Each week I’ll be taking a closer look at the snap count distribution for the Bucs offense and defense, assessing what we can learn from who played the most and who played the least on game day.
Here’s a look at which Bucs played the most and the least in the team’s 31-29 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1.
Bucs Offensive Snap Counts
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You can look through every game in 2020, and Mike Evans never played 94 percent of the team’s offensive snaps in a single contest. In fact, there were only four games all of last season where Evans eclipsed a 90 percent snap load, and none in the playoffs. On Thursday night, Evans missed just four snaps. Fellow receiver Chris Godwin missed just one, playing 98 percent of the Bucs offensive workload. That would have been his second-highest percentage in any game last season.
It appears the Bucs will rely on Evans and Godwin for more snaps than last year, when both receivers were banged up. They aren’t the only ones, as Antonio Brown played 65 percent of the team’s snaps, dominating their 11 personnel packages as the third receiver. Scotty Miller earned just eight reps, and Tyler Johnson three.
In the running back room, we can quickly surmise that Ronald Jones fumble has put him in the doghouse. It’s frustrating, as he was running the ball better than Leonard Fournette early on, but his mistakes continue to hurt the Bucs. So do Fournette’s, but he still earned 42 snaps to Giovani Bernard’s 17. The running back usage in Tampa Bay remains hard to understand.
The other shocking takeaway from Week 1 was Cam Brate out-snapping O.J. Howard 18-t0-6 against the Cowboys. Howard’s limited workload is a bad sign that he seems to be relegated to No. 3 on the depth chart, at least for now. Rob Gronkowski dominated the tight end workload with 57 snaps on Thursday night, 88 percent of the offensive reps.
Bucs Defensive Snap Counts
As usual, Devin White and Lavonte David did not come off the field on Thursday night, so there were no defensive snaps for other linebackers. Those two will likely go the distance every game if they can stay healthy.
On the defensive line, Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul did not lose snaps to get Joe Tryon-Shoyinka on the field. Instead the three edge rushers played a healthy portion of Tryon-Shoyinka’s 21 snaps together. Anthony Nelson managed seven reps on the night, which was seven more than I thought he would play. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is clearly experimenting with aggressive pass rush packages early on this season.
The interior defensive line saw a steady rotation reminiscent of last season. Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh led the way with over 60% snap share, while Will Gholston, Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Steve McLendon saw plenty of work as well. The Bucs seem committed to keeping Vea and Suh fresh, which looked like an effective strategy late in the game.
No defensive snaps for cornerback Dee Delaney, despite the injury to Sean Murphy-Bunting. Ross Cockrell went the distance as the team’s No. 3 cornerback after Murphy-Bunting exited the game.
Huge shout-out to Andrew Adams for his Thursday night performance in 11 snaps. Adams was cut by the Eagles a handful of days ago and immediately signed back with the Bucs on the practice squad. The veteran safety was elevated to the active roster on Thursday, and was pushed into defensive action with Jordan Whitehead out and Mike Edwards cramping. Adams did get called for a weak defensive pass interference and gave up a tightly contested catch over the middle of the field, but he made two huge stops in the run game, including one on third-and-goal. Stellar performance by the reliable Buccaneer.
Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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