Patriots Package Report: Rookie tight end gets increased workload against Raiders

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

We're still waiting for Devin Asiasi to make an impact in the passing game. But the rookie Patriots tight end saw more snaps than ever against the Raiders on Sunday, which is a promising sign.

Asiasi played 26 out of 66 offensive snaps against the Raiders, after playing 20 snaps in his first two games combined. Ryan Izzo continues to lead the way, as he played 40 snaps. Interestingly, both of them were on the field together for only one snap in 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends).

That means the Patriots fielded Asiasi as their lone tight end for 25 offensive plays. The rookie played every snap on two drives, including one with a full series in the red zone. Asiasi has yet to be targeted this season, but he played 11 snaps in passing situations.

Asiasi's increasing workload shows a growing level of trust between the Patriots coaching staff and their young tight end. It typically takes time for rookies to develop at the position, so it wouldn't be surprising if the build continues to be gradual. But Asiasi's mere snap count indicates that he's trending in the right direction and could be more of a factor in the offense later in the season.

Patriots rookie tight end Devin Asiasi had an increased workload against the Raiders. (Photo courtesy of the New England Patriots)
Patriots rookie tight end Devin Asiasi had an increased workload against the Raiders. (Photo courtesy of the New England Patriots)

Here's a full breakdown of the Patriots' 66 offensive snaps against the Raiders on Sunday, excluding three kneeldowns.

Snap Counts

The Patriots favored 11 personnel (one RB, one TE, three WRs) and 21 personnel (two RBs, one TE, two WRs) again, which isn't surprising. Perhaps most notable is the personnel groupings they didn't use. In the absence of center David Andrews, they did away with their jumbo packages in 14 personnel that used two extra offensive linemen as eligible tight ends.

11 personnel: 45 snaps (68.2 percent)
21 personnel: 19 snaps (28.8 percent)
12 personnel: 1 snap (1.5 percent)
10 personnel: 1 snap (1.5 percent)

Here's how the snaps broke down for the Patriots' skill players:

Damiere Byrd: 66 snaps
Julian Edelman: 56 snaps
N'Keal Harry: 46 snaps
Ryan Izzo: 40 snaps
Rex Burkhead: 32 snaps
Devin Asiasi: 26 snaps
Sony Michel: 23 snaps
J.J. Taylor: 15 snaps
Jakob Johnson: 15 snaps
Isaiah Zuber: 6 snaps
Jakobi Meyers: 5 snaps

Sep 27, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) passes the ball to New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead (34) during the first half against the Las Vegas Raiders at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
Patriots quarterback Cam Newton passes the ball during the first half against the Las Vegas Raiders at Gillette Stadium. (Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports)

Byrd played every snap, while Edelman had his heaviest workload of the season so far. The aforementioned tight ends had a closer gap. At running back, it's notable that Sony Michel played eight snaps without Johnson on the field. In 2019 he often didn't play without the fullback.

It's interesting that undrafted rookie Isaiah Zuber, who was promoted from the practice squad before the game, out-snapped Jakobi Meyers and also got a touch, taking a jet sweep for 13 yards.

Running & Passing

Three-receiver sets ruled the day, but the Patriots barely passed more than they ran out of 11 personnel against the Raiders. This was a day for the running backs, whether taking a handoff or a screen pass.

11 personnel: 55.6 percent pass (25-of-45)
21 personnel: 68.4 percent run (13-of-19)
12 personnel: 100 percent run (1-of-1)
10 personnel: 100 percent pass (1-of-1)

Out of 45 snaps in 11 personnel, the lone running back got a carry or target on 22 of them. Burkhead got 12, Michel got five, and rookie J.J. Taylor got five. Michel got 11 touches on his 23 snaps, including two catches for 23 yards.

In 21 personnel, the Patriots mixed up their running back groupings. All three backs played with Johnson for at least one snap. Michel and Burkhead were the pairing on three snaps, while Burkhead and Taylor played together for one snap. Taylor got the carry on that play.

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 27: Sony Michel #26 of the New England Patriots carries the ball during the first half against the Las Vegas Raiders at Gillette Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Sony Michel of the New England Patriots carries the ball against the Las Vegas Raiders at Gillette Stadium. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

The Patriots' lone snap in 10 personnel (one RB, four WRs) resulted in a 27-yard catch-and-run for N'Keal Harry.

Third Down

The Patriots continued to use 11 personnel as their go-to package on third downs, using it on all 10 offensive snaps. Burkhead played nine of 10 snaps, while Taylor got one as the running back. Izzo was the tight end for nine snaps with Asiasi in for one.

At receiver, Edelman and Byrd played every third-down snap. The team didn't have good results, going 3-for-10 in those spots (excluding the final kneeldown). But they played well enough in the second half offensively that they faced third down only one time in the second half.

Drive Chart

The Patriots employed a smaller number of personnel groupings, but mixed up the personnel within them. They quickly moved away from two-tight end sets, using it for just one snap on the opening drive.

Drive 11 21 12 10 Result
1. 1 1 1 0 Punt
2. 5 1 0 0 Punt
3. 4 0 0 0 INT
4. 6 2 0 0 FG
5. 5 3 0 0 FG
6. 10 2 0 0 TD
7. 2 5 0 0 TD
8. 4 2 0 0 FG
9. 7 3 0 1 TD
10. 1 0 0 0 Kneel

***

Notably, they used more 21 personnel than 11 personnel on their second-to-last touchdown drive of the game. The Pats ran significantly less hurry-up than they did last week in Seattle, resulting in zero drives that used exclusively one package, other than the one that ended with Newton's interception.

Season Totals (200 Snaps)

As the season progresses, it appears that the Patriots are settling into primary packages of "11" and "21," which isn't terribly surprising. But we'll see if they start to bring back more of the jumbo sets that we saw in the first two games now that they will have full weeks of practice knowing that they'll be without Andrews.

Snap Counts:

11 personnel: 123 snaps (61.5 percent)
21 personnel: 47 snaps (23.5 percent)
12 personnel: 14 snaps (7 percent)
14 personnel: 7 snaps (3.5 percent)
22 personnel: 4 snaps (2 percent)
10 personnel: 4 snaps (2 percent)
23 personnel: 1 snap (0.5 percent)

Run/Pass Totals:

11 personnel: 60.9 percent pass (75-of-123)
21 personnel: 68.1 percent run (32-of-47)
12 personnel: 57.1 percent run (8-of-14)
14 personnel: 85.7 percent run (6-of-7)
22 personnel: 100 percent run (4-of-4)
10 personnel: 75 percent pass (3-of-4)
23 personnel: 100 percent run (1-of-1)

Just over 60 percent passing in 11 personnel seems relatively low for that grouping. The Patriots ran more than they passed out of "11" in Week 1 against the Dolphins. It's an indication that while the Patriots will continue to favor that package, they'll try to be multiple and unpredictable with what they do after the ball is snapped.

MORE: "Smokin'" Joe Thuney Keys Patriots Offensive Line

Next Package Report comes next Monday after the Patriots take on the Chiefs in Kansas City.

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? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff or send him a nasty email at [email protected].