Last week, Mike Gesicki played a big part in the New England Patriots’ win over the Buffalo Bills. Not only was he on the field for half of the team’s offensive snaps, he also caught the game-winning touchdown to seal the upset victory.
This week against the Miami Dolphins, Gesicki was quiet. While he did catch a pair of passes for 11 total yards, he was on the field for only 15 of a possible 53 snaps against his ex-club.
The Patriots are, of course, a game plan team and use their personnel according to the opponent. What is interesting, though, is that the team apparently was not happy with Gesicki’s usage during the first matchup between the two AFC East rivals: in Week 2 versus the Dolphins, the 28-year-old played a season-high 72 percent of snaps and finished with five receptions for 33 yards.
Week 8, on the other hand, saw him register a season-low playing time share of 28 percent.
For comparison, the other tight ends saw a relatively healthy workload. Hunter Henry’s play time did also decrease from Week 2, when he played 92 percent, but he still was on the field for a position-high 58 percent, or 31 snaps, on Sunday. Pharaoh Brown, meanwhile, went from 11 to 40 percent — making the most of his 21 snaps: he caught a pair of passes for 33 yards, leading the Patriots with 16.5 yards per reception.
Does that mean Brown is on the verge of overtaking Gesicki on the depth chart? Not necessarily, but the Patriots are willing to give him chances — even if they come at the expense of the more expensive options on the tight end depth chart.
As for the other usage-based takeaways from the Patriots’ loss to the Dolphins, here is our weekly snap count report.
Total snaps: 53 | Time on the field: 24:05
QB Mac Jones* (53; 100%), LT Trent Brown* (53; 100%), C David Andrews* (53; 100%), RT Michael Onwenu* (53; 100%), LG Cole Strange* (49; 92%), WR Demario Douglas* (41; 77%), WR Kendrick Bourne* (32; 60%), WR Jalen Reagor (31; 58%), TE Hunter Henry* (31; 58%), RB Rhamondre Stevenson* (31; 58%), RG Sidy Sow* (29; 55%), RG/LG Atonio Mafi (28; 53%), WR DeVante Parker* (23; 43%), RB Ezekiel Elliott (22; 42%), TE Pharaoh Brown (21; 40%), WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (18; 34%), TE Mike Gesicki (15; 28%)
The Patriots had only four players go wire-to-wire on Sunday, with the offensive line again experiencing some movement.
Left guard Cole Strange missed four plays in the early third quarter, while Sidy Sow and Atonio Mafi shared duties at right guard. All three of them seeing action was the plan entering the game, according to head coach Bill Belichick, but given that the results up front were not on the same level as the previous week — when the group was more stable — one has to wonder whether the approach paid off.
The moving parts were not limited to the O-line. The wide receiver position also saw some changes: Kendrick Bourne and DeVante Parker were both forced to leave the game early due to injury, with the former suffering a season-ending torn ACL and the latter entering concussion protocol.
As a consequence, Jalen Reagor and JuJu Smith-Schuster saw more action than they otherwise would have: their workload increased substantially following the two injuries. Not impacted by those was Demario Douglas, who continues to see starter-level reps and finished the game with a career-high playing time share of 77 percent.
Total snaps: 77 | Time on the field: 35:55
S Kyle Dugger* (77; 100%), S Jabrill Peppers* (75; 97%), LB/ED Jahlani Tavai* (72; 94%), ED Anfernee Jennings* (63; 82%), ED Keion White* (62; 81%), CB Jonathan Jones* (60; 78%), CB J.C. Jackson* (52; 68%), DT Davon Godchaux* (51; 66%), DT Christian Barmore (49; 64%), LB/ED Mack Wilson Sr. (45; 58%), CB Jack Jones (45; 58%), DT Lawrence Guy Sr.* (39; 51%), CB Myles Bryant (39; 51%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (32; 42%), S/CB Jalen Mills* (28; 36%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley* (20; 26%), LB/S Marte Mapu (18; 23%), S Adrian Phillips (17; 22%), DE Sam Roberts (3; 4%)
The Patriots defense suffered a major loss in the second quarter, with linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley leaving the game due to a hamstring injury. His departure forced the team to adapt, and it did so by giving more snaps to Mack Wilson: the second-year Patriot played a season-high 58 percent of snaps, lining up both off the ball and on the edge — playing a move role similar to that of Jahlani Tavai.
Also seeing extensive action on the edge were Anfernee Jennings, who continues to play the best football of his career, as well as rookie Keion White. After missing last week’s game with a concussion, White played a career-high 81 percent of defensive snaps while moving between outside linebacker alignment and the interior defensive line.
Speaking of which, it was a relatively light day for Deatrich Wise Jr.: after being on the field for 96 percent of snaps versus Buffalo, he played 42 against Miami. Davon Godchaux and the outstanding Christian Barmore were the top two options in snaps played, with Lawrence Guy the other member of the rotation.
In the secondary, the Patriots used almost the entirety of their depth chart. While Kyle Dugger and Jabrill Peppers continue hoarding snaps at safety, for good reason, the cornerback was led by Jonathan Jones, J.C. Jackson and Jack Jones as the top three. Myles Bryant, who briefly departed due to injury, also contributed, as did Jalen Mills.
Total snaps: 26
S Brenden Schooler (23; 88%), LB Chris Board (23; 88%), WR Matthew Slater (23; 88%), LB/ED Jahlani Tavai (22; 85%), S Cody Davis (22; 85%), LB/ED Mack Wilson Sr. (18; 69%), RB/WR/KR Ty Montgomery II (18; 69%), TE Pharaoh Brown (16; 62%), S Adrian Phillips (16; 62%), LB/S Marte Mapu (15; 58%), ED Anfernee Jennings (11; 42%), DT Lawrence Guy Sr. (10; 38%), S Kyle Dugger (8; 31%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (8; 31%), P/H Bryce Baringer (8; 31%), LS Joe Cardona (8; 31%), K Chad Ryland (7; 27%), DE Sam Roberts (5; 19%), OT Michael Onwenu (3; 12%), OT Trent Brown (3; 12%), WR/PR Demario Douglas (3; 12%), G Sidy Sow (3; 12%), G Atonio Mafi (3; 12%), S Jabrill Peppers (3; 12%), OL Jake Andrews (3; 12%), CB Shaun Wade (3; 12%), CB Myles Bryant (1; 4%)
No surprises on special teams. The usual suspects — Brenden Schooler, Chris Board, Matthew Slater, Jahlani Tavai and Cody Davis — saw their usual high workload, with others only seeing spot duty.
Among those is kick returner Ty Montgomery, whose only 18 snaps of the day came in the kicking game.
Did not play
QB Bailey Zappe, OT Conor McDermott
Despite the Patriots losing by two scores, the Patriots decided to leave Bailey Zappe on the bench throughout the game. He has not seen the field since Week 5. Practice squad elevation Conor McDermott also watched the entire contest from the sidelines.
WR Tyquan Thornton, QB Will Grier (emergency QB), ED Josh Uche, OT Vederian Lowe, OT Calvin Anderson, WR Kayshon Boutte
Besides ruling out three due to injury — Josh Uche, Vederian Lowe, Calvin Anderson — the Patriots also deactivated a trio of players as healthy scratches. Most notable among them is former second-round draft pick Tyquan Thornton, whose sophomore season continues to be a quiet one.