Analyzing Patriots' Week 3 Snap Counts
During the New England Patriots' 36-20 Week 3 win over the Las Vegas Raiders, New England's rookies some increased action on the offensive side of the football.
Take tight end Devin Asiasi for example; the UCLA product earned just 10 snaps in each of the first two weeks of the regular season. However, against Las Vegas he earned 29 snaps, which was good for 42 percent of the overall offensive snaps. He didn't earn a single target in the passing game, which tells you without looking at the film that his snaps were primarily as a blocker. That makes sense given that the offensive line depth was a little thin due to center David Andrews being placed on injured reserve over the weekend.
2020 sixth-round pick Michael Onwenu drew the start at left guard since Joe Thuney was the starting center, and played all 69 snaps on offense. Onwenu has been the most impressive rookie thus far in the regular season, which is fascinating when considering he wasn't expected to be more than a reserve option on the offensive line heading into the season.
Undrafted rookie running back J.J. Taylor saw his highest snap count of the season against the Raiders, getting 15 snaps in the backfield. What's even more impressive is that he had 11 carries for 43 yards and one target despite such a limited snap count, which goes to show that New England's coaching staff wants to get him the football when he's out on the field. Taylor could continue to see offensive snaps moving forward, but they will be harder to come by, especially when James White returns and if Damien Harris returns from injured reserve this week.
In other running back news, Rex Burkhead (32 snaps) led all Patriots running backs in snaps for the second consecutive week, turning in a three-touchdown performance with his lead-back duties this past Sunday. But as mentioned before, he may see a decrease in touches when White and Harris return to the lineup.
Julian Edelman (56 snaps) had his first game this season in which he out-snapped N'Keal Harry (46 snaps). However, Damiere Byrd (66 snaps) still led the way for the receivers, earning a 96 percent snap share in Week 3. Edelman's snap share was very high considering he seemed to be on a bit of a snap count the first couple weeks of the regular season.
Undrafted rookie wideout Isaiah Zuber, who was promoted from the practice squad on Saturday, got to play in his first NFL game against the Raiders. But his snap count was minimal, getting just six snaps in on offense. He did get to touch the football once, however, taking an end-around for 13 yards.
The most notable snap count on the defensive side of the football was defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr., who earned 39 snaps (66 percent). Week 3 marked the first time this season he has played in over 40 percent of the defensive snaps in a game. His increase in playing time led to three solo tackles, half a sack, half a tackle for loss, two quarterbacks hits, and, of course, a touchdown.
After playing 34 snaps against the Seahawks in Week 2, rookie safety Kyle Dugger saw just 24 defensive snaps against Las Vegas. Dugger continues to be very productive when on the field, which means we should see an increase in snaps for him moving forward.
Chase Winovich, after playing 75 percent of the snaps in Week 2, played just 52 percent of the snaps against the Raiders. His decrease in playing time was certainly not because of a lack of production; he forced the first turnover for New England on a strip-sack in the second quarter. Wise's rise in production was likely the reason Winovich earned less snaps than him in Week 3, but I would expect that snap count to be an outlier based on what Winovich has shown over the first three weeks of the regular season.
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