Six games into the 2019 regular season, the New England Patriots have yet to taste defeat: the latest team to fall to the unbeaten world champions were the New York Giants, who visited Gillette Stadium on Thursday night. New England emerged victoriously with a final score of 35-14 after pulling away late in the game — all while seeing their player usage dictated in large parts due to in-game injuries.
With that in mind, let’s dig a little deeper into the snap count numbers from the game to get an impression of how the Patriots used their players.
Total snaps: 82
OT Marcus Cannon (82; 100%), OG Shaq Mason (82; 100%), OG Joe Thuney (82; 100%), OC Ted Karras (82; 100%), OT Marshall Newhouse (82; 100%), QB Tom Brady (82; 100%), TE Ryan Izzo (80; 98%), WR Julian Edelman (73; 89%), WR Jakobi Meyers (57; 70%), WR Gunner Olszewski (50; 61%), RB Sony Michel (41; 50%), RB James White (31; 38%), WR Josh Gordon (26; 32%), FB Jakob Johnson (19; 23%), TE Matt LaCosse (15; 18%), RB Brandon Bolden (12; 15%), OG Jermaine Eluemunor (4; 5%), WR Matthew Slater (2; 2%)
Six members of the Patriots offense — the starting offensive line and quarterback Tom Brady — were on the field for the unit’s entire 82 snaps. The rest of the players used saw varying levels of action, with tight end Ryan Izzo leading the group with 80 snaps: with Matt LaCosse briefly exiting the game because of an ankle injury, the Patriots gave Izzo considerable action at the tight end position.
The wide receivers, meanwhile, were also impacted by injuries. With Phillip Dorsett out with a hamstring injury and Josh Gordon leaving the contest in the second quarter because of a knee injury, undrafted rookies Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski received 57 and 50 snaps in the offense, respectively. The duo — especially Meyers — fared admirably considering that New England’s offense had to adjust on the fly.
The offensive backfield was dominated by Sony Michel, who finished the game with 41 snaps and 24 touches for 113 yards. James White played his usual role as the Patriots’ receiving back, with Brandon Bolden subbing as a short-yardage back and rotational third option at the position.
Total snaps: 50
CB Stephon Gilmore (50; 100%), LB Kyle Van Noy (46; 92%), FS Duron Harmon (45; 90%), LB Jamie Collins Sr. (44; 88%), FS Devin McCourty (44; 88%), CB Jason McCourty (38; 76%), DT Lawrence Guy (31; 62%), CB Jonathan Jones (30; 60%), LB Dont’a Hightower (24; 48%), DE John Simon (24; 48%), SS Terrence Brooks (24; 48%), DT Danny Shelton (24; 48%), CB J.C. Jackson (21; 42%), DT Adam Butler (18; 36%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (18; 36%), DE Shilique Calhoun (14; 28%), DE Chase Winovich (14; 28%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (14; 28%), DE Michael Bennett (11; 22%), LB Elandon Roberts (8; 16%), SS Patrick Chung (8; 16%)
Injuries also had an impact on the Patriots defense on Thursday night. With Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and J.C. Jackson both leaving the game at one point — McCourty and Jackson ultimately returned, while Chung remained out for the remainder of the contest — the secondary saw some movement: Duron Harmon played more snaps than usual, with Terrence Brooks also getting a high number of snaps.
The opposite was the case for New England’s defensive edge players: while John Simon played 24 snaps, Shilique Calhoun, Chase Winovich and Deatrich Wise Jr. played only 14. Offseason trade acquisition Michael Bennett was only on the field for 11 defensive snaps — his lowest total of the year. It is obvious that the veteran is a role player at this point in the season, but it will be interesting how his usage changes over the next few weeks.
New England also suffered an injury at linebacker, as defensive on-field signal caller Dont’a Hightower left the contest with a shoulder injury. The players most impacted might have been second-year man Ja’Whaun Bentley, who was on the field for 18 defensive snaps — all while Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins continued to see their normal high number of snaps.
Total snaps: 26
DE Shilique Calhoun (20; 77%), SS Nate Ebner (20; 77%), RB Brandon Bolden (18; 69%), WR Matthew Slater (18; 69%), LB Jamie Collins Sr. (18; 62%), CB Jonathan Jones (17; 65%), P Jake Bailey (15; 58%), DT Lawrence Guy (13; 50%), SS Jordan Richards (13; 50%), WR Gunner Olszewski (12; 46%), DE John Simon (9; 35%), LS Joe Cardona (9; 35%), CB Jason McCourty (8; 31%), DT Danny Shelton (8; 31%), LB Elandon Roberts (8; 31%), DT Adam Butler (7; 27%), DE Chase Winovich (7; 27%), OT Marcus Cannon (6; 23%), OG Shaq Mason (6; 23%), OG Joe Thuney (6; 23%), OC Ted Karras (6; 23%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (6; 23%), K Mike Nugent (6; 23%), OG Jermaine Eluemunor (5; 19%), FS Devin McCourty (5; 19%), SS Terrence Brooks (5; 19%), LB Dont’a Hightower (5; 19%), RB James White (3; 12%), FB Jakob Johnson (3; 12%), CB J.C. Jackson (3; 12%), TE Ryan Izzo (2; 8%), OC James Ferentz (1; 4%)
Six players were exclusively used in the kicking game: the specialists — Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona and Mike Nugent — as well as Nate Ebner, Jordan Richards and James Ferentz. Richards, who was re-signed last week, is clearly not an option on defense at this point in time as the Patriots are taking advantage of his special teams skills.
Did not play
QB Jarrett Stidham
With Tom Brady staying in the game for the entire 82 offensive snaps, fourth-round quarterback Jarrett Stidham had to spend another game on the bench from start to finish. He still is the number two at this point, though, but it seems obvious that the Patriots only want to bring him onto the field in select situations late during blowouts — at least that is how the team used him six games into his rookie campaign.
WR Phillip Dorsett II, RB Rex Burkhead, RB Damien Harris, QB Cody Kessler, CB Joejuan Williams, OT Korey Cunningham, DT Byron Cowart
Two of the Patriots’ seven game day inactives were listed on the injury report heading into the contest: Phillip Dorsett, as mentioned above, is rehabbing from a hamstring injury that he suffered in Week 5; Rex Burkhead is dealing with a foot injury. The other five men who did not suit up for the game were all healthy scratches.