The New England Patriots got New England Patriots’d.
Matching up with the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night meant the Patriots would be playing a team built similarly to their own. Both teams formula to success involves getting out to a lead and controlling the pace of the game by running the ball, limiting turnovers, and playing good defense. Before the game, we though whoever could do that was going to win.
We thought correctly, as Indianapolis jumped out to a quick lead and controlled about 50 of the 60 minutes in the game. Their ability to get out to that fast start had something to do with the personnel that New England had on the field. Some new arrivals, some thrust into roles they hadn’t served previously, and some just not ready for the task at hand. Here is how New England deployed its roster and how that played into the result of the game.
Total snaps: 68
Mac Jones (68; 100%), C David Andrews (68; 100%), G Shaq Mason (68; 100%), OT Isaiah Wynn (68; 100%), OT Trent Brown (68; 100%), G Ted Karras (68; 100%), WR Jakobi Meyers (64; 94%), TE Hunter Henry (55; 81%), WR Kendrick Bourne (48; 71%), RB Brandon Bolden (38; 56%), WR N’Keal Harry (36; 53%), WR Nelson Agholor (32; 47%), RB Rhamondre Stevenson (31; 46%), TE Jonnu Smith (17; 25%), FB Jakob Johnson (10; 15%), OT Michael Onwenu (6; 9%), WR Gunner Olszewski (3; 4%)
Following a game where they threw the ball a total of three times, the Patriots were bound to see an uptick in play where they would attack the air. Even if you didn’t watch the game that would be evident by taking a look at the way they deployed their offensive personnel.
Jakobi Meyers, Hunter Henry, Kendrick Bourne, Brandon Bolden, and N’Keal Harry all saw an uptick in snap percentage as they were on the field to serve as Mac Jones’ primary pass catchers throughout a game that they trailed for more than 48 minutes. Running game specialists Rhamondre Stevenson, Jonnu Smith, Michael Onwenu, and Jakob Johnson all saw a steep decline in playing time with the Patriots falling behind early on.
The lone constants on offense were Mac Jones and the Patriots top offensive line unit, all of which would play 100% of the teams offensive snaps for the second week in a row.
Total snaps: 52
S Devin McCourty (52; 100%), CB Jalen Mills (52; 100%), CB J.C. Jackson (52; 100%), LB Dont’a Hightower (48; 92%), LB Matthew Judon (47; 90%), LB Kyle Van Noy (47; 90%), DT Davon Godchaux (44; 85%), S Adrian Phillips (42; 81%), LB Jamie Collins (37; 71%), DT Christian Barmore (35; 67%), DT Lawrence Guy (33; 63%), S Kyle Dugger (29; 56%), DB Myles Bryant (21; 40%), DT Carl Davis (16; 31%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (11; 21%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (4; 8%), DT Daniel Ekuale (2; 4%)
Even when the Patriots face completely different brands of offense, you have a good idea of what their defensive rotation will look like. This week was a great example of that as few Patriots defenders saw a large jump/fall in playing time against the Colts’ high powered rushing attack.
Those who did see a heavy change in snaps from the Buffalo game where Myles Bryant (-53%), Jamie Collins (+45%), Deatrich Wise Jr. (-35%), and Carl Davis (+22%) all fluctuated from New England’s last game as the Patriots played with heavier personnel in an effort to stop Indianapolis from running the ball. Davis is one of the Patriots best interior run defenders while Jami Collins filled in for an injured Ja’Whaun Bentley as the Patriots #2 inside linebacker. Myles Bryant is a coverage player so his services weren’t needed as much, while pass rusher Deatrich Wise Jr. was passed over for beefier defensive front men.
Kyle Dugger played just 56% of the teams snaps in his return from the COVID list, part of that being due to the fact that he was disqualified in the third quarter for throwing punches with Colts receiver Michael Pittman Jr.
Total snaps: 25
WR Matthew Slater (22; 88%), S Cody Davis (22; 88%), LB Brandon King (22; 88%), CB Justin Bethel (22; 88%), LB Jahlani Tavai (14; 56%), RB Brandon Bolden (13; 52%), WR Gunner Olszewski (12; 48%), LB Jamie Collins (12; 48%), LB Chase Winovich (12; 48%), DT Lawrence Guy (12; 48%), FB Jakob Johnson (12; 48%), P Jake Bailey (9; 36%), LB Matthew Judon (9; 36%), S Devin McCourty (8; 32%), DT Davon Godchaux (7; 28%), DT Christian Barmore (7; 28%), DB Myles Bryant (7; 28%), LS Joe Cardona (6; 24%), TE Hunter Henry (6; 24%), WR N’Keal Harry (6; 24%), K Nick Folk (4; 16%), S Adrian Phillips (4; 16%), OT Isaiah Wynn (3; 12%), Shaq Mason (3; 12%), OT Trent Brown (3; 12%), G Ted Karras (3; 12%), OL Michael Onwenu (3; 12%), OT Justin Herron (3; 12%), CB Jalen Mills (2; 8%), LB Dont’a Hightower (2; 8%), CB Shaun Wade (2; 8%), WR Jakobi Meyers (1; 4%), WR Kendrick Bourne (1; 4%), S Kyle Dugger (1; 4%)
In a game where they had a punt blocked and a key penalty that gifted Indianapolis three crucial points, the Patriots rolled 34 different players out on their special teams units. That is good for the highest total of any game this season. Multiple players saw adjustments made to their roles throughout the game, leading to the higher total number than usual.
Did Not Play
QB Brian Hoyer, OL James Ferentz, RB Devine Ozigbo
With New England fighting until the bitter end, there wasn’t much room for the backup quarterback or practice squad call ups. Three men —Brian Hoyer, James Ferentz, and Devine Ozigbo— manned the sidelines throughout this game, making it the most active players to not see the field for New England this season.
RB Damien Harris, QB Jarrett Stidham, TE Devin Asiasi, CB JoeJuan Williams, S Joshuah Bledsoe, OT Yodny Cajuste
COVID List: RB JJ Taylor, OT Yasir Durant
The most important inactive on New England’s side was top running back Damien Harris, who sat out with a hamstring injury.
Stidham, Asiasi, Cajuste, and Bledsoe weren’t surprises, but JoeJuan Williams being passed over for Shaun Wade may be categorized as such. Wade would play just two snaps on special teams and none on defense.