New England Patriots: Defensive snaps

Patriots' defensive snaps: Wilfork's workload

October, 13, 2014
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- A look at snaps played by New England Patriots defenders in their 37-22 victory over the Buffalo Bills (penalties included):

Vince Wilfork -- 64 of 69
Chris Jones -- 50 of 69
Casey Walker -- 33 of 69

Quick-hit thoughts: With Sealver Siliga on short-term injured reserve and Joe Vellano on the practice squad, the Patriots' depth is taxed with their big men, which is forcing Wilfork to play almost a full-time load. Because the Bills ran a good number of three-tight end sets, they often had the three tackles on the field at the same time. The bigger defense mostly held its own against the run.

Chandler Jones -- 69 of 69
Rob Ninkovich -- 69 of 69
Zach Moore -- 11 of 69

Quick-hit thoughts: Ninkovich has played every snap since being a part-time player in the season-opener. ... After playing in a part-time role last Sunday because of a right shoulder injury, Jones was back to a full-time load on his regular right side, although the coaching staff took him off the field-goal protection unit. ... Moore's playing time came in the second half, with seven of his 11 snaps on the final drive.

Jamie Collins -- 69 of 69
Deontae Skinner -- 36 of 69
Jerod Mayo -- 20 of 69
Chris White -- 2 of 69

Quick-hit thoughts: With Dont'a Hightower not passing his pregame test with his left knee, and then Mayo carted off in the second quarter, it left Collins as the lone three-down player at this position. ... Skinner, who then bumped up from playing only in base to both base and nickel, seemed to excel with the extended opportunity.

Darrelle Revis -- 68 of 69
Alfonzo Dennard -- 66 of 69
Kyle Arrington -- 45 of 69
Logan Ryan -- 2 of 69
Malcolm Butler -- 0 of 69

Quick-hit thoughts: The only play in which Revis wasn't on the field was on the goal line in the third quarter, and he mostly matched up against rookie receiver Sammy Watkins with good success. ... Arrington continues to work solely as the No. 3 corner and is playing well.

Devin McCourty -- 69 of 69
Patrick Chung -- 60 of 69
Duron Harmon -- 16 of 69
Tavon Wilson -- 10 of 69

Quick-hit thoughts: McCourty's rib injury didn't affect his availability as he played wire to wire. Chung came off in some obvious passing situations but continues to be the top option alongside McCourty. ... Harmon came on in the dime, as did Wilson, as the Patriots called on that package more after linebacker Mayo was lost to a knee injury.

Patriots' defensive snaps: Big Vince Wilfork

October, 6, 2014
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A look at snaps played by New England Patriots' defenders in Sunday's win against the Bengals (penalties included):

Vince Wilfork -- 50 of 55
Chris Jones -- 39 of 55
Casey Walker -- 14 of 55
Joe Vellano -- 5 of 55

Quick-hit thoughts: Wilfork played 49 of the first 49 snaps before coming off for five of the final six snaps. He remains the rock in the middle of the defense. Walker, who was signed off the Panthers' practice squad on Sept. 27, showed well in his debut with some interior disruption. He played two snaps in the first half and 12 in the second.

Rob Ninkovich -- 55 of 55
Dominique Easley -- 22 of 55
Chandler Jones -- 19 of 55
Michael Buchanan -- 14 of 55

Quick-hit thoughts: Easley started in place of Jones (right shoulder) but missed the second half with what the team reported as a shoulder injury. Jones was used as a situational pass-rusher.

Jamie Collins-- 55 of 55
Jerod Mayo -- 55 of 55
Deontae Skinner -- 13 of 55

Quick-hit thoughts: Playing without Dont'a Hightower, the Patriots turned to Skinner in the base defense to fill the void. The Patriots just weren't in their base that often, as the Bengals ran quite a few three-receiver sets, which had the New England defense matching with nickel (five defensive backs).

Alfonzo Dennard --55 of 55
Darrelle Revis -- 51 of 55
Kyle Arrington -- 45 of 55
Logan Ryan -- 4 of 55

Quick-hit thoughts: With Dennard's return to health after missing games in Weeks 2-4, he reclaimed his starting position from Ryan, with Arrington working exclusively as the nickel cornerback. Rookie Malcolm Butler was inactive, and if the Patriots activate Brandon Browner on Monday, keeping six cornerbacks on the roster might be a luxury the team can't afford.

