Coming off their most impressive win of the season, the New England Patriots laid a colossal egg against the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday: the team came out flat on both sides of the ball and eventually ended up getting beaten rather soundly with a final score of 24-3. While the loss did not end New England’s playoff aspirations just yet, it all but ends the team’s season with three weeks remaining.
With all that said, let’s take a look back at the contest to see how New England opted to use the talent on its roster and who played the biggest roles versus the Rams.
Total snaps: 59
G Shaq Mason (59; 100%), G Joe Thuney (59; 100%), OT Michael Onwenu (59; 100%), WR Jakobi Meyers (59; 100%), C David Andrews (59; 100%), OT Jermaine Eluemunor (53; 90%), WR Damiere Byrd (52; 88%), QB Cam Newton (45; 76%), WR N’Keal Harry (36; 61%), TE Dalton Keene (31; 53%), RB James White (27; 46%), FB Jakob Johnson (24; 41%), TE Devin Asiasi (23; 39%), RB Damien Harris (22; 37%), RB Sony Michel (15; 25%), QB Jarrett Stidham (14; 24%), OT Justin Herron (7; 12%), WR Donte Moncrief (5; 8%)
The biggest two names on the list of offensive snaps from Thursday’s game are obviously Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham. The Patriots’ starting quarterback played the first three quarters, leading the unit to just three points while going 9-for-16 as a passer for 119 yards and a pick-six. Stidham finished the game with 14 total snaps, dropping back to pass on nine of them. He ended his fourth in-game action this season with five completions on seven attempts, which went for only 27 yards.
Elsewhere, the Patriots pretty much relied on their usual depth chart. The offensive line remained intact for most of the game, with Jermaine Eluemunor and Justin Herron once more splitting reps at left tackle, while the backfield once again saw a heavy rotation that featured a lot of James White simply because of the game script and New England’s early deficit. The wide receiver spot continued to be led by Jakobi Meyers and Damiere Byrd as the one-two punch, meanwhile, with N’Keal Harry as the number three.
The most interesting skill position, however, might be tight end. With veteran Ryan Izzo on injured reserve, the team activated both of its rookies for the first time all year: Dalton Keene saw the majority of snaps, playing 31 of a possible 59. Fellow third-round selection Devin Asiasi, on the other hand, saw the field for 23 snaps — most of which coming late in the game. With Izzo out at least two more weeks, it is clear that the two youngsters run the show at tight end now.
Total snaps: 63
CB J.C. Jackson (63; 100%), S Devin McCourty (59; 94%), CB Stephon Gilmore (59; 94%), S Adrian Phillips (57; 90%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (51; 81%), LB John Simon (47; 75%), S Kyle Dugger (46; 73%), DT Lawrence Guy (46; 73%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (41; 65%), DT Adam Butler (34; 54%), DT Byron Cowart (30; 48%), LB Chase Winovich (24; 38%), CB Jonathan Jones (22; 35%), LB Anfernee Jennings (22; 35%), LB Tashawn Bower (17; 27%), LB Josh Uche (16; 25%), CB Jason McCourty (16; 25%), CB Myles Bryant (16; 25%), LB Terez Hall (12; 19%), DT Akeem Spence (11; 17%), CB Joejuan Williams (4; 6%)
Despite a short turnaround and him being limited in practice all week because of hip and knee issues, J.C. Jackson finished the game against the Rams as the only Patriots defender with a 100 percent playing time share. The rest of the unit, meanwhile, saw a heavy rotation across the board — including in a secondary that gave both rookie Myles Bryant and second-year man Joejuan Williams some opportunities; Bryant, obviously, took advantage by registering his first career interception.
The Patriots also used a heavy rotation of bodies up front. Along the interior defensive line, Lawrence Guy and Deatrich Wise Jr. led the charge with Adam Butler and Byron Cowart the next men up. On the edge, meanwhile, John Simon was the top option with Chase Winovich, Anfernee Jennings and Tashawn Bower also rotating in and out of the lineup. Winovich’s usage in particular stands out, as he saw a smaller role again despite turning into a three-down defender recently.
Jennings and Bryant were not the only rookies to be employed heavily, by the way. Josh Uche played a fourth of snaps as a situational edge rusher again, with Kyle Dugger continuing to be used in a starter capacity on defense and as a core special teamer. Speaking of which...
Total snaps: 24
S Cody Davis (23; 96%), WR Matthew Slater (23; 96%), CB Justin Bethel (23; 96%), LB Chase Winovich (17; 71%), S Kyle Dugger (14; 58%), S Adrian Phillips (13; 54%), CB Joejuan Williams (13; 54%), WR Gunner Olszewski (13; 54%), FB Jakob Johnson (12; 50%), WR Donte Moncrief (12; 50%), CB Jonathan Jones (12; 50%), LB John Simon (10; 42%), P Jake Bailey (9; 38%), LB Josh Uche (8; 33%), RB Sony Michel (7; 29%), LS Joe Cardona (7; 29%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (6; 25%), CB Jason McCourty (6; 25%), S Devin McCourty (5; 21%), LB Anfernee Jennings (5; 21%), LB Terez Hall (5; 21%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (4; 17%), DT Byron Cowart (4; 17%), DT Akeem Spence (4; 17%), CB Myles Bryant (2; 8%), G Shaq Mason (1; 4%), G Joe Thuney (1; 4%), OT Michael Onwenu (1; 4%), OT Jermaine Eluemunor (1; 4%), OT Justin Herron (1; 4%), K Nick Folk (1; 4%), OT Korey Cunningham (1; 4%)
New England used 32 different players on special teams Thursday night, with eight of them being employed exclusively in the kicking game: specialists Nick Folk, Jake Bailey and Joe Cardona as well as core coverage members Cody Davis, Matthew Slater and Justin Bethel. Gunner Olszewski added 13 snaps — five of which returning punts — while Korey Cunningham was part of the protection unit on the Patriots’ lone field goal of the day.
Did not play
C James Ferentz
With Jarrett Stidham entering the action in the fourth quarter, only one players remained on the sidelines throughout the game: backup interior lineman James Ferentz. The veteran is essentially a “break glass in case of emergency” option for the team at this point in time — one it will not need if Joe Thuney, David Andrews and Shaq Mason continue to be their durable and reliable selves.
QB Brian Hoyer, S Terrence Brooks, RB J.J. Taylor, TE Jordan Thomas, DT Isaiah Mack
While New England had 14 players listed on its final injury report on Wednesday, not a single player was ruled out before the game. When the inactives were released on game day, just one injured Patriot was part of them: running back J.J. Taylor, who is dealing with a quad injury. The other four inactives, meanwhile, were all healthy scratches.