JuJu Smith-Schuster, Patriots Who Must Play More Snaps in Week 2 vs. Dolphins
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The New England Patriots will not win many games if their No. 1 wide receiver plays just over half of the offensive snaps in a single game.
JuJu Smith-Schuster played 54 percent of the team’s snaps against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Kendrick Bourne and rookie Kayshon Boutte earned more snaps than him and four players earned more receiving yards.
Smith-Schuster needs to be far more productive if the Patriots want any chance of competing with the Miami Dolphins in Week 2.
The Patriots have to hit the Dolphins secondary from every angle possible to potentially keep pace with Tua Tagovailoa, Tyreek Hill and a Miami offense that produced 36 points and 536 total yards in Week 1.
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Smith-Schuster had an underwhelming debut as the Patriots’ No. 1 wide out.
He caught four of his seven targets for 33 yards and had fewer targets than Bourne, Demario Douglas and Hunter Henry.
Mac Jones relied on Bourne more to make big plays. Bourne finished with six catches, 64 yards and two touchdowns.
You could blame Smith-Schuster’s lack of production on the matchup against Darius Slay if he was on the field for more than 54 percent of the snaps.
The lack of on-field time is worrisome for someone of his stature and it needs to change for the Patriots to keep up with the Dolphins.
If Smith-Schuster has another low snap count in Week 2, the Patriots may have to rearrange their wide receiver depth chart with Bourne at the top.
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If the Patriots do not want to go pass-for-pass with the Dolphins, they can keep their AFC East rival off the field with a strong rushing attack.
Ezekiel Elliott showed some nice bursts in his Patriots debut, as he ran for 29 yards on seven carries.
The former Dallas Cowboys star played in 28 of the team’s 80 offensive snaps. Rhamondre Stevenson was on the field for 30 more plays and ran for four fewer yards on five more carries.
Miami gave up 208 rushing yards to the Los Angeles Chargers duo of Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley in Week 1.
The Patriots must exploit that weakness with both of their running backs, and if Elliott continues to be more effective with his carries, he could pick up more playing time than Stevenson in the future.
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The Patriots can attempt to stop the Dolphins’ passing attack in two ways.
They could either smother Tyreek Hill at the line of scrimmage, or use an intense pass-rush to put Tua Tagovailoa under pressure from the first snap.
The latter strategy suits the Patriots better because they do not want the ball going anywhere close to Hill or Jaylen Waddle.
Keion White should pick up some more defensive snaps if that strategy is employed on Sunday.
The rookie out of Georgia Tech played in 35 percent of the defensive snaps in Week 1. That number could skyrocket given the matchup in play in Week 2.
If he gets to Tagovailoa on a few occasions, White could be used more in the road games against the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys in Weeks 3 and 4.
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