Positional groupings: Hernandez effect

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A look at the positional groupings utilized by the Patriots in their 20-18 loss to the Cardinals, while analyzing what it might mean:

3 WR/1 TE/1 RB -- 60 of 82

2 WR/2 TE/1 RB -- 18 of 82

1 WR/2 TE/1 FB/1 RB -- 4 of 82

(Includes penalties.)

ANALYSIS: In the season-opener at Tennessee, the Patriots had run every offensive snap with two or more tight ends on the field. They started their game against the Cardinals off the same way, but when TE Aaron Hernandez left with injury on the third play, the plan shifted. Of the final 79 offensive snaps, only 19 of them came with two tight ends on the field. Instead, the Patriots went to their 3 receiver package, with made them less versatile. Had veteran TE Daniel Fells been healthy to play, perhaps it wouldn't have been such a sharp swing in that direction. ... On the Wes Welker vs. Julian Edelman playing time storyline, the disparity (Edelman 75, Welker 63) came in the 2 WR/2 TE/1 RB grouping, where Edelman had 15 snaps and Welker 3. Stevan Ridley had runs of 20, 12 and 10 yards on three of the snaps that Edelman was on the field in that grouping. Further tape study will add context as to how Edelman's run blocking -- perhaps an area that the coaching staff sees him as an upgrade over Welker -- might have contributed to those results.