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 45-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins in Week 5.
Bucs Offensive Snap Counts
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Thankfully it was only due to the blowout, but the Bucs backup offensive linemen saw their first snaps of the season in Week 5. Before the game was over, however, Josh Wells still received 11 snaps in 12 and 13 personnel packages. In Rob Gronkowski’s absence, Wells’ role has increased a bit in that area. So has O.J. Howard’s, as the fifth-year tight end finally passed up Cam Brate in snaps, 44 to 28.
The Bucs clearly view Howard as a superior blocker to Brate, although both have struggled in that area. Howard had some better moments in the run game on Sunday, but allowed one of the Bucs’ two sacks. Giovani Bernard, out-snapping Ronald Jones largely due to his passing downs ability, also surrendered a sack. Bernard was impressive outside of that play, but it’s an area where the Bucs needs him to excel.
Chris Godwin hasn’t come off the field a lot for the Bucs this season, but in Week 5 he played his lowest snap share. That opened the door for more Tyler Johnson reps, as Tampa inserted him right into the rotation. Johnson has had too many route-running mistakes this season for my liking, but he played well against Miami. With the game nearly out of reach, even Jaydon Mickens got a few reps.
But the biggest offensive observations remain Leonard Fournette seizing the RB1 role and Howard playing much more than Brate. Also, despite the clamoring for more Antonio Brown, his snap percentage barely increased. Brown went from 51 percent of snaps against New England to 57 percent against Miami. He made them all count, though.
Defensive Snap Counts
If not for the blowout, it’s clear who the Bucs consider their regulars right now. As long as they can all hold up physically, don’t expect Devin White, Jamel Dean, Mike Edwards, Jordan Whitehead or Richard Sherman to come off the field. Unless, of course, Antoine Winfield Jr. returns on Thursday against the Eagles.
In fact, other than a meaningless late Andrew Adams snap, the Bucs used the same five defensive backs all game long. Dean was impressive, while Sherman struggled. Pierre Desir is currently the fourth cornerback, but did not play on defense in Week 5.
Something noteworthy: after Lavonte David’s injury, Kevin Minter played every single snap. Minter missed several tackles and is a question mark in coverage, but it appears the Bucs will have him absorb David’s role while the All-Pro is out. That’s a big ask for Minter, who the Eagles will attack on Thursday night.
The most disappointing thing for Tampa Bay was seeing Joe Tryon-Shoyinka basically relegated to Anthony Nelson-level snaps in Week 5. Jason Pierre-Paul’s return should have dropped the rookie’s snaps some, but this significantly? Pierre-Paul is tough as nails, but could barely wrap up with a club on his right hand. He left several sacks on the table. That was a matchup Tryon-Shoyinka could have won frequently as a pass rusher. If the Bucs are looking for answers to their sack woes, they just left one on the bench for 69 percent of the game.
Snap shares held steady on the interior defensive line, where Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh continue to lead the way. Both defensive tackles usually play around 50-65 percent of the snaps, with Will Gholston the first guy to fill in the margins.
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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