Snaps: Explaining Spikes' limited play

December, 31, 2012
12/31/12
9:30
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Snaps played by Patriots defenders in the team’s 28-0 victory over the Dolphins on Sunday, while analyzing what it means (small margin for error):

CB Devin McCourty – 59 of 59
CB Kyle Arrington – 59 of 59
S Steve Gregory – 58 of 59
LB Jerod Mayo – 55 of 59
LB Dont’a Hightower – 52 of 59
CB Derrick Martin – 51 of 59
S Patrick Chung – 50 of 59
DE Chandler Jones – 46 of 59
DL Brandon Deaderick – 40 of 59
DL Vince Wilfork – 39 of 59
DE Justin Francis – 34 of 59
DE Trevor Scott – 23 of 59
DE Rob Ninkovich – 22 of 59
DL Kyle Love – 18 of 59
S Tavon Wilson – 18 of 59
DE Jermaine Cunningham – 16 of 59
LB Brandon Spikes – 8 of 59
LB Tracy White – 1 of 59
CB Aqib Talib – 0 of 59

(Penalties included.)

ANALYSIS: Brandon Spikes’ low total was a result of him playing solely in the base defense, which the Patriots weren’t in often. When the Patriots went to the nickel, Spikes came off, with Dont’a Hightower staying on at linebacker alongside Jerod Mayo. Spikes had taken most of those reps earlier in the year but it looked like the Patriots were limiting his role as he works his way back from injury. … It is now six straight weeks that Brandon Deaderick has played more snaps than former starter Kyle Love at defensive tackle. That’s been an overlooked change on the depth chart at times, with Deaderick showing up Sunday with a sack. … Vince Wilfork finished the season at 81.3 percent of the snaps played, which is slightly down from last season, but still an impressive total. The Patriots found spots to rest him at times during games, which has a long-term benefit, even though Wilfork seems to prefer to never come off the field. … The total of 59 snaps were the second fewest played by the defense this season. Only 56 against the Seahawks on Oct. 14 was fewer, and part of the reason for that was the big plays the Patriots gave up in that game. This effort was much more authoritative. When the number is this low, it usually signifies a good third-down (Dolphins were 5 of 13) and fourth-down (0 for 1) defense. So that’s an added bonus for the defense entering the playoffs – not only does the unit benefit from the bye, it enters the postseason having less wear and tear from the finale. … Derrick Martin’s presence as the nickel back was new, as the team was thin bodies with Aqib Talib (hip) and Marquice Cole (finger) out. Martin has mostly been used as a special teamer, appearing in just 18 snaps before the finale, when he had 51.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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