The Pittsburgh Steelers were victorious over the Buffalo Bills in Week 14 by the score of 27-20, but the score doesn’t truly tell the whole story. In fact, a lot of what the Steelers did, and didn’t do, on Sunday can be found in the team’s snap totals.
What personnel they used, players who are climbing, or descending, the depth chart, and even the trust the coaches have in certain players to put them on the field. All of that from snap totals, but that is what this weekly article is all about. I take a look at 5 key trends derived from the team’s snap totals, and see if they will be lasting trends, or just a one game situation.
Overall snaps offense vs. defense
The Pittsburgh Steelers dominated the Bills in time of possession, and the first thing I always inspect when looking at the snap totals are the overall number of plays. The offense ran a whopping 75 plays, to the defense being on the field for just 52. Quite the stark difference, in a good way, and this very well could be brought back up again when talking about the overall snaps, or lack thereof, for certain players.
Defensive Iron Men
As stated above, the Steelers defense only played 52 snaps, a far cry from their usual time spent on the field, but there were several players who saw 100-percent of the snaps on defense. Some of those names might surprise you.
Artie Burns, Sean Davis, Ross Cockrell, Ryan Shazier, Stephon Tuitt and the ageless wonder James Harrison all played 100-percent of the defensive snaps. Bud Dupree played in 98-percent of the snaps (51) and Lawrence Timmons played 48 snaps.
Defensive line rotation without Hargrave
The Steelers were without rookie Javon Hargrave, due to a concussion, in Week 14, and the team deployed a steady rotation among the remaining three defensive linemen not named Stephon Tuitt. Ricardo Mathews played 34 snaps, while Daniel McCullers and L.T. Walton both logged 18 snaps a piece. Mathews played in more passing situations, while McCullers and Walton were used in running situations. Regardless of deployment, the Steelers defensive front did their job, and then some, by stifling LeSean McCoy and the Bills No. 1 ranked rushing attack.
Sammie Coates vs. Cobi Hamilton
It was after the Steelers Week 13 win over the New York Giants I wrote in this space how Sammie Coates has essentially become nothing more than a special teams player. As he played only one offensive snap in Week 14, it seems that sentiment is still ringing true. However, while some suggest his hand is healthy enough to play wide receiver, I look at Cobi Hamilton playing 34, and wonder just what the offense would look like if Coates were getting those snaps with his deep threat ability.
Nonetheless, with each passing week it becomes more and more evident the Steelers are content moving forward with Antonio Brown, Eli Rogers, Hamilton and newly promoted Demarcus Ayers...rather than putting Coates on the field in offensive situations. A truly perplexing situation.
After the Week 14 game, Mike Tomlin was asked about the outside linebacker rotation and he verbally said he was sick and tired of talking about it. Coach Tomlin might be sick of talking about it, but it deserves to be discussed in spaces like this. James Harrison played every defensive snap, Dupree played in all but one, and Anthony Chickillo spelled him for that one play. Other than that? Goose eggs.
Arthur Moats and Jarvis Jones did not see the field outside of special teams, in which case he saw one play. I semi-jokingly stated Jones could see himself inactive before too long since Dupree returned, but it is starting to look more and more accurate as the weeks go by. The Steelers could certainly give another player a helmet on game day rather than have Jarvis stand on the sideline not even breaking a sweat.
Outside of that, if the Steelers play totals were switched, and the defense was on the field for 75 plays, I’m sure you would have seen Moats and Chickillo used more than they were on Sunday.
To see the complete list of snap totals, check the chart below, courtesy of Pro-Football Reference:
Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news, opinions and updates on the Steelers as they prepare to play the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 15.