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 disappointing 27-24 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football.
The offensive line deserves a ton of credit for holding their own against a talented Rams pressure scheme, especially considering backup left tackle Josh Wells and reserve center Aaron Stinnie had to combine for seven of the team’s 69 snaps with Donovan Smith and A.Q. Shipley missing some snaps after getting banged up. Hopefully Ali Marpet can clear concussion protocol for the Bucs’ match-up with the Chiefs on Sunday, which would put their original starting five on the field together for the first time since Week 8.
The parody that is the Bucs’ running back room continued to seesaw snaps, as Leonard Fournette saw 36 miserable reps, dropping three passes and compiling just 26 yards and a touchdown on eight touches. Ronald Jones II joined in the fun, dropping his only target while rushing 10 times for 24 yards. Despite the tandem being a comedy of errors, no other Bucs running back saw the field on Monday night.
Antonio Brown took away the lion’s share of the third receiver reps, but Scotty Miller’s snaps did bump up to 15 from nine the week before. Neither Miller nor Tyler Johnson (seven snaps) were targeted on Monday night. Meanwhile, Cameron Brate’s snaps are officially back, posting 29 in each of the past two games.
For seven straight games, Lavonte David and Devin White haven’t come off the field for a single snap. They played quality ball last night, while the rest of the defense sputtered. That includes veteran linebacker Kevin Minter, who entered the game for one play on the goal line and gave up a touchdown pass to running back Cam Akers. Why was Todd Bowles intent on putting him in when the Bucs defense had stopped the run just fine without him? Good question.
Outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul played his largest snap share of the season, making an impact in every way except as a pass rusher. Shaq Barrett also barely came off the field, as the Rams pass-heavy approach dictated the Bucs keep their best pass rushers out there as often as possible. Anthony Nelson didn’t make a dent in his six snaps.
Will Gholston and Ndamukong Suh continued to be the Bucs defensive tackles of choice in nickel situations, and both played very well last night. Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Steve McLendon also did their part, as the Bucs interior defensive line posted their best performance as a whole in a few weeks.
Safety Mike Edwards played his highest snap total since stepping in for 42 snaps as an injury replacement in Week 3. His 22 snaps were almost half of fellow safety Jordan Whitehead’s 50, as the elder statesman defensive back in Tampa Bay’s starting lineup played his best game of the season. If Jamel Dean is concussed and can’t play on Sunday against the Chiefs, Ross Cockrell will likely start in his place in at least nickel packages, while Sean Murphy-Bunting could step back outside in base.
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