Huge Shakeup at Wide Receiver Led to Patriots' Offensive Success in Week 7

Mac Jones had his best game of the season, and there's a clear link to the big changes the Patriots made at wide receiver.

Devante Parker's shrinking role helped the Patriots' offense find its way in Week 7.
Devante Parker's shrinking role helped the Patriots' offense find its way in Week 7. / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Reponsibility for the New England Patriots' offensive success is put squarely on the shoulders of Mac Jones. But as we've seen around the league regularly, even good quarterbacks tend to struggle without receivers who can get open. That factory has made it difficult to distinguish exactly how much blame to put on Mac this year.

Bill O'Brien seems to agree. He shook up the Patriots' wide receiver usage in Week 7, and that played a huge role in upsetting the Buffalo Bills.

After impressing with 10 receptions in Week 6, Kendrick Bourne matched his season high by playing 93% of the available offensive snaps against the Bills. This comes after having played fewer than 60% in three of the first five games of the season.

But that wasn’t a new change (he played 93% in Week 6 and 87% in Week 5). What was new was who shared the bulk of the reps with him.

DeVante Parker, who has struggled mightily all season, saw his role cut drastically. He played 58% of the Patriots’ offensive snaps, which marked his first time falling below even 75% in a single game this season. He saw only 1 target and was a total non-factory.

In Parker’s place, Demario Douglas finally got the run he deserves. Douglas played a 62% snap share, marking his first time all season eclipsing even 41%. He made the most of it too, racking up 54 yards on 6 targets and adding another 20 on his lone carry.

It's a long time coming, but the Patriots are finally realizing what fans have been calling for all season: this offense needs a lot more of Douglas and a lot less of Parker.

For as happy as these moves make the fans, they must be especially exciting for Mac Jones. Jones posted a passer rating over 100 for the first time all season, and it was only his second game above even 90.

The last game he was above 90.0? Week 1, when Parker was out and Douglas played his previous highest snap count of the year.

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