- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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One of the things that will be charted on a weekly basis is the positional groupings utilized by the New England Patriots offense, as they reveal player value and take us deeper into the X's and O's of how coordinator Josh McDaniels is attempting to attack the opposition.
The big takeaway through four games has a tie-in to the team's release of rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld on Thursday, and it's that the team is favoring more three-receiver packages instead of multiple tight end packages.
Furthermore, we're seeing more two-back groupings, with fullback James Develin, than we have in recent years from the Patriots. When Develin has been on the field, it's usually been at the expense of a second tight end.
Here is a simplified breakdown of the team's 298 offensive snaps (including penalties, not kneel-downs):
3 or more WRs: 179 of 298
2 backs: 82 of 298
2 or more TEs: 64 of 298
There is a 27-play overlap, which accounts for snaps in which there was a combination of 3 WRs/2 backs and 2-3 TEs/2 backs.
When Rob Gronkowski returns, it makes sense to think we could see an increase in multiple tight end groupings. However, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Patriots still remain a primarily three-receiver attack.