Despite falling behind 10-0 early, the New England Patriots fought their way back into the contest against the Philadelphia Eagles and ultimately left the city with their ninth victory of the season — one that saw the team use a heavy personnel rotation on both sides of the ball. 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: 74
OC Ted Karras (74; 100%), OG Shaq Mason (74; 100%), OT Marshall Newhouse (74; 100%), OT Marcus Cannon (74; 100%), OG Joe Thuney (74; 100%), QB Tom Brady (74; 100%), WR Julian Edelman (66; 89%), TE Benjamin Watson (59; 80%), WR Mohamed Sanu (41; 55%), WR Phillip Dorsett II (34; 46%), RB James White (32; 43%), WR N’Keal Harry (32; 43%), RB Sony Michel (22; 30%), RB Rex Burkhead (21; 28%), TE Matt LaCosse (21; 28%), WR Jakobi Meyers (19; 26%), RB Brandon Bolden (10; 14%), LB Elandon Roberts (7; 9%), OG Jermaine Eluemunor (5; 7%), WR Matthew Slater (1; 1%)
While the Patriots used only 14 players on offense against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 9 and exclusively aligned in an 11-personnel package, the team moved to a more rotational approach against Philadelphia: 20 players were used, with six of them — the starting offensive line and quarterback Tom Brady — being on the field for all 74 snaps. The rest of the unit was used according to matchups and situations.
This is nothing new at the running back position, but the team also used this approach at tight end and wide receiver. At tight end, Benjamin Watson was the clear top option yet again despite Matt LaCosse returning from his three-game injury absence. The wide receivers, meanwhile, were again led by Julian Edelman with Mohamed Sanu and Phillip Dorsett being the second and third men in the rotation alongside him.
What stands out, however, is the usage of first-round rookie N’Keal Harry. Playing in his first-ever NFL regular season game — he started the year on injured reserve after hurting his ankle in the preseason — the 32nd overall selection of this year’s draft was on the field for 32 snaps. Harry played 27 of his snaps aligned out wide as an X-receiver, with five more coming from the slot. It was a solid start for the youngster.
Total snaps: 75
FS Devin McCourty (75; 100%), CB Stephon Gilmore (75; 100%), FS Duron Harmon (72; 96%), LB Kyle Van Noy (70; 93%), LB Dont’a Hightower (69; 92%), LB Jamie Collins Sr. (63; 84%), CB J.C. Jackson (51; 68%), CB Jason McCourty (51; 68%), CB Jonathan Jones (46; 61%), DT Lawrence Guy (42; 56%), DT Danny Shelton (39; 52%), SS Terrence Brooks (36; 48%), LB Chase Winovich (30; 40%), LB John Simon (30; 40%), DT Adam Butler (28; 37%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (13; 17%), LB Shilique Calhoun (11; 15%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (11; 15%), LB Elandon Roberts (8; 11%), CB Justin Bethel (4; 5%)
Having to play without starting strong safety Patrick Chung, who missed the game because of heel and chest injuries, the Patriots turned to two players to fill his role: Duron Harmon was on the field for 72 of the unit’s 75 snaps and filled the number two safety role alongside Devin McCourty; Terrence Brooks played 36 defensive snaps and saw considerable action against outstanding Eagles tight end Zach Ertz.
At cornerback, meanwhile, the Patriots gave Stephon Gilmore his usual heavy workload and he delivered another outstanding performance. The other cornerbacks were part of a rotation: J.C. Jackson and Jason McCourty each played 51 snaps, with slot cornerback Jonathan Jones being on the field for 46. Even special teamer Justin Bethel saw some action on the defense and played four snaps.
Up front, New England used its top-three linebackers — Kyle Van Noy, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins — extensively with the defensive tackle duo of Lawrence Guy and Danny Shelton playing as the down-lineman. All in all, New England opted to use a somewhat lighter but versatile group of players against Philadelphia.
Total snaps: 29
SS Nate Ebner (26; 90%), RB Brandon Bolden (24; 83%), WR Matthew Slater (24; 83%), CB Justin Bethel (23; 79%), RB Rex Burkhead (20; 69%), LB Chase Winovich (20; 69%), LB Shilique Calhoun (19; 66%), P Jake Bailey (16; 55%), LB John Simon (13; 45%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (11; 38%), LS Joe Cardona (11; 38%), CB Jonathan Jones (10; 34%), LB Jamie Collins Sr. (9; 31%), DT Lawrence Guy (9; 31%), SS Terrence Brooks (9; 31%), LB Elandon Roberts (8; 28%), FS Devin McCourty (8; 28%), CB J.C. Jackson (8; 28%), WR Mohamed Sanu (7; 24%), LB Dont’a Hightower (6; 21%), DT Adam Butler (6; 21%), DT Danny Shelton (5; 17%), OC Ted Karras (3; 10%), OG Shaq Mason (3; 10%), OT Marshall Newhouse (3; 10%), OT Marcus Cannon (3; 10%), RB James White (3; 10%), WR N’Keal Harry (3; 10%), OG Jermaine Eluemunor (3; 10%), K Nick Folk (3; 10%), CB Jason McCourty (2; 7%), CB Joejuan Williams (1; 3%)
The Patriots employed 32 players in the kicking game on Sunday, with five of them being used exclusively on special teams: the three specialists — punter/kickoff specialist Jake Bailey, long snapper Joe Cardona, kicker Nick Folk — and veteran Nate Ebner, as well as second-round rookie Joejuan Williams. The youngster, who was active just the fourth time all year, played one snap.
What can also be seen when looking at the list of special teams playing time is that two players were used in all three phases of the game versus the Eagles: wide receiver Matthew Slater saw his usual high number of kicking game snaps while also playing as the deep man on offensive kneel-downs and an additional safety in Hail Mary situations; Elandon Roberts played as a linebacker, fullback, and on the Patriots’ kickoff units.
Did not play
QB Jarrett Stidham, OG James Ferentz
For the seventh time this season, the Patriots did activate backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham but opted not to have him see the field — unsurprisingly, considering how close the game was until the very end. Interior offensive lineman James Ferentz, meanwhile, served as an emergency depth option against the Eagles.
SS Patrick Chung, RB Damien Harris, OT Korey Cunningham, QB Cody Kessler, DT Byron Cowart, WR Gunner Olszewski, TE Ryan Izzo
Of the seven players who were deactivated for the game against Philadelphia, only three were actually dealing with injuries leading into the game: strong safety Patrick Chung (heel/chest), running back Damien Harris (hamstring) and wide receiver/punt returner Gunner Olszewski (ankle/hamstring). The four other inactive players were all healthy scratches, near the bottom of their respective position depth charts.