Patrick Chung -- 49 of 55
Duron Harmon -- 37 of 55
Devin McCourty -- 22 of 55
Tavon Wilson -- 1 of 55

Quick-hit thoughts: McCourty suffered a rib injury on the fourth drive and didn't play again, which thrust Harmon into that spot as he played a season-high snap total. Wilson's one snap came on the final play of the first half, which was the Patriots' lone snap in the dime.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A look at snaps played by New England Patriots defenders in the team's 41-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs (includes penalties but not final kneel-downs):

Rob Ninkovich -- 63 of 65
Chandler Jones -- 44 of 65
Michael Buchanan -- 9 of 65

Quick-hit thought: Jones, who struggled at times setting the edge in the running game, was taken out for the final three series of the game while other top players like Jerod Mayo stayed on.

Vince Wilfork -- 55 of 65
Chris Jones -- 31 of 65
Dominique Easley -- 29 of 65
Joe Vellano -- 22 of 65

Quick-hit thought: Didn't see much inside penetration from Easley in sub packages, while the Patriots seemed to miss some size next to Wilfork without the injured Sealver Siliga.

Jerod Mayo -- 63 of 65
Dont'a Hightower -- 58 of 65
Jamie Collins -- 51 of 65
Deontae Skinner -- 4 of 65
Chris White -- 2 of 65

Quick-hit thought: Collins came off the field in place of cornerback Kyle Arrington in some sub packages.

Darrelle Revis -- 62 of 65
Logan Ryan -- 38 of 65
Malcolm Butler -- 28 of 65
Kyle Arrington -- 24 of 65

Quick-hit thought: Ryan was benched in the second half after his illegal hands to the face penalty late in the second quarter, coming back to play the final two snaps. The only snaps Revis missed were at the end of the game and one in the goal-line package.

Devin McCourty -- 63 of 65
Patrick Chung -- 44 of 65
Tavon Wilson -- 12 of 65
Duron Harmon -- 11 of 65
Nate Ebner -- 1 of 65

Quick-hit thought: Chung came off in most sub packages, but is clearly the top option next to McCourty on early downs through the first quarter of the season.

Patriots' defensive snaps: Easley eases in

September, 22, 2014
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A look at snaps played by New England Patriots defenders in Sunday's 16-9 win over the Raiders (penalties included):

Vince Wilfork -- 50 of 60
Chris Jones -- 29 of 60
Dominique Easley -- 16 of 60
Joe Vellano -- 14 of 60
Sealver Siliga -- 11 of 60

Quick-hit thoughts: The Patriots are thin at this spot and vulnerable like 2013 in the event that Wilfork sustains an injury, especially after Siliga left the game in the first quarter (foot injury) after a play in which he was engaged in a one-on-one rush with right guard Austin Howard. That could lead to a waiver claim on rookie Bruce Gaston, who was previously with the club and was let go by Miami. ... Easley, the team's first-round draft choice, played as an interior sub rusher in the dime, and occasionally in the nickel. Still waiting for him to pop in a game from a pass-rush perspective.

Chandler Jones -- 60 of 60
Rob Ninkovich -- 60 of 60

Quick-hit thoughts: Just like 2013, the starting tandem never left the field despite the fact that top backup Michael Buchanan (ankle) was active for the first time this season.

Dont'a Hightower -- 60 of 60
Jerod Mayo -- 60 of 60
Jamie Collins -- 20 of 60

Quick-hit thoughts: Collins returned from a thigh injury and played only in the base defense. At times, Hightower lined up on the edge as he continues to excel in a variety of roles.

Darrelle Revis -- 60 of 60
Logan Ryan -- 60 of 60
Kyle Arrington -- 21 of 60

Quick-hit thoughts: Pretty straight up at this spot, with rookie Malcolm Butler dressed for action but playing only on special teams. Arrington came on in the nickel and dime.

