New England Patriots

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 09: Cam Newton #1 of the New England Patriots huddles with his teammates during the first half against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on November 09, 2020 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

The Patriots offense authored a lot of encouraging new stories about the 2020 season on Monday night. They executed in crunch time, engineered a clutch comeback, and didn’t lose a fumble or throw an interception for the first time all season. And they’ve also entrenched a clear new No. 1 wide receiver.

As the snap counts bear out from Monday’s 30-27 win over the Jets, Patriots wideout Jakobi Meyers is the obvious go-to option now for Cam Newton. Damiere Byrd once again led all receivers in snaps, but that’s largely been a function of how much he’s used in the running game. Meyers has emerged as much more of a factor in the passing game, and now the Pats can barely afford to take him off the field.

Meyers’ lone offensive snap missed came on a jet sweep with Gunner Olszewski in “21” personnel, the Patriots’ favorite grouping on the night (2 RBs, 1 TE, 2 WRs). Meyers made seven of his 12 catches out of that package as the Pats succeeded on both the ground and through the air.

Patriots Snap Counts vs Jets

Nov 9, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) throws the ball as center David Andrews (60) blocks against the New York Jets during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots’ offensive snap counts against the Jets reveal a unit that had to get creative amid a lack of depth. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

Here’s how the total snaps broke down for every WR/TE/RB against the Jets.

Damiere Byrd: 79
Jakobi Meyers: 78
Ryan Izzo: 74
Jakob Johnson: 44
Gunner Olszewski: 35
Rex Burkhead: 34
Damien Harris: 27
James White: 20
Korey Cunningham: 3
Kristian Wilkerson: 1

Burkhead led the Patriots backfield with 34 snaps and 15 total touchers (12 carries, three catches). Damien Harris got the carry on 14 of his 27 snaps. He was on the field for 10 of the Pats’ 18 pass plays in “21” personnel.

Personnel Packages

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 09: Teammates swarm Nick Folk #6 of the New England Patriots after he kicked the game-winning field goal in the final seconds of the second half against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on November 09, 2020 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Patriots’ snap counts in “21” personnel were a season-high against the Jets. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Patriots ran “21” personnel more than any other grouping for just the second time all season. And they were fairly unpredictable, despite a lack of depth and an inability to mix up the personnel much at receiver or tight end. In all, the Pats ran on just 59.1 percent of snaps in “21,” a relatively low rate.

Snap Counts:


21 personnel: 44 snaps (55.7 percent)
11 personnel: 33 snaps (41.8 percent)
20 personnel: 2 snaps (2.5 percent)

Running & Passing:

21 personnel: 59.1 percent running (26-of-44)
11 personnel: 60.6 percent passing (20-of-33)
20 personnel: 50/50 split (1 run, 1 pass)

If the Patriots want to keep defenses guessing in any way, shape, or form, they may have to continue leaning into “21” personnel. Their run game has been humming out of that grouping, and Meyers is emerging as a real threat in two-receiver sets.

What’d They Do About Tight End?

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 09: Cam Newton #1 of the New England Patriots and Ryan Izzo #85 look on during warmups before the game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on November 09, 2020 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Patriots tight end Ryan Izzo had one of his highest snap counts as a pro against the Jets. (Elsa/Getty Images)

The Patriots worked around their tight end situation by simply running Ryan Izzo out there most snaps, as Izzo was the only traditional TE active. But they also used tackle Korey Cunningham as an extra blocking tight end on three plays, one of which resulted in a 33-yard catch by Meyers that set up an early Newton touchdown.

Jakob Johnson also played outside of his usual fullback role. He lined up as a tight end four times – three times in-line and once split out wide. Johnson was also sent in motion on one snap. He finished with two catches for six yards, and if you count that for tight ends, that’s all they got for production out of that position Monday night.

MORE: Patriots Ups & Downs From Win Over Jets

The big question, however, is how much of this game was simply the product of a bad opponent. The Jets are now 0-9 and effectively tanking the season, and they’re less talented on defense than they are on offense. The offense will need to keep things rolling and continue to play a clean game in terms of turnovers, and they’ll need to prove they can do it against better competition to inspire more confidence that they’ll go on a run in the second half of the season.

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 matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.