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Patriots Snap Counts vs. Steelers: Starting O-Line Gets Full Workload

Patriots Country breaks down the numbers and possible meanings behind the Pats’ playing time in New England’s Week 2 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

FOXBORO — Following their 17-14 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2 at Acrisure Stadium, the New England Patriots continue to take stock into their performance on both sides of the ball.

Having turned in a far superior performance to that of their showing in Week 1 (on both sides of the ball), there are plenty of areas in which the Pats will continue to seek improvement. While game-film analysis will be the main focus, a look at playing time may assist the team in helping devise effective strategies moving forward.

Here is a look at the Patriots offensive snap counts, along with some possible insight on New England’s future game-planning.

Offensive Snaps

On offense, the Pats overall snap count was 68 against the Steelers.

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In the wake of concerns surrounding his health, Patriots starting quarterback Mac Jones was present on the field for each of New England’s 68 offensive snaps. While some of his decision-making will rightfully be called into question throughout the next week, Jones looked physically sound and more comfortable while directing the Pats’ offense. Jones finished the day completing 21 of 35 passes for 252 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.

In addition to Jones, the Patriots starting offensive line went the distance on Sunday, taking every snap against the Steelers. While rookie guard Cole Strange and veteran left tackle Trent Brown have been receiving much deserved praise for their respective performances on Sunday, right guard Michael Onwenu has quietly been having a great start to the season. According to Patriots.com, the Michigan product has allowed one pressure on 40 true pass sets, while taking the majority of one-on-one matchups on inside pass protection.

Jakobi Meyers once again led all wide receivers by playing on 56 (82 percent) of New England’s offensive snaps. Meyers continues to be the Pats’ most consistent and reliable receiver. Despite seeing the field for 52 snaps on Sunday, newcomer DeVante Parker was targeted only twice, failing to register a reception. Nelson Agholor parlayed his 34 offensive snaps into the most dynamic performance of any

offensive skill position player against the Steelers. In addition to his dazzling touchdown reception in the second quarter, Agholor also demonstrated greater physicality, breaking two tackles on the day. Kendrick Bourne continues to work his way back into the offensive game plan, logging two catches for 16 yards on 24 snaps.

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The production from the tight end position was nearly non-existent in Week 2. Neither Hunter Henry nor Jonnu Smith had a single reception. In fact, Jones targeted the pair only four times. With each of their primary options failing to get open, the Pats turned to Lil’Jordan Humphrey for tight-end-like production on Sunday. Though he technically aligned at receiver (where he earned one catch for 11 yards), he took on the point-of-attack blocks typically given to a flex-tight end. For his efforts, Humphrey earned an 88.0 run-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus for 21 of his 26 snaps taken in Week 2.

With Ty Montgomery on injured reserve, the running game was well represented by Damien Harris (27 snaps) and Rhomondre Stevenson (42 snaps) who saw both early-down work, as well as action on third-down. The rushing tandem ran the ball well, combining for 118 yards on 24 carries and one touchdown.

Defensive Snaps

On defense, the Pats overall snap count was 59 against the Steelers.

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With team captain Devin McCourty once again taking each of New England’s 59 defensive snaps, the remaining trio of Adrian Phillips (51 snaps), Kyle Dugger (19 snaps) and Jabrill Peppers (17 snaps). Following Dugger’s exit from the game with a knee injury, Peppers took on the role of enforcer in the defensive backfield. He earned three total tackles, including a key stop of Pittsburgh running back Jaylen Warren, allowing the Pats to hold Pittsburgh to a field goal in the second half.

At cornerback, the Pats started in big-nickel (five defensive backs) with Jonathan Jones (45 snaps) and Jalen Mills (51 snaps) on the perimeter, Myles Bryant (49 snaps) in the slot. Rookie Jack Jones subbed in coverage throughout the day, taking 22 defensive snaps on the outside against the Steelers.

Defensive line captain Deatrich Wise led all linemen/defensive ends by playing on 53 (90 percent) of the Pats’ snaps. Wise has become one of the Pats most prominent defensive leaders, as has defensive tackle Christian Barmore who manned the interior for 59 percent of the team’s defensive plays. After Davon Godchaux left the game with a back injury, reserve lineman Carl Davis took 14 defensive snaps at nose tackle.

The Pats linebackers enjoyed a solid day of making life difficult for Pittsburgh quarterback Mitch Trubisky, as well as assisting with run defense in the middle. Matthew Judon led all players at the position by playing on 48 defensive snaps. Both Judon and Jahlani Tavai (14 snaps) contributed two of the Pats three quarterback sacks on Sunday, while Mack Wilson (38 snaps) and Ja’Whaun Bentley (36 snaps) aligned in the middle. Josh Uche saw the field for 20 snaps in reserve duty, with Anfernee Jennings logging 10 in his season debut.


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