Devin McCourty -- 60 of 60
Patrick Chung -- 44 of 60
Tavon Wilson -- 13 of 60
Duron Harmon -- 12 of 60
Nate Ebner -- 10 of 60

Quick-hit thoughts: Chung is the top option in the base defense, but came out in sub defenses so the coaching staff could tap the coverage abilities of others. Ebner's 10 snaps reflect his growth to emerge as part of the dime defense (6 defensive backs).

Patriots' defensive snaps: Skinner chips in

September, 15, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- A look at snaps by New England Patriots' players on defense in the team's 30-7 victory against the Minnesota Vikings (includes penalties):

Jerod Mayo -- 68 of 68
Dont'a Hightower -- 68 of 68
Deontae Skinner -- 21 of 68

Quick-hit thought: Skinner, promoted from the practice squad Saturday, was part of one base package that the Patriots mostly used when the Vikings had one back and two tight ends on the field. He played 19 first-half snaps and just two in the second half. In explaining Skinner's promotion, Bill Belichick said, "Deontae has had a couple good weeks on the practice squad and in practice. It is an opportunity for him and I think he was mentally ready to take advantage of it. Sure he will get better as he continues to play. He hasn't played a lot of football for us this year."

Rob Ninkovich -- 68 of 68
Chandler Jones -- 68 of 68

Quick-hit thought: Ninkovich had played 35 of 74 snaps in the opener but was back to full-time duty, perhaps in part because of Jamie Collins' thigh injury keeping him out of action. Meanwhile, Jones was arguably the best defender on the field.

Sealver Siliga -- 40 of 68
Vince Wilfork -- 39 of 68
Dominique Easley -- 29 of 68
Chris Jones -- 16 of 68
Joe Vellano -- 2 of 68

Quick-hit thought: Vellano had started and played 32 of 74 snaps in the opener, but he only took the field for two second-half snaps against the Vikings. A combination of Jones' return from injury, and the Patriots facing an interior tackle tandem of Wilfork and Siliga, contributed to his reduction in workload.

Logan Ryan -- 68 of 68
Darrelle Revis -- 60 of 68
Kyle Arrington -- 45 of 68
Malcolm Butler -- 8 of 68

Quick-hit thought: After Alfonzo Dennard was a surprise scratch (left shoulder), it thrust Ryan into a full-time role and he played well. Revis was excellent and got the final series off, while Arrington was a consistent presence in the slot.

Devin McCourty -- 60 of 68
Patrick Chung -- 37 of 68
Duron Harmon -- 25 of 68
Tavon Wilson -- 13 of 68
Nate Ebner -- 13 of 68

Quick-hit thought: Chung has played the most next to McCourty in the first two games of the season, and he sometimes comes off the field in sub packages, giving way to Harmon. Ebner (two first-half snaps; 11 second-half snaps) was part of the dime package that was used mostly late.

Patriots' defensive snaps: Ninkovich dips

September, 8, 2014
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- A look at snaps by New England Patriots players on defense in the team's season-opening 33-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins (includes penalties):

Dont'a Hightower -- 74 of 74
Chandler Jones -- 70 of 74
Vince Wilfork -- 50 of 74
Sealver Siliga -- 41 of 74
Rob Ninkovich -- 35 of 74
Joe Vellano -- 32 of 74
Dominique Easley -- 27 of 74

Quick-hit thought: Ninkovich played 95 percent of the defensive snaps in 2013, so seeing him in a part-time role caught the eye, as he was taken off the field in sub packages and replaced by cornerback Kyle Arrington. The Patriots seemed to miss his pass-rush abilities at times in sub. Noticed more of Hightower playing toward the line of scrimmage instead of in a cover-based role, which appears to play better to his strengths.

Jerod Mayo -- 74 of 74
Jamie Collins -- 73 of 74

Quick-hit thought: Collins looked like his gas tank was on empty by the end of the game.

