The New England Patriots jumped to an early 10-0 lead against the Dallas Cowboys, and were able to hold onto a victory due some good situational football being played in all three phases — all while the team used a heavy personnel rotation on offense, defense and in the kicking game. 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: 70
OG Shaq Mason (70; 100%), OC Ted Karras (70; 100%), OG Joe Thuney (70; 100%), OT Isaiah Wynn (70; 100%), QB Tom Brady (70; 100%), WR Julian Edelman (68; 97%), OT Marcus Cannon (62; 89%), WR N’Keal Harry (57; 81%), WR Jakobi Meyers (54; 77%), TE Benjamin Watson (49; 70%), RB Sony Michel (36; 51%), TE Matt LaCosse (34; 49%), RB James White (21; 30%), RB Rex Burkhead (15; 21%), OT Marshall Newhouse (11; 16%), RB Brandon Bolden (7; 10%), LB Elandon Roberts (4; 6%), WR Matthew Slater (2; 3%)
Starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn was back on the field on Sunday to man the left tackle spot. And despite having missed the last eight games due to a toe injury that landed him on short-term injured reserve, the team trusted the second-year man to go the distance against Dallas. The other tackle spot, meanwhile, was subject to more rotation given Marcus Cannon’s illness: Marshall Newhouse played eight snaps in his place, and three more as a third tackle.
The Patriots also saw considerable contributions by its young wide receivers. With Mohamed Sanu and Phillip Dorsett both out because of injury, the team turned to rookies N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers: while Harry played 57 of a possible 70 offensive snaps, Meyers was on the field for 54. Julian Edelman saw 68 snaps as the only other true wide receiver active (Matthew Slater remains a core special teamer and wideout in name only).
At the other positions, New England went business as usual. Benjamin Watson continues to be the number one tight end, even though his playing time share decreased compared to the last two weeks and with Matt LaCosse seeing more action. At running back, Sony Michel saw most of the snaps as the Patriots tried to establish a presence on the ground in bad conditions — a plan that worked well at times.
Total snaps: 64
FS Devin McCourty (64; 100%), CB Stephon Gilmore (64; 100%), LB Kyle Van Noy (55; 86%), SS Patrick Chung (55; 86%), LB Jamie Collins Sr. (53; 83%), LB Dont’a Hightower (48; 75%), CB J.C. Jackson (48; 75%), FS Duron Harmon (45; 70%), DT Danny Shelton (44; 69%), DT Lawrence Guy (43; 67%), CB Jonathan Jones (39; 61%), LB John Simon (35; 55%), DT Adam Butler (24; 38%), LB Elandon Roberts (19; 30%), LB Shilique Calhoun (18; 28%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (14; 22%), LB Chase Winovich (11; 17%), CB Joejuan Williams (9; 14%), SS Terrence Brooks (7; 11%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (5; 8%), DT Byron Cowart (3; 5%), WR Matthew Slater (1; 2%)
With starting outside cornerback Jason McCourty inactive because of a groin injury, the Patriots primarily used J.C. Jackson opposite an outstanding Stephon Gilmore. The second-year played three-fourths of the team’s defensive snaps, with second-round rookie Joejuan Williams also subbing in for nine snaps. Jackson, like the rest of the secondary, looked good in his extended role even though he took a bad angle on Randall Cobb’s 52-yard catch-and-run.
Also seeing plenty of time on the field was strong safety Patrick Chung. After missing last week’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles because of heel and chest injuries, the veteran returned to the lineup and promptly played 86% of New England’s defensive snaps — tied with Kyle Van Noy for third most on the team behind only fellow defensive backs Devin McCourty and Stephon Gilmore, who did not leave the contest even once.
Speaking of Van Noy, he led a linebacker group that saw plenty of action for its top-three options and looked good behind a defensive line headed by Danny Shelton and Lawrence Guy: the one-two punch along the interior line generated a solid upfield push at times, despite seeing a heavy workload. The two 300-plus-pounders played 69% and 67%, respectively.
Total snaps: 31
CB Justin Bethel (25; 81%), SS Nate Ebner (24; 77%), RB Brandon Bolden (21; 68%), WR Matthew Slater (21; 68%), LB Chase Winovich (18; 58%), RB Rex Burkhead (16; 52%), P Jake Bailey (15; 48%), LB John Simon (14; 45%), LB Shilique Calhoun (14; 45%), LB Jamie Collins Sr. (13; 42%), DT Lawrence Guy (13; 42%), CB Joejuan Williams (12; 39%), LS Joe Cardona (12; 39%), DT Danny Shelton (10; 32%), SS Terrence Brooks (10; 32%), LB Elandon Roberts (8; 26%), FS Devin McCourty (8; 26%), CB Jonathan Jones (8; 26%), LB Dont’a Hightower (7; 23%), CB J.C. Jackson (7; 23%), DT Adam Butler (7; 23%), K Nick Folk (7; 23%), OG Shaq Mason (6; 19%), OC Ted Karras (6; 19%), OT Marshall Newhouse (6; 19%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (6; 19%), OG Jermaine Eluemunor (6; 19%), OT Marcus Cannon (5; 16%), WR Julian Edelman (4; 13%), WR N’Keal Harry (4; 13%), RB James White (4; 13%), LB Kyle Van Noy (3; 10%), OC James Ferentz (1; 3%)
33 of the Patriots’ 46 active players saw action in the kicking game, with seven playing exclusively in the game’s third phase: the three specialists — punter/kickoff specialist Jake Bailey, long snapper Joe Cardona and place kicker Nick Folk — as well as defensive backs Justin Bethel and Nate Ebner, and offensive linemen Jermaine Eluemunor and James Ferentz. Bethel and Ebner once again led the special teams units in playing time.
What can also be seen when looking at the list of special teams playing time is that two players were once again used in all three phases of the game: 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 on the final play of the game; Elandon Roberts played as a linebacker, fullback, and on the Patriots’ kickoff units.
Did not play
QB Jarrett Stidham
With the Patriots playing another close game, backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham had to stay on the bench throughout the contest. The fourth-round rookie has been on the 46-man game day roster for all 11 of the team’s games this season, but has seen the field just three times for a combined 15 offensive snaps.
WR Phillip Dorsett II, WR Mohamed Sanu, CB Jason McCourty, RB Damien Harris, OT Korey Cunningham, TE Ryan Izzo, QB Cody Kessler
The Patriots entered the game against Dallas with three starting-caliber players out: wide receivers Phillip Dorsett and Mohamed Sanu missed the game because of a concussion and ankle injury, respectively, while cornerback Jason McCourty was absent due to a groin issue. Damien Harris, meanwhile, was ruled out with a hamstring injury — although he likely would have joined the other inactives anyway as a scratch even when healthy.