Snaps: How Patriots replaced Spikes

Looking at snaps played by Patriots defenders in Saturday’s win over the Colts, while analyzing what it means (as charted in press box, small margin for error):

LB Jamie Collins – 65 of 65

LB Dont'a Hightower – 65 of 65

DE Chandler Jones – 65 of 65

DE Rob Ninkovich – 65 of 65

S Devin McCourty – 64 of 65

CB Aqib Talib – 64 of 65

S Steve Gregory – 63 of 65

CB Alfonzo Dennard – 53 of 65

DT Sealver Siliga – 47 of 65

DT Chris Jones – 46 of 65

CB Logan Ryan – 41 of 65

DE Andre Carter – 24 of 65

CB Kyle Arrington – 17 of 65

DT Joe Vellano – 17 of 65

LB Dane Fletcher – 16 of 65

S Tavon Wilson – 3 of 65

(Penalties included.)

ANALYSIS: Dane Fletcher replaced Brandon Spikes as the middle linebacker in the base defense, but came off in the nickel. It seems fair to say that Fletcher’s 16 snaps would have gone to Spikes, so this was the big change-up with Spikes on injured reserve. … Jamie Collins played every snap for the first time this season. He had averaged 10 defensive snaps per game through the first 10 games of the season. Over the final six games of the regular season, he averaged 33.5 defensive snaps per game. This was a “graduation” of sorts to a full-time role for him. … At cornerback, it looked like the Patriots had a pre-set plan to give Alfonzo Dennard the fourth defensive series off as he was returning to action after being sidelined with a knee injury. That’s why his snap total was a bit lower than fellow starter Aqib Talib, whose lone snap not played came in the goal-line package. … Cornerback Kyle Arrington was replaced as the nickelback late in the second quarter by rookie Logan Ryan and didn’t play on defense the rest of the way. … Of safety Tavon Wilson’s three snaps, two came in a linebacker-type role when the Patriots were in their goal-line package and the other came in the nickel when he was the fifth defensive back to give more of a sturdy run presence. … The 65 snaps were two shy of a season low (63, vs. Miami on Dec. 15). That was due, in part, to some big plays surrendered.