Devin McCourty -- 73 of 74
Darrelle Revis -- 65 of 74
Alfonzo Dennard -- 50 of 74
Patrick Chung -- 47 of 74
Kyle Arrington -- 31 of 74
Malcolm Butler -- 27 of 74
Tavon Wilson -- 22 of 74
Logan Ryan -- 18 of 74
Duron Harmon -- 4 of 74
Nate Ebner -- 1 of 74

Quick-hit thought: Revis missed the final nine snaps because of cramping. The repetitions at the second cornerback and second safety spots were spread around a bit, but it gave a glimpse of how the coaching staff views the personnel because Alfonzo Dennard got the majority of snaps as the No. 2 cornerback while Patrick Chung took the most No. 2 safety reps. A bit surprising to see such a low playing-time total for Harmon, who was the No. 3 safety in 2013. Meanwhile, Wilson's 22 defensive snaps exceeded his total for all of last season (18).

Snaps: Depth at DB exploited

January, 20, 2014
DENVER – Snaps played by Patriots defenders in the team’s 26-16 AFC Championship Game loss to the Broncos, while analyzing what it means (as charted in the press box, small margin for error):

LB Don’t’a Hightower – 75 of 75
DE Rob Ninkovich – 75 of 75
S Devin McCourty – 74 of 75
DT Chris Jones – 73 of 75
CB Kyle Arrington – 72 of 75
LB Jamie Collins – 72 of 75
DE Chandler Jones – 72 of 75
S Steve Gregory – 70 of 75
CB Alfonzo Dennard – 67 of 75
CB Logan Ryan – 58 of 75
DT Sealver Siliga – 57 of 75
CB Aqib Talib – 19 of 75
DT Joe Vellano – 18 of 75
DE Andre Carter – 15 of 75
LB Dane Fletcher – 6 of 75
S Duron Harmon – 2 of 75

(Penalties included. Final kneel-down not included.)

ANALYSIS: The Patriots were in their 4-2-5 nickel package for most of the game against the Broncos' three-receiver attack. They played a 4-1-6 dime sparingly, were in their base 4-3 for one snap, and also called on the short-yardage package for a few snaps. Aqib Talib’s early second-quarter injury changed the complexion of things, which led to rookie Logan Ryan playing an extended role. It was a rocky game for him as the Patriots’ depth at defensive back was exploited. … At defensive end, the Patriots rode almost exclusively with Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones this season. Adding a consistent third option to complement them, whether it’s 2013 seventh-round draft choice Michael Buchanan or someone else, could be on the radar for 2014. ... The two snaps for safety Duron Harmon came in the dime defense after Talib got hurt, with the Patriots moving Devin McCourty down to cornerback. ... At linebacker, it was exclusively Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins in the nickel, with Dane Fletcher coming on for the base package and short-yardage.

Snaps: How Patriots replaced Spikes

January, 12, 2014
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.

Snaps: Defensive breakdown for 2013

January, 4, 2014
A review of snaps played by Patriots defenders in the 2013 season and analyzing what it means (as charted in the press box, small margin for error):

Defensive end
Chandler Jones – 1,134 of 1,156 (98.1 percent)
Rob Ninkovich – 1,105 of 1,156 (95.6 percent)
Andre Carter – 155 of 1,156 (13.4 percent)
Michael Buchanan – 121 of 1,156 (10.5 percent)
Jake Bequette – 14 of 1,156 (1.2 percent)

Quick-hit thoughts: In a year when there were major injuries across the defense, Jones and Ninkovich were two of the constants. They hardly ever came off the field and were among the most productive players on defense. Carter has been the primary nickel rusher since signing in late October, taking over for Buchanan (seventh-round pick, Illinois), who had the role in the first seven games of the season. Bequette, a 2012 third-round pick, has had a second straight redshirt-type year.

Defensive tackle
Chris Jones – 786 of 1,156 (68.0 percent)
Joe Vellano – 667 of 1,156 (57.7 percent)
Tommy Kelly – 221 of 1,156 (19.1 percent)
Sealver Siliga – 215 of 1,156 (18.6 percent)
Vince Wilfork – 177 of 1,156 (15.3 percent)
Isaac Sopoaga – 118 of 1,156 (10.2 percent)
Marcus Forston – 34 of 1,156 (2.9 percent)
Andre Neblett – 5 of 1,156 (0.4 percent)

Quick-hit thoughts: If you’d have said at the start of the year that a rookie claimed on waivers in early September (Jones) and an undrafted free agent (Vellano) would lead the team in snaps at the position, many would have said the forecast would have been gloomy. But in a credit to the players, and also to the coaching staff, the Patriots pieced things together. Season-ending injuries to Wilfork (Sept. 29) and Kelly (Oct. 6), coupled with top-three defensive tackle Armond Armstead unexpectedly missing the year with an infection, hit at the depth at the position. Siliga has come on strong in the final month.

