The New England Patriots played one of their best games of the season on Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers and defeated the visitors 31-17. Along the way, the team used all players but one — backup quarterback Brian Hoyer — active on the 46-man game day roster. With all that in mind, let’s take a look at the snap count numbers from the meeting:
New England was focused on stopping the pass
Going against one of the NFL’s best quarterback and a group of explosive weapons, the Patriots used an all too familiar defensive approach: they dared Green Bay to run the football by played a lighter defensive front primarily focused on stopping the pass. As a result, run-first players like Danny Shelton (10 of 74 snaps; 14%), Elandon Roberts (19; 26%) and Lawrence Guy (27; 36%) received less playing time than they usually to. The Packers still opted to focus on the passing game but its impact was limited.
The injury replacements saw plenty of action
Three of New England’s offensive starters were out due to injury and the primary players filling their roles had a busy night. Wide receiver turned running back Cordarrelle Patterson was on the field for only 13 snaps (of 71; 18%) but he touched the football on 12 of them. Meanwhile, tight end Dwayne Allen (66; 93%) and right guard Ted Karras (71; 100%) rarely left the field and played big roles in establishing a presence on the ground and in protecting quarterback Tom Brady.
Jonathan Jones was used as the fifth defensive back
The Patriots’ top four defensive backs were the same as last week — Devin McCourty (74 of 74; 100%), Patrick Chung (72; 97%), Stephon Gilmore (72; 97%), Jason McCourty (66; 89%) — but the fifth spot was subject to rotation. While safety Duron Harmon was on the field for 32 snaps (43%), nickel cornerback Jonathan Jones actually saw more time as the fifth defensive back and played 46 snaps (62%).
The running back group remained unchanged
Last week, the Patriots used the aforementioned Patterson and receiving back James White as the top-two options at the running back position. With early-down back Sony Michel still out due to a knee injury, New England used the same approach. Despite hurting his knee in the second quarter, White was on the field for 56 snaps (of 71; 79%). Patterson, as noted above, played 13 snaps from the backfield (of 71; 18%). Meanwhile, Kenjon Barner (3; 4%) again saw most of his action on special teams (5 of 27; 19%).
Trey Flowers received a heavy workload
Over the first eight weeks of the season, Trey Flowers was on the field for roughly 69% of the Patriots’ defensive snaps when in available (he sat out week three with a concussion). Versus the Packers, however, his workload increased noticeably: the 25-year old was on the field for 72 of 74 snaps. His playing time share of 97% is easily the highest of his season so far and reflects just how valuable he has become. However, it also shows that New England needs to find a way to bring his snap numbers down again to keep him fresh throughout the year.
Seven players were on the field for 100% of the snaps
A total of seven players did not leave the field once against the Packers yesterday — six of which coming on offense: New England’s starting offensive line and quarterback Tom Brady were on the field for all 71 snaps. On the defensive side of the ball, meanwhile, only safety Devin McCourty played all 74 snaps.