Before the Week 3 game on Monday Night Football in Florida vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, many Pittsburgh Steelers fans wondered what the team saw in tight end Vance McDonald. After all, he had been hurt in 2017 more than he played, and he was following the same trend to start the 2018 season.
However, after a vicious stiff-arm, and a 75 yard touchdown run, the fan base caught a glimpse of just what McDonald can bring to the offense. But it goes well beyond his catch and run ability, and extends all the way to different offensive packages the team can deploy on a week-to-week basis.
With McDonald healthy and active, it gives the Steelers three capable tight ends, but also allows them to run more of their two tight end sets. With McDonald and Jesse James as the team’s top tight ends, it gives them viable options as both run blockers and pass catchers on any given play.
If you want evidence of this fact, look no further than the snap totals from the team’s first win of the season in prime time on Monday night. In the game vs. Tampa Bay, Vance McDonald played 48 percent of the snaps (32 of 66), Jesse James played 50 percent (33 of 66) and Xavier Grimble played 24 percent (16 of 66).
Prior to Week 3 the team had been unable to ever deploy their tight ends this much due to injury. McDonald missed the Week 1 game vs. the Cleveland Browns, and was working his way back in Week 2 against the Chiefs. Grimble was coming off hand/wrist surgery to start the season, so maybe now, entering Week 4, the Steelers can really see what their group of tight ends can bring to the table with them all healthy.
The tight ends were the only positions which stood out from a snap total standpoint. Take a look at some other notes from the game Monday night:
- James Washington logged his most snaps of the season with 40 (61 percent of offensive snaps).
- After Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Washington, the next highest receiver on the snap total list was Ryan Switzer (7 snaps).
- James Conner, although not logging a lot of carries Monday, was used as an every down back throughout the game. He played 56 snaps (85 percent) with Stevan Ridley logging 5 snaps.
- For the first time of his young NFL career, Terrell Edmunds played in every snap of a football game (73/73)
- The outside linebackers shuffled more than usual with Bud Dupree playing 57 snaps (78 percent), T.J. Watt playing 65 snaps (89 percent) and Anthony Chickillo playing 24 snaps (33 percent).
- For the cornerbacks, Coty Sensabaugh logged more snaps (48) than Artie Burns (25), but both trailed Joe Haden (73) who was coming off a hamstring injury.
To see the full list of snap totals, check the chart below or click HERE.