Dont’a Hightower – 861 of 1,156 (74.5 percent)
Brandon Spikes – 690 of 1,156 (59.7 percent)
Jerod Mayo – 405 of 1,156 (35.0 percent)
Jamie Collins – 298 of 1,156 (25.8 percent)
Dane Fletcher – 209 of 1,156 (18.1 percent)
Steve Beauharnais – 1 of 1,156 (0.1 percent)
Chris White – 1 of 1,156 (0.1 percent)

Quick-hit thoughts: Mayo’s season-ending injury (Oct. 13) changed everything, with his three-down duties split up among multiple players. Hightower had the biggest shift, taking on more of the communication. Fletcher took over the dime defense (6 defensive backs). Spikes played more in sub packages than he probably would have otherwise, while Collins – the team’s top pick (52nd overall) – was thrust into the base defense. He shows promise but has been forced to learn on the job.

Aqib Talib -- 849 of 1,156 (73.4 percent)
Kyle Arrington – 834 of 1,156 (72.1 percent)
Alfonzo Dennard – 722 of 1,156 (62.5 percent)
Logan Ryan – 598 of 1,156 (51.7 percent)
Marquice Cole – 167 of 1,156 (14.4 percent)
Justin Green – 9 of 1,156 (0.8 percent)

Quick-hit thoughts: With the Patriots in their sub defense on 67 percent of the snaps this season, it highlighted the importance of the fifth (and sometimes sixth) defensive backs -- players like Arrington, Ryan and Dennard. In the perfect Patriots world, they would have liked Talib and Dennard to start, with Arrington in the slot. But injuries forced some juggling, and Ryan – the third-round pick out of Rutgers – showed he was capable of stepping up. Some good depth here, with Talib’s performance at a matchup corner, particularly the stretch of games from Weeks 3-6, was as good as it gets.

Devin McCourty – 1,031 of 1,156 (89.2 percent)
Steve Gregory – 840 of 1,156 (72.7 percent)
Duron Harmon – 427 of 1,156 (36.9 percent)
Tavon Wilson – 18 of 1,156 (1.6 percent)
Nate Ebner – 5 of 1,156 (0.4 percent)

Quick-hit thoughts: McCourty’s move to a full-time role at the position paid dividends as his range and steadiness helped limit some of the big plays that had hurt the unit at times in 2012. He was a well deserving second-team Associated Press All-Pro. Plans to have veteran free-agent Adrian Wilson be part of the mix never unfolded as desired, with the heady Gregory once again assuming the starting role. Harmon, the rookie third-round pick out of Rutgers, contributed more than expected as he leapfrogged Wilson (2012 second-round pick) on the depth chart.

(Penalties included; not kneel-downs)

Snaps: Siliga & Jones take lead role at DT

December, 30, 2013
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A look at snaps played by Patriots defenders in Sunday's 34-20 win over the Bills, while analyzing what it means (small margin for error, as charted in press box):

DE Chandler Jones -- 70 of 70
DE Rob Ninkovich -- 70 of 70
S Steve Gregory -- 69 of 70
S Duron Harmon -- 69 of 70
CB Logan Ryan -- 69 of 70
CB Aqib Talib -- 69 of 70
DT Chris Jones -- 64 of 70
LB Dont'a Hightower -- 56 of 70
DT Sealver Siliga -- 54 of 70
LB Jamie Collins -- 48 of 70
CB Kyle Arrington -- 44 of 70
LB Brandon Spikes -- 44 of 70
LB Dane Fletcher -- 17 of 70
DE Andre Carter -- 12 of 70
DT Joe Vellano -- 11 of 70
S Tavon Wilson -- 2 of 70
DE Michael Buchanan -- 1 of 70
CB Justin Green -- 1 of 70

(Penalties included.)

