<
>

Season low 12 snaps for James White, but RB still made an impact with TD

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots running back James White played a season-low 12 snaps in Saturday night’s 34-16 victory over the Houston Texans, but he made the most of his limited opportunities with a 19-yard touchdown catch.

White’s playing time stood out in this week’s snap-count analysis.

“We have a guys who can do a lot of different things,” White said after the game. “From Brandon [Bolden] doing big things on special teams, to Dion [Lewis], LG [LeGarrette Blount], myself, we have guys that can change the game. We just want to go out there and do whatever we can to help our team.”

White’s previous low total for snaps played was 16, in Week 3 against the Texans when the Patriots adopted a run-first game plan with rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett making his first career start.

On Saturday night, the low total was a result, in part, of the Patriots playing just 25 snaps in the first half and not having many third-and-long situations in which White would usually be on the field.

White’s reduced workload leads off our analysis:

Total offensive snaps: 69

Total defensive snaps: 69

RUNNING BACK

Dion Lewis – 33

LeGarrette Blount – 27

James White – 12

Lewis’ 33 represents a season high for him and highlights how the team has brought him along nicely since he returned from the physically unable to perform list on Nov. 20. His snap progression since that time: 21, 23, 20, 17, 28, 27, 27, 33. Lewis started and was clearly the team’s top option, as his dual threat as a pass-catcher showed up when the Patriots used him in heavier groupings and exploited a mismatch with him against the Texans’ bigger linebackers (e.g. 13-yard TD). Blount played eight snaps in the first half and then saw his workload increase in the second half.

WIDE RECEIVER

Julian Edelman – 58

Michael Floyd – 44

Chris Hogan – 34

Danny Amendola – 21

Matthew Slater – 3

Edelman became the Patriots’ all-time leader in playoff receptions as he and Hogan were part of the two-receiver package, with Floyd the top option in the initial three-receiver grouping. Hogan’s thigh injury, which knocked him out of the game in the second half, impacted the overall snap-count numbers. Amendola only played three snaps in the first half before his workload increased after Hogan left the game with the thigh injury.

TIGHT END

Martellus Bennett – 64

Matt Lengel – 14

Cameron Fleming – 2

The two-tight end package hasn’t been a big part of the Patriots’ attack since Rob Gronkowski went on IR with a back injury, as the team has been playing with fullback James Develin in a two-back set to duplicate that type of grouping. Bennett was quiet in the passing game and admitted he was pressing a bit.

FULLBACK

James Develin – 33

He has averaged 30.5 snaps per game over the last eight games. Over the first nine games, that number was 15.4.

OFFENSIVE LINE

LT Nate Solder – 69

C David Andrews -- 69

LG Joe Thuney – 68

RG Shaq Mason – 69

RT Marcus Cannon -- 69

LG Ted Karras – 1

This is the 12th straight game that the starters have played together. Thuney had to race off for one play when his shoe came off, which had the always-ready Karras sprinting on to the field. Pressure up the middle was a bit of an issue at times.

QUARTERBACK

Tom Brady – 69

His 47.4 completion percentage was the lowest of his 32-game playoff career.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Alan Branch – 49

Malcom Brown – 38

Vincent Valentine – 16

Branch has been impressive, as the Patriots haven’t had an opposing rusher go over 100 yards since last season. Lamar Miller finished with 73 yards on 19 carries. Said Branch, “He was definitely a focus in the game. He’s a shifty quick guy so he definitely exposed a couple of gaps. I think we did a pretty good job getting to the sideline looking over our mistakes and trying to make sure we didn’t let it happen again.”

DEFENSIVE END

Trey Flowers – 59

Rob Ninkovich – 38

Jabaal Sheard – 31

Chris Long – 27

Geneo Grissom – 1

Old reliable Ninkovich had a tackle, sack and pass defensed, as he started opposite Flowers and then the Patriots rotated Sheard in on the next series. Long was mostly used in obvious pass-rushing situations and didn’t show up on the stat sheet.

LINEBACKER

Dont’a Hightower – 69

Elandon Roberts – 36

Kyle Van Noy – 32

Shea McClellin – 7

The No. 2 spot next to Hightower has evolved over the course of the season and it was notable that Roberts, the sixth-round pick from Houston, was the choice in the most important game of the season. Van Noy came on in sub packages and the role seemed best suited to his skill set as he was disruptive playing forward.

SAFETY

Devin McCourty – 69

Patrick Chung – 62

Duron Harmon – 48

As Bill Belichick said after the game, interceptions by McCourty, Harmon and Logan Ryan meant it was a Rutgers trifecta. That always seems to bring a smile to Belichick’s face. The Patriots played a lot of three-safety looks in the game, with the flexibility and versatility of Chung and McCourty to play corner-type responsibilities and closer to the line of scrimmage showing up.

CORNERBACK

Malcolm Butler – 69

Logan Ryan – 69

Eric Rowe – 39

Ryan is playing some of the best football of his four-year career as he has decisively seized the No. 2 corner spot that had been a big topic of media discussion earlier in the season. Rowe was the third man in, and when he came on to the field, Ryan usually moved inside to the slot.