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 34-24 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 3.
Bucs Offensive Snap Counts
If we were hoping for clarity on the WR4 role, we didn’t get it on Sunday. Tyler Johnson played 34 snaps to Scotty Miller’s 32 in Antonio Brown’s absence. However, Johnson’s three catches for 63 yards compared to Miller’s two for 11 yards may result in changes moving forward. It’s been a slow start to the year for Miller, who caught his first two balls of the year in Week 3.
Cam Brate continues to heavily out-snap O.J. Howard, with 33 plays to Howard’s 14. Brate caught four passes for 35 yards against the Rams, but Howard made the most of his singular reception, ripping out of a tackle for an 11-yard gain. To Howard’s credit, he’s looked good in the regular season, albeit in a small sample size.
The running back battle received another layer on Sunday, as Giovani Bernard led the room in snaps. With the Bucs in pass-heavy mode most of the second half, that shouldn’t come as a huge shock. But in Week 2, Fournette was on the field for a lot of pass-obvious downs. Bernard should see more opportunities in neutral situations, as his nine catches for 51 yards and touchdown indicated on Sunday.
The Bucs four iron-men did not come off the field on Sunday. Lavonte David, Devin White, Carlton Davis and Antoine Winfield Jr. continue to play every snap when healthy. Only Davis has missed a play this season after a brief exit against the Falcons.
Wrap your mind around Dee Delaney playing 30 more snaps than Mike Edwards. I can’t. I just can’t. Edwards had a miscommunication with Carlton Davis on the 75-yard DeSean Jackson touchdown, but you cannot justify playing him 23 snaps given how he’s played the past 22 games for Tampa Bay. It’s a coaching mistake that cost the Bucs dearly on Sunday, with Delaney and Cockrell giving up several big catches. Edwards must move into a starting nickel role moving forward. It looks like he simply spelled Jordan Whitehead for 35 percent of the safety snaps in Week 3. Crazy.
An encouraging sign for the Bucs was the workload of Joe Tryon-Shoyinka. The rookie played 78 percent of the defensive snaps and was Tampa Bay’s most effective pass rusher. Anthony Nelson did manage a season-high 21 snaps, but some of those came with Tryon-Shoyinka on the field too.
On the interior defensive line, I cannot understand Rakeem Nunez-Roches playing more snaps than Will Gholston. Nunez-Roches is a non-factor as a pass rusher, and the Bucs were in pass rush mode for much of this game. Having Gholston, who picked up the Bucs only sack, on the field more often might have helped.
McLendon’s role has now decreased for three straight games. The veteran has gone from 27 snaps in Week 1 to 20 in Week 2, to 15 in Week 3. With the Bucs looking for more of a pass rush spark, could McLendon lose snaps to Patrick O’Connor? Also, could Khalil Davis be active over McLendon next week?
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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