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Patriots vs. Giants snap counts: Quarterback rotation not the only noteworthy development in Week 12

Notes and thoughts on the Patriots’ snap counts from their 10-7 loss to the Giants.

New England Patriots v New York Giants Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The biggest story coming out of the New England Patriots’ 10-7 loss to the New York Giants was, once again, the quarterback position. Mac Jones got the start but after another disappointing half of football that included a pair of interceptions was pulled in favor of backup Bailey Zappe — the fourth time this season Jones was benched, and the second straight with the game still competitive.

Neither passer fared particularly well, however. Jones completed 12 of his 21 pass attempts for 89 yards with those two picks, while Zappe went 9-of-14 for 54 with an interception of his own.

Jones and Zappe splitting quarterback reps 35 to 33 was not the only noteworthy development from that game from a personnel usage perspective. As a look at the snap numbers shows, the team also used a rotation at left tackle, inserted DeVante Parker and J.C. Jackson in starter-levels roles at wide receiver and cornerback, respectively, and increased the opportunities for some lower-profile players.

With all that said, here is our weekly snap count report from the Patriots’ loss to the Giants.

Offense

Total snaps: 68 | Time on the field: 34:06

LG Cole Strange* (68; 100%), C David Andrews* (68; 100%), RG Sidy Sow* (68; 100%), RT Michael Onwenu* (68; 100%), RB Rhamondre Stevenson* (53; 78%), LT Trent Brown (52; 76%), WR DeVante Parker* (51; 75%), TE Hunter Henry* (46; 68%), WR JuJu Smith-Schuster* (44; 65%), TE Pharaoh Brown* (37; 54%), QB Mac Jones* (35; 51%), WR Demario Douglas (33; 49%), QB Bailey Zappe (33; 49%), WR Tyquan Thornton (30; 44%), TE Mike Gesicki (18; 26%), LT Conor McDermott* (16; 24%), RB Ezekiel Elliott (15; 22%), WR Kayshon Boutte (11; 16%), RB/WR Ty Montgomery II (2; 3%)

*denotes starter

The Patriots did get Trent Brown back after he had missed back-to-back games due to an ankle injury. However, the team did ease him into the mix: he played only 52 of a possible 68 snaps at left tackle, with recent roster addition Conor McDermott taking the other 16. The rest of the offensive line was, for once, a model of stability that fared relatively well in both pass protection and run blocking.

Another returnee was wide receiver DeVante Parker, who had also not been able to play the last two games with a concussion. He returned to play 51 snaps — most among wide receivers — and was heavily involved in the game plan: with the Patriots frequently calling slants to attack the Giants’ off-man looks, Parker was targeted five times and caught three passes for 42 yards. It was his most productive game since the season opener.

Speaking of wide receivers, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Demario Douglas were next in line in terms of snaps. Obviously, however, the latter was forced to miss time late after sustaining a head injury on a punt return; he left the contest in the fourth quarter after having caught a team-high six passes for 49 yards.

Also prominently featured, at least compared to their season so far, were wideout Tyquan Thornton and tight end Pharaoh Brown. The two set new season-highs in both snaps (30 and 37) and playing time share (54% and 44%).

On the other end of the spectrum as far as the tight end spot is concerned, was Mike Gesicki. The veteran, who appeared to have some miscommunications with Mac Jones, played only 18 snaps and failed to catch any of his two targets.

Hovering above all skill position players on Sunday, however, was Rhamondre Stevenson: the Patriots’ most productive player was on the field for 53 snaps (third-highest of the season) or 78 percent (highest of the season). He made the most of his opportunities, finishing with 107 total scrimmage yards and a touchdown.

Defense

Total snaps: 52 | Time on the field: 25:54

S Kyle Dugger* (52; 100%), S Jabrill Peppers* (52; 100%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley* (51; 98%), CB J.C. Jackson* (48; 92%), CB Jonathan Jones* (43; 83%), CB Myles Bryant* (41; 79%), DT Davon Godchaux* (37; 71%), LB/ED Jahlani Tavai* (35; 67%), ED Anfernee Jennings* (34; 65%), DT Christian Barmore (33; 63%), ED Keion White (28; 54%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr.* (23; 44%), DT Lawrence Guy Sr.* (20; 38%), S Jalen Mills (20; 38%), ED Josh Uche (18; 35%), CB Shaun Wade (13; 25%), DT Jeremiah Pharms Jr. (12; 23%), LB/ED Mack Wilson Sr. (9; 17%), S Adrian Phillips (3; 6%)

*denotes starter

The Patriots defense saw the return of cornerback J.C. Jackson, whom the team left in New England for its trip to Germany in Week 10. Following what was called a productive week of practice, the former Pro Bowler was back in the lineup and holding a starting role on the perimeter: Jackson ended up taking the field for 48 of 52 snaps, highest among all cornerbacks on the team.

