The New England Patriots were thoroughly dominated on Sunday, falling to the New Orleans Saints by a score of 28-13.
The Saints were able to exploit all of the Patriots existing weaknesses, and even unearth a few more that we didn’t know about. They got after Mac Jones early and often, hitting him 11 times and intercepting three of his passes. The classic formula for defeating rookie quarterbacks. They also out-gained New England on the ground by nearly 100 yards, dominated on special teams, and won the turnover battle 3-0. Three things that rarely ever happen against a Bill Belichick coached team.
The way in which New England chose to use its roster could help explain the way they performed against New Orleans. It could also help spell out the way they’ll deploy their players in the future. Without further ado, here is how the Patriots used their roster against the Saints.
Total snaps: 72
QB Mac Jones (72; 100%), OL David Andrews (72; 100%), OL Isaiah Wynn (72; 100%), Shaq Mason (72; 100%), OL Michael Onwenu (72; 100%), WR Jakobi Meyers (69; 96%), OT Justin Herron (67; 93%), WR Nelson Agholor (58; 81%), WR Kendrick Bourne (55; 76%), TE Hunter Henry (52; 72%), RB Brandon Bolden (33; 46%), TE Jonnu Smith (30; 42%), RB Damien Harris (22; 31%), WR Gunner Olszewski (16; 22%), RB J.J. Taylor (10; 14%), FB Jakob Johnson (9; 12%), RB James White (6; 8%), OL Yasir Durant (5; 7%)
Once again, Mac Jones was accompanied by four of his five offensive lineman on every offensive snap for the Patriots. The right tackle spot that has been a rotating door since the second drive of the season, saw a bit more stability with Justin Herron taking the field for all but five offensive plays.
The running back rotation underwent a major shakeup following James White’s early game injury. Despite most prognosticators believing J.J. Taylor would be the next man up, it was Brandon Bolden who lead the unit in time on the field with 46% of the offensive snaps played. Bill Belichick explained in his Monday morning press conference that Bolden’s experience was a big part in his snap share. With the team forced to air the ball out more, Damien Harris played his lowest snap total of the season with just 22.
Tight end Hunter Henry played 22 more offensive snaps than his fellow tight end Jonnu Smith throughout the game, something that was likely influenced by Smith’s struggles in catching the football throughout the early part of the game. Much like week’s one and two, Jakobi Meyers led the receiving corps in snaps played with Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne bringing up the rear.
Total snaps: 62
S Devin McCourty (61; 98%), CB J.C. Jackson (60; 97%), CB Jalen Mills (59; 95%), S Kyle Dugger (57; 92%), S Adrian Phillips (57; 92%), LB Matt Judon (50; 81%), LB Kyle Van Noy (44; 71%), LB Dont’a Hightower (42; 68%), DL Deatrich Wise Jr. (42; 68%), DT Davon Godchaux (37; 60%), DT Lawrence Guy (36; 58%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (30; 48%), DT Christian Barmore (27; 44%), CB Jon Jones (17; 27%), DE Chase Winovich (17; 27%), DT Carl Davis (16; 26%), DL Henry Anderson (11; 18%), CB Joejuan Williams (10; 16%), LB Jahlani Tavai (8; 13%)
It was more of the same this week on the defensive side of the ball for New England.
The secondary rotation stayed tight as the Patriots’ “Big Nickel” defensive backs all saw the field for more than 90% of the defensive snaps played. This did, however; block veteran Jonathan Jones from seeing the field very much as he tallied a season low snap count percentage of just 27%.
The linebackers continued to play in a rotation that saw most everybody hit the field. Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, and Matthew Judon all played between 40-50 snaps, while and injury took Ja’Whaun Bentley off the field after having played just 30. Practice squad elevation Jahlani Tavai chipped in with eight snaps of his own.
The defensive line unit kept their pecking order from a week ago. Deatrich Wise Jr., Davon Godchaux, and Lawrence Guy were the once again the starters, and were the top three in snaps played. Chase Winovich and Christian Barmore played the majority of their snaps on pass rushing downs while Henry Anderson and Carl Davis chipped in against the running game.
Total snaps: 30
ST Matthew Slater (26; 90%), ST Justin Bethel (26; 90%), ST Brandon King (26; 90%), ST Cody Davis (26; 90%), RB Brandon Bolden (20; 69%), S Kyle Dugger (20; 69%), LB Harvey Langi (18; 62%), CB Jonathan Jones (15; 52%), WR Gunner Olszewski (14; 48%), P Jake Bailey (13; 45%), DE Chase Winovich (13; 45%), LB Matt Judon (11; 38%), FB Jakob Johnson (11; 38%), DT Lawrence Guy (10; 34%), LS Joe Cardona (9; 31%), DL Henry Anderson (9; 31%), LB Dont’a Hightower (7; 24%), DT Davon Godchaux (7; 24%), CB Joejuan Williams (6; 21%), LB Jahlani Tavai (6; 21%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (5; 17%), K Nick Folk (3; 10%), OL David Andrews (3; 10%), OL Isaiah Wynn (3; 10%), OL Shaq Mason (3; 10%), OL Michael Onwenu (3; 10%), OL Yodny Cajuste (3; 10%), OL Ted Karras (3; 10%)
As always, the Patriots had a crowded group on special teams as they expect the majority of their roster to contribute. 28 players played at least one snap on special teams.
Kicker Nick Folk, punter Jake Bailey, long snapper Joe Cardona, special teamer’s Matthew Slater, Justin Bethel, Brandon King, and Cody Davis, and offensive lineman Ted Karras and Yondy Cajuste were the players who played exclusively on special teams.
Did not play
QB Brian Hoyer
Another week. Another game where Brian Hoyer is the only active Patriot to not see the field. As you can imagine this is good news, as teams never want their backup quarterback to see the field. It’s also a positive sign that New England was able to utilize the rest of their roster, making for zero wasted spots.
LB Ronnie Perkins, RB Rhamondre Stevenson, TE Devin Asiasi, OT Trent Brown, CB Shaun Wade, LB Josh Uche
Save for Josh Uche replacing Kyle Van Noy, this was the same inactive group as last week.
LB Josh Uche missed the game after popping up on the injury report late this week with a back ailment while OT Trent Brown missed his second straight game with a calf injury. Rookies Rhamondre Stevenson, Ronnie Perkins, and Shaun Wade joined second-year TE Devin Asiasi as healthy scratches.