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 19-17 victory over the New England Patriots in Week 4.
Bucs Offensive Snap Counts
On a night where the Bucs were forced to play without Giovani Bernard, it was clear Leonard Fournette is the guy. Ronald Jones played just 13 snaps to Fournette’s 64, and Ke’Shawn Vaughn didn’t see the field on offense. Fournette responded with his best game of the year, rushing 20 times for 91 yards and catching three passes for 47 yards. I think we can finally feel comfortable that he’s the lead back moving forward.
Despite the absence of Rob Gronkowski, the Bucs desire to run the ball and use play-action led to plenty of snaps for Cam Brate and O.J. Howard. Both tight ends out-snapped Antonio Brown by double digits, which is what I call overthinking it. It’s no wonder the Bucs worst offensive performance of the year came in a game where they emphasized the run and used two backup tight ends more than Brown. I understand the mindset, but without Gronkowski the strategy was a bad one.
Also, we gotta stop with the Josh Wells reps. Please.
Bucs Defensive Snap Counts
Richard Sherman has had many better performances in his career, but not giving up any big plays down the field feels like a win. Yes, the Patriots beat Sherman on a few in-breaking routes, but considering it was the All-Pro’s first football since last season, he wasn’t bad. Sherman played every snap but one on Sunday night. The Bucs needed he and Pierre Desir, 26 snaps, to be reliable after the loss of Carlton Davis. Both veterans kept everything in front of them and played tough. So did Ross Cockrell, whose deflection led to Antoine Winfield Jr.’s first half interception.
With Davis likely out for a long time, the Bucs will start Sherman, Desir and Cockrell at cornerback. When Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean return, Tampa Bay can move Desir and Cockrell back to the bench. Dean could be back in Week 5, while Murphy-Bunting likely remains out awhile longer.
Despite the injuries in the secondary, Mike Edwards played just 24 snaps. He’ll be asked to step up with Antoine Winfield Jr. in concussion protocol. Winfield missed his first snaps of the season after the injury occurred in the second half. Dee Delaney did not play after receiving 50+ snaps against the Rams. Last week, Bruce Arians said Delaney “might have played the best” of the Bucs defensive backs in Week 3. Not well enough, I guess.
Joe Tryon-Shoyinka played all but nine snaps, picking up two sacks in the win. The rookie was everywhere, piling up pressures against a quality left tackle in Isaiah Wynn. The Bucs clearly prioritized pass rush on Sunday night, playing Vita Vea almost 70 percent of snaps. That’s the highest percentage Vea has played in a game all year. Ndamukong Suh played two snaps more, and Will Gholston stayed right around 50 percent. As a result, Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Steve McLendon saw their lowest snap counts of the season.