Eight games into the 2019 regular season, the New England Patriots have yet to taste defeat: the latest team to fall victim to the unbeaten world champions were the Cleveland Browns, who visited rainy Gillette Stadium on Sunday. New England emerged with a final score of 27-13 from the hard-fought contest. With that being said, 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: 69
OT Marcus Cannon (69; 100%), OG James Ferentz (69; 100%), OC Ted Karras (69; 100%), OT Marshall Newhouse (69; 100%), OG Joe Thuney (69; 100%), QB Tom Brady (69; 100%), WR Julian Edelman (66; 96%), WR Phillip Dorsett II (64; 93%), TE Benjamin Watson (48; 70%), WR Mohamed Sanu (37; 54%), TE Eric Tomlinson (31; 45%), RB James White (28; 41%), RB Sony Michel (28; 41%), WR Jakobi Meyers (25; 36%), RB Rex Burkhead (13; 19%), RB Brandon Bolden (3; 4%), LB Elandon Roberts (1; 1%), OG Jermaine Eluemunor (1; 1%)
With starting right guard Shaq Mason missing the game because of an ankle injury, the Patriots turned to career backup James Ferentz as his replacement. The 30-year-old registered the first start of his career against Cleveland and was on the field for all 69 of New England’s offensive snaps — one of six players to accomplish the feat alongside the rest of the team’s starting offensive line and quarterback Tom Brady.
At wide receiver, meanwhile, the Patriots used trade acquisition Mohamed Sanu as their number three wide receiver ahead of undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers: Sanu was on the field for a combined 37 offensive snaps, playing primarily inside the formation. The 30-year-old, who was acquired for a second-round draft selection just last week, finished his debut in a New England uniform with two catches for 23 yards.
The tight end and running back positions, on the other hand, remained mostly unchanged with Rex Burkhead resuming his role as the team’s most versatile back after missing the last three games due to a foot injury. Tight end Eric Tomlinson and Elandon Roberts, in the meantime, again shared snaps at fullback — Tomlinson was the clear number one option this week, however, as the linebacker saw only one offensive snap.
Total snaps: 68
FS Devin McCourty (68; 100%), CB Stephon Gilmore (68; 100%), LB Jamie Collins Sr. (65; 95%), LB Kyle Van Noy (59; 87%), SS Patrick Chung (58; 85%), CB Jonathan Jones (47; 69%), FS Duron Harmon (45; 66%), CB Jason McCourty (44; 65%), LB Dont’a Hightower (42; 62%), CB J.C. Jackson (38; 56%), DT Lawrence Guy (35; 51%), DT Danny Shelton (35; 51%), DT Adam Butler (33; 49%), LB John Simon (25; 37%), LB Chase Winovich (18; 26%), LB Shilique Calhoun (17; 25%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (17; 25%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (12; 18%), SS Terrence Brooks (11; 16%), LB Elandon Roberts (10; 15%)
After being able to rest the starting-level players at the end of last week’s victory against the New York Jets, the Patriots had two members of their defense go wire-to-wire against Cleveland: safety Devin McCourty and cornerback Stephon Gilmore did not leave the field even once, with linebackers Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy as well as fellow defensive back Patrick Chung — returning after a one-week absence — also playing considerable snaps.
Despite that, the Patriots were still able to incorporate their outstanding defensive depth: cornerbacks Jonathan Jones, Jason McCourty and J.C. Jackson all saw plenty of action in the secondary, while the defensive tackle rotation of Lawrence Guy, Danny Shelton and Adam Butler was alive and well yet again. Guy and Butler, in fact, were among the standout players on the day due to the big plays they made during the contest.
Even with defensive lineman Michael Bennett now in Dallas, the Patriots’ defense roster remains arguably the deepest in all of football — and Sunday’s game versus the Browns showed it once again as 20 players were on the field for more than 15% of the action.
Total snaps: 32
SS Nate Ebner (25; 78%), CB Justin Bethel (23; 72%), RB Brandon Bolden (22; 69%), LB Shilique Calhoun (22; 69%), WR Matthew Slater (21; 66%), P Jake Bailey (20; 62%), LB Chase Winovich (19; 59%), RB Rex Burkhead (16; 50%), LB Jamie Collins Sr. (14; 44%), CB Jonathan Jones (14; 44%), SS Terrence Brooks (13; 41%), LS Joe Cardona (13; 41%), DT Lawrence Guy (12; 38%), FS Devin McCourty (11; 34%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (10; 31%), LB John Simon (9; 28%), DT Danny Shelton (8; 25%), OT Marcus Cannon (7; 22%), OG James Ferentz (7; 22%), OC Ted Karras (7; 22%), OG Jermaine Eluemunor (7; 22%), K Mike Nugent (7; 22%), CB Jason McCourty (6; 19%), LB Dont’a Hightower (6; 19%), WR Gunner Olszewski (6; 19%), CB J.C. Jackson (5; 16%), DT Adam Butler (5; 16%), OT Marshall Newhouse (4; 12%), RB James White (4; 12%), OG Joe Thuney (3; 9%), TE Eric Tomlinson (3; 9%), WR Julian Edelman (1; 3%), WR Jakobi Meyers (1; 3%), SS Patrick Chung (1; 3%)
The Patriots used 34 players in the kicking game on Sunday, with seven of them playing exclusively on special teams: the three specialists, of course, as well as Nate Ebner, Justin Bethel, Matthew Slater and Gunner Olszewski. Bethel stands out as he was just signed as a free agent last week: the two-time first-team All-Pro effectively filled the role previously held by Jordan Richards as a four-unit member of the group.
Also seeing extensive action was Rex Burkhead, who was on the field for 16 of 32 special teams snaps after being out since Week 4. While his most notable contributions come on offense, Burkhead’s value to the kicking game operation cannot be underestimated either.
Did not play
QB Jarrett Stidham, OT Korey Cunningham
While New England won by two touchdowns, the game was the closest all year for the team. As a result, quarterback Tom Brady remained on the field for all 69 offensive snaps which in turn forced backup Jarrett Stidham to again spend the entire contest on the sidelines. He was not alone, however, as Korey Cunningham also joined him: he did not play a single snap in his first game on the active roster since Week 2.
OG Shaq Mason, TE Ryan Izzo, TE Matt LaCosse, CB Joejuan Williams, RB Damien Harris, DT Byron Cowart
With the Patriots having only 52 men on their active roster heading into the game, they only had to deactivate six instead of the usual seven players. Three of the men declared out were listed on the final injury report of the week: Shaq Mason (ankle), Ryan Izzo (concussion), Matt LaCosse (knee). The other three players — all members of New England’s draft class — were healthy scratches.