The New England Patriots put up a fight on the road against the Seattle Seahawks but eventually came up just short: the team lost 35-30 with the final play of the game — a rushing attempt from the 1-yard line — being the difference between leaving CenturyLink Field with a win and a loss. Still, the team did play some solid football against one of the best teams in football as it continues to evolve on a week-to-week basis.
With that being said, let’s take a look at how the Patriots opted to use their players versus Seattle.
Total snaps: 72
OT Isaiah Wynn (72; 100%), G Joe Thuney (72; 100%), G Shaq Mason (72; 100%), C David Andrews (72; 100%), QB Cam Newton (72; 100%), TE Ryan Izzo (70; 97%), WR Damiere Byrd (62; 86%), WR N’Keal Harry (61; 85%), WR Julian Edelman (52; 72%), RB Rex Burkhead (51; 71%), OT Jermaine Eluemunor (51; 71%), OT Michael Onwenu (29; 40%), FB Jakob Johnson (17; 24%), RB Sony Michel (15; 21%), TE Devin Asiasi (10; 14%), WR Jakobi Meyers (8; 11%), OT Justin Herron (5; 7%), RB J.J. Taylor (1; 1%)
From a personnel usage perspective, the Patriots took the same basic approach as they did last week versus the Miami Dolphins. The offensive line was again set at four of the five positions, for example, with both Jermaine Eluemunor and rookie Michael Onwenu being employed on a rotational basis at right tackle and as part of New England’s jumbo packages.
The wide receiver spot, meanwhile, was once more led by Damiere Byrd and N’Keal Harry while Julian Edelman took on a somewhat smaller role — one in which he thrived by catching eight passes for a career-high 179 yards. There were also no real changes at the tight end position: Ryan Izzo remains the clear number one, with first-year man Devin Asiasi only being used occasionally as an additional in-line option.
The only real change compared to last week came at running back. Whereas the Patriots used an evenly split rotation against Miami, James White’s inactivity changed the picture: Rex Burkhead took on a more active role as New England’s receiving back and finished with a combined 10 touches for 49 yards. Sony Michel saw only a handful of snaps as an early-down option, meanwhile, with J.J. Taylor playing just one snap after being on the field for nine last week.
Total snaps: 63
S Devin McCourty (63; 100%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (63; 100%), CB Stephon Gilmore (62; 98%), CB Jonathan Jones (59; 94%), LB John Simon (56; 89%), S Adrian Phillips (49; 78%), LB Chase Winovich (47; 75%), DT Lawrence Guy (45; 71%), CB J.C. Jackson (38; 60%), S Kyle Dugger (34; 54%), DT Byron Cowart (31; 49%), LB Brandon Copeland (30; 48%), CB Jason McCourty (30; 48%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (20; 32%), DT Adam Butler (18; 29%), LB Shilique Calhoun (17; 27%), LB Derek Rivers (10; 16%), CB Joejuan Williams (8; 13%), S Terrence Brooks (6; 10%), DE Nick Thurman (5; 8%), LB Anfernee Jennings (2, 3%)
The Patriots’ defense saw plenty of movement throughout the game, with only a handful of players rarely leaving the field — including Devin McCourty and Ja’Whaun Bentley, who played all 63 of the unit’s snaps. Elsewhere, however, New England employed a rotational system based on game plan and situation.
This meant that the team’s top-two outside linebackers John Simon and Chase Winovich were on the field quite a lot to help set a firm edge against elusive Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Meanwhile, Adrian Phillips again played the “star” role as a safety/linebacker hybrid alongside Bentley. That said, Brandon Copeland, who saw just eight snaps last week, also was used regularly by being on the field for 48 percent of New England’s snaps.
Phillips and Copeland were not the only offseason additions to see plenty of action versus Seattle: safety Kyle Dugger, who was drafted in the second round by the Patriots earlier this year, played a career-high 34 snaps. Once again, the team employed all over the formation by having him line up closer to the box, out on the perimeter and the slot, and as a deep-field defender as well.
Total snaps: 28
LB Brandon Copeland (23; 82%), WR Matthew Slater (23; 82%), CB Justin Bethel (23; 82%), S Cody Davis (23; 82%), FB Jakob Johnson (15; 54%), LB John Simon (15; 54%), S Kyle Dugger (14; 50%), CB Joejuan Williams (14; 50%), P Jake Bailey (13; 46%), RB Rex Burkhead (12; 43%), DT Lawrence Guy (12; 43%), CB Jonathan Jones (11; 39%), S Adrian Phillips (10; 36%), LB Shilique Calhoun (8; 29%), DT Byron Cowart (7; 25%), S Terrence Brooks (7; 25%), LS Joe Cardona (7; 25%), CB Jason McCourty (6; 21%), OT Isaiah Wynn (5; 18%), G Joe Thuney (5; 18%), G Shaq Mason (5; 18%), OT Jermaine Eluemunor (5; 18%), OT Michael Onwenu (5; 18%), RB J.J. Taylor (5; 18%), S Devin McCourty (5; 18%), LB Derek Rivers (5; 18%), G Hjalte Froholdt (5; 18%), K Nick Folk (5; 18%), WR Damiere Byrd (4; 14%), CB J.C. Jackson (4; 14%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (2; 7%), LB Chase Winovich (2; 7%), LB Cassh Maluia (2; 7%), RB Sony Michel (1; 4%)
As is standard in New England, a lot of players were used in the kicking game. Just like last week, 34 men saw snaps on special teams, with eight of them being used exclusively in the game’s third phase: Matthew Slater, Justin Bethel, Cody Davis, the three specialists — Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona and Nick Folk — second-year offensive lineman Hjalte Froholdt and rookie linebacker Cassh Maluia.
What stands out is that some of the most active players on offense and defense also saw a heavy workload on special teams. John Simon added 15 snaps to his 56, while Rex Burkhead played 12 more after already seeing 51 at running back.
Did not play
QB Brian Hoyer
With Cam Newton going wire-to-wire as the Patriots’ starting quarterback, and the game being not decided until literally the last play, there were again no snaps available for the team’s number two, Brian Hoyer. If New England treats its backup position like it did in years past, and Newton is able to stay healthy, only a handful of snaps will be played this season between the two depth passers on the roster.
QB Jarrett Stidham, RB James White, CB Myles Bryant, TE Dalton Keene, LB Josh Uche, OT Korey Cunningham
The Patriots’ inactives list features two players who were listed on Friday’s final injury report of the week: Dalton Keene was declared inactive because of a neck issue, with Josh Uche being held out after hurting his ankle. The other four, meanwhile, were all healthy scratches — including James White, whose parents were involved in a car crash on Sunday that killed his father and left his mother hospitalized in critical condition.