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Thursday, October 31, 2013
Groupings: Matthew Mulligan, blocking TE

By Mike Reiss

One of the things that will be charted on a weekly basis is the positional groupings used 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.

One of the notable parts from the team's 27-17 win over the Miami Dolphins was how the offense turned to its two-tight-end package more in the second half, with 16 of 39 snaps out of that grouping as it helped spark better production out of the running game.

Through seven games this season, the Patriots had run just 17.8 percent of their offensive snaps out of the two-tight-end grouping. In the second half, despite trailing 17-3 entering the final 30 minutes, the offense ran 41 percent of its snaps out of the grouping.

Specifically, we'd point to blocking-based tight end Matthew Mulligan as playing a bit of an unsung role in the game, with all 13 of his snaps coming in the second half. As Tom Brady touched on Wednesday, when the weather turns, teams have to find different ways to win and that's one of the big takeaways from this week's groupings: If the Patriots need to turn to more of a two-TE approach to get the run game going, they now have some tangible evidence they can do so against a good defensive front in Miami.

On the season, here is a simplified breakdown of the team's 593 offensive snaps (including penalties, not kneel-downs):

3 or more WRs: 385 of 593
2 backs: 131 of 593
2 or more TEs:  112 of 593

There is a 35-play overlap, which accounts for snaps in which there was a combination of 3 WRs/2 backs and 2-3 TEs/2 backs.