The New England Patriots arrived in Texas on Sunday desperate for a win. Despite seemingly sleepwalking throughout the first half and playing bad fundamental football, they found a way to get that win over the Houston Texans.
To avoid falling to a 1-4 start for the first time since Bill Belichick’s debut season, the Patriots made plenty of second half adjustments to pull out the victory, most of which were a result of some personnel changes. They went heavy on offense to focus on the run/play action pass game while running out a heavy dose of defensive backs in the second half.
Both of those philosophy changes helped push the Patriots over the top, and helped spell out some potential future changes to their offensive and defensive rotations. What were those changes you ask? Let us take a look.
Total snaps: 64
QB Mac Jones (64; 100%), OT Justin Herron (64; 100%), G Ted Karras (64; 100%), OT Yodny Cajuste (64; 100%), C David Andrews (64; 100%), G James Ferentz (64; 100%), WR Jakobi Meyers (58; 91%), WR Nelson Agholor (43; 67%), TE Hunter Henry (40; 62%), TE Jonnu Smith (40; 62%), WR Kendrick Bourne (32; 50%), RB Brandon Bolden (24; 38%), WR N’Keal Harry (22; 34%), RB Rhamondre Stevenson (22; 34%), RB Damien Harris (21; 33%), FB Jakob Johnson (16; 25%), OT Yasir Durant (2; 3%)
Despite missing 4/5ths of their starters from week one, the Patriots offensive line produced its steadiest game yet as all five starters from Sunday played 100% of the teams offensive snaps. This was the first time all season that you could say that, with Justin Herron, Ted Karras, Yodny Cajuste, and James Ferentz sliding into the starting lineup to join David Andrews and Mac Jones as offensive players to go the distance.
The Patriots receiving corps continued to be used in a similar pecking order to previous weeks. Jakobi Meyers was the clear number one option, while Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne each pitched in with 50% or more snaps played. N’Keal Harry also improved on his numbers a bit, playing 34% of offensive snaps as he works back from a shoulder injury. Hunter Henry once again had a slight playing time advantage over Jonnu Smith at tight end.
Injuries were the story at running back this week, as Damien Harris had to leave the game on multiple occasions, before eventually being ruled out for good with a late chest injury. That helped thrust rookie Rhamondre Stevenson ahead of him in terms of snaps played in his return to the lineup. Veteran special teams ace Brandon Bolden led all running backs in time on the field, as he continues to cement himself as New England’s new third-down back.
Total snaps: 59
S Devin McCourty (59; 100%), CB J.C. Jackson (59; 100%), S Adrian Phillips (53; 90%), LB Matthew Judon (53; 90%), S Kyle Dugger (45; 76%), CB Jonathan Jones (43; 73%), LB Kyle Van Noy (43; 73%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (40; 68%), LB Dont’a Hightower (38; 64%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (37; 63%), CB Joejuan Williams (35; 59%), DT Davon Godchaux (30; 51%), DT Christian Barmore (30; 51%), DT Lawrence Guy (29; 49%), DT Carl Davis (18; 31%), LB Josh Uche (14; 24%), CB Myles Bryant (11; 19%), LB Chase Winovich (7; 12%), LB Jamie Collins Sr. (3; 5%), CB Justin Bethel (2; 3%)
New England’s top defensive back unit continues to play a ton of football, with starters Devin McCourty, J.C. Jackson, Kyle Dugger, and Adrian Phillips all playing above the 75% threshold on Sunday. Jonathan Jones and Joejuan Williams both chipped in with 35+ snaps to help replace the injured Jalen Mills, while Myles Bryant and Justin Bethel were brought on late for heavy defensive back personnel packages.
The defensive line and linebacker rotations looked similar to how they have all season with Deatrich Wise Jr. and Matthew Judon leading the way for their respective positional units. The nature of those positions calls for frequent substitutions to get the right players on the field for different situations and Sunday was no different. It is to be noted; however, that Christian Barmore supplanted Lawrence Guy in playing time for the first time this season, while Jamie Collins had 1.0 sack and 1 tackle for loss in his three snaps played.
Total snaps: 27
CB Justin Bethel (21; 78%), WR Matthew Slater (21; 78%), LB Brandon King (21; 78%), S Cody Davis (19; 70%), RB Brandon Bolden (16; 59%), LB Chase Winovich (15; 56%), WR Gunner Olszewski (15; 56%), P Jake Bailey (14; 52%), DT Lawrence Guy (13; 48%), LB Harvey Langi (13; 48%),FB Jakob Johnson (12; 44%), S Adrian Phillips (12; 44%), S Kyle Dugger (8; 30%), LB Matthew Judon (7; 26%), CB Jonathan Jones (7; 26%), LB Dont’a Hightower (7; 26%), LS Joe Cardona (7; 26%), OT Justin Herron (6; 22%), G Ted Karras (6; 22%), OT Yodny Cajuste (6; 22%), OT Yasir Durant (6; 22%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (6; 22%), LB Jamie Collins Sr. (6; 22%), K Nick Folk (6; 22%), G William Sherman (6; 22%), TE Hunter Henry (5; 19%), S Devin McCourty (5; 19%), DT Davon Godchaux (5; 19%), DT Christian Barmore (5; 19%), CB Myles Bryant (1; 4%)
The Patriots special teams unit nabbed a few more bodies this week, using their highest total of players overall this season with 30. Newcomers to this weeks roster Jamie Collins, Will Sherman, and Myles Bryant all got time on some special teams units.
Chase Winovich continues to see a rise in usage on special teams, playing 50% or more of the snaps for the second straight week.
Did not play
QB Brian Hoyer, G Alex Redmond
Once again folks, this is good news for the Patriots. It’s the fifth straight game that Brian Hoyer is the only active Patriot to not see the field, a positive sign that means Mac Jones stayed healthy. Alex Redmond did not play despite being elevated from the practice squad, a sign that they elevated him for the extra roster spot rather than his on-field services.
LB Ronnie Perkins, RB J.J. Taylor, TE Devin Asiasi, CB Shaun Wade, OG Shaq Mason , CB Jalen Mills
LB Ronnie Perkins, TE Devin Asiasi, and CB Shaun Wade continued their stint on the inactive list, all having missed each of the Patriots five games. RB J.J Taylor joined them for his second inactive listing following his fumble last week.
Starters Jalen Mills and Shaq Mason each missed their first games of the season with hamstring and abdomen injuries respectively.