The Package Report: Breaking down the Patriots' personnel packages and how they used them in Miami

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By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Welcome to The Package Report™, where we will break down how the Patriots deployed their running backs, receivers, and tight ends in each game of the 2019 season. The purpose of The Package Report™ will be to illustrate how Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady utilize the weapons at their disposal based on personnel groupings and play types.

These reports center around personnel packages. The Patriots put lots of nice-looking packages on the field with different kinds of players. Packages come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes it's not so much the size as how you use it. So check back every week in The Package Report™ to get an idea of how McDaniels and Brady ran the offense.

As a primer, here's how to describe different personnel packages in football, each given a two-digit number based on the amount of running backs and tight ends on the field:

11 personnel: 1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR
10 personnel: 1 RB, 4 WR
20 personnel: 2 RB, 3 WR
21 personnel: 2 RB, 1 TE, 2 WR
22 personnel: 2 RB 2 TE, 1 WR
12 personnel: 1 RB, 2 TE, 2 WR

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots calls a play prior to the snap against the Miami Dolphins during the first quarter in the game at Hard Rock Stadium on September 15, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Tom Brady of the New England Patriots calls a play prior to the snap against the Miami Dolphins during the first quarter in the game at Hard Rock Stadium on September 15, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

It's no surprise that the majority of the Patriots' packages so far have emphasized three receivers and/or two running backs, one of which is often fullback James Develin. But they're also going for unpredictability, running out of traditional passing formations and vice-versa. When the Patriots offense is at its best, Brady will be able to beat teams down the field with play-action and McDaniels will be able to spread the field with bigger packages to take advantage of defenses designed to stop the run.

Here's how the packages broke down in Week 2 against the Dolphins. As it will every week, this report includes penalties and kneeldowns, and doesn't account for results of plays due to the numerous other variables that go into that. This is merely meant to show how the Patriots deployed their personnel throughout the game.

Snap Counts

11 personnel: 36 snaps (50 percent)
10 personnel: 5 snaps (6.9 percent)
20 personnel: 2 snaps (2.8 percent)
21 personnel: 21 snaps (29.2 percent)
22 personnel: 6 snaps (8.3 percent)
12 personnel: 2 snaps (2.8 percent)

Notes:

-- The most stark difference between Weeks 1 and 2 is the Patriots' shift toward three and four-receiver sets, and away from two-running back sets. After using 20 personnel on 21 snaps against the Steelers, that dropped to just two in Miami. Their use of 11 personnel jumped from 24.3 percent against Pittsburgh to exactly 50 percent against the Dolphins.

-- You can see here that the Patriots mixed in more 12 and 22 personnel after not using any of it in Week 1. That could be due simply to the return of Matt LaCosse. Four of their six plays of of 22 personnel came on goal line carries. The others were a Brady pass attempt in the second quarter and a second-quarter kneeldown. Another resulted in a false start penalty, but is being counted as a run.

-- The Patriots went from two snaps to five going with four wide receivers. They often emptied the backfield and used James White as a receiver, as well. This should be expected and could continue to rise as they work Brown more into the offense. They have incredible receiver depth with the current roster, so this is certainly a trend to watch.

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 15: Antonio Brown of the New England Patriots celebrates with Tom Brady after catching a touchdown in the second quarter of the game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on September 15, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 15: Antonio Brown of the New England Patriots celebrates with Tom Brady after catching a touchdown in the second quarter of the game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on September 15, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

Run/Pass Rates

11 personnel: 63.4 percent pass (23/36)
10 personnel: 100 percent pass (5/5)
20 personnel: 100 percent pass (2/2)
21 personnel: 76.2 percent run (16/21)
22 personnel: 83.3 percent run (5/6)
12 personnel: 100 percent run (2/2)

Notes:

-- The Patriots moved away from passing more in 21 personnel, popping from 56.7 percent running in Week 1 to 76.2 percent running on Sunday. This is also a product of deploying more wide receivers, but their two-running back sets were more conventional this time around.

-- McDaniels still wants to run out of 11 personnel to take advantage of smaller defenses. They ran a jet sweep with Brown as part of those plays. Seven of Sony Michel's 21 carries came out of 11 personnel, in addition to two carries for Rex Burkhead and three for James White. The goal still appears to be keeping defenses honest against the run in these formations.

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots hands the ball to Sony Michel of the New England Patriots for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on September 15, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Tom Brady of the New England Patriots hands the ball to Sony Michel of the New England Patriots for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on September 15, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Drive-By-Drive

# 11 10 20 21 22 12 Result
1. 3 1 0 5 2 0 Touchdown
2. 4 0 0 1 0 0 Punt
3. 5 0 1 2 0 0 Missed FG
4. 5 1 1 3 1 0 Touchdown
5. 0 0 0 0 1 0 Kneeldown
6. 2 0 0 2 0 0 Punt
7. 4 3 0 2 0 0 Field Goal
8. 4 0 0 4 2 1 Touchdown
9. 6 0 0 0 0 0 Punt
10. 0 0 0 1 0 0 Fumble
11. 3 0 0 1 0 1 Touchdown

Notes:

-- Excluding Michel's fumble and Brady's kneeldown to end the first half, the Patriots used one package exclusively on just one of their other nine drives. They ran six plays out of 11 personnel on their ninth drive in the third quarter, which resulted in a punt. The only wrinkle on that drive was switching out Phillip Dorsett for Brown.

-- The Patriots' most successful drives happened when they mixed up their packages the most. On their four touchdown drives, they averaged four different packages per drive. On the other five (excluding the kneeldown and fumble), they averaged 2.2 packages.

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots scores a touchdown during the third quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on September 15, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
Tom Brady of the New England Patriots scores a touchdown during the third quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on September 15, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

Season Totals

Snap counts, 142 total:

11 personnel: 53 snaps (37.3 percent)
10 personnel: 7 snaps (4.9 percent)
20 personnel: 23 snaps (16.2 percent)
21 personnel: 51 snaps (35.9 percent)
22 personnel: 6 snaps (4.2 percent)
12 personnel: 2 snaps (1.4 percent)

Run/Pass:

11 personnel: 62.2 percent pass (33/53)
10 personnel: 100 percent pass (7/7)
20 personnel: 78.3 percent pass (18/23)
21 personnel: 64.7 percent run (33/51)
22 personnel: 83.3 percent run (5/6)
12 personnel: 100 percent run (2/2)

Versatility is the name of the game in New England. Newly available personnel (Brown, LaCosse) certainly played a role in the changes in packages against the Dolphins, but there's also the chance that it looks different next time out. However, a move toward more plays with three and four receivers should be expected with the weapons that Brady and McDaniels have at their disposal.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].