Each week I’ll take 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 31-15 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card Game.
Bucs Offensive Snap Counts
The biggest offensive surprise of the game was Scotty Miller earning a healthy percentage of the snaps Breshad Perriman was supposed to receive. It’s clear from this game that the Bucs coaching staff views Tyler Johnson as the team’s new No. 2 receiver. Neither Perriman or Johnson were impressive, but at least the latter made a play at some point in the game. Right now, the Bucs void at wide receiver beyond Mike Evans is glaring.
At running back, Giovani Bernard and Ke’Shawn Vaughn split the snaps evenly at 36 apiece. Neither back was very productive, as the Bucs struggled to run the ball all game. But Bernard was clearly the Bucs best back, especially in the passing game. The stocky back caught five passes for 39 yards, including a couple key plays. Le’Veon Bell did not play.
Josh Wells playing 65 snaps marks the third time this season a backup OL has had to play the majority of a game. Earlier this year, Ali Marpet exited the Giants game early and missed the Colts game the next week. Tristan Wirfs’ ankle injury five plays into Sunday’s game thrust Wells into the lineup. Wirfs returned for three plays later in the game, but was too hurt to continue.
At tight end, Cam Brate and O.J. Howard were on pace for their normal 20-10 snap count distribution at halftime. But a massive Bucs lead put the team in heavy personnel to run out the clock through much of the fourth quarter. Even Aaron Stinnie got seven snaps as an extra blocker in run-obvious situations.
Defensive Snap Counts
In what might qualify as a minor miracle, the Bucs saw all four base starters in the secondary play every snap without being injured. We’ll see if Sean Murphy-Bunting can return next week, but the Bucs might be better without him. Mike Edwards played 52 of 66 snaps in Murphy-Bunting’s stead, and was excellent. Tampa Bay is at its’ best when their best five defensive backs are on the field, and Murphy-Bunting isn’t one of those five.
At linebacker, Lavonte David was able to go the distance until the game was out of reach. I’ll have to check the tape, but it looked like the Bucs had some dime packages with four safeties on the field late in the game.
One of the most interesting aspects of this game was how even the snaps were between the Bucs top four edge rushers. Jason Pierre-Paul led the way with 36 reps, while Joe Tryon-Shoyinka checked in at 34. Shaq Barrett picked up 31, just one more rep than Anthony Nelson’s 30. With Pierre-Paul, Barrett and Nelson all playing banged up, the Bucs are clearly trying to keep everyone healthy and fresh. Even Cam Gill got nine snaps late in the game. We’ll see if that continues in more competitive games moving forward.
The Bucs maintained the same steady rotation on the interior defensive line as well. With the Eagles passing on nearly every down for most of the game, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles prioritized fresh bodies. Ndaumkong Suh led the way in snaps with 32, and Will Gholston was last with 21. No defensive tackle played even 50 percent of the team’s defensive plays.