His return, plus the continued usage of Jonathan Jones and Myles Bryant as co-starters out wide and in the slot, respectively, had an impact on Shaun Wade. The third-year man was again relegated to rotational duty and finished with 13 snaps; despite the strides he has made, the coaching staff clearly trusts Jackson more than the youngster.

Speaking of trust, Adrian Phillips does not seem to enjoy much of it this year. The veteran safety, who was a starter the last three seasons, continues to see reps in the single digits: after being on the field for nine and seven the previous two games, respectively, he played only three versus New York — resulting in the lowest playing time share of his Patriots career. He continues to play a prominent if somewhat reduced role on special teams, but all signs point toward him and his $4.19 million cap hit not being part of the team’s plans in 2024.

Moving up one level of the defense, to the linebackers, it was business as usual again. Ja’Whaun Bentley returned after missing the Germany game against Indianapolis, and resumed his role as the top off-ball defender and defensive on-field signal caller in his 51 snaps. Jahlani Tavai and especially Mack Wilson saw a reduced workload as a result.

Up front, snap numbers also differ when compared to the last game the Patriots played before their Week 11 bye. That was likely that result of the game plan: with the Giants starting an undrafted rookie at the quarterback position, the team honed in on stopping the run — hence Davon Godchaux finishing as the No. 1 defensive lineman, and players like Deatrich Wise Jr. or Josh Uche playing smaller roles.

Special Teams

Total snaps: 23

LB Chris Board (21; 91%), S Brenden Schooler (21; 91%), S Cody Davis (21; 91%), WR Matthew Slater (21; 91%), LB/ED Mack Wilson Sr. (19; 83%), LB/ED Jahlani Tavai (16; 70%), S Adrian Phillips (15; 65%), TE Pharaoh Brown (11; 48%), RB/WR/KR Ty Montgomery II (11; 48%), ED Keion White (10; 43%), LB/S Marte Mapu (10; 43%), LS Joe Cardona (8; 35%), P/H Bryce Baringer (8; 35%), WR/PR Demario Douglas (7; 30%), S Kyle Dugger (7; 30%), DT Lawrence Guy Sr. (7; 30%), S Jabrill Peppers (5, 22%), CB J.C. Jackson (5; 22%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (4, 17%), K Chad Ryland (4, 17%), CB Jonathan Jones (3; 13%), ED Anfernee Jennings (3; 13%), ED Josh Uche (3; 13%), OT Michael Onwenu (2; 9%), G Sidy Sow (2; 9%), OT Trent Brown (2; 9%), CB Shaun Wade (2; 9%), G Atonio Mafi (2; 9%), C Jake Andrews (2; 9%), CB/PR Myles Bryant (1; 4%)

New England’s special teams group saw some movement on Sunday. Following the head injury suffered by the aforementioned Demario Douglas, Myles Bryant entered the game as the punt returner; he ran back one kick for 12 yards — the Patriots’ longest punt return since their Week 7 win over the Buffalo Bills.

Elsewhere in the kicking game, it was mostly business as usual. One other player worth pointing out, however, is Marte Mapu: the third-round rookie saw no snaps on defense for a second time this season, instead getting all 10 of his reps as a member of the Patriots’ punt and kickoff coverage as well as kickoff return unit.

Did not play

N/A

With backup quarterback Bailey Zappe entering the game at the half, the Patriots used all 48 of the players on their game day roster.

Inactive

CB Alex Austin, RB JaMycal Hasty, OT Vederian Lowe, WR Jalen Reagor, DT Sam Roberts

Considering their available talent, the Patriots were as healthy as they have been all season: all five of their inactives against the Giants were healthy scratches.