Entering this week, the New England Patriots knew that their game against the Los Angeles Chargers would be their biggest test to that point in the season. Trying to get back to .500 while stringing together multiple wins against a quality opponent was no small task. Despite that, they were able to do just enough to escape Los Angeles with a win.
On defense they held Chargers star quarterback Justin Herbert to just 51% passing while intercepting him twice. On offense, they found their stride late, and were able to successfully take advantage of the Chargers’ defensive deficiencies to come away with enough points for the victory. They also found out a little bit about themselves and the kind of talent they have on their team. How so? Let’s find out!
Total snaps: 77
QB Mac Jones (77; 100%), G Ted Karras (77; 100%), C David Andrews (77; 100%), OT Michael Onwenu (77; 100%), G Shaq Mason (77; 100%), OT Isaiah Wynn (72; 94%), WR Jakobi Meyers (71; 92%), WR Nelson Agholor (61; 79%), TE Hunter Henry (50; 65%), TE Jonnu Smith (49; 64%), Damien Harris (41; 53%), WR N’Keal Harry (27; 35%), RB Brandon Bolden (25; 32%), WR Kendrick Bourne (23; 30%), FB Jakob Johnson (22; 29%), RB Rhamondre Stevenson (12; 16%), OT Justin Herron (8; 10%), WR Matthew Slater (1; 1%)
The Patriots seem to have found something in this offensive line grouping. All five of the starters on Sunday played over 90% of the teams offensive snaps, with Isaiah Wynn missing just five total plays throughout the game, being replaced by swing tackle Justin Herron during that time. The man they were protecting, Mac Jones, played every offensive snap for the seventh time this season. The rookie has held up well through eight weeks.
New England’s receivers and tight ends have been used in a very formulaic way throughout this season. The receiving depth chart usually follows the order of Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, and N’Keal Harry, while tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith split snaps with Henry usually getting the slight advantage in total numbers. That rang true today, save for Harry leapfrogging Bourne in playing time following a Bourne fumble in the third quarter.
We saw more of the same from New England’s running back room on Sunday. In recent weeks the order of playing time went down the list of Damien Harris, Brandon Bolden, Jakob Johnson, J.J. Taylor/Rhamondre Stevenson. The Chargers saw that exact order of operations, with Stevenson getting the nod over Taylor.
Total snaps: 60
S Devin McCourty (60; 100%), S Adrian Phillips (55; 92%), LB Matthew Judon (54; 90%), CB J.C. Jackson (54; 90%), CB Jalen Mills (52; 87%), S Kyle Dugger (49; 82%), LB Kyle Van Noy (42; 70%), DT Christian Barmore (38; 63%), DB Myles Bryant (38; 63%), DT Davon Godchaux (35; 58%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (34; 57%), LB Dont’a Hightower (32, 53%), LB Josh Uche (26; 43%), DT Lawrence Guy (24; 40%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (23; 38%), CB Joejuan Williams (15; 25%), DT Daniel Ekuale (14; 23%), DT Carl Davis (8; 13%), LB Jamie Collins Sr. (7; 12%)
After leaving last weeks matchup with the New York Jets due to an abdomen injury, Devin McCourty returned to the field on Sunday to lead the defense in total usage. His defensive back unit saw a pretty large switch up in terms of pecking order, with He, Adrian Phillips, and J.C. Jackson seeing an uptick in playing time, while Kyle Dugger, Myles Bryant, and Joejuan Williams all saw their usage decline.
New England’s linebacking corps is still taking the “by committee” approach, with Matthew Judon being the lone player who has had a consistent usage rate through eight weeks. Kyle Van Noy lost 25% of his playing time on Sunday, while Ja’Whaun Bentley lost around 15%. Those number decreases could be attributed to the returning Dont’a Hightower, who played just over 50% of New England’s defensive snaps.
The rise of Christian Barmore continues, with the rookie leading all Patriots defensive lineman in total usage for the second time in as many weeks. Deatrich Wise Jr. is hovering at a steady 35%, while Davon Godchaux and Lawrence Guy continue to see the field for a similar amount of time each week.
Total snaps: 30
WR Matthew Slater (25; 83%), S Cody Davis (25 83%), CB Justin Bethel (24; 80%), RB Brandon Bolden (20; 67%), LB Jahlani Tavai (20; 67%), LB Calvin Munson (20; 67%), WR Gunner Olszewski (18; 60%), CB Joejuan Williams (17; 57%), P Jake Bailey (15; 50%), S Kyle Dugger (14; 47%), LB Jamie Collins Sr. (14; 47%), FB Jakob Johnson (13; 43%), S Adrian Phillips (12; 40%), DT Lawrence Guy (9; 30%), LS Joe Cardona (8; 27%), LB Matthew Judon (8; 27%), LB Josh Uche (6; 20%), K Nick Folk (5; 17%), OT Yodny Cajuste (5; 17%), OL Michael Onwenu (5; 17%), G Ted Karras (5; 17%), OT Isaiah Wynn (5; 17%), Shaq Mason (5; 17%), OT Justin Herron (5; 17%), TE Hunter Henry (5; 17%), DB Myles Bryant (4; 13%), DT Davon Godchaux (4; 13%), DT Christian Barmore (4; 13%), CB J.C. Jackson (4; 13%), CB Jalen Mills (2; 7%), WR Jakobi Meyers (1; 3%), WR N’Keal Harry (1; 3%), S Devin McCourty (1; 3%)
For the third week in a row, New England has set a season high in special teamers played.
New England rolled out 33 separate players on their special teams units this week, good enough for most in the NFL this season. I would love to tell you that this is some sort of NFL record, but there is no way of finding that information because no one cares enough to keep it.
Did Not Play
QB Brian Hoyer, OL James Ferentz
After seeing his first in-game action of the season last week vs the New York Jets, Brian Hoyer returned back to the sidelines; giving way to starter Mac Jones in a game that came down to the final minutes. He was joined by James Ferentz, a newcomer to the 53-man roster who had been signed from the practice squad just last Wednesday.
LB Brandon King, LB Ronnie Perkins, RB J.J. Taylor, TE Devin Asiasi, CB Shaun Wade, OL Yasir Durant
Despite rushing for two touchdowns last weekend against the New York Jets, running back J.J. Taylor was a healthy scratch on Sunday. He gave way to the larger Rhamondre Stevenson, who played a role in New England’s interior running game. Special teamer Brandon King was ruled inactive earlier in the week due to a thigh injury.
Linebacker Ronnie Perkins, tight end Devin Asiasi and cornerback Shaun Wade continued their stint on the inactive list, all having missed each of the Patriots’ eight games. Yasir Durant joined them for his second straight game as a healthy scratch.
LB Don't Hightower returned to New England’s lineup, logging just over 50% of their defensive snaps.