As the New England Patriots savor their 25-0 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, (improving their record to 7-4 on the 2021 season) they continue to take stock into their performance on both sides of the ball.
Heading into their Week Twelve matchup with the Tennessee Titans, there are plenty of areas in which the Patriots will seek improvement. While game-film analysis will be the main focus, a look at playing time may assist the Pats in helping to devise effective strategies moving forward.
Here is a look at the Patriots offensive and defensive snap counts from Thursday’s matchup, along with some possible insight on New England’s future game-planning.
On offense, the Pats snap count was 64 on Thursday night against Atlanta:
Perhaps the biggest surprise for the Patriots on the offensive side of the ball has been their decision to keep lineman Ted Karras in the starting role at left guard. While Karras has performed brilliantly in his assignment, many have been a bit confused as to why Michael Onwenu has been relegated to reserve duty. Simply put, the Patriots offensive line has shown vast improvement with Karras at left guard and Trent Brown at right tackle. Karras, David Andrews, Isaish Wynn and Shaq Mason were on the field for all 64 snaps, while Brown took 62. Onwenu took only five snaps in reserve duty, while also aligning at the tight end position.
The Patriots took a series-by-series, rotational approach to deploying their running backs on Thursday. After missing Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns, Damien Harris returned to the lineup and took 25 snaps. Rookie Rhamondre Stevenson played on 22 offensive snaps, while veteran Brandon Bolden took 17. Despite not earning a rushing touchdown, the unit collectively ran for 134 yards on the ground.
At tight end, Jonnu Smith (33) and Hunter Henry (32) were nearly even in their offensive snap count. The tandem accounted for three receptions for 42 yards and zero touchdowns. Fullback Jakob Johnson, took 26 snaps, his second-highest total of season (Johnson logged 28, vs. Jets in Week Seven), displaying his physicality and making his presence felt in the blocking game.
Jakobi Meyers continued to see the majority of snaps at wide receiver with 56. However, wideout Nelson Agholor earned the offensive highlight of the night with the game’s only receiving touchdown; a 19-yard strike from quarterback Mac Jones. Kendrick Bourne was on the field for 45 percent of the Pats’ offensive snaps, while N’Keal Harry continues to be used as a situational blocker and pass-catcher on 26 offensive snaps
On defense, the Pats snap count was 54 on Thursday night against Atlanta, tying their season-low from their Week One loss to the Miami Dolphins:
For the second straight game, no Patriots defensive player logged 100 percent of the team’s defense snaps. However, safety Devin McCourty led the way, taking 53 snaps on defense. The Pats team captain finished the night with 3 tackles, 2 passes-defended and one interception. New England continues to deploy a three-man rotation at safety with Adrian Phillips logging 47 defensive snaps and Kyle Dugger taking 41.
At cornerback, J.C. Jackson saw the field for 78 percent of the team’s on-field action on the preventive side of the ball, as did Jalen Mills. Myles Bryant continued to operate mostly out of the slot taking 27 snaps. Shaun Wade made his regular-season Patriots debut, taking four defensive snaps late in the second half.
Rookie Christian Barmore continues to lead all defensive linemen in snaps, as he continues to grow into a major role on the Patriots defense. The Alabama product has now been present for 58.3 percent of New England’s defensive snaps. The team has had solid production from their rotation at nose tackle, with Davon Godchaux seeing 31 snaps and carl Davis taking 17.
The Patriots fearsome foursome at linebacker has shown improvement each week and has developed into one of the deepest and most productive units in the NFL. Matt Judon led all linebackers, taking 45 snaps, with Dont’a Hightower, Ja’Whaun Bentley and Kyle Van Noy all logging 42. Fresh off of his return from injured reserve (hamstring injury), Chase Winovich took five snaps at outside linebacker in limited action.