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 Sunday.
Here’s a look at which Buccaneers played the most and the least in their 46-23 rout of the host Carolina Panthers on Sunday afternoon.
After seeing his snaps drop from 31 to 17 to 16 the past three weeks, Ronald Jones surged back to the top of the running back room with 47 snaps despite fumbling his second touch of the game. LeSean McCoy saw a little playing time late in a 46-23 blowout, but Jones and Leonard Fournette continue to shoulder all of the playing time in a competitive game.
Cam Brate also saw a huge resurgence in his snap counts, after three straight weeks of 12-snap games. Brate and fellow tight end Antony Auclair factored in heavily due to the amount of goal line plays Tampa Bay had in this game, as well as the Bucs’ run-heavy fourth quarter approach when the team was trying to drain clock. I’d still expect the Bucs to be a predominantly 11 personnel (3 wide receivers) team moving forward.
Two weeks ago Scotty Miller was the Bucs leading receiver, now he’s an afterthought. Miller played nine snaps to Antonio Brown’s 39, catching his only target for four yards. Even Tyler Johnson almost passed up the second-year receiver, with seven snaps on Sunday, while Justin Watson picked up four. It’s hard to argue with the results this week, but I still find it so strange that the Bucs looked at Scotty Miller’s first half of the year play and production and said “we need help at wide receiver”. Tough break for him.
When Carlton Davis missed one play with an injury, Ross Cockrell saw his first action of the season (and was flattened by a block on the Panthers wide receiver screen touchdown). Mike Edwards continues to see minimal playing time in the secondary, but 15 snaps was a step in the right direction compared to seven a week ago.
We’re now at six consecutive games where neither Lavonte David or Devin White have missed a snap. The Bucs as a whole played their lowest defensive snap total of the season, but third linebacker Kevin Minter managed to get on the field as part of a pressure package, picking up a (questionable) personal foul on a sack of Teddy Bridgewater.
After a couple weeks of heavier defensive personnel, the Bucs were able to match-up with the Panthers in nickel a lot more often on Sunday, which meant decreased snaps for Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Steve McLendon. It’s clear the Bucs want Ndamukong Suh and Will Gholston to be their passing down defensive tackles, and it’s hard to blame them given their lack of options elsewhere. That’s also a role Gholston has never really filled in his entire career, although he’s played well enough this season on long/late downs. The Bucs interior pass rush remains something to monitor moving forward, especially with Anthony Nelson failing to provide the team with adequate pass rush as a third edge defender.
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