ANALYSIS: One of the notable changes the past two weeks has been at defensive tackle, where veteran Isaac Sopoaga has been a healthy scratch and rookie Joe Vellano is playing limited snaps. That has left Sealver Siliga and Chris Jones as the primary tandem and they are accounting well for themselves. Siliga had a team-high nine tackles and one sack and forced fumble on Sunday. ... For the second straight week, rookie Logan Ryan started at cornerback opposite Aqib Talib, with Kyle Arrington the third man in. ... Ryan, Talib and starting safeties Duron Harmon and Steve Gregory played every snap but one which came in the goal-line package. ... That left defensive ends Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich as the only defenders to play every snap. They are the constants. ... Cornerback Justin Green's one snap came as an injury replacement for Arrington and he had tight coverage on an incomplete pass in his direction. ... Defensive end Michael Buchanan's one snap came as he entered in the nickel and was ultimately trailing in coverage on running back Fred Jackson's 37-yard catch-and-run. ... Safety Tavon Wilson's two snaps came in the dime package as he entered as the sixth defensive back. ... There was a little more of a liberal substitution pattern with the top four linebackers as Dane Fletcher (17 snaps) played more in nickel than he has in past games. He's mostly been the team's lone dime linebacker.

Snaps: CB Logan Ryan leads way

December, 23, 2013
BALTIMORE -- Snaps played by Patriots defenders in Sunday's win over the Ravens, while analyzing what it means (small margin for error, as charted in press box):

CB Logan Ryan -- 71 of 73
DE Rob Ninkovich -- 70 of 73
CB Aqib Talib -- 70 of 73
LB Dont'a Hightower -- 68 of 73
DE Chandler Jones -- 68 of 73
CB Kyle Arrington -- 65 of 73
S Steve Gregory -- 65 of 73
DT Chris Jones -- 57 of 73
DT Sealver Siliga -- 55 of 73
S Duron Harmon -- 48 of 73
LB Brandon Spikes -- 43 of 73
LB Jamie Collins -- 33 of 73
S Devin McCourty -- 26 of 73
DE Andre Carter -- 20 of 73
DT Joe Vellano -- 14 of 73
DE Michael Buchanan -- 12 of 73
S Tavon Wilson -- 11 of 73
CB Alfonzo Dennard -- 5 of 73
LB Steve Beauharnais -- 1 of 73
LB Chris White -- 1 of 73

(Includes penalties. Does not include half-ending kneel-down.)

ANALYSIS: Rookie cornerback Logan Ryan's total stands out as he started and played extensively. He was coming off a 17-snap performance against the Dolphins. The two snaps he didn't play came in the short-yardage defense. ... CB Kyle Arrington played mostly in the slot as part of the nickel defense the Patriots mostly employed. ... The depth chart at defensive tackle has started to form, with Chris Jones and Sealver Siliga the top options. They are followed by Joe Vellano, whose snaps have reduced in recent weeks. Veteran Isaac Sopoaga is fourth on that depth chart and he was a healthy scratch. ... Devin McCourty's lower total is a result of him leaving the game with a head injury (likely a concussion) early in the third quarter. ... Safety Tavon Wilson's 11 snaps surpass his total from the 13 games combined (5 snaps). Most of that work came at the linebacker level in the dime defense. ... The lone snaps for LBs Chris White and Steve Beauharnais came on the final Ravens offensive possession. ... CB Aqib Talib and DEs Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones continue to be ironmen, playing most every snap. ... The Patriots defended just 23 snaps in the first half before the number spikes to 50 in the second half.

Snaps: CB Cole was targeted quickly

December, 16, 2013
MIAMI -- A look at snaps played by Patriots defenders in Sunday's loss to the Dolphins, while analyzing what it means (as charted in press box, small margin for error):

S Steve Gregory -- 63 of 63
S Devin McCourty -- 63 of 63
DE Rob Ninkovich -- 63 of 63
CB Aqib Talib -- 63 of 63
CB Kyle Arrington -- 61 of 63
DE Chandler Jones -- 61 of 63
CB Alfonzo Dennard -- 57 of 63
LB Dont'a Hightower -- 40 of 63
DT Chris Jones -- 38 of 63
NT Sealver Siliga -- 38 of 63
LB Jamie Collins --29 of 63
DT Joe Vellano -- 24 of 63
LB Dane Fletcher -- 23 of 63
LB Brandon Spikes -- 21 of 63
CB Logan Ryan -- 17 of 63
NT Isaac Sopoaga -- 15 of 63
DE Andre Carter -- 13 of 63
CB Marquice Cole -- 4 of 63

(Penalties included.)

