Groupings: Burden falls on WRs

One of the things that will be charted on a weekly basis is the positional groupings utilized by the New England Patriots offense, as they reveal player value and take us deeper into the X's and O's of how coordinator Josh McDaniels is attempting to attack the opposition.

Last Sunday's 30-27 win over the Saints continued a season-long theme of the Patriots utilizing more three- and four-receiver packages (57 of 88 snaps, including penalties). On the game-winning drive, the first five snaps were in the four-receiver package, with Austin Collie emerging as the No. 4 option, which added more speed on the field.

Overall, with more three- and four-receiver packages, this reflects how the Patriots view their No. 3 and 4 receivers as more valuable than a second tight end. When tight end Rob Gronkowski returns to action Sunday against the Jets, perhaps those numbers will shift a bit.

Here is a simplified breakdown of the team's 449 offensive snaps (including penalties, not kneel-downs):

3 or more WRs: 287 of 449

2 backs: 111 of 449

2 or more TEs: 84 of 449

There is a 33-play overlap, which accounts for snaps in which there was a combination of 3 WRs/2 backs and 2-3 TEs/2 backs.