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 28-22 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 6.
Bucs Offensive Snap Counts
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The offensive line went the distance again in Week 6, with Ryan Jensen playing through a hip injury. This was also the rare game where Mike Evans topped Chris Godwin in snaps, although both receivers rarely left the field. Antonio Brown is dominating despite playing around half the offense’s snaps this season. He was under that number on Thursday, but still had 13 targets and nine catches for 93 yards and a touchdown. Tyler Johnson returned to his more normal 12 reps after a bigger workload in Week 5’s blowout.
O.J. Howard out-snapped Cam Brate significantly in Week 5, but only by five reps in Week 6. Both tight ends played a good bit, and Howard was a big part of the offense. The last time the fifth-year tight end was targeted more than seven times was in 2018. Howard snagged six catches for 49 yards, while Brate had three for 26 yards.
For the first time in Bruce Arians’ tenure in Tampa Bay, we have a clear feature back. Leonard Fournette is dominating the workload for the Bucs, and Ronald Jones is clearly the backup at this point. Jones played 14 snaps to Fournette’s 47. Despite Fournette’s growth in the passing game, Giovani Bernard still picked up 12 reps. No snaps for Ke’Shawn Vaughn despite being active.
Defensive Snap Counts
On defense, the Bucs new regulars each hit 100 percent of snaps played on Thursday night. The Bucs still had to shuffle things in the secondary however, as Richard Sherman pulled his hamstring after six snaps. Dee Delaney, not Pierre Desir, filled in admirably for 46 snaps. Ross Cockrell played 51 snaps, leaving the field for just one play.
The expectations is that, if Sherman, Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting cannot return for Week 7, Dean, Delaney and Cockrell would be the Bucs starters. Desir did play some, however, seeing the field in dime defense for the Bucs. After the game, Arians mentioned that Desir was matched up with Zach Ertz in coverage for six snaps. That took Kevin Minter off the field in half-a-dozen pass obvious situations. The Bucs have barely used dime this season, so that was a change.
One thing that wasn’t much of a change was Joe Tryon-Shoyinka’s usage. The rookie played 19 of 52 defensive snaps, a week after playing 17 of 54. The slight increase in usage was barely more significant than Anthony Nelson’s 12 reps. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles usage of Tryon-Shoyinka remains shocking. It’s difficult to understand how his play could be considered this much worse than Jason Pierre-Paul’s, or how it’s on par with Nelson. When Tryon-Shoyinka is on the field, he’s making an impact.
The same can’t be said for Pierre-Paul. Shaq Barrett playing less snaps than Pierre-Paul is borderline outrageous. The elder edge rusher struggled to get off blocks or generate pressure as a pass rusher. It turns out, playing with a club on your right hand makes it harder to play defensive end! Crazy.
It looks like the Bucs spent less time in base defense than any other game this season. The increase in nickel defense led to less playing time for all of the defensive tackles, but the snap percentages remained about the same as they’ve been this season. Deploying five defensive backs on a healthy percentage of snaps was a big reason why the Bucs had their best pass defense showing of the season. Great call by Bowles.
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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