Analysis: When Cole came on late in the second quarter for the injured Arrington, the Dolphins quickly targeted him and produced a 39-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Mike Wallace. As part of a game plan that had top corner Talib playing inside for most of the game, Arrington's injury created a situation where Cole, more of a natural slot corner, aligned on the outside against Wallace. That was a matchup the Dolphins took advantage of, and led to the question: What made Cole a better option than the rookie Ryan, or even McCourty (with Duron Harmon entering at safety)? ... At defensive tackle, Siliga and Chris Jones were the top combination, with the rookie Vellano third on the depth chart, followed by Sopoaga. ... Chandler Jones, who usually plays every snap, missed two in the third quarter when he stayed down after one play. It appeared to just be cramping, as he came back quickly. ... Spikes had a limited workload, in part because the Patriots were mostly in sub defenses and seemed to prefer the speed/athleticism of either the rookie Collins or the four-year veteran Fletcher.

Snaps: Siliga holds his own at nose tackle

December, 9, 2013
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A look at snaps played by New England Patriots defenders in Sunday’s win over the Cleveland Browns, while analyzing what it means (as charted in press box, small margin for error):

DE Chandler Jones – 76 of 76
DE Rob Ninkovich – 76 of 76
S Devin McCourty – 75 of 76
CB Aqib Talib – 75 of 76
S Steve Gregory – 66 of 76
DT Chris Jones – 65 of 76
LB Dont'a Hightower – 58 of 76
LB Jamie Collins – 55 of 76
NT Sealver Siliga – 53 of 76
CB Logan Ryan – 51 of 76
LB Brandon Spikes – 47 of 76
CB Kyle Arrington – 32 of 76
LB Dane Fletcher – 32 of 76
CB Alfonzo Dennard – 25 of 76
DT Joe Vellano – 22 of 76
S Duron Harmon – 16 of 76
DE Andre Carter – 11 of 76
NT Isaac Sopoaga – 2 of 76

(Penalties included. Spikes included. One additional snap, which accounts for 12-men-on-the-field penalty.)

Analysis: The first-unit presence of Siliga, promoted from the practice squad two weeks ago, was notable. The 6-foot-2, 325-pound second-year pro started over Vellano (6-1, 300) as the Patriots prioritized taking away the Browns’ inside running game and appeared to want more bulk and power. Siliga, who also played over veteran Sopoaga (relegated to two snaps of short-yardage work), seemed to hold his own. … The single snaps that McCourty and Talib missed were in short yardage. … Hightower wore the green dot on his helmet as he had the communication device in his helmet to get the calls. … The Patriots didn’t run many nickel fronts, which is why Carter’s snap total was low. … Collins, the team’s top pick in April, is playing more as he’s showing up in the base defense and also in sub at times. His 55 snaps were easily a season high, more than doubling his previous top mark of 26 against the Dolphins on Oct. 27. … In the secondary, the Patriots played Talib and Ryan as the top corners in the base defense, but in the sub they removed Ryan and inserted Dennard and Arrington. … Gregory, in his second game back since breaking his thumb, took more of the snaps as rookie Harmon was slightly edged out.

Snaps: Ryan over Arrington at CB

December, 2, 2013
HOUSTON -- A look at snaps played by Patriots defenders in Sunday's 34-31 win over the Texans, while analyzing what it means (as charted in press box, small margin for error):

DE Chandler Jones -- 59 of 59
S Devin McCourty -- 59 of 59
DE Rob Ninkovich -- 59 of 59
CB Aqib Talib -- 59 of 59
DT Chris Jones -- 58 of 59
CB Logan Ryan -- 54 of 59
LB Dont'a Hightower -- 49 of 59
DT Joe Vellano -- 49 of 59
LB Brandon Spikes -- 47 of 59
S Duron Harmon -- 32 of 59
S Steve Gregory -- 23 of 59
NT Isaac Sopoaga -- 21 of 59
CB Kyle Arrington -- 18 of 59
NT Sealver Siliga -- 15 of 59
LB Jamie Collins -- 14 of 59
LB Dane Fletcher -- 12 of 59
DE Andre Carter -- 10 of 59
CB Marquice Cole -- 9 of 59
S Nate Ebner -- 2 of 59

(Penalties included, but not kneel-downs.)

