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Friday, October 11, 2013
Groupings: 4 WR package emerges

By Mike Reiss

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 biggest change from last Sunday's 13-6 loss to the Bengals was the team's heavier-than-normal usage of the four-receiver package. The Patriots had four-wides on the field for 25 of their 63 snaps (including penalties), most often with Kenbrell Thompkins, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson as the four receivers.

In the first four games of the season, the Patriots had utilized that package for a total of 23 snaps.

Overall, with more three- and four-receiver packages, this reflects how the Patriots view their No. 3 and 4 receivers as more valuable than a second tight end. When tight end Rob Gronkowski returns to action, perhaps those numbers will shift a bit.

Here is a simplified breakdown of the team's 361 offensive snaps (including penalties, not kneel-downs):

3 or more WRs: 230 of 361
2 backs: 89 of 361
2 or more TEs: 71 of 361

There is a 29-play overlap, which accounts for snaps in which there was a combination of 3 WRs/2 backs and 2-3 TEs/2 backs.