After every game, when you look over the statistics from the contest, fans look at the usual numbers. Passing yardage, touchdowns, rushing yards, receiving yards and the like. However, one statistical category which often gets overlooked is snap totals. How many snaps individual players are on the football field.
It is here where I pour over the numbers, and find 5 trends which are worth noting, and could impact the Pittsburgh Steelers moving forward. Time to dig into the numbers after the Week 15 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Jesse James next in line
There is serious concern about Ladarius Green’s availability in the upcoming game against the Baltimore Ravens, and rightfully so. Green is now in the NFL’s concussion protocol after a nasty hit last Sunday in the 4th quarter. Fans are wondering what the team will do, and the snap totals point to Jesse James.
Green played 43 snaps vs. the Bengals, the most of all tight ends, with James playing 29 plays, David Johnson participating in 15 plays and Xavier Grimble with 8. If the team doesn’t have Green at their disposal, look for them to use James in his role, and move Grimble and Johnson into the hole vacated by James. The team played more than a quarter of the season without Green, and moved the ball successfully, and they should be able to do it again, if need be.
The return of Sammie Coates
Well, fans got their wish. While most had been clamoring for Sammie Coates to return to the lineup after breaking two fingers against the New York Jets in the first half of the season, he made his triumphant return — at least from a snap total perspective.
Prior to the Bengals game, Coates was essentially nothing more than a special teams player, seeing only one, or two, offensive snaps a game. However, in Week 15 the team finally got No. 14 back on the football field as he played 30 offensive snaps, catching his first pass in well over 6 weeks. A good sign for the Steelers moving forward, as Coates’ size and speed forces opposing defenses to account for his big play ability every time he is on the field.
Defensive iron man list grows
Last week in the win over the Buffalo Bills, many were shocked to see James Harrison and Bud Dupree play every defensive snap (Dupree took one play off in Week 14), and the duo did it again vs. the Bengals. However, the list of iron men who play every snap is growing.
In Week 15, Harrison, Dupree, Ryan Shazier, Lawrence Timmons and Sean Davis all played in 100-percent of the defensive snaps. All while Mike Mitchell, Artie Burns and Ross Cockrell played 93-percent of the snaps. It is safe to say the defense you are seeing on the field, is the defense moving forward, barring injury.
Defensive line rotation
The Steelers defensive line was already without Cam Heyward, and the unit seemed to come together in his absence, led by Stephon Tuitt. So, what happened when Tuitt was lost for the game with a knee sprain? The team had no choice but to go with the defensive linemen they had active on their roster.
Rookie Javon Hargrave played a season-high 49 snaps, Ricardo Mathews, who left the game with an ankle injury, played 32 snaps, L.T. Walton played 36 snaps and Daniel McCullers totaled 12 snaps in goal line or obvious running situations. The hope is Tuitt will be able to play, but other than promoting a player like Caushaud Lyons from the practice squad, the Steelers plan without Tuitt and Heyward was clear — let the young guys, Walton and Hargrave, anchor the defensive front.
Outside Linebackers seem set in stone
Mike Tomlin hasn’t had to answer any questions about the outside linebacker position the past two weeks, and the reason why is there hasn’t been any changes at the position. Not even a few snaps.
In the Week 15 game at Paul Brown Stadium, it was James Harrison and Bud Dupree playing every defensive snap. No Anthony Chickillo or Arthur Moats, outside of special teams, and Jarvis Jones never even saw the football field.
The Steelers seem content with this unit, and it doesn’t look like it will be changing anytime soon. While some thought the low defensive snap totals in Week 14 against the Buffalo Bills was the reason the team didn’t get Harrison or Dupree off the field, the 58 snaps against the Bengals was more than Week 14, and the team stuck with the rotation.
For a complete list of snap totals from the game vs. the Bengals, check the chart below, courtesy of Pro Football Reference.