Reading too much into social media postings can be a dangerous game, but the fact is that Jalen Mills would have every reason to be frustrated with his playing time so far this season. In total, the veteran defensive back has been on the field for only 81 of the New England Patriots’ 334 defensive snaps so far this season.
During Sunday’s loss agains the New Orleans Saints, he took the field on only 10 out of 72 occasions. ESPN’s Mike Reiss sharing that fact on Twitter prompted a pretty telling response from Mills:
Obviously, the Patriots are a game-plan team and snap numbers can fluctuate on a weekly basis. But Mills playing only 10 defensive snaps plus two more on special teams is a step in the wrong direction, both compared to earlier in the year and to his first two seasons with the club.
For fellow Lawrence Guy, it also is something he himself experienced in the past. While a mainstay along the Patriots defensive line virtually ever since his arrival in 2017, his snap numbers have also seen a dip at one point.
“I’ve been there. 2019,” Guy told reporters on Thursday. “Miami game, I had 14 snaps, I think. The next game, I had like nine snaps. Next game, I had 10 snaps. I’ve been in that frustration part. ... He works hard. He works hard every single day. He understands. You ask questions in a meeting, he knows that meeting. He knows the answer. He’s like, ‘Boom’ — he can spit it out. It’s just how the dice are rolled right now.”
Guy’s recollection is not fully accurate — he played 14, 18 and 39 snaps during the span of games he mentioned — but that does not take away from the overall point he was trying to make: even if some frustration might have been expressed on social media, Mills is still putting in the work behind the scenes.
“It doesn’t stop his preparation, doesn’t stop his work ethic on the field. And that’s kudos to him,” Guy said.
“I understand certain situations are what they are. But I can tell you this, the grind that man has on this field, and the passion that he has, is amazing. The messages he gives as a leader on the team is amazing. And like I said, if you ask him any question about the opponent, he knows everything about it. It just didn’t roll that way this week.”
Mills’ next chance at increasing his playing time will come on Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders.