Patriots Snap Count Analysis: How Pats Used Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry

Plus: Spotlighting a big game by one Patriots safety


Sep 13, 2021

Breaking down snap counts and play percentages from the New England Patriots’ 17-16 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday:


— Wide receiver Jakobi Meyers went nearly wire to wire, playing all but one offensive snap. He only left the field when the Patriots brought on 23 personnel (two backs and three tight ends, including an extra offensive tackle) in one short-yardage situation.

Meyers caught six passes on nine passes and converted four third downs, but he had a costly third-down drop (on a pass that quarterback Mac Jones could have placed better) that forced the Patriots to settle for a short fourth-quarter field goal.

Nelson Agholor was the Patriots’ clear No. 2 receiver with 64 snaps (85 percent), followed by Kendrick Bourne (44 percent) and Gunner Olszewski (15 percent). Agholor, who was limited by an ankle injury in practice last week, caught all four of his targets to finish with a team-high 72 receiving yards.

— Hunter Henry missed the preseason with a shoulder injury, so this was his first time playing alongside fellow tight end Jonnu Smith. The two free agent additions saw almost an even split in offensive snaps, with Smith playing 55 and Henry playing 54.

The Patriots utilized more two-tight end sets Sunday than they did all of last season, operating out of 12 personnel on roughly half of their offensive snaps. They deployed both Smith and Henry in multiple spots around the formation.

When both were on the field together, Smith often lined up on the line, with Henry lining up off the line.

Here’s a look at the alignment breakdown for both players, via Pro Football Focus:

Jonnu Smith
In-line: 35 snaps
Slot: 10 snaps
Wide: 10 snaps

Hunter Henry
In-line: 30 snaps
Slot: 14 snaps
Wide: eight snaps
Backfield: two snaps

Henry finished with three catches on three targets for 31 yards. Smith caught all five of his targets for 42 yards, had one carry for 6 yards and coughed up a fumble that teammate David Andrews recovered.

The Patriots utilized more 11 personnel (three wide receivers) after halftime as Jones began throwing more. According to’s tracking, the Patriots ran 20 run plays and 13 pass plays out of 12 personnel and six run plays and 22 pass plays out of 11 personnel, excluding plays that were called back for penalties.

— Starting right tackle Trent Brown played just seven snaps before leaving with a calf injury. Justin Herron played 46 snaps in relief before he was benched in favor of Yasir Durant, who played 23.

“We think he’ll have a chance to contribute,” head coach Bill Belichick said of Durant, whom the Patriots acquired from Kansas City in a late-August trade. “He hasn’t been here long. We’ll see how it goes.”

— Top interior O-line backup Ted Karras only played on special teams.

— Tough day at the office for rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson. His five offensive snaps included a lost fumble and a one-sided attempt at pass protection against linebacker Elandon Roberts. (Roberts ran over Stevenson to hit Jones but was flagged for roughing the passer.)

— The Patriots didn’t utilize much 12 personnel. Not surprising given their new emphasis on two-tight end looks. Fullback Jakob Johnson played just eight offensive snaps.

— Running back J.J. Taylor and tight end Devin Asiasi were healthy scratches. Offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste was inactive after being limited in practice with a hamstring injury.


— Safety Devin McCourty and cornerback J.C. Jackson played every snap. Safety Kyle Dugger played all but four, and edge rusher Matt Judon played all but six.

— Adrian Phillips saw the lightest workload of the Patriots’ three safeties (61 percent) but made a major impact.

Phillips was PFF’s highest-graded Patriots defender, registering two tackles for loss, forcing two incompletions and pressuring quarterback Tua Tagovailoa on the QB’s fourth-quarter interception. In 19 coverage snaps, he allowed just one catch on four targets for -2 yards.

Phillips was a quiet standout for the Patriots last season — when he played as a de facto inside linebacker — and had a very strong training camp.

McCourty (no targets on 30 coverage snaps) and Dugger (two targets, one catch, 5 yards on 27 coverage snaps) also had strong days in coverage.

— After tweaking his ankle in practice this week, Jalen Mills played 76 percent of defensive snaps as Stephon Gilmore’s primary replacement. Joejuan Williams occasionally spelled him (24 percent). Shaun Wade sat out as a healthy scratch.

— Nose tackle Davon Godchaux paced all Patriots defensive linemen with 36 snaps (67 percent), followed by Lawrence Guy (54 percent), Christian Barmore (48 percent), Deatrich Wise (46 percent) and Carl Davis (24 percent). Veteran D-lineman Henry Anderson logged just three defensive snaps, plus seven more on special teams.

— Chase Winovich was fifth in the Patriots’ pass rusher rotation, playing just 12 defensive snaps. Rookie Ronnie Perkins was inactive after being limited with a shoulder injury.

— Reserve linebacker Harvey Langi only played on special teams.

— Elevated from the practice squad Saturday, Nick Folk went 3-for-3 on field-goal attempts and 1-for-1 on extra points.

It’s clear the Patriots favor the 36-year-old over undrafted rookie Quinn Nordin, who is on the 53-man roster but was a healthy scratch Sunday. New England can elevate Folk once more but would need to sign him to the 53 to use him a third time.

— As expected, the Patriots’ leaders in special teams snaps played were Matthew Slater (17), Brandon King (17), Cody Davis (16) and Justin Bethel (16). Brandon Bolden played 13 snaps in the kicking game, and Olszewski and Jonathan Jones each played 12.

Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images
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