As the score would indicate, it was anything but a normal game for the Patriots. Though the team was hamstrung by the same issues that have hampered them over the past six weeks, they were forced to roll into the matchup with some fresh faces playing integral roles. Names like De’Vante Bausby, Justin Herron, Joejuan Williams, and Justin Bethel continually showed up on the game report, as injuries decimated the secondary and sidelined the teams starting left tackle.
As was mentioned above, the reason New England lost was due to their inability to overcome the same problems that they’ve encountered throughout the home stretch of the regular season. It is apparent, however, that the names that contributed to those hindrances looked a tad bit different.
Here is the Patriots full snap count report from their wild card loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Total snaps: 63
Mac Jones (63; 100%), G Shaq Mason (63; 100%), OT Trent Brown (63; 100%), C David Andrews (63; 100%), G Ted Karras (63; 100%), OL Justin Herron (63, 100%), WR Jakobi Meyers (56; 89%), WR Nelson Agholor (52; 83%), TE Hunter Henry (51; 81%), WR Kendrick Bourne (40; 63%), RB Brandon Bolden (24; 38%), RB Rhamondre Stevenson (23, 37%), TE Jonnu Smith (21; 33%), RB Damien Harris (17; 27%), FB Jakob Johnson (15; 24%), OT Michael Onwenu (11; 17%), WR N’Keal Harry (5; 8%)
Fighting until the bitter end, the Patriots offensive snap count numbers reflect that of a team who was forced to throw the ball around. Mac Jones and the offensive line went the distance, playing all 63 offensive snaps. Justin Herron replaced Isaiah Wynn at left tackle and his 100% share of the snaps reflects a well played game. Michael Onwenu was relegated to a jumbo tight end role, having seen the field for just 11 snaps.
There was a clear divide in playing time amongst the skill position groups. Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, Hunter Henry, Kendrick Bourne, and Brandon Bolden were New England’s top five in terms offensive output at the skill positions. Another reflection of the kind of game they were forced to play, with all of those players tending to make their impact through the air.
Jonnu Smith, Damien Harris, Jakob Johnson, Michael Onwenu, and N’Keal Harry brought up the rear in terms of offensive usage, with none of them playing more than 35% of the Patriots offensive snaps. Players that have made their impact felt in the run game didn’t have a chance to do so in a game in which they trailed by multiple scores for 3+ quarters.
Total snaps: 56
S Devin McCourty (56; 100%), LB Kyle Van Noy (54; 96%), CB J.C. Jackson (51; 91%), S Kyle Dugger (46; 82%), LB Dont’a Hightower (45; 80%), CB JoeJuan Williams (41; 73%), DL Deatrich Wise Jr. (41; 73%), S Adrian Phillips (38; 68%), LB Jamie Collins (34; 61%), DT Davon Godchaux (33; 59%), DT Christian Barmore (33; 59%), DT Lawrence Guy (30; 54%), DB Myles Bryant (23; 41%), LB Matthew Judon (22; 39%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (18; 32%), DT Daniel Ekuale (16; 29%), CB Justin Bethel (13, 23%), CB D’Angelo Ross (8, 14%), LB Josh Uche (6; 11%), LB Jahlani Tavai (5, 9%), CB De’Vante Bausby (3; 5%)
The list above is a reflection of a defense in desperate need of some change. When something doesn’t work, you try to fix it. That is exactly what New England did throughout the game, deploying 21 players in total.
Of course there were some usual suspects at the top, with Devin McCourty, Kyle Van Noy, J.C. Jackson, Kyle Dugger, and Dont’a Hightower leading the way with more than 80% of the defensive snaps played. There were, however, some notable differences in playing time compared to last week. Matthew Judon (-40%), Ja’Whaun Bentley (-52%), and D’Angelo Ross (-54%) saw the biggest dips, while Joejuan Williams (+49%), Christian Barmore (+18%), and the returns of Dugger and Hightower saw the biggest increases.
Total snaps: 25
WR Matthew Slater (22; 88%), S Cody Davis (22; 88%), CB Justin Bethel (22; 88%), LB Jahlani Tavai (22; 88%), RB Brandon Bolden (15; 60%), LB Brandon King (15; 60%), S Adrian Phillips (12; 48%), WR Gunner Olszewski (12; 48%), DT Lawrence Guy (10; 40%), LB Jamie Collins (10; 40%), FB Jakob Johnson (9; 36%), P Jake Bailey (8; 32%), CB JoeJuan Williams (8; 32%), S Devin McCourty (7, 28%), LB Dont’a Hightower (7, 28%), DT Davon Godchaux (7, 28%), LB Josh Uche (7; 28%), DL Deatrich Wise Jr. (7; 28%), DB Myles Bryant (7; 28%), LS Joe Cardona (6; 24%), K Nick Folk (5; 20%), TE Hunter Henry (5; 20%), S Kyle Dugger (4, 16%), CB D’Angelo Ross (4, 16%), OT Trent Brown (3; 12%), OT Justin Herron (3; 12%), G Shaq Mason (3; 12%), G Ted Karras (3; 12%), OL Michael Onwenu (3; 12%), LB Kyle Van Noy (3, 12%), OL Yasir Durant (3; 12%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (1, 4%)
Continuing to play poorly, the Patriots special teams unit deployed 32 different players on special teams Sunday. A three player increase from the week before, the unit continued to be shaken up throughout the game, and will be expected to continue to be shaken up into the offseason.
Did Not Play
QB Brian Hoyer, OT Yodny Cajuste
With a Patriots loss, it’s no surprise that Brian Hoyer occupied the bench for New England throughout Saturday’s game. He was joined by reserve tackle Yodny Cajuste as the only active players to not enter the game for New England in Buffalo.
OT Isaiah Wynn, LB Chase Winovich, WR Kristian Wilkerson, DT Carl Davis, RB J.J. Taylor, QB Jarrett Stidham, TE Devin Asiasi
Covid-19 Reserve: CB Jalen Mills, CB Shaun Wade
The Patriots were without their left tackle on Saturday, as Isaiah Wynn missed the game with a hip/ankle injury. He was the only Patriots with an injury designation to have missed the game.
Chase Winovich and Carl Davis were scratched from the lineup in favor of other players, while Kristian Wilkerson was a healthy scratch despite being called up from the practice squad. J.J. Taylor, Jarrett Stidham, and Devin Asiasi continued to serve as healthy scratches while their usual partner in crime Shaun Wade missing the game after being placed on the Covid-19 list. He was joined by No. 2 cornerback Jalen Mills who missed his only game of the season due to the virus.