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5 intriguing snap count trends for the Steelers moving forward into Week 14

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the midst of a three-game winning streak, and looking at the trending snap totals could be an indicator why.

NFL: New York Giants at Pittsburgh Steelers Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

After every Pittsburgh Steelers game, it is normal practice for me to take a look at the snap counts and try to figure out what was going on, based solely on personnel deployed throughout the most recent contest.

Now, I realize specific defenses, and offenses, will be sent out to maximize their potential against any number of personnel groupings, and Mike Tomlin spoke about this in his weekly press conference Tuesday. He spoke about how often the New York Giants deployed three wide receivers, which is why William Gay, the team’s third cornerback, played 90-percent of the overall snaps.

In other words, the numbers can be skewed based on what the opposition does from a personnel standpoint. Either way, I was able to dig up 5 snap count trends from the Steelers last game, which could impact the way the team plays and prepares for the Week 14 game against the Buffalo Bills, and beyond.

  • The Ferrari finally getting out of the garage

When Ben Roethlisberger talked about Ladarius Green throughout the rehabilitation of his surgically repaired ankle, he said he was like a Ferrari which is sitting in the impound lot, unable to be driven. Well, after three weeks in the lineup, it looks as if the Steelers are slowly taking the “pitch count”, as Mike Tomlin calls it, off Green. In the Week 13, Green played 35 snaps, his highest as a member of the Steelers, and he cashed in for 6 catches, 110 yards and a touchdown. This could very well be a sign of the times to come for the Pittsburgh offense.

  • Sammie Coates is now just a special teams player

Remember when Sammie Coates was taking the top off the defense, making plays and having people ask, “Martavis who?” Yeah, those were the days. Since breaking two fingers, Coates has all but disappeared from the offense. Although it has been well over 6 weeks since his injury, the team seems to have moved on from Coates as a receiving option, at least for now. Coates played in just 4 offensive snaps Sunday, and 17 special teams snaps. In other words, Coates isn’t really being used as a receiver anymore, he is getting a helmet on game days because of special teams — that’s it.

  • Without Javon Hargrave, Pittsburgh turned to Ricardo Mathews

When Cameron Heyward was lost for the season due to a pectoral injury, it was expected the team would turn to a rotation along the defensive line between Javon Hargrave, Daniel McCullers, Ricardo Mathews and L.T. Walton. However, it was Hargrave who was seeing the brunt of the snaps the past two weeks, but when he went down with a concussion Sunday, after only 12 defensive plays, the team didn’t turn to the rotation, but to Mathews. Mathews logged 42 snaps, by far his highest total as a member of the Steelers, and depending on Hargrave’s availability, it will be interesting to see if Pittsburgh sticks with Mathews or goes to the rotation to help stop LeSean McCoy.

  • Jarvis Jones on his way out?

It isn’t a shock, or it shouldn’t be a shock, that Jarvis Jones isn’t seeing the field much. With 5 outside linebackers on the roster, it has become clear the coaching staff looks at James Harrison, Bud Dupree, Anthony Chickillo and Arthur Moats as the primary pass rushers. In other words, Jarvis is the odd man out. In Week 13 he played just 12 snaps, and the majority of those snaps were spent dropping into coverage. In fact, that is what Jones almost always does — drop into coverage. He has become predictable in his play, and the coaches don’t seem to trust him any longer. I think it is safe to say Jones will be nothing more than emergency depth, barring injury, for the rest of the season.

  • Sticking with the “heavy package”

Last week I pointed out how the Steelers have turned to Chris Hubbard and Roosevelt Nix to help ignite their running game. Hubbard being deployed as a blocking tight end, and Nix as a full back, helped pave the way for Le’Veon Bell. Against a stingy Giants rush defense, the team took the “heavy package” a step further. On Sunday, Chris Hubbard played 18 snaps, Roosevelt Nix 11 and tight end David Johnson 21. Johnson, the team’s best blocking tight end, adds another dimension to the team’s offense. On Wednesday, Ben Roethlisberger spoke to media about how the versatile tight ends can make things very difficult for opposing defenses. Johnson, Green and Jesse James can all block, and catch, giving the team a lot of options in a lot of personnel groupings. This trend doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

For the complete list of Snap Totals, see the graph below: