As the New England Patriots continue to digest their 35-29 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday (dropping them to 2-4 on the 2021 season) they continue to take stock into their performance on both sides of the ball. Pats quarterback Mac Jones threw for 229 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, while Damien Harris would add 101 yard rushing on 18 carries for a touchdown of his own. In the end, missed opportunities, questionable coaching decisions and their opponents’ ability to make plays when most-needed was the difference between winning and losing in Week Six.
Heading into their Week Seven matchup with the New York Jets, 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 54 on Sunday:
New England’s 54 offensive snaps were the fewest for the team in 2021, thus far. Their previous season-low came against the New York in Week Two, when the Patriots took 58 offensive snaps.
Ted Karras, David Andrews and James Ferentz took 100 percent of the Pats’ offensive snaps on Sunday. While Karras and Andrews leading the way was of little surprise, Ferentz’s omnipresence in this game was a bit eye-opening, considering that he was flagged for a holding penalty that nullified a would-be touchdown from Mac Jones to Jakobi Meyers. Still, he made his presence felt with solid run protection throughout the remainder of the game.
After getting badly beaten by Cowboys’ defensive end Randy Gregory (opening the door for Gregory’s strip sack on Jones) right tackle Yodny Cajuste saw his offensive snaps greatly diminish. The reserve lineman took part in 15 offensive snaps, eventually being replaced by Michael Onwenu. The Michigan product played 43 offensive snaps in his return from a stint on the COVID/Reserve list. Isaiah Wynn (activated just one day prior) played on only nine offensive snaps, before being pulled for giving up a third-down sack of Jones.
The Patriots running backs rushed for 120 yards as a team on Sunday, in an overall solid outing. Damien Harris took 26 offensive snaps, while Rhamondre Stevenson played on 18. Harris continues to be the primary option on early downs, while the rookie seems to be taking on a greater role on third down. Brandon Bolden was the third option in Week Six, taking 11 snaps.
Jonnu Smith led all potential pass catchers on Sunday, taking 39 offensive snaps, followed by Hunter Henry with 37. While some of their snaps were taken in blocking alignments, the Pats clearly relied on the tight ends for help on offense. The Patriots used multiple TEs on 85% of their offensive snaps. Jakobi Meyers again led all receivers, taking 34 snaps. Though Kendrick Bourne was used more situationally on Sunday, he was on the field for 25 offensive snaps; his most prominent coming on the 75-yard touchdown reception near the end of regulation.
On Sunday, the Patriots took a total of 89 snaps on defense:
While New England’s 54 offensive snaps were the fewest for the team in 2021, their 89 defensive snaps were the highest total for the team this season. Their previous season-high came against the Tampa bay Buccaneers in Week Four , when the Patriots took 78 defensive snaps.
With Devin McCourty once again taking 100 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, the secondary once again dominated the final count. Cornerbacks J.C. Jackson and Jalen Mills each participated in 84 snaps (94 percent), as the Pats heavily relied upon their defensive backfield to attempt to limit Dak Prescott’s throwing lanes. Jonathan Jones saw reduced action in the slot, taking part in only 44 defensive snaps, having left the game briefly with an injury to his ribs. Jones would however, return to action. Kyle Dugger led all safeties with 80 snaps; while Adrian Phillips would take 67, after missing some time in the first half with a foot injury.
Linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley had arguably his best game of the season, until he was forced to leave the game with a rib injury of his own. Bentley saw 40 defensive snaps, earning 13 tackles, while being instrumental in forcing Prescott’s fumble at the goal line, preventing Dallas’ touchdown.
At linebacker, Matt Judon and Kyle Van Noy continue to be the top options at the position, each seeing at least 80 percent of the Pats’ defensive snaps. Josh Uche played a limited role on Sunday, taking 26 snaps, with Jamie Collins seeing on-field action for 17 of New England’s defensive snaps.
Rookie defensive tackle Christian Barmore continues to take on a more prominent role each week. Barmore took 51 defensive snaps on Sunday, showcasing his ability to push the pocket and take a power stance against the run. Barmore registered one quarterback-hit and a tackle-for-loss against Dallas potent offense in Week Six.