ANALYSIS: The Patriots had two different "base" packages in the game depending on the Texans' personnel. The standard base personnel had rookie cornerback Ryan playing over Arrington in the No. 2 spot opposite Talib. The other base package had a third cornerback over a second safety, with Arrington coming on in place of Harmon/Gregory. The 18 snaps for Arrington, who has been playing through a groin injury, were easily a season low. ... Even with Gregory returning at safety for the first time since breaking his thumb Nov. 3, he was limited in his snaps, splitting time with Harmon, who started. ... Because the Patriots weren't in their sub defense as often as last week, linebackers Fletcher and Collins saw their snaps decline when compared to last week against the Broncos. ... Siliga made his debut after being promoted from the practice squad Wednesday and split time with Sopoaga at nose tackle in the base 3-4 alignment, with Vellano and Chris Jones at the ends. ... Safety Nate Ebner's two snaps came on the final plays of the game when the Patriots had seven defensive backs on the field. ... The 59 snaps were one shy of a season-low (58, vs. Carolina).

Snaps: Reserve LBs do their part

November, 25, 2013
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Snaps played by Patriots defenders in Sunday's 34-31 win over the Broncos, while analyzing what it means (as charted in the press box, small margin for error):

S Duron Harmon – 90 of 90
DE Chandler Jones – 90 of 90
DT Chris Jones – 90 of 90
S Devin McCourty – 90 of 90
DE Rob Ninkovich – 90 of 90
CB Kyle Arrington – 85 of 90
CB Aqib Talib – 80 of 90
DT Joe Vellano – 70 of 90
CB Logan Ryan – 69 of 90
LB Brandon Spikes – 68 of 90
LB Dane Fletcher – 57 of 90
LB Dont’a Hightower – 33 of 90
LB Jamie Collins – 22 of 90
CB Alfonzo Dennard – 21 of 90
DT Isaac Sopoaga – 14 of 90
CB Justin Green – 8 of 90
CB Marquice Cole – 7 of 90
DE Andre Carter – 6 of 90

(Penalties included.)

ANALYSIS: Contributions from linebackers Dane Fletcher and Jamie Collins, who haven’t been a big part of defensive plans prior to this point, stood out. Fletcher had played 68 total defensive snaps through the first nine games of the season and nearly matched the total on Sunday night, when he had a key forced fumble. Fletcher was thrust into action when linebacker Dont’a Hightower came out of the game late in the second quarter and didn’t play another snap the rest of the way. As for Collins, he was “active”, according to Bill Belichick. That was reflected in his snaps-to-tackle ratio, which was impressive (22 snaps, 10 tackles). The Patriots spent most of the game in their 4-2-5 nickel and the speed and range of Fletcher and Collins helped the club. … One aspect of the 4-2-5 nickel that was a bit different from the norm was that it didn’t include No. 3 defensive end Andre Carter until late. The Patriots kept a second defensive tackle on the field over a third-DE (when they kick DE Chandler Jones inside) in hopes of staying stout against the run. Run defense was a struggle for them. … The 90 snaps were two shy of the season high (92, vs. Jets, Oct. 20) … Players to monitor on the injury front who didn’t play in the second half: Hightower, DT Isaac Sopoaga and CB Alfonzo Dennard. … With Sopoaga sidelined, and first-year player Marcus Forston inactive, it left Joe Vellano and Chris Jones as the lone defensive tackles. That’s another reminder of how the season-ending injuries to Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly have had a big effect on the club. … It looked like a pre-set rotation was adopted at cornerback in the first half, just to give ailing players a chance to limit their workload. It showed up on the fifth drive when rookie Justin Green, promoted from the practice squad on Saturday, replaced Aqib Talib.