The New England Patriots are rolling, and it doesn’t look like they’ll be stopped anytime soon. Winners of five straight, the Patriots have finally proved Matthew Judon’s point from a few weeks ago, when he said they were, “better than their record.” At 7-4, headed into a ten day layoff, you could say that he was right.
On Thursday, their defense absolutely throttled Atlantas offense, allowing just 165 total yards, while forcing four turnovers and extending their scoreless drive streak to 19 over a two game streak where they’ve scored the same amount of points as their opponent. The offense, playing their least efficient game in over a month, managed to overcome an inability to sustain long drives by riding the tails of Nick Folk who went 4-for-4 and scored 13 points on his own.
Headed into a 10-day break, the Patriots can reassess things and formulate a plan of how they’re going to attack their opponents moving forward. Something it didn’t do much of on just four days between their last two games. Let’s take a look at how the Patriots deployed its roster on the short week.
Total snaps: 64
G Ted Karras (64; 100%), C David Andrews (64; 100%), G Shaq Mason (64; 100%), OT Isaiah Wynn (64; 100%), Mac Jones (64; 100%), OT Trent Brown (62; 97%), WR Jakobi Meyers (56; 88%), WR Nelson Agholor (49; 77%), TE Jonnu Smith (33; 52%), TE Hunter Henry (32; 50%), WR Kendrick Bourne (29; 45%), FB Jakob Johnson (26; 41%), WR N’Keal Harry (26; 41%), RB Damien Harris (25; 39%), RB Rhamondre Stevenson (22; 34%), RB Brandon Bolden (17; 27%), OT Michael Onwenu (5; 8%), WR Matthew Slater (2; 3%),
The Patriots saw a number of changes applied to their offensive formula on Thursday, something that we haven’t seen in quite a while. First, New England played five less players than last week, as Brian Hoyer, J.J. Taylor, Devin Asiasi, Matt Lacosse, Yodny Cajuste, and Justin Herron did not play, while Damien Harris, and Jonnu Smith returned to the lineup. Secondly, we saw a huge fall in snaps for Michael Onwenu, who played just 8% of offensive snaps after never leaving the field against Carolina two weeks ago.
Those resulted in some minor shakeups throughout New Englands offensive pecking order, but for the most part they stuck to their formula, with the top offensive line and Mac Jones playing very close to wire-to-wire, while Jakobi Meyers and Damien Harris led the way for the wide receivers and running backs. In a game where they looked to continue running the ball, Jonnu Smith out played Hunter Henry by a single snap as the teams lead blocking tight end.
Total snaps: 54
S Devin McCourty (53; 98%), S Adrian Phillips (47; 87%), LB Matthew Judon (45; 83%), LB Dont’a Hightower (42; 78%), CB J.C. Jackson (42; 78%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (42; 78%), LB Kyle Van Noy (42; 78%), CB Jalen Mills (42; 78%), S Kyle Dugger (41; 76%), DT Christian Barmore (34; 63%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (31; 57%), DT Davon Godchaux (31; 57%), DB Myles Bryant (27; 50%), DT Lawrence Guy (24; 44%), CB Joejuan Williams (20; 37%), DT Carl Davis (17; 31%), DE Chase Winovich (5; 9%), LB Jahlani Tavai (4; 7%%), CB Shaun Wade (4; 7%), CB Justin Bethel (1; 2%)
When you find a formula that works, there’s no reason to stray from it. The Patriots’ defense seems to share this opinion as 18 of their 20 players from Thursday returned to the rotation from Sunday.
There weren’t many risers and fallers, as each of those players numbers rose slightly due to the fact that this game stayed within two scored until midway through the fourth quarter. New England did however see some additions to the group as Chase Winovich returned from injured reserve and contributed five snaps, while Shaun Wade made his NFL debut, seeing four snaps of action towards the end of the game.
Total snaps: 24
WR Matthew Slater (18; 75%), S Cody Davis (18; 75%), LB Brandon King (18; 75%), CB Justin Bethel (18; 75%), RB Brandon Bolden (16; 67%), LB Calvin Munson (16; 67%), LB Jahlani Tavai (16; 67%), P Jake Bailey (15; 62%), WR Gunner Olszewski (12; 50%), FB Jakob Johnson (11; 46%), DE Chase Winovich (10; 42%), LS Joe Cardona (10; 42%), S Kyle Dugger (8; 33%), DT Lawrence Guy (8; 33%), LB Matthew Judon (7; 29%), K Nick Folk (7; 29%), OL Michael Onwenu (6; 25%), G Ted Karras (6; 25%), OT Isaiah Wynn (6; 25%), Shaq Mason (6; 25%), OT Trent Brown (6; 25%), S Adrian Phillips (6; 25%), DL Deatrich Wise Jr. (6; 25%), CB Shaun Wade (3; 12%), LB Dont’a Hightower (2; 8%), CB J.C. Jackson (2; 8%), DT Christian Barmore (2; 8%), DB Myles Bryant (2; 8%), DT Davon Godchaux (2; 8%), TE Hunter Henry (1; 4%),
The Patriots continue to see a drop in the number of special teamers that they deploy. After producing a season high of 34 two weeks ago, they rolled out just 30 on a short turnaround against Atlanta. The most notable differences came in the return of Gunner Olszewski as the club’s return man, and Chase Winovich slotting right in to take 42% of the snaps after a five week injured reserve stint.
Did Not Play
QB Brian Hoyer, OL Yodny Cajuste, OL Justin Herron
In the biggest surprise of this report, the Patriots chose not to use three of their active players on a short week.
The Falcons were able to keep the game respectable through three and a half quarters, making it understandable for Brian Hoyer to return to the bench following two straight appearances. Cajuste and Herron on the other hand, were removed from New England’s special teams units this week and did not find the field throughout Thursday’s game.
QB Jarrett Stidham, RB JJ Taylor, TE Devin Asiasi, OLB Ronnie Perkins, OL Yasir Durant
The Patriots inactives list returned to ”normal” this week as we saw the regulars placed back on it. All five of the players listed above have been inactive for multiple games this season.
Tight end Jonnu Smith, running back Damien Harris, and return specialist Gunner Olszewski all returned to the lineup after being first time inactives last week. Linebacker Chase Winovich also returned following an IR stint that knocked him out of the last five games. Rookie corner back Shaun Wade made his NFL debut after being inactive in each of the first 10 weeks of the season.