Despite playing without four starters along the offensive line, the New England Patriots returned to the win column on Sunday. Quarterback Mac Jones completed 23 of 30 passes for 231 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The rookie showed tremendous poise in leading the team on what would be his first game-winning drive as the Pats would come from behind to defeat the Houston Texans 25-22 at NRG Stadium.
Heading into their Week Six matchup with the Dallas Cowboys, 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 Sunday’s matchup, along with some possible insight on New England’s future game-planning.
On offense, the Pats snap count was 64 on Sunday:
New England started Justin Herron at left tackle, James Ferentz at left guard, David Andrews at center, Ted Karras at right guard, and Yodny Cajuste at right tackle on Sunday against the Texans. Surprisingly, the line held up relatively well in both run and pass protection. Herron looked much more comfortable on the left side of the line, while Karras and Cajuste proved to be a solid tandem on the right. The Patriots rushers were able to run the ball with a 39 percent success rate on the ground. As for protecting the quarterback, the Texans’ defense only managed four hits on Jones, surrendering one sack.
While Hunter Henry had his share of impressive moments on Sunday, both he and Jonnu Smith saw the field equally in Week Five, each taking 40 snaps. Henry was targeted more often in the second half, as made evident by his 13-yard touchdown reception on a Jones-pass out of play action in the fourth quarter. Both Smith and Jones were active in the blocking game, and each looks to be settling into the Pats offense a bit more each week.
Jakobi Meyers (58 snaps) continues to see the majority of snaps at wide receiver, followed by Nelson Agholor with 43. Despite his drop of a would-be significant gain, Meyers is still one of Jones’ most reliable targets. Kendrick Bourne saw a slight decrease in snaps from Week Four against the Bucs, but was still on the field for 50 percent of New England’s offensive snaps. N’Keal Harry is still seeing the least amount of action among the Pats’ wideouts, but did see more time on the field this week with 22 offensive snaps.
The Patriots used their running backs more situationally on Sunday, which was indicated in the snap counts at the position. Still, the Pats backs ran for 126 in Week Five. In New England’s final two offensive drives, the Pats utilized the run quite effectively. The Pats trio of Damien Harris (21 snaps), Rhamondre Stevenson (22 snaps) and Brandon Bolden (24 snaps) was instrumental in the team’s comeback victory in Houston.
On Sunday, the Patriots took a total of 59 snaps on defense:
With most eyes squarely on the defensive backfield on Sunday, the Pats continued to employ three-safety packages with Devin McCourty (59 snaps), Adrian Phillips (53 snaps) and Kyle Dugger (45 snaps) as their primary defensive set in the secondary. J.C. Jackson saw the field for 100 percent of the Pats snaps on Sunday, as the top option at cornerback. While Joejuan Williams got the start, he saw his playing time reduced following a couple of notable breakdowns in coverage, especially his getting beat on the Texans’ flea flicker in the second half. Williams finished Sunday having taken 35 defensive snaps. Slot corner Jonathan Jones moved to the second outside position, with practice squad elevation Myles Bryant seeing time in the slot.
Matt Judon was the only linebacker to take 90 percent of the Pats’ defensive snaps on Sunday. He continues to be New England’s best and most-reliable player on the preventive side of the ball, and is being trusted as an integral part in both the team’s run and pass defense. Dont’a Hightower returned to a prominent role in defending the run, taking 64 percent of the Patriots’ defensive snaps. Jamie Collins took three defensive snaps in his return to New England, earning one sack in the process.
New England’s trio of interior defensive linemen, Davon Godchaux (30 snaps), Christian Barmore (30 snaps) and Lawrence Guy (29 snaps) complemented each other well, with Carl Davis (18 snaps) alternating snaps with Godchaux, as each tended to knee ailments on the sidelines.