Snaps Lost: New England Patriots
The “Snaps Lost” series is a detailed look at the playing time void created by players that have left each team this offseason, whether they were traded, cut, left in free agency, or retired.
Because each unit plays a different number of snaps over the course of the year, we have created the “Full Time Equivalent” metric. FTE is the total number of missing snaps divided by the number of plays the team ran on that side of the ball. This is an equivalent measure of how many full time players (100% snap count) the team would need to add on to make up for their offseason losses, even though very few players actually play a full snap count.
For example, if a team had 1,100 snaps on offense and then lost seven players who combined to play 2,200 snaps, their FTE would be 2.0 (2,200/1,100). This ensures that a team who lost a high volume of players only has a high FTE if those players racked up some significant playing time. FTE can only fall between zero (no players left the team) and 11 (fire everyone!) for each side of the ball.
Each team will have a ranking following their FTE, with the first-ranked team in each category (offense, defense, and total) representing the team with the smallest portion of their playing time in need of replacement.
A few caveats before getting into the good stuff:
-Suspensions and injuries that may limit 2015 snap counts are not considered.
-Biggest Losses are purely in terms of snap count, not necessarily in terms of impact.
-All snap counts are Regular Season only.
New England Patriots
Overall FTE Lost: 5.40, 16th
FTE Lost: 1.82, 8th
Biggest Losses: Dan Connolly (848), Shane Vereen (606), Tim Wright (357), Stevan Ridley (188)
Summary – Connolly won’t be returning to the reigning Super Bowl champs, but after posting the lowest Pass Blocking Efficiency among guards (93.8), that’s not necessarily a bad thing. They lost a versatile pass-catching back in Vereen, and their loss in the backfield is further compounded by seeing Ridley go to the Jets. After trading for Wright last August, the Patriots recently waved him, and the young tight end has landed back in Tampa Bay.
Replacement Plan – He’s played just 531 career snaps, but so far Josh Kline looks to be an upgrade at guard over the departed Connolly. New England also drafted a couple of interior linemen in the fourth round, and both Tre’ Jackson and Shaq Mason could push for snaps if they enter the league ready to go. Wright was already behind Rob Gronkowski and Michael Hoomanawanui on the depth chart, and after bringing in Scott Chandler from Buffalo, they’ll have no trouble filling his snaps. Jonas Gray and LeGarrette Blount combined for only 268 regular season snaps last year. Neither is likely to replicate Vereen’s work as a receiver, but both have shown well running the ball and should figure more prominently in the 2015 offense. Former Saint Travaris Cadet could see significant time on offense, as could both Brandon Bolden and James White, both of whom played sparingly last season.
FTE Lost: 3.58, 25th
Biggest Losses: Darrelle Revis (1032), Vince Wilfork (818), Brandon Browner (591), Kyle Arrington (451), Akeem Ayers (390)
Summary – Revis is the most impactful loss on the defense, both in terms of snaps and skill. His return to the Jets combined with the loss of Browner and Arrington leaves the Patriots in need of over 2000 snaps at cornerback this season. Wilfork’s impressive career in New England came to an end as a result of cap concerns, and the massive defensive tackle has since joined the Texans. Ayers filled in respectably when called upon this year, but as the team’s fourth linebacker, he was a luxury that they couldn’t afford and will play in St. Louis in 2015.
Replacement Plan – Matching Wilfork’s snap count is no easy task, but in selecting Malcom Brown with the last pick of the first round, New England will have a guy who should be able to play from the start, though an increase in play time for Dominique Easley, Sealver Siliga, and Alan Branch will be needed to completely cover for Wilfork. Ayers’ loss can be accommodated for if Jerod Mayo stays healthy this year, but the cornerback situation is another animal entirely. Logan Ryan returns from last year and will almost certainly up his 519 snaps from a year ago. Brought over from Atlanta where he played both inside and out, Robert McClain should see the field often this year, while Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler and former Eagle Bradley Fletcher will both be in the mix at cornerback next season, too.