The New England Patriots are back at .500, and they were able to get there thanks to a blowout victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. Bill Belichick’s team never looked back after jumping to a early 7-0 lead on the game’s opening possession: the team dominated in all three phases and eventually ended up winning with a final score of 45-0 — easily the team’s most lopsided game this year, and a historic defeat for its opponent.
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 on Sunday.
Total snaps: 67
OT Michael Onwenu (67; 100%), G Joe Thuney (62; 93%), C David Andrews (62; 93%), QB Cam Newton (58; 87%), WR Jakobi Meyers (56; 84%), G Shaq Mason (55; 82%), OT Jermaine Eluemunor (52; 78%), WR Damiere Byrd (52; 78%), TE Ryan Izzo (43; 64%), WR N’Keal Harry (34; 51%), RB Damien Harris (33; 49%), FB Jakob Johnson (28; 42%), OT Justin Herron (28; 42%), TE Dalton Keene (23; 34%), RB Sony Michel (22; 33%), RB James White (19; 28%), WR Donte Moncrief (15; 22%), QB Jarrett Stidham (9; 13%), WR Gunner Olszewski (6; 9%), G Korey Cunningham (6; 9%), C James Ferentz (5; 7%), WR Matthew Slater (2; 3%)
With the Patriots already up by 35 points midway through the third quarter, they were able to get some of their backup players an opportunity to see the field in garbage time. Accordingly, only one member of the team’s offense went wire-to-wire: sixth-round rookie Michael Onwenu was on the field for all 67 snaps at his right tackle position. The rest of his teammates up front and starting quarterback Cam Newton gave way to other players late.
Before that happened, though, New England’s offensive personnel usage looked rather familiar.
The interior offensive line consisted of guards Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason as well as center David Andrews, with the left tackle spot — usual starter Isaiah Wynn remains on injured reserve for at least one more week — once more being shared by Jermaine Eluemunor and Justin Herron. Ryan Izzo was the top tight end, meanwhile, even though a neck injury in the third quarter allowed Dalton Keene to see additional reps in his comeback from IR.
At wide receiver, Jakobi Meyers and Damiere Byrd remain the one-two with N’Keal Harry as the number three alongside them and Donte Moncrief a package-specific fourth option. The backfield, on the other hand, was once more led by Damien Harris even though Sony Michel saw a noticeable uptick in snaps: after only one snap in his comeback last week, the former first-round draft pick was on the field for 22 versus the Chargers.
Total snaps: 72
CB Jason McCourty (60; 83%), S Devin McCourty (58; 81%), CB Stephon Gilmore (58; 81%), S Adrian Phillips (56; 78%), S Kyle Dugger (56; 78%), LB Chase Winovich (52; 72%), CB J.C. Jackson (49; 68%), LB Anfernee Jennings (44; 61%), LB Josh Uche (36; 50%), DT Adam Butler (35; 49%), CB Myles Bryant (33; 46%), LB John Simon (31; 43%), DT Akeem Spence (31; 43%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (28; 39%), LB Terez Hall (28; 39%), DT Byron Cowart (26; 36%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (25; 35%), CB Joejuan Williams (23; 32%), LB Rashod Berry (22; 31%), DT Lawrence Guy (22; 31%), CB Jonathan Jones (19; 26%)
As was the case on offense, the game’s progression allowed the Patriots to also use a heavy rotation on the defensive side of the ball. Accordingly, no player was on the field for all 72 of the unit’s snaps on Sunday: cornerstones such as Devin McCourty and Stephon Gilmore were pulled 58 snaps in following the team’s fourth quarter touchdown pass from Jarrett Stidham to Gunner Olszewski; others like Chase Winovich or Adrian Phillips also were given a breather from time to time.
As a result, New England’s rookies saw considerable action versus Los Angeles. While safety Kyle Dugger again played a big role as the number three safety alongside McCourty and Phillips, linebackers Anfernee Jennings and Josh Uche were on the field for 44 and 36 percent of snaps. Myles Bryant contributed with 33 snaps, meanwhile, as practice squad elevatee Rashod Berry played 22 snaps — the highest totals of both their young careers.
New England also employed a healthy rotation at defensive tackle. Adam Butler saw his usual high workload, but the number two in terms of playing time was neither Lawrence Guy nor Deatrich Wise Jr: Akeem Spence played 31 defensive snaps in just his second game as a Patriot; Byron Cowart was on the field for 26 in his return from a one-week stint on the inactives list.
Total snaps: 26
P Jake Bailey (19; 73%), S Cody Davis (19; 73%), CB Justin Bethel (19; 73%), WR Matthew Slater (17; 65%), LB Chase Winovich (15; 58%), S Adrian Phillips (13; 50%), S Kyle Dugger (13; 50%), FB Jakob Johnson (12; 46%), WR Gunner Olszewski (12; 46%), LS Joe Cardona (12; 46%), LB Joejuan Williams (11; 42%), WR Donte Moncrief (10; 38%), LB Anfernee Jennings (9; 35%), CB Myles Bryant (9; 35%), LB Rashod Berry (9; 35%), OT Michael Onwenu (7; 27%), G Joe Thuney (7; 27%), OT Jermaine Eluemunor (7; 27%), OT Justin Herron (7; 27%), G Korey Cunningham (7; 27%), LB John Simon (7; 27%), K Nick Folk (7; 27%), CB Jason McCourty (6; 23%), CB Jonathan Jones (6; 23%), G Shaq Mason (5; 19%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (5; 19%), RB Sony Michel (4; 15%), C James Ferentz (2; 8%), S Devin McCourty (2; 8%), DT Akeem Spence (2; 8%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (2; 8%), DT Byron Cowart (2; 8%), LB Josh Uche (1; 4%), LB Terez Hall (1; 4%)
New England used 34 players on special teams, with five of them being used exclusively in the kicking game: the three specialists — Nick Folk, Jake Bailey and Joe Cardona — as well as key coverage players Cody Davis and Justin Bethel. Davis in particular stood out on Sunday given that he blocked a field goal in the second quarter to set up a Devin McCourty return for a touchdown.
Not on the list of exclusive special teamers, meanwhile, were Matthew Slater and Joejuan Williams. While the team captain played two offensive snaps in his usual role as the deep man on kneel-downs, the former second-round cornerback played 23 defensive snaps for his highest total since opening day against the Miami Dolphins.
Did not play
With Jarrett Stidham and other depth players such as Korey Cunningham and James Ferentz entering the field in the fourth quarter, the Patriots used all 48 men on their game day roster for the first time all season. At least Stidham stays on the sideline in closer games under normal circumstances.
QB Brian Hoyer, S Terrence Brooks, RB J.J. Taylor, TE Jordan Thomas, DT Isaiah Mack, LB Tashawn Bower
New England entered the weekend with 12 players listed on its practice squad, but none of them initially being ruled out. Of that group, only one indeed joined the inactives: running back J.J. Taylor missed his eighth straight game, this time because of a quad ailment. The undrafted rookie was joined by a group of healthy scratches — players who are near the bottom of the depth chart at their respective positions.