The New England Patriots earned a hard-fought victory over the Buffalo Bills on Monday night to improve their record to 6-2. During their 25-6 win, the team used every layer of its depth chart as all 46 players on the active game day roster saw at least two snaps on the field. With all that in mind, let’s take a look at the snap count numbers from the game:
Josh Gordon played 84% of offensive snaps despite reported discipline
Prior to the game, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that wide receiver Josh Gordon was expected to be kept off the field for “several series” as a disciplinary measure. However, the first-year Patriot started the game and finished the contest with 64 of a possible 76 offensive snaps (84%) – the second most among New England’s wide receivers, and his second highest playing time percentage since joining the team.
The Patriots didn’t bother to replace Sony Michel with Kenjon Barner
When running back Sony Michel went down with a knee injury last Sunday, James White and Kenjon Barner saw an increased workload. Against Buffalo, however, the team did used a different approach: while White was on the field for a season-high 80% of snaps (61 of 76), Barner played a mere 9% (7) and was basically the third option behind White and wide receiver Corarrelle Patterson, who carried the football on 10 of his 13 snaps (17%).
No cornerback rotation this time around
Last week against the Chicago Bears, five cornerbacks played more than 34% of the Patriots’ defensive snaps. With Eric Rowe out due to an injury, New England used a more traditional approach versus Buffalo and its inconsistent passing offense: Stephon Gilmore (64 of 64; 100%) and Jason McCourty (63; 98%) served as the top-two at the position, with Jonathan Jones (25; 39%) as the rotational slot option. Rookie J.C. Jackson played 19 snaps (30%).
Dont’a Hightower’s absence has only minimal impact on linebacker group
Despite on-field signal caller Dont’a Hightower being inactive due to a knee injury, the Patriots’ remaining linebackers were used like they have been all season long: Kyle Van Noy played 100% of the snaps (64 of 64) for the second time this year, while Elandon Roberts was on the field for 55% (35) – not an unusual workload for either of the two defenders. Hightower’s absence had more of an impact on the defensive edge as all six players at the position played more than 20% of snaps.
Rob Gronkowski was active in his return to the field
After missing last week’s game because of ankle and back issues, tight end Rob Gronkowski was back against his hometown team – and had an active day. Overall, the 29-year old was on the field for 89% of the Patriots’ offensive snaps (68 of 76) which is slightly below his season-long average. Gronkowski did not look fully fit at times, but overall had a solid day as a pass catcher and as a blocker.
Eight players were on the field for 100% of the snaps
A total of seven players did not leave the field once against the Bears. Four of the Patriots’ offensive linemen went wire-to-wire, while the fifth – starting right guard Shaq Mason – missed his first snaps of the season after suffering a calf injury 47 snaps into his night. On the defensive side of the ball, meanwhile, starting safeties Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung as well as the aforementioned Stephon Gilmore and Kyle Van Noy were on the field for all 64 snaps.