One quarter into their 2019 regular season, the New England Patriots remain undefeated thanks to a defensively dominated 16-10 win over the Buffalo Bills. The Patriots emerged victoriously from a dog fight that saw their offenses limited, but the other two units picking up the slack. 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: 65
OC Ted Karras (65; 100%), OG Shaq Mason (65; 100%), OG Joe Thuney (65; 100%), OT Marcus Cannon (65; 100%), OT Marshall Newhouse (65; 100%), QB Tom Brady (65; 100%), WR Julian Edelman (62; 95%), WR Josh Gordon (58; 89%), TE Ryan Izzo (44; 68%), WR Phillip Dorsett II (40; 62%), RB James White (34; 52%), RB Sony Michel (29; 45%), FB Jakob Johnson (19; 29%), RB Rex Burkhead (12; 18%), TE Matt LaCosse (12; 18%), RB Brandon Bolden (5; 8%), WR Jakobi Meyers (4; 6%), WR Matthew Slater (3; 5%), OG Jermaine Eluemunor (3; 5%)
Without the benefit of a multi-score lead, six members of the Patriots offense had to wire-to-wire: the starting offensive line and quarterback Tom Brady did not leave the field even once during the contest. The rest of the unit also saw considerable action, with the top-three wide receivers in particular being used a lot — Julian Edelman stands out among the unit, as he was questionable coming into the game because of a chest injury.
Edelman did miss only three snaps all day, however, and filled his role as New England’s number one wide receiver. And while Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett also saw considerable action, the depth options behind them were quasi non-existent: Jakobi Meyers and Matthew Slater played only four offensive snaps, while Gunner Olszewski was used exclusively in the kicking game as punt return option.
The rest of the offense saw James White and Sony Michel serve as the clear one-two punch at running back — with White seeing most of his action as a pass catcher out of the backfield, however — and Ryan Izzo as the Patriots’ top tight end ahead of free agency acquisition Matt LaCosse.
Total snaps: 83
LB Jamie Collins Sr. (83; 100%), FS Devin McCourty (83; 100%), LB Kyle Van Noy (83; 100%), SS Patrick Chung (80; 96%), CB Stephon Gilmore (80; 96%), CB Jason McCourty (59; 71%), DE John Simon (57; 69%), DT Adam Butler (51; 61%), CB Jonathan Jones (49; 59%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (44; 53%), DT Lawrence Guy (42; 51%), DT Danny Shelton (41; 49%), CB J.C. Jackson (36; 43%), LB Elandon Roberts (25; 30%), DE Michael Bennett (24; 29%), FS Duron Harmon (23; 28%), DE Shilique Calhoun (18; 22%), FS Terrence Brooks (16; 19%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (11; 13%), DE Chase Winovich (8; 10%)
The Patriots defense averaged just 61 snaps over its first three weeks of the season, but had to play 83 against the Bills — in large part because of the offense’s inability to get into a rhythm for much of the game. Three of New England’s defenders actually were on the field for all of those snaps: linebackers Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy, as well as safety Devin McCourty. All three stood out and registered game-changing plays along the way.
Collins and Van Noy saw a hefty workload in part because of starting linebacker and defensive on field signal caller Dont’a Hightower missing the game because of a shoulder injury. This resulted in the two seeing an increase in action, but also in Ja’Whaun Bentley and Elandon Roberts subbing in more often than usual. All in all, the Patriots’ linebacker group did fare mostly well — just like the rest of the unit, which did not slow down despite being on the field a lot.
One player who did play comparatively few snaps but who made a major impact nevertheless is J.C. Jackson. The second-year cornerback registered a pair of interceptions in just 36 defensive snaps — he surely made the most out of his time on the field.
Total snaps: 28
DE Shilique Calhoun (25; 89%), SS Nate Ebner (25; 89%), RB Brandon Bolden (22; 79%), WR Matthew Slater (22; 79%), LB Jamie Collins Sr. (20; 71%), DE John Simon (20; 71%), CB Jonathan Jones (17; 61%), RB Rex Burkhead (16; 57%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (12; 43%), FS Terrence Brooks (12; 43%), LS Joe Cardona (12; 43%), P Jake Bailey (12; 43%), DT Lawrence Guy (11; 39%), DT Chase Winovich (11; 39%), DT Adam Butler (8; 29%), FS Devin McCourty (7; 25%), LB Elandon Roberts (7; 25%), K Stephen Gostkowski (7; 25%), DT Danny Shelton (6; 21%), CB J.C. Jackson (6; 21%), WR Gunner Olszweski (6; 21%), FB Jakob Johnson (4; 14%), CB Jason McCourty (4; 14%), OC Ted Karras (3; 11%), OG Shaq Mason (3; 11%), OG Joe Thuney (3; 11%), OT Marcus Cannon (3; 11%), OC James Ferentz (3; 11%), RB James White (1; 4%)
New England’s kicking game snaps do not show any surprises. First-year Patriot Shilique Calhoun continues to be a core piece of the operation, while the usual suspects — Nate Ebner, Brandon Bolden, Matthew Slater — saw considerable action as well. Ebner, by the way, is one of six players to line up exclusively on special teams: the three specialists, offensive lineman James Ferentz, and rookie returnman Gunner Olszewski did not see any action outside of the kicking game.
Did not play
QB Jarrett Stidham
After playing his first four NFL snaps last week against the New York Jets, fourth-round rookie Jarrett Stidham role the bench again for all of Sunday. With the Patriots never pulling away and remaining in a one-score game until the final whistle was blown, the team’s backup quarterback had to watch Tom Brady play all 65 offensive snaps.
LB Dont’a Hightower, CB Joejuan Williams, RB Damien Harris, OL Korey Cunningham, QB Cody Kessler, OL Caleb Benenoch, DT Byron Cowart
The biggest name on the Patriots’ list of inactive players was, of course, linebacker Dont’a Hightower. The team captain was limited in practice all week long after leaving last Sunday’s game against the Jets with a shoulder injury. The rest of the inactives were all healthy scratches, meanwhile.