As the New England Patriots savor their 36-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday at Gillette Stadium, (improving their record to 8-4 on the 2021 season) they continue to take stock into their performance on both sides of the ball.
Heading into their Week Thirteen matchup with their division-rivals, the Buffalo Bills, 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 60 versus the Titans on Sunday:
Once again, two of the most-tenured veterans along the Patriots offensive line took 100 percent of the Pats offensive snaps on Sunday; center David Andrews and right guard Shaq Mason. Though Trent Brown had been listed as ‘questionable’ for Sunday’s game, he took all but one snap, finishing the day with 59. The only rotation that occurred along the line in Week Twelve was at the left guard position, where Michael Onwenu saw action on 12 snaps, along with Ted Karras who took 49 snaps between the first and second halves. Onewnu’s count was seven snaps higher than in Week Eleven against Atlanta, possibly indicating that the Pats are looking to utilize Onwenu a bit more as an option on the left.
The Patriots evenly rotated their running back corps, as Damien Harris led the way with 22 offensive snaps. Rookie Rhamondre Stevenson was on the field for 20 snaps, while Brandon Bolden took 19. While Bolden was used as a situational pass-catcher (he did not register any rushing yards), both Harris and Stevenson combined for 86 of the Patriots 105 ground yards on Sunday.
At wide receiver, Jakobi Meyers (52) and Nelson Agholor (50) continue to be the top options at the position. Meyers led all receivers with 98 yards-receiving on five catches. Wideout Kendrick Bourne has been solid as the team’s third option at wideout, taking 33 offensive snaps. Bourne continues to make the most of his time on the field, logging 61 yards on five catches with two touchdowns. N’Keal Harry saw a decrease in his snap count total, from 26 in Week Eleven against the Falcons, to 16 on Sunday versus the Titans.
The Patriots once again deployed their tight ends relatively evenly on Sunday, with Hunter Henry earning 41 snaps and Jonnu Smith logging 34. While the duo combined for only five catches, 65 yards, they were much more productive than this stat line would indicate. Henry was once again effective in his route running, and broke for what would have been a certain touchdown in the second quarter, but for an overthrow on the play by Mac Jones. Smith, on the other hand, was quite active off of play-action, finishing the day with 49 yards receiving on three catches, as well as nine rushing yards.
On defense, the Pats snap count was 63 versus the Titans on Sunday:
Safety and team captain Devin McCourty topped all Patriots defenders by taking 94 percent of the team’s defensive snaps on Sunday. Kyle Dugger was second at the safety position with 54 snaps taken, while Adrian Phillips took 44 as the third man in New England three-safety base. Dugger would be the standout on the stat sheet among the three, logging three solo tackles and a fumble recovery.
Jalen Mills led the way for the Pats cornerbacks by taking 53 defensive snaps. The versatile defensive back has become a key cog in the Patriots’ secondary, collecting two solo tackles and a fumble recovery on the forced fumble by teammate J.C. Jackson. Speaking of Jackson, he saw the field for 47 snaps, contributing the aforementioned forced fumble, one pass defensed, and one interception. Myles Bryant logged 17 snaps, primarily in the slot, while Joejuan Williams also saw 17 in reserve duty. Rookie Shaun Wade is being slowly integrated, taking the field for seven defensive snaps on Sunday.
At linebacker, Matt Judon continues to be at the top of the list of most utilized Patriots at his position. He shared the top spot this week with Ja’Whaun Bentley, each taking 55 defensive snaps. Judon had four tackles (one for a loss), adding two quarterback and a sack. While Bentley struggled a bit in run defense, he led all Patriots with 10 combined tackles, one sack and two forced fumbles. Both Kyle Van Noy (48) and Dont’a Hightower (40) were on the field for over 60 percent of the Pats defensive snaps. Hightower briefly left the field in the first half to tend to an apparent eye injury, but returned to action shortly thereafter.
Defensive tackle Davon Godchaux was among the most productive components of a Pats’ defensive line that had its difficulty containing the run on Sunday. Godchaux was on the field for 49 defensive snaps, his second-highest total (his first being 56, in Week Six against Dallas). While he is typically New England’s primary force in the middle of the defensive line, Godchaux remained on the field in some passing situations, as well. Veteran lineman Lawrence Guy took 41 snaps, while rookie Christian Barmore saw the field for 33 snaps. Barmore had been listed as ‘questionable’ for Sunday’s game with a knee injury, which was likely the culprit for his reduced workload in Week Twelve. Tackle Carl Davis continued in his role as the rotational option, logging 26 snaps.