snaps on offense and 86 on defense, noticeably more than New England.
Only six players were on the field for 100% of the snaps
One perks of a blowout win is that some players get to take time off near the end of it. Quarterback Tom Brady, for example, played his last snap with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. However, six players still went wire-to-wire: offensive tackle Trent Brown and guards Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason played all 81 offensive snaps, while safety Devin McCourty and cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty were on the field for all 49 on defense.
It will be interesting to see where Eric Rowe fits in
The Patriots had a clear-cut top three at cornerback on Sunday: Stephon Gilmore (100%; 49) and Jason McCourty (100%; 49) played every single defensive snap, while Jonathan Jones played 86% (42). With nominal number two cornerback Eric Rowe still nursing a groin injury, it will be interesting to see how his role will look like when – if at all – he returns. Will he push McCourty from the lineup again? Will he take over as the third cornerback? New England’s coaching staff will have some interesting decisions to make.
No linebacker played more than 63% of defensive snaps
New England’s linebacker group struggled the last two weeks but bounced back with a strong performance versus Miami. What is interesting, though, is that no single player at the position was on the field for more than 63% of snaps: Kyle Van Noy’s 31 led the group, followed by Elandon Roberts’ 28 (57%). Defensive on-field signal caller Dont’a Hightower, for comparison, played 26 snaps (53%) and number four Nicholas Grigsby 11 (22%). This rotation served the team well on Sunday.