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Patriots 2021 Week Nine Snap Counts: Interpretations and Implications

Patriot Maven breaks down the stories and possible repercussions behind the Pats’ playing time in New England’s victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

As the New England Patriots savor their 24-6 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium, (improving their record to 5-4 on the 2021 season) they continue to take stock into their performance on both sides of the ball. New England collectively rushed for 151 yards while cornerback J.C. Jackson intercepted Carolina quarterback Sam Darnold twice, including an 88-yard pick-six as the Patriots defeated the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, to move above .500 for the first time this season.

Heading into their Week Ten matchup with the Cleveland Browns, 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.

Offensive Snaps

On offense, the Pats snap count was 62 on Sunday:

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The Patriots have apparently settled into their starting five along the offensive line. From left to right, Isaiah Wynn (LT), Ted Karras (LG), David Andrews (C), Shaq Mason (RG) and Michael Onwenu (RT) played every offensive snap on Sunday. The unit struggled early, committing penalties that forced the Pats into several long-yardage situations. A miscommunication in coverage between tight end Hunter Henry led to the now infamous strip sack of Mac Jones but Brian Burns. Though the unit tightened up their run and pass protection as the game progressed, the Patriots need to improve their discipline and communication on their offensive blocking schemes.

Brandon Bolden led all running backs in taking 29 offensive snaps, with a stellar performance on Sunday. He compiled 81 total yards, 54 rushing yards on eight carries, with two catches for 27 yards. While Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson also performed well in Week Nine, their snap counts were limited in the fourth quarter after they each exited Sunday’s game with head injuries. Jakob Johnson continues to see notable time at fullback, logging 21 offensive snaps.

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Jakobi Meyers continues to lead all receivers in offensive snap totals. The soon-to-be 25-year-old (who will celebrate said 25th birthday on Tuesday, November 9th) had the highest snap count total of any non-quarterback or offensive lineman, with 55. Right behind him was Nelson Agholor, logging a total of 54 snaps. Kendrick Bourne was on the field for 53 percent of the team’s offensive snaps on Sunday, while practice squad standard elevation Kristian Wilkerson took four snaps. Receiver N’Keal Harry was inactive for Sunday’s game due to a knee injury.

At tight end, Hunter Henry saw a total of 35 offensive snaps, while Jonnu Smith took 28. Henry continues to be a primary option for Jones in the red zone passing game, including his fifth touchdown of the season. Smith’s snap count decreased a bit in the fourth quarter when he left the game with a shoulder injury.

Defensive Snaps

On Sunday, the Patriots took a total of 59 snaps on defense:

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The Patriots defensive performance was clearly the key to their victory over the Panthers in Week Nine. While safety Devin McCourty was the only defender to take all 59 snaps, several Patriots’ defenders made their presence felt on Sunday. As a unit, the Pats were credited with eight passes-defended, as well as five pass-deflections and three interceptions.

The defensive line was solid in both run and pass defense formations. Christian Barmore continues to grow as one of the Patriots most impressive defenders, leading all defensive linemen in taking 40 defensive snaps. Davon Godchaux had a stellar performance as well, seeing action on 59% of the Pats’ defensive snaps.

At linebacker, Matt Judon led his peers, taking 53 of the Pats 59 defensive snaps. He was followed by Kyle Van Noy (41 snaps) and Dont’a Hightower (37) who had a solid performance in the middle. Despite taking a limited amount of snaps, Jamie Collins certainly made the most of his time on the field on Sunday. Taking just 16 snaps, the versatile linebacker earned two tackles, including one tackle-for-loss, a pass-defended and one interception that has drawn rave reviews from head coach Bill Belichick.

Jalen Mills led all quarterbacks in taking 51 defensive snaps in Week nine. Sunday’s standout performer J.C. Jackson was present for 38 snaps, which was likely the result of his having missed significant practice time with an illness earlier in the week. Reserve corner Joejuan Williams allowed the Pats to deploy a solid rotation at cornerback, taking 29 snaps. New England safeties also continued to see significant action on the field, with Adrian Phillips (47 snaps) and Kyle Dugger (42) pacing the rotation behind McCourty.