The New England Patriots are 2-0 after dismantling the Miami Dolphins on the road with a final score of 43-0. Along the way and just like one week earlier, the world champions’ depth and talent in all three phases of the game was on perfect display: they showed why they should be ranked among the favorites to win the Super Bowl yet again, given how well almost all parts of the roster performed against the Dolphins.
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: 72
OC Ted Karras (72; 100%), OG Shaq Mason (72; 100%), OT Marshall Newhouse (72; 100%), QB Tom Brady (72; 100%), OG Joe Thuney (66; 92%), WR Julian Edelman (66; 92%), OT Korey Cunningham (60; 83%), WR Josh Gordon (57; 79%), TE Matt LaCosse (42; 58%), WR Phillip Dorsett II (35; 49%), RB Sony Michel (35; 49%), TE Ryan Izzo (31; 43%), FB James Develin (27; 38%), WR Antonio Brown (24; 33%), RB James White (22; 31%), RB Rex Burkhead (17; 24%); OT Isaiah Wynn (12; 17%), OC James Ferentz (6; 8%), WR Matthew Slater (4; 6%)
Four members of the Patriots’ offense played the entire 72 snaps: offensive linemen Ted Karras, Shaq Mason and Marshall Newhouse as well as quarterback Tom Brady. One prominent player missing from that list is left guard Joe Thuney, though, who left the field for the first time since Week 13 of the 2017 season — Thuney sat out the game’s final six snaps, with James Ferentz coming on to replace him. His iron man streak therefore comes to an end after he had played 2,004 consecutive offensive snaps.
Another big name listed above is, of course, Antonio Brown. The superstar wide receiver, who was signed by New England last weekend, was on the field for his first 24 snaps as a Patriot. He sure made the most out of it, as he led the team in passing targets (eight) and receiving yards (56), and was tied for the team-lead with four receptions and a touchdown catch — all despite being “only” the fourth wide receiver in terms of playing time.
Other than that, the Patriots’ offensive personnel usage was not unexpected: the running backs were rotated as always, while tight end Matt LaCosse stepped into the number one role at the position with Ryan Izzo seeing reduced but consistent snaps as well. The biggest surprise might just have been core special teamer Matthew Slater being on the field for four offensive snaps, but that’s the nature of a blowout win.
Total snaps: 62
CB Jason McCourty (50; 81%), FS Devin McCourty (49; 79%), FS Duron Harmon (48; 77%), CB Stephon Gilmore (45; 73%), CB Jonathan Jones (44; 71%), LB Kyle Van Noy (41; 66%), LB Dont’a Hightower (37; 60%), DT Adam Butler (37; 60%), LB Jamie Collins Sr. (36; 58%), CB J.C. Jackson (34; 55%), SS Patrick Chung (31; 50%), SS Terrence Brooks (30; 48%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (30; 48%), DE Chase Winovich (26; 42%), DE Michael Bennett (25; 40%), DE Shilique Calhoun (24; 39%), LB Elandon Roberts (23; 37%), DE John Simon (21; 34%), DT Danny Shelton (21; 34%), DT Byron Cowart (16; 26%), DT Lawrence Guy (14; 23%)
Considering that the Patriots were in total control essentially all game long, they were able to rotate their defenders regularly: all in all, 21 men were used with none of them playing more than Jason McCourty’s 50 snaps — or fewer than Lawrence Guy’s 14. Once again, defensive backs saw the most action while the front seven players were moved in and out of the lineup more regularly; no unusual approach despite the game being lopsided.
A few names do stand out, though: Kyle Van Noy played 66% of snaps in his season debut; Adam Butler was the number one defensive tackle in terms of playing time; Patrick Chung saw a reduced snap count; Chase Winovich was the number one outside linebacker/edge defender; Elandon Roberts saw his first defensive snaps of the season after playing exclusively in the kicking game last week.
Overall, the Patriots should feel good about their defensive depth at this point and that they were able to get all players involved on Sunday.
Total snaps: 27
WR Matthew Slater (19; 70%), LB Elandon Roberts (19; 70%), SS Nate Ebner (19; 70%), DE Shilique Calhoun (17; 63%), RB Rex Burkhead (16; 59%), WR Gunner Olszewski (16; 59%), K Stephen Gostkowski (16; 59%), SS Terrence Brooks (14; 52%), DE Chase Winovich (14; 52%), LB Jamie Collins Sr. (13; 48%), P Jake Bailey (11; 41%), LS Joe Cardona (11; 41%), CB Jonathan Jones (10; 37%), DT Lawrence Guy (10; 37%), OC Ted Karras (8; 30%), OG Shaq Mason (8; 30%), OT Korey Cunningham (8; 30%), OC James Ferentz (8; 30%), CB J.C. Jackson (8; 30%), DE John Simon (8; 30%), DT Danny Shelton (8; 30%), OG Joe Thuney (7; 26%), FS Devin McCourty (7; 26%), SS Patrick Chung (6; 22%), FB James Develin (4; 15%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (4; 15%), CB Jason McCourty (2; 7%), LB Dont’a Hightower (2; 7%), DT Adam Butler (2; 7%), OT Marshall Newhouse (1; 4%), RB James White (1; 4%)
While Matthew Slater saw action on offense, Gunner Olszewski was not used outside of the kicking game — sharing this distinction with the team’s specialists and standout special teamer Nate Ebner. What also stands out is the usage of Elandon Roberts: the team captain continues to see considerable playing time in the third phase, effectively serving as the replacement for injured Brandon King.
Did not play
QB Jarrett Stidham
Even though the Patriots were in cruise control for most of the second half, backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham did again not see the field — the only player on the 46-man roster not to hear his name called. One has to wonder when the rookie will see his first in-game action this season, when Tom Brady stays on even during blowout victories like the ones that happened in Weeks 1 and 2. Maybe the approach starts to change a bit once Brady has had more time and developed a better chemistry with his receiving corps.
RB Brandon Bolden, CB Joejuan Williams, RB Damien Harris, WR Jakobi Meyers, OG Jermaine Eluemunor, DE Deatrich Wise Jr, OT Marcus Cannon
Two of the Patriots’ inactives were listed on the injury report last week, with Brandon Bolden dealing with a hamstring issue and Marcus Cannon recovering from a shoulder injury suffered on opening day. While Bolden did not travel to Miami with the rest of the team, Cannon did and was a game-time decision. It looks like he could be back in the lineup as soon as next week’s game against the New York Jets.